Saturday, March 22, 2008

Yarn!

All quiet here on the western front today, which has given me some time to skein up my first batch of yarn. After much debating over which of my lovely rovings should be first onto the wheel, I decided to play with the merino/tencel blend I bought recently, as I already had a bobbin full of it, and figured that I should ply that up sooner rather than later. So, I spun away. I'm definitely finding it easier to draft as I spin, although getting started each time is tough (I keep snapping the darned yarn and having to re-thread it through the orifice, and somehow it takes several minutes to convince my feet to keep the wheel moving at the top of each turn).

I have developed a number of ad hoc tools to help. My orifice hook is a bent paperclip, which is doing the trick perfectly. And, as I have no lazy kate, and only one bobbin for the ashford, once I was done spinning the singles, I wound them off the bobbins using my ball winder, holding the bobbin on a dowel with my toes. Then I plied from the center-pull balls, which worked like a charm. It's good to know that I can manage pretty much whatever I need to with what I've got at this point. So, I finished the singles early yesterday evening, and then just had to stay up late to ply (I was kind of interested to see whether all of this made-up equipment and technique was going to do the trick).

Then, this morning, I measured out a yard of scrap yarn, and used it to set my swift up to a yard in diameter (did I mention that I also have no niddy-noddy?). I used that to wind the plied yarn off the bobbin into a hank. Then I tied it off and put it to soak in a very hot bath to set the twist. When that was done, I beat it against the wall of the shower (I'm still not entirely sure what purpose the beating serves, but I've seen it recommended in several places, besides which, it kind of felt good), and hung it outside in the shade to dry.
It has been an absolutely gorgeous day today, and everything is in bloom. The wisteria is going nuts on the back patio.
And there's still more to come.
The sage is also in bloom, the fig tree is just starting to leaf, and the orange blossoms are smelling heavenly. Spring has definitely sprung.

The yarn is the perfect purple color to go with all of these blooms.
You can see there that the spinning is still not even; there are definitely some loose bits. But there are quite a few strands that spun and plied up very evenly, and the ply was also even overall (no twisting when I hung it in its hank), and I have hope that there will come a time when I have better control over the process.
I used about half or a little more of the roving, and ended up with about 100 yards. In spite of the fact that I am wild to get the Linguistic roving onto the wheel, I think that I will finish this roving up first, for a couple of reasons. First, I figure that if I want this yarn to be about the same all the way through so that I can use it for one project, I should probably spin it more or less at once, so that I keep these charming (humph) inconsistencies (from what I've read, there comes a period in the middle skill stages of spinning when it gets hard to purposely produce "novelty" yarn; I'm looking forward to that stage, to be quite honest, since I never buy or use lumpy yarn). Also, once it's all spun, I'll have a better sense of just how much I have to work with, and I can start to consider what exactly can be knitted out of 180-200 yards of lumpy yarn. A shrug for one of the girls? A lace scarf from the Victorian Lace book? I'm at a bit of a loss...

14 comments:

Anne said...

Yum! Look at all those gorgeous purples. I do love wisteria (that was one of my favorite parts of Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees); it's lovely to see that it is spring somewhere.

Bea said...

I think it looks really great for your first yarn on your first wheel! I think the beating fluffs the fibers (I could be making that up, but I thought I read that on someone else's blog and of course I can't remember who)

Lynne said...

Wow! I'm impressed. DD - a beginner working on her first 'tops' - is still producing 'art' yarn!

Marianne said...

Wow. Congratulations! It looks good to me... what 'weight' do you think it to be?

Rachael said...

Looks great, I'm impressed!!! It must feel really good to have such concrete and visible product after all that work!

Jan said...

As Lincoln said, "It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." I think this can be extended to yarn as well...your yarn with its vices is sure to be far more treasured than any flawless machine-made yarn. And as Anne points out, the purples are gorgeous!

Have you thought about using it for a boudoir pillow top or a small bag/purse? The former would let you keep it on display in your room and the latter would make it a useful item in which the variations would add interest.

Ciao, Twinset Jan

twinsetellen said...

Those aren't inconsistencies - those are features!

And the lovely yarn IS the perfect shade to be set to dye amid the wisteria. I wonder what color you'll be spinning as the seasons change. Do you think you can arrange to be so coordinated in the future? A precedent has now been set, you know.

Stell said...

wow! both to the wheel and the yarn, and the garden, that is such a lovely colour and as you say - much of it is even. Well done! I found spindling first helped lots with the whole coordination thing.

I read that the beating evens out the twist, it forces it to equilibrate along the length of the skein. Its the sudden shock as it hits that makes it even. then there is a hot water-cold water dunk treatment that I have not tried that beds the fibers together and makes the yarn look more even.

lazy kate - google shoe box lazy kate, or home made lazy kate. Basically you poke a knitting needle thru a shoe box and suspend the bobbins on it, you should get 2-3 bobbins in a shoe box. There are even instructions out there about building a home made tensioned lazy kate so there is no back-winding as you ply.

Courtney said...

The yarn you're producing is really beautiful! I love the little inconsistencies. If it came out 100% perfectly, there'd be no way to tell that it was made by hand with love and not by some machine. :)

Good work!

KnitNana said...

LOVE.IT.
What a great job...! and the color is amazing...
(((hugs)))

Margaret said...

Beautiful! It all gets more even with practice, but your plying really does look quite consistent already. Thwacking supposedly helps redistribute the twist, but it also seems to make the fibers bloom a little more into a nice round even yarn.
Love the purple, and wisteria!

EGunn said...

I love your yarn! I really need to get spinning some more. And if you think that's lumpy, you should see my first yarn...it makes yours look downright professional! I found that humming a slow, rhythmic song helps me keep the wheel going over the top of the turn; my foot has no trouble keeping time with a piece of music; the trick is just finding one with the right beat. Spirituals are usually the ones that fit my spinning rhythm best.

Alisha said...

I am so excited for you...your wheel came and lookie what you made. It looks great. I don't think I could do that. Awesome stuff!

Juno said...

Thwacking helps the fiber bloom and felt a bit to increase beauty and strength and also evens out irregularities. It is not always the best method of finishing - a longer wool spun worsted isn't going to necessarily respond the way a fine wool spun woolen. But it IS fun.

Great first yarn.