Stop! Ply Break

We interrupt your daily dose of Blendlings to give you a little plying.

This poor little single has been sitting on a bobbin for over three years, maybe more than four. It’s from the fabulous Cormo X that mom and I split One Hundred Years ago (i.e. May of 2012; Mom introduced it here). Mom actually bought me combs to process it, because she was enjoying combing so much. I tried to get into it, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t do a great job washing the fleece, anyway. We had a baby. Then another one. If spinning went on the back burner, fleece processing went on the back porch: the place hobbies go to die. I’m still not sure I’ll ever go back to it, and being half in-the-grease for all that time, it might be damaged by now. Can you tell I’m sad about it? I have a deep and abiding hatred of abandoning projects, even when I hate them!

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For all that time, my first little bobbin of Cormo X sat on the bobbin. I didn’t love combing, but I loved spinning the rolags, so I had positive feelings toward it.

During the last couple weeks of rather intense spinning, I decided it was time to let it go.

The girlies helped me wind it into a center pull ball, when they weren’t trying to treadle. (N almost got it. She wants to spin and knit so badly. She is already a fierce crafter with her paint and coloring and glue and scissors and whatever else I let her make a mess with.)

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You can see how incredibly rigid the singles are, after being stretched and greasy for all that time. It was almost like plying sticky strands of twine.

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But, I had faith, and I was armed with new knowledge. I knew I could still scour the yarn; I knew I could put a lot of twist into it for strength and not worry too much about balance; I knew from sitting on the bobbin forever that it wasn’t going to look balanced until I washed the heck out of it anyway. And, I knew how woolen-spun yarn can bloom when you snap and thwack the heck out of it. And yes, most of this information came from the Wool N’ Spinning blog, which I rambled about at a previous break.

This is what a skein looks like that has *all* of its expressed energy in the ply twist.

Pre-wash: this is what a skein looks like that has *all* of its expressed energy in the ply twist.

I executed these moves, and ended up with a downright tolerable little skein.

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The Nerd Numbers:
Cormo Cross, spun half-in-the-grease (poorly washed – not that there’s anything wrong with that, just, again, not what I thought I was doing!)
2 ply from center pull ball
Z spun, S plied
Plied 12:1 ratio, 4 treadles: 12″
WPI: 11 before finishing, 9 after finishing (worsted weight)
1.8 oz
134 yards (pre-finishing), ~1,100 YPP

I scoured the living daylights out of it (about 20 plunges between HOT soapy water and cold rinse water), and it is a different yarn. Being woolen-spun, it’s not going to be strong – I even wonder if the fibers are damaged from all that time on the bobbin in the grease. It’s not soft either – I enjoy a toothy wool, but I’m not even sure I would want it on my head or hands.

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I’m not sure what one can do with yarn that is neither tough nor soft nor enough for something large and utilitarian. I’m thinking about doing what I did with N’s Aviatrix and holding it together with some more leftover Kidsilk Haze, to make it a little more tolerable as a hat or mitts, for myself. Or maybe I’ll just add it to whatever I use the Blendlings for. I don’t know! Why do I always want to cast on my handspun right away???

UPDATE: Since I drafted this post, I have found this post on Diana Twiss’s blog on a Cormo fleece in the exact same condition! What a relief that the bag of Cormo X in Mom’s basement might not be a total loss… and that it might not matter if I wait another year or two to deal with it…

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