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 10, 2013

Finished skein of yarn

This all started with a 4 oz braid of fiber from Natural Obsessions.  She started a fiber club using a random tarot card to inspire her dyeing.  This was the fiber from the first month of the club.  It is dyed 80/20 merino/tussah silk.  The card (which I really can't show here) was the 10 of Pentacles.  She included a color copy of the card which shows 10 gold stars.  It was those stars that I wanted to capture in the final yarn. 
After thinking awhile about various possible ways to do that, I finally realized I wasn't going to like anything that didn't just pop with metallic gold.  I couldn't stop thinking about that crochet cotton you see with the metal thread as one ply.  I had even crocheted snowflakes from some of that type of commercial yarn, and those really did look like gold stars.
So I decided I would spin all of the 4 oz of fiber as a single and try plying with the commercial yarn.
I ended up with a single of 22 WPI.  Although I forgot to take a picture of the fiber in it's braid, you can see the way to colors fell and progressed in the final yarn.
I went and bought three balls of the commercial yarn, in a light color with gold threads.  I tried the light color with about five yards, and washed the sample, just to see how it would look.  The yarn was fine after washing, but there was not enough gold 'pop' to the yarn.  So I went to another store and bought three balls of a gold plied with gold thread.  That was what I ended up using for this final yarn.
The process took a long time, because my curiousity got the better of me.  I spun another fiber into a single and went through my stash and found 12 commercial yarns to ply with that single.  It ranged from very thick to laceweight.  The results were interesting and I did a podcast about it.  I even talked about splitting up those yarns and washing them just to see if it made a difference in the next podcast.
The key point to the whole experiment is you will have the most satisfactory results if the WPI of your handspun and commercial yarn is close to the same.  As it turned out that is what happened with this skein of yarn, the hand spun was 22 WPI and the crochet cotton 23 WPI.
These photos show the skein all on the niddy noddy I use, both sides are all part of one skein.  Each ball of crochet cotton was 100 yards, based on what I used I should have about 425 yards.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Shetland locks

I bought this shetland fleece specifically to lock wash and spin very thin yarn.  I didn't think too much about the yellow on the locks, because often the yellow washes out.  Here is a picture of the raw unwashed locks, as you can see, they really are not dirty or matted.

This is a picture of the locks getting basted into the nylon net 'bag' I make to hold locks in place while they are being washed.  I'll make three or four of these bags, which when folded over once lay flat in my kitchen sink.  I didn't weigh anything, on an average I get about 20 locks in a bag.

I took this picture to show there are parts of the fleece that I do not use for lock washing, pieces no longer in lock formation, or too small to really spin as a lock once it is washed.  This will be washed as I do any fleece and probably combed with my hand held combs.

This picture shows the washed and dry locks.  You can see the white is much whiter, but the yellow did not go away at all.  Although disappointed with this, I am not really surprised, once I thought about it.  In my experience, fleeces that had yellow on it that did wash away had a high lanolin content.  So the yellow yoking was laying on top of that lanolin and would wash away with it.  This shetland was very low lanolin.  I hardly felt any with handling the raw fleece.  So the yolking stained the fleece itself and will not wash away.

I took a photo of the single on the drop spindle, showing some of the yellow coloring.  I do not really consider this a problem, although I won't leave the yarn white.  I will plan to dye the yarn to cover the inconsistent natural color.  The yarn I'll make with these locks is definately worth that extra step, and I would not like a white shawl anyway, my intended project for the yarn.  If one was thinking of a baby shawl, then it would be worth looking for a white shetland with no yellow to it.

I sent most of the locks to a fiber exchange partner, but kept six that I combed out with a metal tooth dog grooming comb.  These I spun on my Bosworth mini drop spindle, shown above.  It was almost too lightweight but my next size up spindle would have been too heavy..  I found my arthritic fingers did not like that flicking motion one makes on the shaft to get it moving, and I went to the roll on the thigh which, once I got past the tendency to go into 'carreen' mode, actually worked really well.  Final details on the yarn:  (weight to follow, my scales battery is dead)  23 WPI 2 ply 5 yards sample.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Plying with commercial yarns

 This post connects with the YST podcast, episode 90.  I talk all about the why and hows of plying (and playing) with the concept of plying a hand spun single with different commercial yarns.

I have found that the blogger app for the iPad is wonderful for posting photos, but not so handy to then put text with them.  So I do the work around by posting the photos then using my desktop when I have the time to edit in the text.

How I decided to even do this spinning experiment is another blog post (coming soon, when I finish a certain yarn).  Once it had snowballed into the large, 'let's try this yarn, and this, and this' project, I knew I had to start with lots of a hand spun single.  I decided to go with a white/light color so the actual wraps of the ply twist would be highly visible.  That certainly came true, as you will see in my yards and yards of striped yarn.

I had purchased fiber from a local fiber producer here in Kentucky called Wandering Ewe Farms.  
They raise Clun Forest and Border Leicester sheep and have their own mini mill to process their sheep fiber.  This first photo shows one of the bumps of fiber I bought from them.  It looks white but actually has very pale pastels in the blend.  I don't know if it is one of the specific breeds or a blend of both.  I do know that it is the first time I had ever purchased a bump of fiber packaged this way.  That is one long tube of paper that the roving is wrapped around.  The roving was even and pretty thin, I did no predrafting before I spun the single. 

I spun all 8 ounces of the bump, although this photo is about half way through the spinning.  I spun it on my Aura.  It was lovely to spin,   You can see the hints of color in the single better on the bobbin.

The fun part was then hitting my yarn stash and selecting various odds and ends of yarn to ply with the single.  I picked a total of 13 but used 12 in the final plying.  I went from as thick as I could find (the white acrylic) to lace weight thin (red on the lower left.)  Other considerations was texture (very fuzzy or bumpy) and type of fiber (hand dyed cotton, and an amazing sea silk/silk blend, that tiny ball on the lower left above the lace weight).  Here they all are, before plying.

And this, is after.  There are two skeins on the niddy noddy, the left hand side being the thicker yarns and the right hand the thinner.  If you want to play match the yarns, start with the white yarn on the upper right  and _sort of_ work clockwise.  On the niddy noddy start at the left (see the white?) and go straight across.  The end yarns on the extreme right on the niddy noddy is the red lace weight, next to last, and then the sea silk/silk, a gold color.  Maybe you can click on the photo and get a larger size to see better. 

I am not going into details about each yarn in this post, I covered all that in the podcast.  And although at first I thought I would keep each skein intact, I have since decided to cut each yarn separately, and then cut those skeins in half, and wash half.  The goal is to get a before and after washing of each plying yarn, to see how washing affects the final yarn.