After working for Seven Months to create a whole lot of very fine lace that is very consistent and well-behaved… I needed a break. I needed to spin something fat and pointless. Conveniently, about halfway through my lace plying, the latest copy of Spin Off showed up at work for our perusal, and peruse I did…. paying special attention to the article on spinning bouclé. (By the way, Spin Off is an amazing magazine. Every issue I read is like a reference book. Totally worth it if you want to amp up your spinning experience and be inspired to try new things.)
What is this “bouclé”, you ask? [Pronounced boo-CLAY]
It is a particular kind of novelty yarn. “Novelty” in the context of yarn generally means about the same thing as it does in the context of theology: interesting, momentarily cool looking, but probably a bad idea. If you see anything that looks like ribbon, has lots of shiny bits, or the word “sparkle” anywhere in the materials list, it’s probably novelty. It’s mostly used for scarves, and was instrumental in the comeback craze of knitting back in the ’90’s. It’s mostly passed as a fad, as evidenced by the fact that Cloverhill’s entire collection of novelty yarn is in the sale bin.
Bouclé is a kind of novelty yarn that has a bunch of loops in it. It’s like yarn yarn yarn LOOP yarn yarn. (This picture will kinda give you the idea of the loopiness.) I first heard of it when my mom called to tell me “I HATE this stuff! My needles keep getting stuck in the loops and it’s so stupid!”
So why, if I’ve no affection for novelty yarn and I’ve heard nothing but bad things about bouclé, would I choose to spin some?
Because doing it sounds SO FUN!
I won’t steal the thunder of the article, but when I show you the steps I took to make this yarn, I think you’ll see why I had to try it.
First I spun a wrap – some of the silver merino top my cool in-laws brought back from New Zealand. I pre-drafted it and spun it thick and thin as the fancy took me. It took a glorious hour and a half to fill up a bobbin (vast improvement over 3 months).
I chose to use a commercial yarn for my core, some of my leftover recycled lace. So I jumped straight to the first plying step, in which I wrapped the white merino around the core, pushing it up to make loops.
I found that my singles were a little too thick-and-thin for this process. The ply was not consistent enough, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of the distinctive boucle-looking loops, and I got a lot of plied-on-themselves sticks instead of loops. Also, the bigger loops got stuck going through the too-small oriface, so they became a bit deformed. But overall I had success by the time I filled the bobbin.
As a binder I just used some polyester sewing machine thread I had lying around. It was plied the wrong direction, but I don’t think it mattered too much as it’s not like it was energized at all.
The end result looks kind of like a sheep got into a fight with a sewing machine, and the sheep lost. It’s an inspiration piece – an experiment. A tribute to process, to sheer spinning for it’s own sake. To spinning for my sake.
That said, this little experiment might live in a box for… ever, unless one of you has a fancy for bouclé and an upcoming birthday.