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, May 06, 2011

Spinning Singles study

I had the great idea of doing spinning technique studies with my podcast listeners this year. I explained the concept in several podcasts at the beginning of the year, and set March as the start date. I needed a central location for them to post their photos, so I invited any one wanting to spin along to join the Yarnspinnerstales spin in group on Ravelry Even though I set this project for March, it's an open ended invitation, anyone can work on these goals I set to explore the technique of spinning and knitting with singles. So if this piques your interest, hop over to the group, check out the thread for the March singles study group.

I also discussed what I found as I worked on these samples in episode 60 of the YST podcast.

First a picture of all of the swatches, then a photo of each with explanation:

I was using a wool roving, probably a blend of other fibers too. I really don't know the entire fiber content, since I purchased the roving.

The first goal was to spin some of my default single, as if I was just spinning this to use in plying. I instructed everyone to leave the single on the bobbin to rest for a time period (mine was about 1 week) but then instead of plying, to just knit a swatch from that single. This was to give us an indication of whether the single was balanced, or over or under twisted. This is important information to know, even when using the single to ply. Some of that active twist can be relieved when plying, however, it shows up when knitted as a single, even after resting. You see this in the photo below, a slight slant to the knitting, and a curl at the upper right corner.

The next instruction was to correct your spinning, either not as much twist or more twist, to try and create a balanced single. I actually did this swatch last, after step three and four, and so had plenty of fiber left and spun a larger amount than all the others. So to use it up, I knit the garter stitch swatch but then went on to knit SS stitch, with a few YO to make a simple lace design. You can see this area, pulling in due to the SS stitch. I had spun the single as before, being more observant of the twist, let the single rest on the bobbin for 2 weeks and then knit the swatch. The garter area of the swatch was well behaved and laid flat without blocking, showing I had achieved my goal of spinning the single without extra active twist.
Suggestions 3 and 4 were set up to show ways of controlling the active twist of singles, before and after you knit, and also to show that active twist will return if you wash an item, and not block it.

#3 was a study of blocking the single before knitting with it. The single was spun as above, although not allowed to rest. I immediately wound the single on my plastic niddy noddy and wet the skein while stretched and allowed it to dry completely. Then the swatch was knitted straight off the niddy noddy. The resulting swatch was very well behaved, no active twist at all. Even the tiny skein of single, shown above the swatch laid flat. However the gauge of the swatch had increased by almost 2 stitches per inch, so doing this for any garment would require close attention to the gauge. Also, if the item was washed, it would have to be blocked back to it's original shape. But the goal here was to create a relaxed single to knit.
#4 was set up to study active twist yarn, or highly energized yarn as some call it. I spun a single with an excess amount of twist, spinning enough to do two swatches. The swatch to the left in the photo was knit immediately after spinning the single, as you can see it is so energized it almost rolls up on itself. Then I took the remaining single and put it on the plastic niddy noddy and wet it and allowed it to dry, just as in the step above. The swatch to the right was knit straight from the niddy noddy. It shows that blocking the yarn did help alot, however there is a limit, because there was still active energy in the swatch. The gauge is tighter, and the fabric has a very dense feel to to, like all those stitches as being crunched together by the twist.
I think everyone that spun along with me on this study had a great learning experience. I talked more about some of the observations from the group, and my personal experiences in the podcast.

I have other spinning technique spin alongs planned for the year, so be sure to check the YST group on Ravelry and join us if they seem interesting.