Friday, July 05, 2013

Faster Than a Speeding Pullet

I was told that once I started to get the hang of woolen long draw, I'd find it somewhat faster than the worsted technique I've always used before–a technique so slow it is not infrequently referred to as the "inchworm" method.

You who said this to me, you were not kidding.

When I first got the Ashford and was all gung-ho about spinning, I was content to do it two or three hours a night, every night. That investment of time–once I got up to speed–yielded one small bobbin of thin singles in three months.

Three months. You can gestate one-third of a human baby in three months.

And when I was finished, what did I have? One bobbin of singles. A small bobbin. Do you know what you can knit with one bobbin of thin singles? Bugger all, is what you can knit. Which is why most basic spinning books have a section called, "Yes! You Can Knit with Singles!" It's there to keep you from killing yourself.

So you read "Yes! You Can Knit with Singles!". You look at the pictures of the, um, "arty" suggested projects. And you say to yourself, "Yes! I can knit with singles! But I'm certainly not going to!"

What I did instead was chain-ply my singles. Chain plying (which you'll also find referred to as Navajo plying) allows you to make a three-ply yarn from one bobbin of singles. It's supposed to be terribly advanced and tricky; but nobody told me that, so I was able to do it without much fuss.

I had enough finished yarn to make a small hat. I did. It was an okay hat.

Then I had an empty bobbin again. I started spinning again. But not as frequently. I was discouraged. It took me a year to fill the bobbin. I'm not an adrenaline junkie, and I don't knit in the first place because I get kick out of instant gratification. But I realized that it if I wanted to spin enough two-play yarn for a pair of mittens I was looking at a year (at least) of dedicated, nightly spinning.

I began to wonder what my wheel would look like if I converted it into a planter.

Then I just stopped spinning.

All of the above is just prelude to help you understand the blinking stupefaction I experienced last night when I realized I had spun the entire batt. I honestly figured the Tour de Fleece might give me enough oomph to get through half of it in a month. Instead, we're on Day Six and I am finished with Stage One of the spinning.

I have two bobbins, not full but fullish, roughly evenly. Look.


So, yeah. Long draw is somewhat faster than inchworm. Also, e-mail is somewhat faster than learning ancient Greek, using it to write a letter to your mother, stuffing the letter in a bottle, pitching the bottle into the ocean, hoping the bottle will wash up next to your mother's beach chair, and then remembering your mother can't read Greek.

And now, at last, I can try my hand at a two-ply. That's today's challenge.

Bathing Drawers News

The yarn for the Victorian bathing drawers that I'll unveil (for better or worse) on the Nautical Knitting Cruise arrived this morning.

It's Quince and Co. Chickadee–stout, pure American wool, worsted spun. (I love worsted spun yarns, if someone else is doing the spinning.) I haven't wound it into balls yet. I'm just staring at it. It's perfect. I would use unaltered hanks of Chickadee to decorate the Christmas tree or the top of my wedding cake.


The colors are "Bark" and "Frank's Plum." I've decided to take the advice of the original pattern and jazz up the drawers with stripes–but not the Weldon's editor's suggestion of white and navy. For one thing, I fear the white will turn transparent when wet and stretched. For another, my curvaceous posterior does not require assistance from broad, high-contrast stripes. From behind, I would look like a crosswalk. As you can see, these two colors are very similar in value, so the effect will be extremely muted.

I was tempted to go with a somewhat lighter brown, called "Twig," so that I could say I knit myself a pair of drawers in "twig" and "plum."



Deb said...

Oooh, they could use a "berry" colourway!

I'm a spindle-only spinner, and a bad spindler at that, so speed is not what I'm going for-- I'm going for, erm, experience? Getting past the swearing stage? Watching you speed past me at the rate of woolen spinning is very fun.

Liz said...

Frank's Plum. Yup...

Looking forward to seeing the handspun yarn, too!

Sweet Camden Lass said...

Yarn on a wedding cake. You're giving me ideas.... Wonder what Nick would say?

Renee Anne said...

Aaaaannnnnnd, Mr. Habit inadvertently admits that, inside, he's a 12 year old boy.

I'm debating whether I want to Navajo ply my single or spin another bobbin and just do a two-ply. ::sigh:: I think I'll probably try the Navajo ply (then I'll still have some yarn for myself since I'm planning to send off my handspun in a swap).

Slip, Knit... Meditate said...

And even more when I will see you in that BathingSuit..

Jane S. said...

Heh heh...twig and plum.

Even if the swimming trunks are hideously uncomfortable and not at all flattering, I'm still really interested in seeing how they turn out. I've never tried using an antique knitting pattern so this experiment of yours is fascinating.

The yarn that you spun is lovely. I wish I had the spinning skills that you do but let's just say that my yarn has a LOT of "texture". Ahem.

dormmouse said...

My husband says you're playing chicken again (with the title). I am also looking forward to seeing how the drawers look. If they are fetching, I may make some. I'm glad you are posting again. I always check.... your demanding public.

Rachel said...

Those are really lovely singles! I have a bobbin of worsted spun singles that has been sitting there for... well a very long while. I keep sneaking over to my other two bobbins and filling them with stuff I'm spinning long draw.

Don't fret about plying twist. I'm pretty sure you are. A little too much twist gives the yarn a nice amount of bounce, and too little can easily be fixed.

FiberQat said...

I've found that the best means of making me sit down and do my TdF spinning is take my internet away. It's easier to wait for repairmen when you are churning out singles on the front porch.

Those will be some fine looking hindervinders.

Genevieve Wimp-McCann said...

Ah spinning, love it, dislike it, always return to it! Love chain plying (learned it as Navajo plying because it is a vald technique from Navajo spinning, duh only so much political speech can 1 take harumpphf) I spin both long draw and worsted... do what works best for the fiber and desired yarn out come. Some of my bestest silk yarns are navajo plyed silk fine singles yields a truly round yarn, knits up like a dream & bonus the colors fall in a lovely favorable way when I control for color in the plying. Shucks Franklin hadn't planned on writing this much. Blessings, want to see the bathing drawers too.

Spinfoolish said...

Lovely Job, Mr. Habit! I just knew you would love long draw once you got into it!! The secret to plying, for me anyway, is to get into a rhythm so that you are putting the same amount of twist (i.e. same number of treadles) into the same length of yarn (i.e. distance from the orifice to your hand). Again, like long draw I found it slow at first and before you know it you are not even paying attention because you got your rhythm going. Ooops, sorry, fell into teacher mode...Have a great day!

Christina said...

Franklin, I love you. You made me giggle uncontrollably and that was exactly what I needed today: thank you!

Charlotte said...

Long draw is good. I've never got the hang of inchworm and am not quite convinced why I'd want to, for many of the reasons above.

Spinning from the fold is also really remarkably rewarding, if you have a long fiber. It seems like it would be tedious, but it ends up being much easier to control color changes, so very much worth it and quite rewarding.

Congrats on your spinning progress! Learning to spin is not half so easy as learning to knit. :)

Pretty Knitty said...

Giggle, indeed! And wow! at the speed of your recent spinning! I haven't even given the long draw a go yet, and the tour is well may have inspired me, however, sooo THANKS!!! And ply on, Dude!

Anonymous said...

My particular handspindle drafting technique is a sort of modified long draw where my thumb does a bit of pretwist into the roving with doubledrafting to help even things out. [I only learned the technical terms recently - all I knew before is that it felt comfortable to do and was siuccessful.] Most people are amazed to see me draft to the side on a handspindle because they are used to the inchworm version from a vertical position. Those singles look great and ought to be lovely when plied. Take care and enjoy - Joe-in Wyoming

Rebecca said...

For the record you can totally knit with singles, singles are fine, I promise.

wendy said...

Twig and plum slightly lost on a Brit, but I fear you refer to the 'meat and two veg' of the gentleman's gusset. I always use Quince&Co for my crocheted sock heels and toes when I can get up to Loop... lovely stuff.

Gillian said...

I think I must use some form of the woolen long draw, but I taught myself to spin by trial and error, until I found something that worked and produced a product I liked, so who knows?

It's faster than an inchworm anyway.

Brenda said...

When started spinning, I could make yarn, but I couldn't really make yarn that you would want to knit with. (It was more like Goat Rope or something.) I found an old book entitled "Spinning for Softness and Speed" that was written by Paula Simmons back in the 60's, and after reading it, I heard choirs of angels sing and the light bulb finally came on. Some of the information in it seems really dated, but the basic mechanics of spinning/drafting that she presents are invaluable.

Liz said...

Can't wait to hear about your plying experience. Took me ages to get the knack with a spindle (with toilet paper tubes and a shoebox thrown in for good measure). Totally agree with you re worsted-spun yarn, but would add that it must not be super-wash (I know the Quince yarns are not). Not sure about stripes, but you know best.

Switch Knitter said...

You've created a monster. Thanks to you I pulled out my (very dusty) wheel last night and watched some long draw videos on YouTube. In a few hours I'd filled a bobbin and am now addicted. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It's a slippery slope, that catching-on-to-spinning thing. I started 30-plus years ago with the long draw and only recently learned to do the inchworm technique so I could achieve some finer yarns.

You do plan on modeling those swimming drawers when you're finished with them, don't you?

Leigh Wheeler said...

Twig and plum. Snicker.

Want some spinning epic-ness? how about worsted lace spinning. Ugh. I am breaking the laws of nature by plying as I go. I have almost a whole bobbin of plied yarn. And 1/3 of a batt to go.

Seanna Lea said...

I'm definitely 12. Twig and plum indeed. Would you have the plum stripes double the width of the twig stripes in that case?

Caroline said...

Bwaha! A crosswalk!

Unknown said...

Laughing at the thought of your butt wrapped like a cross walk...

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