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.

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.