WIP Wednesday

I’ve been doing a lot of sock knitting lately, but I haven’t been neglecting my spinning. This lovely Falkland top from Woolgatherings

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is now these lovely singles that are awaiting plying.

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And this beautiful Corriedale top from Sunset Fibers

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has started its journey to becoming yarn.

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Visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see what other fiber and needle artists are up to.

Endless Possibilities

One of the reasons I love spinning wool is that there are endless ways the spinner can create a unique yarn from a given length of fiber. Depending upon how I spin and ply a given piece of hand-dyed fiber, I can get many different effects.

When it came time to spin up the December offering of the roving of the month from Sunset Fibers, I decided to make a 2-ply yarn. I wanted the colors to mostly blend but to have a marled look. So I  divided the fiber in half lengthwise and spun it up on my Ladybug, dividing the fiber between two bobbins and spinning the colors in the same order on each bobbin. The length of each color repeat naturally varies because of variations in the dyeing and splitting of the fiber, and because when it comes to spinning, I’m not a machine. My yarn varies in diameter, as any handspun yarn is going to do. I knew the color repeats would not match up exactly when being plied. That’s the reason I spun the fiber as I did.

I made a simple 2-ply, knowing that the colors would match up in some  places, and not match up in other places. But I knew that for the most part, the yarn would match color for color, but not shade for shade. For example, there are stretches where both singles are green, but one is a light green and the other dark green. The resulting yarn was exactly what I expected.

I had a little bit of yarn left over on one of the bobbins, so I chain-plied it. Chain plying keeps the colors separate, and as you can see from this picture, the different methods of plying produce very different results.

Top: 2-plyBottom: chain-plied

Top: 2-ply
Bottom: chain-plied

It hardly seems possible that the big skein (2-ply) and the little skein (chain-plied) came not just from the same piece of combed top, but from the very same singles. But they did.

I love the endless possibilities of playing with hand-dyed fiber and a spinning wheel or spindle. 🙂

Pride Cometh…

I’ll admit it. I’m really proud of these socks.

Sparkly Garter Rib Socks

Sparkly Garter Rib Socks

I’ve knitted well over a hundred pairs of socks, but this is the very first pair I have ever knitted with yarn that I spun. They aren’t the prettiest socks I have made, but I still rather like them.

On the spinning front, I finished spinning and plying the lovely Corriedale roving from Sunset Fibers. The yarn is still on the bobbin, but I considered it to be a finished object and eligible for inclusion in a FO Friday post. 🙂

2-ply wheel-spun Corriedale

2-ply wheel-spun Corriedale

Happy Winter Solstice to all of you.

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Candy Corn And Other Stuff

Yes, it’s another FO Friday and I have lots to report on this gorgeous late November morning. First things first, I finished the Vanilla Candy Corn socks.

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The socks are not identical, but I rather like them that way. I love how the colors in this Trekking XXL stripe and flow, and I think this colorway looks fabulous in garter rib, don’t you?

Remember this fiber from the Sunset Fibers Roving of the Month Club that I was spinning? I turned it into this lovely 2-ply fingering-weight yarn.

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I’m really pleased with how this yarn turned out. There are lots of long sections of solid or nearly solid colors connected with marled sections, and I think the effect is simply spectacular. Linda at Sunset Fibers is a gifted dyer. I’ve spun up three of her colorways so far, and all of them have been beautiful.

Okay, so far we have a pair of finished socks and 4 oz. of 2-ply handspun yarn. But there’s more. Remember the Cotton Candy fiber I was spinning up for the November challenge for the Raverly Spindlers group? The theme for the month, which I picked, is “life is a carnival.” So here’s my finished yarn.

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I spun the yarn on my two Golding Ringspindles and my Schacht 1.1. I wanted to make a 3-ply, so I wound the singles off the spindles into a plying ball, then I plied the yarn using my Schacht 2.2.

When I was winding the plying ball, as I neared the end one of my singles snapped. I decided that rather than splicing the ends I would break the other two singles, then wind the remaining yarn into a separate plying ball. The second ball was tiny, so I plied it first.  After taking the plied yarn off my niddy-noddy, I decided I had put in too much twist when I plied it, so when I plied the second, large ball, I put in less twist and the finished yarn is more to my liking.

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, the tiny skein in the picture is the over-plied yarn from the tiny plying ball and the large skein above it is the more loosely-plied yarn from the large plying ball. I have no idea what I will use this yarn for, but it will look pretty in my stash. 😀

I was  afraid that the colors would turn muddy when I plied the yarn, especially since I was doing a 3-ply. But my fears were unfounded. The yarn remains quite colorful. Life is a carnival!

Another WIP Wednesday–Part 2

Here’s the spinning portion of our program. I’m starting with the lovely pin-drafted Corriedale beautifully dyed by Sunset Fibers for the November Fiber of the Month selection. I’m still a spinning newbie, so I’m always experimenting. I took this fiber and split it in half length-wise. Then I spun each half onto a separate bobbin, keeping the colors in the same order. I planned to ply the singles together to make a 2-ply and I was hoping that there would be large sections of yarn where the colors would line up. I knew there would be sections where they wouldn’t because I couldn’t be absolutely precise in dividing the yarn, and my spinning isn’t absolutely precise, either, so the length of each color section naturally varies. Sometimes it varies a lot. But I was hoping to get a yarn in which the solid colors transition one to the next through marled sections.

Sunset Fibers November 2012 FOTM in the process of becoming a 2-ply yarn

And that’s exactly what I got.

Plied yarn waiting to be wound onto the niddy noddy

On the finished bobbin, you can see only marled sections, but there are large sections where the colors lined up just right, and also sections where the marling is very subtle because the colors that came together are just lighter and darker shades of the same color. I think I am going to chalk this experiment up as a success.

So what’s next on my wheel? Well, I decided to start spinning up a lovely BFL/Tussah silk blend I bought from Greenwood Fiberworks through Etsy.

Greenwood Fiberworks 85% BFL/15% Tussah Silk in Peacock

This is my first try at spinning fiber with silk content, and it is definitely different from spinning pure BFL. I’ve had to play around a bit with the ratios on my wheel, but I’m starting to get a feel for the fiber. The first bobbin is almost done.

“Peacock” BFL/Silk single

I’m debating whether to make this yarn a 2-ply or chain-ply it. I know that a lot of spinners/knitters don’t like the barber pole effect, but I’m not one of them. But the colors of this yarn are intense jewel tones, and it might be nice to keep them separate. My singles are thicker than usual, so if I chain-ply the yarn, it will be pretty thick, and I really don’t like yarns that are thicker than Aran weight (and Aran weight is pushing it). I’ll probably do a chain-ply sample and see how it turns out. If it isn’t too thick, I will probably chain-ply the fiber. If it’s thicker than I like, I’ll probably 2-ply it. Decisions, decisions! 😀

If you are wondering whether I have thrown over my spindles for my wheel, the answer is a resounding NO! I’ve been working on the 3rd spindle of the Northern Lights Cotton Candy fiber, but I must admit my progress has slowed down a bit lately. It’s not that I don’t love spindling, and it’s not that I don’t love this particular fiber. The problem has been that my back has been a bit unhappy and has forced me to curtail my spindling. I stand and walk while spindling, and standing and walking are just what my back didn’t want. But all is well now, so I’m back on track to finish this project before the month is out.

Cotton Candy on the spindles

 

So Much To Learn

I’ve been practicing on my new Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel. The more I spin on it, the more I realize I have sooooo much to learn. When I spin on my spindles, I feel like I have total control over what I’m doing. I can make the fiber do what I want it to do. But when I spin on my wheel, I feel totally incompetent.

The first yarn I spun on the Ladybug is some Wool of the Andes fiber in a lovely heathered red. My singles were thin and rather unevenly twisted, but they weren’t bad for a rank beginner. I left the WotA singles on the bobbin for days and days while I spun up some lovely Corriedale from Sunset Fibers.

Sunset Fibers hand-dyed Corriedale singles

I was able to spin the Corriedale into much more consistently spun singles than the WotA, and I planned to chain-ply them on my wheel.

I’ve done chain plying on a spindle, with good results. But plying on a wheel is a different animal. I wanted to practice first because I want the Corriedale to become usable yarn, so I chain-plied the WotA singles on the wheel for practice. My first attempt was an unmitigated disaster, but my second try was better.

Over-plied WotA before it was washed

The yarn is way over-plied, but I am starting to get the hang of chain-plying on a spinning wheel. However, I need a lot more practice before I will be even close to getting a usable yarn, let alone mastering chain-plying on a wheel, so I decided to ply the Corriedale using a spindle. I wound one of the bobbins of the Corriedale into a plying ball and I’m chain-plying it on my Schacht Hi-Lo 2.2-ounce spindle. Chain plying is really easy to do on a spindle.

My chain plying is much better on a spindle.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this yarn when it is finished. It will have to be washed before I will know how many wraps per inch it will be. But I’m hoping it will become either heavy fingering or sport weight so that I can make some socks with it.

From Start To Finish–A Yarn Is Born

Presenting to you, dear reader, a photo history of four ounces of turquoise Corriedale fiber morphing into 224 yards/105 g of wool yarn.

The turquoise Corriedale fiber arrived from The Woolery

The spinning has begun on my beautiful Kundert spindle

Corriedale singles awaiting plying

 

Plying ball wound from Corriedale singles

 

The singles have been plied on the 2.2 oz Schacht Hi-Lo spindle

 

The 2-ply Corriedale on the niddy noddy

 

Washed, dried, and relaxing in a basket

 

The Corriedale handspun is ready to roll!