Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spinning beaded yarn

I talk about this process in the podcast in episode 66 but sometimes a photo essay also helps. So I thought I'd blog some of the photos as well as talk about the actual process. This idea has been rattling around in my head for awhile, instead of putting beads into my knitting, how about beading during spinning and then knitting with the yarn. The chance to actually try it though didn't happen until I bought the Aura spinning wheel. It's lovely wide open orifice allows spinning with objects larger than the fiber to pass through and wind on to the bobbin. If you've read the previous posts you saw where during the Tour de Fleece I tried a sample skein using an alpaca single, thin beading wire and beads. It was an interesting yarn, but not one that I really had envisioned knitting something with. So I kept to the basic idea of it, using the alpaca singles, and beads but this time I strung the beads on a thin tatting cotton thread. The idea was to have all the beads threaded onto that ball of tatting thread, and pull the thread up through them as I plied. So the thread had to be thin enough not only to pass through the bead holes but also to flow continuously through those beads as I pulled on it to ply. I set up everything around my comfy chair, my spinning spot of choice. My Roberta electric wheel was to the left of me, to serve as a bobbin holder for the bobbin of alpaca singles. My Aura was of course in front of me, and to my right, on the floor was a lazy kate, holding the ball of tatting thread with the beads. And we off and spinning..... Well, not quite. The fact that the beads were on the floor lower than everything else was a real problem. The beads needed to be higher than everything else, to 'fall' into the drafting zone when I was ready for a bead. Otherwise I was continually stopping, bending over, grabbing a bead, sliding it all the way up, and then putting it into the yarn. It worked, but was really annoying. I thought of asking hubby to hold the beads up in the air for the hour it took me to ply, and then reconsidered, wanting to not live with a cranky hubby. What I needed, a sky hook, really didn't exist, so I rigged up the next best thing. I needed something to hold the thread with the beads near the same level as the plying area. I finally used what was at hand, a collection of wood TV trays that sits in my living room. So the final set up looked like this:

First the lazy kate holding the (now almost gone) first ball of tatting cotton, with the beads strung on it.
Next, note the thread running up from the lazy kate to the TV tray and over it:
A photo showing what it looked like right in front of me
And finally the beaded yarn on the bobbin.
It worked fine and did produce a beaded yarn. The yarn has a few faults, mostly that it is hard to get enough twist around the larger beads. When I do this again (and I will) I have two changes I will make. One I will use consistent size beads, probably a bit smaller than these. Two I will actually do a three ply. This is something I read later in a book. It is suggested to make beaded yarn one should spin a single Z a bit over twisted, ply with a Z single that holds the beads and then S ply a third single. My first try will be a handspun single, but use the tatting cotton for the other two singles. Then I may get brave enough to try handspun for all singles.

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