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.

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