Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Doing what I've never done before

We spinners tend to stick to 2-ply yarns.  Not always, not everyone, but I bet most spinners you talk to will say the same.  And there's a good reason for it.

When you spin and spin and spin your singles, it takes real heart, real courage, real grit to use more than 2 plies in a yarn.  The more singles you ply together, the less yardage you'll get out of all that spinning.  With a 2-ply, you get the maximum output from the effort. 

I've done a few 3-plies because I wanted the effect Navajo plying would give the yarn.  I've even done a little dab of cabled yarn using 4 singles (plying 2 2-plies).  But I've never given my effort to a true 4-ply yarn.  Up to now, I've not had the guts.  But with the package of Louet Northern Lights roving (colorway - ocean waves) I felt it was going to be worth the effort. 

First, I divided it into 4 2-ounce sections and then I started spinning, each to its own bobbin.  I knew I needed to spin it fairly fine because I'm not a huge fan of the bulky yarn. 

Once I got the 4 bobbins done, I even tried a little bit of it as a 6-ply by holding 2 strands together and Navajo plying.  Worked quite well, although I got a little too much twist into it.

As I was finishing with the 4th bobbin, I realized I was going to need to do something about a lazy kate - the thing that holds the bobbins for plying.  Mine on the wheel only holds 2 bobbins.  My clothes drying rack was folded up and propped against the wall and I realized it would work perfectly as a lazy kate.  Just stick the dowels through the racks and through the bobbins and, voila, a lazy kate.

Worked like a charm.

When I bought this fiber, I liked it because it had a demin look to it.  But as I spun the singles, it began to look really purple.  Now, I'm all for purple but it's not what I'd hoped for.  The fascinating thing, though, is that when I plied it, it got the denim look back.  It was fascinating to see how the colors in the 4 strands blended into almost a different color.  There's something about the structure of the 4-ply that fascinated me.  Instead of wrapping around each other, it was like the 4 strands wrapped around something else.

I ended up with almost 700 yards of DK weight yarn so that's not so bad (even though it would have been 1,400 yards of 2-ply).  I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it but the 2 things that crossed my mind as I was spinning away are:
  1. Socks - that will only take about 200 yards.
  2. Vest - I'm thinking I might like the knit the front vest pieces from this and the back either from fabric or I have some nice black merino that would make a nice fabric for the back.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

About finishing (or trying to finish)

It's been quite a wild week since I got back from vacation.  I mentioned before about the Sebu mittens.  Here's the finished pair.  Can you tell which one was the goof?

I haven't blocked them yet but I'm happy to have them finished.  They were ready just in time for 80 degree temps!

The other thing I was eager to finish was another version of the Berroco Cosima.  I do love my Berroco yarns.  But this time I wanted to spin a yarn comparable to the Berroco Cuzco the pattern calls for.  I have to admit my early efforts weren't completely sucessful.  Spinners always say it's harder to spin a chunkier yarn.  For some reason, the inclination is to spin an ever-thinner yarn.

Cuzco is 50/50 wool/alpaca so I had this big plan to get 8 oz of silver gray wool and 8 oz of silver gray alpaca, pull them into strips and spin them together.  Probably not the "right" way to do it but I did it that way on purpose.  I wanted to see what would happen.  I spun about 2/3 of the yarn and put it away because it wasn't being much fun to spin.  There it sat until I went on this vacation.  Since I didn't have anything else to be knitting on (mittens, notwithstanding), I decided to take this along and see how far my 2 skeins would take me.  The yarn wasn't perfect but it worked up fine and I was able to get the back, 1 front and part of the second front done.  And I still had at least 1 skein left to spin.

I came home and got spinning.  There's something to the thing about practice, because when I came back to this project I found that I was much better able to control the diameter and make the yarn look like what I wanted.  Here's what I mean:

The dark gray is the Berroco and the silver gray is mine.  Pretty darn close, don't you think?

I got this washed up and ready to go and started knitting.  The next challenge is a very small issue - having enough fiber to spin to make the yarn to knit the sweater.  Sigh... 

Almost but just not quite. 

Now I just have to wait for more Colonial wool to come in.  Guess I learned one lesson out of this:  it takes more than 1 lb of fiber to make a sweater!  Everyone's always asking me how much fiber it takes to make a sweater.  Now I know what to say - more than 1 lb!