Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cabled Yarn

I've been fascinated by cabled yarns since a post early last year from the Yarn Harlot.  I've sort of played with it a couple of times without really knowing what I was doing.  So Thursday I decided it was the day to make a serious effort.  I find myself with 3 colors of Merino - plum, chartreuse and teal.  I took 1/2 ounce of the plum and teal and 2 half ounce sections of the chartreuse and started spinning.  My current favorite spinning book, The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin, has quite a good description of cabled yarns and step by step instructions.

The idea at its simplest is to spin 4 singles with extra twist, make 2 2-plies with extra twist, then cable (ply) the 2 plied yarns together.  Here's what I started with:
I spun each color onto a bobbin.   From my little experimentations, I knew that the instructions to add extra twist were important.  Since it was only half an ounce, it spun up pretty quickly.

Next I plied the plum and chartreuse then the chartreuse and teal.  You can get an idea from the ends pictured here.  I really can't stress enough that you need lots of energy in the plies.  Judith MacKenzie McCuin stresses the need for this extra twist and recommends making 2 passes at the plying.  That is, ply it the way you normally would for a balanced yarn then pass it through again to add the extra twist.  I didn't do that but would next time.

Once you have the 2 two-plied yarns, you simply cable them together.  Instructions said to make sure your wheel is set to feed in quickly because you're not going to ply it really.  All the twist you need is already there, you just have to let the two pieces "snap" together and feed it in quickly.  It kind of seems like magic the way it goes together.  Sort of like knitting the Elizabeth Zimmerman baby surprise jacket once you sew those 2 seams together.  Then it looks like this:

You can see it better if you click on it for a larger image.  I was originally just going to use the 2 greens but found the plum and thought it would be good to have that deeper tone.  I wound up with about 92 yards of pretty sturdy worsted weight yarn that I have no idea what I'll do with.  I think it might be interesting in a woven item.  Might have to pull out the old Bekah rigid heddle loom.  Hummmm....  We'll see.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lacy Garden

I've finally gotten some things accomplished around here.  Including this:

This is the second 4 ounces of the Blue Faced Leicester roving.  I loved the fiber spun into a 3-ply sock yarn but I thought I wanted to see what it would look like spun 2-ply in a lace weight.  With the 3-ply, it was plied in a way to keep the colors flowing.  With the 2-ply, as you can see, the colors are mixed, giving it more of a 'tweed' look.  I don't know if that's really the right term but it's what I'm calling it!  But when it's knitted, it will still have the flow of colors in the background. 

You can see the size of the finished yarn in this pic.  I got about 600 yards out of the 4 ounces.

It's now been set aside until it decides what it wants to be but I"m hoping it's going to be a lacy shawl.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nary a stitch

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft aglay." (often go awry)
("To a Mouse" Robert Burns)

Despite all the plans I had and all the things I planned to complete over this long weekend, not a single one got done.  I spent the entire weekend on my back with a weird vertigo-type illness.  It was worse than the worst seasickness I've ever experienced...and, believe me, anyone who has taken the ferry from Portsmouth, England, to Santander, Spain, knows about seasickness.  It's hard to explain what it's like to feel like you're falling over when you're laying in your bed having just moved your head a fraction of an inch.  Today is the closest I've come to feeling more like myself, making 4 days of absolutely nothing accomplished. 

So we start again.  I find that the world didn't fall apart because I didn't get my lace yarn finished spinning or get my gray yarn plied or my socks finished.  In fact, far from falling apart, everything is still waiting for me just as it was before.  So we start again.  Maybe that's just the lesson to take on board for the new year.