Sunday, July 07, 2013

And Then There Was Yarn

I can't stop looking at it.


There were a few concerned suggestions that I must not, must not turn the two Corriedale bobbins into a two-ply. The reason? The singles were (thanks to the arrangement of the batt) possessed silky-smooth transitions from the deep purple to paler purple to green, and only a chain/Navajo ply would preserve those transitions in the finished yarn.

I appreciate the concern, but I didn't want to chain ply. As I explained in the previous entry, chain plying is the only sort of plying I've ever done. Joining the Tour de Fleece isn't about doing what I've already done, it's about trying as many new things as I possibly can.

Plying happened a day later than planned. I sat down to work on schedule, but then–as might happen in the real race–I immediately got a flat. The little dome-shaped wooden whatsit at the orifice end of my flyer came unglued. Not that I should be surprised–this wheel is probably a year or two older than I, and bits of me have also started coming unglued.

The mend was easy, but I am my father's son and you do not fiddle around with a glued join until the glue is completely dry. That's a lesson from day one of Making Stuff in the Garage with Dad class.

Twenty-four hours later I tried again. My guiding lights–Alden Amos's Big Book of Handspinning and The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin–were once again enormously helpful. I like to see what Alden says, compare it to what Judith says, then lay out a battle plan.

Both advise that the set-up for plying ought to allow for plenty of room between the bobbin rack (in my case, a Lendrum lazy kate from The Fold, in Marengo, Illinois–contender for Best Spinning Shop in North America), the spinner's hands, and the orifice.

Plenty of room, for me, meant seven feet from the lazy kate to my hands, and about 18 inches from my hands to the wheel. That is the utmost my apartment will accommodate without removing all the furniture from the room.

Before beginning, I made a general announcement that the strands being plied were not to be used as a jump rope,  clothesline, limbo stick, or tripwire.  Then I posted Harry as guard, which gave him an excuse to wear the butch little "SECURITY" ball band he wore while working the door at the Yarn Pride dance this year. So everyone was happy.

The long, long set-up allows the twists in the singles to re-distribute themselves as they approach the wheel. It helps even things out, said the experts–and it certainly seems to have worked. My singles didn't magically morph into perfection, but the tighter kinks that had me worried did vanish. That was magic enough for me.

Alden's method for holding the yarns seemed more straightforward (if you want to know about it, get the book–it's worth it), so I went with that. Judith's description of the actual hand motions (in which the hand nearer the orifice moves and the other hand does not) made more sense, so I went with that. I also liked her take on counting while you draft (yes, you should–at least at first).

Here's how I counted. This will be of no use to anyone except me, next time I need to remember what I did.
One: Treadle. (Orifice hand holds back the twist.)
Two: Treadle. (Orifice hand holds back the twist.)
Three: Treadle and release twist into the strand.
Four: Treadle and feed the plied yarn to the wheel.

I started slowly and focused on the counting and on spinning the wheel counterclockwise rather than clockwise. When that was going well I added in Alden's "rolling release" (again, see the book) which does, in fact, seem to help smooth the plying twist.

Much more quickly than expected, I had this.


Not perfect. Not even close. But it is plied.
I confess that I carried the bobbin around like a teddy bear so I could turn it over in my hands and just look at it. It may have spent the night on my nightstand, but you'll never know.

Then, today, I wound it off to the niddy-noddy. As with plying, I made sure to keep a good distance between myself and the flyer–another chance for the twist to even itself out.


This niddy-noddy was hand-turned. I got it (on the same day as the the lazy kate) at The Fold. If you've never been The Fold, you need to put it on your life list. Toni should be sent on an all-expenses-paid world tour so everyone can see what the owner of a fiber business ought to be.

As I write, the yarn is still on the niddy-noddy awaiting lease ties (the little strands that keep it from tangling) because, as I said before, I can't stop looking at it. I'm mesmerized by what the colors in the original batt did when I plied them together. It's barber pole all the way, but echoes of the original transitions persist.

I want to order another "Smoothie" from Lunabudknits, spin the colors in a different order, and see what happens with those.

But first, this lot has to been skeined and then wet finished. More after that's complete...


Deb said...

One word:


(And: beautiful.)

Riin said...

Ooh, pretty! And your dad was right!

Gamba Girl said...

It's so great to hear from you more regularly again!!

Spitfire said...

Amazing Franklin. You should be proud. I think a 2 ply gradation is a wonderful thing :)

PS My Making Stuff in the Garage with Dad classes were just as fun. Were you told to "hold this" and then shaken to your core since he was sawing on the other end of "this"? Yeah.

Nina Ruit said...

Mazel tov! Beautiful yarn all the way.

Krista said...

I agree with your dad. Did the same thing when a couple of rambunctious felines knocked my Lendrum over and one of the parts that holds the bobbin came loose.

In my SpinU class, they're using the same two books for our textbooks. Sandi had us counting as well but had us start out with a 3/3 count for 2-ply and adjust from there. Hurray that you're trying something new. Love it!

Claudia said...

Wow! I can understand why you can't quit looking at it. It's BEAUTIFUL.

Darlene Ware said...

Awesome colors. I like to mix it up when I make my yarn. Sometimes you just have let the fibers tell you what they want to be. Beautiful yarn.

Liz said...

Beautiful stuff. I won't ask you what you're going to make with it - I was asked this by very experienced people at a spinning group yesterday and was taken aback at the notion that I might know what was going to come off the bobbins at the end...

And yes; you don't mess with glue. Have been taking half-arsed photos all week because my daylight lamp needed the head glueing back on (again) which involved weighing it down under a pile of books. Thankfully, locating a pile of books is never a problem round here...

marjorie said...

"Frank's plum". Tee-hee (hand held delicately over mouth). I know less than nothing about spinning, but nevertheless your post was fascinating. And your yarn is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your work in progress, as well as your finished products.

Jenn said...

I feel your pride! I recently spun and plied my first 50g of some Romney I picked up from Toni. Kudos to you and happy yarning!

Terry said...

Great post - *gorgeous* yarn!!! my very favorite colors altogether - I couldn't spin yarn if you held a gun to my head so I am totally impressed! Can't wait to see what you make with it!

But! This: " wear the butch little "SECURITY" ball band he wore while working the door at the Yarn Pride dance this year " - WHERE IS THIS STORY? Did I miss it? I miss Harry! What's he been doing??? I'd love to see his report on the Parade!

FiberQat said...

Well done! It's going to be very pretty knit up.

Anonymous said...



Liz said...

Congrats. Now, the test will be when you're done with the washing. Will the skein hang straight or angle a bit? If the former, you'll know you've really got it right. I'm still working on this, but I'm a spindler, at least for now.

RobinH said...

Wait until you knit it. I was very dubious the first time I saw different colors plied- and then utterly enchanted when I knit it up. It looked nothing like what I had visualized.

Andrea said...

Yay! Great work, and love to see that you are a true student of the game! Spin on.

Teaist said...

A wonderful new spinning book that addresses plying more than any other is: "The Spinners Book of Yarn Designs" by Sarah Anderson. Judith M. wrote the foreward for the book.

Your two ply yarn turned out perfectly lovely.

Yvonne said...

Beautiful! Congratulations!

Kelley said...

Congratulations! The greens, purples and greens have come together beautifully!

Rows Red said...

I've been reading for years but have only commented once or twice (it feels redundant when the blogger is such a tour de force as you). That said, your utter joy in this yarn has inspired me to once again put fingers to keys.

Bravo! I am so incredibly happy for you. I love it when spinning (or any fiber art) click for a person. It's like you can see the blossoming awe and joy in their eyes. Clearly, you've had that moment and I am very, very happy for you!

Enjoy your yarn and DON'T STOP!

jenann said...

Love the colours of your yarn. What an accomplishment - Congratulations!

Pretty Knitty said...

Ummm, that is fabulous! Sooo very pretty...great plying!

Christine65 said...

Ooh - look at the pretty. I tend to be a bit of a 'wing-it' type of spinner and go by eye a lot. One day I'll get round to reading the various books on spinning I've got. In the meantime, I'm trying to get to grips with the drum carder hubby bought me for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I don't spin, but am enjoying your posts about your adventures! I do agree with you about The Fold. I am lucky (I think!) enough to live about a hour away from that wonderful shop!

shelly hancock said...

Addicting, isn't it?

Seanna Lea said...

It is a beautiful yarn. So, do you think that you could become addicted to woolen spinning?

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I would love to have a go, but the equipment and courses are so very expensive on our side of the pond.

Congratulations on your amazing achievement. Is this to be used for the vintage-style swim wear?

FoFo said...

Absolutely beautiful!

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