Friday, October 28, 2011

More than one way to skin a skein

I’ve started working on a post over the last couple of weeks but just haven’t been able to get everything together at one time.

I’m not going to go through the new hats but here’s a picture of the collection.  I gave away the alpaca fair isle one to a friend but I’ve got plenty more where that came from so I think there is one more hat in my future but for the most part I think it’s over.  For now.  Except the one I’ve got going to match the scarf I made with the last of the Kickapoo Creek silk/merino/alpaca.  That’s all.   I think.

I had a great time once again at the Bishophill Spin-In.  There were some unexpected surprises and some intoxicating fibers.  The 2 big surprises (no, make that 3) came from a stall run by a couple who were disposing of an estate that comprised 7 storage lockers of crafting treasures.  From them I obtained some very rare and exciting bobbin lace books (scoooore!), a Schacht warping board (20 yard warping board that probably cost over $200 for $35) and a bobbin lace bobbin winder (that usually costs more than $100 for $30). 

Wasn’t expecting those at all.  I’d been pricing warping boards because the only one I have is a small one on the back of my rigid heddle loom.  Problem is if I have that loom warped (which I do), I can’t use the warping board.  

But, on to the fiber, which is the whole reason for going there.  I’ll tell you more about the fleece I got another time but I also got the most beautiful roving from a local farm.  The sheep is Blue-faced Leicester.  It is the best prepared roving I’ve ever had.  It’s from Floya’s Fleece (sorry, no website link can I find).  She’s from Chana, IL, and her fiber is fabulous.  I got a mixture of white, med brown and dark brown and I’m going to do something special with it. I’m just itching to spin it but I don’t want to be rushed with other things.  I want to just enjoy the process.

I also got a fiber mixture from Fae Ridge Farm which I wasn’t at all convinced I really wanted but I have a very pushy friend.  Never go shopping with Mary if you don’t have an iron will.  I’m just saying.  Anyway, I’ve lost the tag that gives all the fibers mixed for this roving but I just wasn’t convinced except I really liked the colors.  Definitely not love at first sight but the second I started spinning, I started getting courted.  Then I plied and got wooed.  And then I washed and I was hooked.

It was in a cloud preparation, which I 'm particularly fond of, and I’ve spun it to a 3-ply almost worsted weight.  So far I have about 200 yards with probably another 100 to go and, although the intention was to spin a sock yarn, I’m not sure that’s what this lovely stuff wants to be.  It’s predominantly Border Leicester so it’s not totally soft (although it’s really pretty wonderful) and it’s a little chunkier than I would normally have for socks…we’ll have to see.

But the thing I look forward to every year is the dyed silk hankies from Lone Tree Wools.  I get them every year and every year they’re the first thing I spin and I can’t wait until the next year to get more.

You know I love to spin hankies.  I spin them corner to corner and have posted a video to show how I do it (in case you’re interested).  But I’ve discovered that it doesn’t do very well as a 2-ply yarn.  I really like it to have 3 plies – gives it a bit of structure.  I’ve had this discussion with several friends lately and seem to have some support on this but I’ve never looked up the discussions on Ravelry to see what the wider opinion is.  I don’t guess it really matters, it’s my yarn and I’ll make it like it want to.

But this brings us to a dilemma that every spinner faces from time to time.  How many plies?  After you’ve spent all this time spinning the singles, do you go for the yardage or do you go for the perfect yarn?  Of course, with every ply you add, you decrease your yardage by a significant amount.  Having the perfect yarn, though…

So I decided on a 3-ply but I didn’t want to do a Navajo ply with this because silk doesn’t absorb that little bump you get at the end of each chain like wool can.  I tried to guestimate* how much to spin onto each bobbin and got pretty close on the first 2 but the third bobbin was a lot more.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  It just was.

I tried to figure out how best to do it so that I could spin a true 3-ply off of my 3 uneven bobbins and here’s what I came up with.
I had 2 pretty even bobbins so I left the singles on those bobbins.
Then I wound the 3rd bobbin into a ball.

To begin with, I spun with the inside and outside ends of the ball along with one of the bobbins – 3 strands.  I continued that until I realized I was going to run out of the ball then I started using 1 strand from the ball with strands from each of the bobbins.  I did that until the ball ran out.  At that point, I was close to the end but I had about twice as much on one bobbin as I had on the other.  So I wound the long bobbin strand on my hand and Andean plied the hand strand with the remaining bobbin strand until I was finished.  

It worked out beautifully.  Once the strand on my hand was finished, I had about 4 inches on the remaining bobbin.  Pretty darn close.  Can’t wait to wind this off and get it washed!

The moral of the story is there’s more than one way to get a 3 ply yarn.

* Just a little note to say that an organized spinner would have separated her fiber out before she started spinning so that all 3 bobbins were even to begin with.  I had my reasons.