Spiraling Notions

Start to Finish

I have become fascinated by spinning. I spin all the time, everywhere I go, all day long. I have blocks of 10 minutes? perfect for a half of an arms length of fiber. Waiting for the kids at the doctor? Thats two arm lengths. Waiting for the rice to cook... not sure... lets find out.

There is something that is a little primordial about spinning. Since ancient fiber arts were made of, well, fiber they biodegraded and there are no accurate hypothesis on when spinning and weaving fibers actually began. The last estimate on spun fibers that I read about was in SpinOff, I think, found in a paleolithic cave. So for some reason spinning yarn makes me feel a connection to this human history and our development throughout ages. Before humans developed written language they were spinning and weaving. And, no, I am not normally a history buff. There is something about this that grabs me though. This simple act of taking fluff from a plant or taking hair from an animal and twisting it to make string - to then make any of hundreds of possibilities. This is something that is still the foundation of our daily lives even if we do not recognize it. For example... take that t-shirt and stretch it a bit... it is knit. For real and for true, knit... and those commercial socks... knit. Your dishtowels... knit... blankets sheets - knit or woven... the scale of these mass produced items has changed over time and the personal element has been removed, replaced with massive machines and electrical engines but the process, the underlying process is the same. That simply fascinates me.

I have become very fond of something I have heard referred to as "barber pole" yarns. I wanted to experiment with this style and went out and bought some Louet Northern Lights fibers in sharp contrasting colors to try and achieve this effect. I got the Picasso colorway.




I spun this thicker than I have been, mainly to prove to myself that I can still do it. I have read that many people who begin to spin finer yarns have a problem spinning thicker yarns. I wanted to retrain myself for thick before my muscle memories decided I could only work with thin... It was a pretty good experiment all things considered - and it was a lot harder to spin thick. However - since it was very thin top, not quite a pencil roving, but it was easier to spin because i did not need to pre-draft. i kept the diameter of the drafting about half the size of the actual roving. I think it made a big difference, having the roving so close to the size of the yarn I wanted to produce.



Once I finished two spindles full I joined them and set the twist. I have read that you are supposed to set the twist after you ply - but last time I ply'd the yarn got tangled and I had to throw away half of the skein. So, experimenting... I "baked" in the twist. I then plied the yarn, I think it may have been slightly damp when I worked with it. I am not sure if this did or will cause problems. I made a center pull ball on my ball winder and worked from both ends to ply.



After I plied the yarn I set the twist a second time and hung it to dry. Then I finished spinning more of the fiber and repeated the process for setting, plying, and setting the remaining fibers as well. I just knotted the two lengths together and wound it on my niddy noddy to make the skein. I also beat it against the wall a few times from both ends of the skein. I have read in several places that this helps distribute the twist evenly through the fibers. Well see...



I am really proud of this one. It actually looks the way I wanted and seems to be fairly consistent. I achieved what I set out to do with a little planning and it looks pretty good. I just have to figure out what to make with it!

UPDATE 05.18.2010:
I have decided on the Buttonhead hat by Lee Meredith. This is a really cool hat and can be done in a number of ways. She designed it using her own handspun yarns so I think it also lends itself well to a homespun look and feel.

Working with the yarn I realize that it has a bit too much twist. This seems to be pretty standard for me at this stage. I am not sure it will effect the finished project though - because there is a swirling pattern that starts in the center of the hat and moves outward. The push of the twist may be offset buy this spiral in the hat. Or at least that is what I am hoping. Next time I have been told I need to whack the yarn - a lot - to help distribute the twist.

I am almost finished with Buttonhead. So far the over twist does not seem to be an issue. With my Orange Marmalade the entire cowl has a noticeable shift. I love it anyway... but I was hoping to minimize that in this one. It does not seem to be a problem so far.



UPDATE: 05.22.10:
FINISHED... It is finished and the twist seems fine! Maybe I got away with it this time. Next time, thwacking will ensue. I wore it all day today. It feels good. Not itchy or anything. I even got a few compliments.

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