The Tour de Fleece is underway!

My indigodragonfly PandaBaa is all ready to go!  Come join us!

Let’s get spinning!

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Canada Day Weekend FO: Spinning Edition

Some evenings, spinning is a lovely, relaxing way to wind down after a long day. Since I picked it up again in May, I have been finding knitting time dwindling and spinning time increasing…which is a bit of a problem since really, I am just creating more yarn. But I digress.

Since May, I have spun up three separate braids, and this one is the first that I would consider luxury, ie that is something other than straight merino or BFL. This braid of 80% BFL and 20% silk from Friends in Fibre has been calling to me with its lovely blues and purples for a while now, and I thought it was time to spin up something truly yummy.

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in "Blue Moon"

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in “Blue Moon”

After watching Felicia Lo’s Craftsy class called “Spinning Dyed Fibres” and discovering that the braid had lovely long runs of colour, I decided on a fractal spin. This is a process whereby you split the braid lengthwise down the middle, and then spin one half as is to get the afore mentioned long stretches of single colour. The other half is then split lengthwise as many times as possible and spun up one after the other. This creates shorter runs of colour, and then the two are plied together. Real results are only visible once the piece is knit up and I haven’t gotten that far yet.

After plying on Saturday, I Tweeted this picture:

First run at plying

First run at plying

One of my followers, an avid spinner, commented that it was pretty and I asked her if perhaps the plying was too loose. I have a tendency to overspin my singles with the knowledge that the plying will take some of it away, but it seems I am a bit overcautious with the plying. “Fluffykira” kindly suggested that I run it back through the wheel – something I wasn’t actually sure I could do – if I felt it wasn’t plied tightly enough.  She assured me it would be fine and that I could just soak it again afterwards and all would be well!  I can’t say how grateful I am to her. After 45 minutes or so, and an episode of Battlestar Galactica…this was the result.

And after a second ply...

After a second ply…

Next time I will know not to be quite so judicious with the amount of twist I am adding.  Because frankly, having to re-do all this a second time was a bit of a pain, even if it was totally worth it in retrospect.

Finished skein

Finished skein

Next up…indigodragonfly PandaBaa in “Cast On Couch”.  This gorgeous red-purple colourway in merino/bamboo will be going on my wheel for Tour de Fleece!  In fact, indigodragonfly has entered a team into the festivities.  Come join us on Ravelry!

Spinning FO: Blooming Bougainvilla

Remember this?

Last week I decided that the spindle spin I had started during Tour de Fleece two years ago was never going to get finished unless my Lendrum got involved.

I am pleased to report it’s all done!  And it turned out remarkably well, all things considered, although it’s not as even as my most recent spinning.

The Woolee Winder I purchased is a miracle worker.  I easily got the single onto a single bobbin.

The Finished Single

The Finished Single

Then on Monday evening, I “Shireen-plyed” my yarn.  This is a name I have given to a faux-Andean plying method that Shireen came up with last week.  4 oz of single is a bit hard to Andean ply without cutting off circulation to your fingers, so Shireen wound it into a centre-pull ball, and then plied the two ends of the ball together.  A small downfall to this method: towards the very end, the ball collapses and gets a bit tangly.  The up side?  You never have mismatched single from having two bobbins that don’t quite match.  In this case, I did it to ply older, thicker, spindle spun yarn with newer wheel spun yarn in an attempt at consistency.

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Certainly not perfect, but I am actually pleased with the result, regardless of the thick and thin quality.

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Next up…the second half of my Friends in Fiber BFL/Silk fractal spin!  Have to clear my bobbins for next week’s Tour de Fleece!

Caught the spinning bug

Two years ago, when I started spindle spinning, I signed on for Tour de Fleece, a Ravelry event that takes place during Tour de France where we spin the same days that the riders do.  I got through a 50g merino sliver in the first three days, and started on a 115g braid of Mixed BFL from Two If By Hand in an interesting pink and gold colourway called “Blooming Bougainvilla”.

 

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I got 9 or 10 days into TdF and fell off the wheel, so to speak, with about a third of the braid on my spindle.

My Houndesign spindle...as pretty as the fibre!

My Houndesign spindle…as pretty as the fibre!

And so it has sat in my crafting cupboard for the past two years.  With my renewed interest in my wheel, I decided I’d probably never finish this on a spindle.  But why couldn’t I finish the braid, but on my wheel?  Since there’s only a third on the spindle, if I spun the other two thirds on the wheel, the amounts would be uneven and make for weird and awkward plying.  So what’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you…she spends an entire episode (and then some) of Scandal winding the spun yarn off her spindle onto her wheel, then attaching some new fibre to it and continuing the effort.

And off we go!

And off we go, albeit a little blurry!

The yarn is significantly thicker than my current spinning so it will be a task to keep it that way.  And if I choose to chain ply, that resultant yarn is going to be quite thick.

Here’s the most interesting part…looks like I spin in the opposite direction on my wheel than I do on a spindle.  With the spindle, I push off the inside of my left leg, this causing the spindle to go counter-clockwise, resulting in an “S” twist.  With the wheel, I default to pushing the wheel clock-wise, resulting in a “Z” twist.  So for the next few days, I have to remember to spin my wheel as though I were plying, instead of my usual way.

But at least a two year old spinning project will get finished.

What old projects have you resurrected because you got tired of knowing they were just sitting there?

Chain Plying for Newbies

Last night I bit the bullet, so to speak, and decided to try my hand at chain plying.  I had a single that I had spun from this superwash merino and I was intent on trying to preserve the colours.

Needlework's Pleasure Handpainted Extra Soft Merino Wool Roving

Needlework’s Pleasure Handpainted Extra Soft Merino Wool Roving

The single sat for a few weeks while I balked at the idea of trying a new technique, and a few nice spinners on Twitter recommended this video to help me along.

Last night I pulled out some bits of singles that my friend, Val gave me and made an interesting discovery.  Chain plying is not for the faint of heart yarn.  A few of her singles were good and sturdy and plied beautifully, but several others were softer and finer snapped at every single attempt to ply them.  As luck would have it, my single was either sturdier, thicker or both because while it snapped twice in two very very thin spots, overall, it plied well.

I also noticed something else that, as a newbie, is likely not unusual but for experienced spinners is not an issue.  As I plied off the bobbin with the finished single, my yarn got increasingly less “nice”.  It got thicker, and slubbier and had more underspun spots, the closer I got to the start of my spinning.  Since this was the first thing I had spun in over a year, this is not really surprising.  In fact, it’s sort of motivating as I could see, in the span of an hour of plying, just how far I had come in the week or so that it took me to spin that single.

Since I could not sleep this morning, in the quiet of my 6 AM apartment, this:

The single

The single

became this:

The finished skein!

The finished skein!

Overall, I am pretty happy with it.

Certainly I am happy with my progress towards spinning that looks like real yarn 😀