34 of 51 Yarns: Shetland Rewound

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.

If you’re like me, you’re probably pretty sick of me posting pictures of samey-looking greyish-brown yarn. But this is for science, so stick with me. Or, you know, don’t; the internet’s a big place.

For this final yarn sample, I spun the singles butt-to-tip, rewound them with a ball winder, and plied them butt-to-tip. This resulted in a yarn that was even and pleasant to spin like the first sample (butt-to-tip singles, but plied tip-to-butt), and smooth like the second sample (tip-to-butt simples, but plied butt-to-tip).

On the left is the first sample, spun butt-to-tip and plied reverse; in the centre is the second sample, spun tip-to-butt and plied reverse, and on the right is the third sample, spun and plied butt-to-tip.

The swatch is very tidy and even looking. But is it really that much of a difference?

I was very careful throughout to keep my samples straight; each had its own bag, and all parts were in the bag at all times, so they didn’t get scrambled. If once I mixed up the sample cards or the swatches from their skeins, all bets were off. I even kept the photos separate and uploaded them separately for each blog post so I wouldn’t mix them up. That’s how similar they were.

From the perspective of this one fleece, I can’t see that butts and tips themselves make much tangible difference in the final knitted product. They make a little difference in the spinning process: spinning butt-to-tip is loads more pleasant, and for me more even. Also, plying butt-to-tip made a slightly smoother yarn. But knitting, as much as it is forgiving of mistakes, also washes out such small distinctions.

It’s quite possible that this wasn’t the best fleece for this experiment. Would a longwool have been better? Or a fine wool? Or a fleece that was higher quality, without damaged butts and tips that had to be removed? Quite possibly. But for me, a spinner of average abilities, with a fleece of average quality, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

If I find myself in a position of spinning a really special fleece that I want to flick, I will definitely spin butt-first, just so it’s a more pleasant experience. I would probably rewind everything anyway just because that’s what I do when I don’t have enough bobbins. But in general, when spinning from commercial prep or from batts, I will not bother my head too much about which end I spin from, or rewinding to ply.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably totally sick of looking at grey wool, so let me reward your perseverence with the first bit of really bright colour out on the land: purple saxifrage we found blooming this week. Cheers, and happy experimenting!

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