Thursday, September 3, 2009

When all else fails, read the directions

I love the Yarn Harlot’s blog. I quite enjoy starting my day as my computer is booting up sharing a little visit to see what’s happening in the Yarn Harlot’s world.

However, I have a little bone to pick with Ms. Harlot. Just a little one but here it is.

On a recent post, she was experimenting with some fiber she wanted to use on a project. She talked about her plans and experiments with the fiber and why she was deciding on one spinning method over another. Very nice. Very informative. But then she blithely mentions she thought she might cable ply it but I think, I can’t remember all the details, I think she decided against it because it didn’t bring out the colors of the fiber the way she wanted. I think that’s what happened but it’s not really important. What’s important is that she introduced me to something I’d never heard about before – cable plying. She did, however, mention it in the same breath as 3 and 4-ply. Breezy. Just like that.

So how hard could it be. You spin 4 singles (whichever direction you choose). You 2-ply 2 plies (the opposite direction of the singles). You ply the 2-plies together, in other words you cable them (in the direction of your singles). How hard could it be.

Ms. Harlot, I appreciate that you share both your fiber joys as well as your fiber pains and usually I find your blog very informative and fun. However, last night when I ended up with singles left over on 2 bobbins from a worsted 3-ply I was finishing up, I thought I’d try it. Singles. Ply. Cable. Right?

How shocked was I when I ended up with an overtwisted muddled, mess? Shocked and dismayed. But a little wiser. There’s more to this than meets the eye, I thought.

I let a ton of twist out of the yarn since it was only about 4 yards long and it’s pretty but very loose. I was determined to do better.

In the time honored tradition of when all else fails, read the directions, I went on Ravelry and found a post about this very problem in the Spin Tech group. One of the best things about Ravelry is never being alone with your fiber problems again. I love that. There was some explanation about the fact that you should spin your singles normally then totally overtwist your 2-ply. That way when you do the cabling, it will balance the yarn and “snap” together. “Snap” is the actual word used by Judith McKenzie MacCuin in her splendid and wonderful book, “The Intentional Spinner,” when talking about cabled yarn.

So I got out some generic roving I love to work with and spun away. I got 2 2-plies done and added what I thought was a ton of twist. Evidently even that wasn’t enough because this is what it did:

One thing I think I need to change is to set my wheel to take up the yarn much more quickly when I’m doing the cable part. That would mean less twist in the cabled yarn before it goes onto the bobbin. More experimenting is in order but I’ll be traveling the next week. I’ll see how it goes with a drop spindle.

So, thank you Ms. Harlot for sharing with me a new concept in spinning. For that, I’m grateful. For making it look so easy, not so much!

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