25 of 51 Yarns: Coils

This post is part of a spin-along through 51 Yarns by Jacey Boggs Faulkner, in the Wool n’ Spinning community. For other posts in this series, check here.

Behold, another yarn that is completely new to me! How delightful it is to venture into the unknown in a craft one loves.

This yarn was a bit of a journey. The first thing I learned is the difference between coils and SUPERcoils. I actually only knew about the latter, which I have tried before. The idea of just bumps of coils, interrupting an otherwise balanced ply, is not something I’d encountered. I’ve seen adding beehives, even, but this is a little simpler.

Coilspun, Supercoils, coil experiment

I made an experiment of coiling with some corespun I had sitting around and some 3-ply with the same fiber as binder (pictured above right). I learned immediately what didn’t work: the binder was too thick, and my coils were wonky. I needed to anchor my coils, and choose a binder yarn thin enough to not compete with the wrapping yarn and to use for anchoring without making a huge lump.

Thankfully that experiment only took 15 minutes of my time. If you’re nervous about these funkier techniques, why not try it with some scrap yarn?

For the yarn proper, I spun a thick and thin slub yarn from the batt above for the wrapping single. I put great big slubs in at regular intervals, so big they had almost no twist.

For a binder, I first tried a single spun the same direction as the slub yarn. This categorically did not work. It plies ok in the regular section, but when I started making a coil, the singles pointed straight at the orifice and untwisted. When I went to push the coil up, it just fell apart – no twist left. Duh.

I switched my binder to a 3-ply Lincoln handspun I had kicking around. I picked it because the colour and weight was right. This was plied in the opposite direction the wrapping yarn was spun, meaning the plying added more twist to the binder. Maybe that’s proper, so it didn’t untwist in the coils? It was underplied anyway, so it balanced out ok in the end.

I made two main technique adjustments after my initial experiment. First, I anchored the coils, by coiling the binder over the wrapping yarn above and below each coil.

Second (and both of these things I learned from Rachel’s videos on the subject, by the way), I coiled differently. I thought one was just supposed to hold the wrapping yarn at a 90-degree angle and wrap it in the right place. Rachel shows the yarn corespinning onto the binder, with a couple extra twists to tighten it up at an angle, then pushing the wraps together into a coil. It works a treat, and I would not have thought of that, nor intuited it from the book.

Because my slubs were practically untwisted, when I wrapped them they looked more like shapeless cocoons than coils. I don’t mind, but good to note for the future.

I am delighted with my final yarn, and delighted that I had enough to really play around with it.

This is my knitted swatch. With these huge coils, it took a bit of experimenting to get them to sit where I want in the fabric.

In stockinette, for instance, if you position the coil in between two stitches, it will end up on the purl side as a horizontal bump:

I found this very fetching, actually.

Getting the coils to appear on the knit side was a little trickier. You have to make sure the coil is on the needle during a stitch, getting pushed through the loop. Then, when you return to work that same stitch again, you have to make sure to shove the coil to one leg of the stitch. If it’s in the middle, it’ll get pushed to the purl side of the fabric, but if you have it on one leg of the stitch, it appears as a vertical bump on the knit side. I got the hang of this on the top half of my swatch, which I’ll show you again.

For a woven swatch, I wanted those bumps to really shine and not compete with each other, so I just used the coiled yarn as the weft, and warped with the same binder yarn.

This might be my favorite swatch to date. It’s just so unique! Imagine using a feltable yarn for the binder and warp, and a felt-resistant wool for the wrapping yarn, then felting up a piece of fabric for a bag? Or weaving more tightly for a textured pillow? It’s just so touchable.

Well that’s my story with coil yarn! I hope you try these crazies sometimes. Experiments are the best.

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