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…

The Seventeenth Blendling: Variations In Blue

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

My next experiment from Deb Menz’s suggestions in color study exercises (Color in Spinning, pp. 48-50), was mixing value. Basically, I wanted to take one hue, and mix it slowly from dark to light, to see what happened.

I mixed three colors for my sample: light teal, dark teal, and blue, mixing from light to dark. This time the gradation shows up very clearly on the bobbin.

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Remember my nice little speech yesterday about how I was going to take my gradient experiment and spin the ends together, which would pretty much ruin the gradient effect, but make it more usable with the other blendlings in a bigger project? When I was planning this one, I thought about that, said NAH and split all the strips in half. The above is half the fiber, spun from light to dark; the rest would be spun dark to light, then plied from a center pull ball, which would pretty much match things up.

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So as not to repeat the mix-up of the previous blendling, I took my separated nests and wrapped them into one mega-nest in the right order!

You can see the gradient mirror in the center-pull ball: light to dark then back to light.

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With the matching colors together, the gradient effect is intensified.

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #17):

1 single, short strips of light teal, dark teal, and blue in the following proportions:
2 lt teal:1 dk teal
2 lt teal:2 dk teal
1 lt teal:2 dk teal
2 dk teal:1 blue
1 dk teal:2 blue
This sequence was then mirrored for the second half of the fiber.
Spun supported semi-woolen, pulling back across my lap.
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
6-7 treadles per “length” across my lap
Plied from a center pull ball
Plying Ratio: 6:1
8 treadles : ~12″ (measured)
S twist, Z plied
Yardage: 68 yd after finishing
Weight: 1.3 oz
Appx. Grist: 841 YPP
TPI: 4 before finishing, ~4.5 after finishing
WPI: ~13 before finishing, 12 after finishing
Angle of twist: 43 degrees before finishing, 35 degrees after finishing (huh?)

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I have to admit, when I took this off the niddy noddy, I was really disappointed, because it had gone so thin. I had tried to spin the same way as the previous skein – semi-woollen and fast and fun as possible – but it was late at night, and I hadn’t been attending to my work as much as I would have in a different state of mind. There’s an important lesson in this: if you want to be consistent in a project, don’t spin when really tired!

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That, plus the intense gradient effect, means I probably won’t be able to use this with the others. At least there’s a good bit of it, enough to all by itself become a hat for one of the kids!

 

The Sixteenth Blendling: Sandy Water

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

For the remaining Blendlings, I wanted larger quantities, and I wanted to push the color experimentation as far as I could. For a treat, late one quiet night before a big day, I finished Deb Menz’s color theory chapter in Color in Spinning, examined her color study exercises on pp. 48-50, and picked a few that I could do from the fiber I had left.

The first was experimenting with gradations in saturation.

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I had lots of beige left. These pictures make it look very tan, but it looks quite greyish in natural light, so I thought it would work mix it in with another color to desaturate it. I picked the teal that was closest in value to the beige.

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I then took each strip of color and broke it down into short lengths, combining them into mixes that slowly included more beige and less teal, in the following combinations:

4 teal:1 beige
3 teal:2 beige
3 teal:3 beige
2 teal:3 beige
1 teal:2 beige
1 teal:4 beige

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A clever plan, yes? It had two flaws: (1) the strips of color I was combining were not consistent in width. A proper experiment would change the mix by weight, and my scale is just not sensitive enough to even try with these small amounts. (2) I prepped late at night, shoved it kinda-carefully in a bag, then spun it at the end of that big day, when I was really tired. You guessed it: I mixed up some of the carefully ordered bundles. At least the last two; I may have mixed up others.

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I filled up the bobbin intentionally from one end to the other, so we could see the change on the bobbin. And… you can’t see much. You can see the mostly-teal on the left, but the rest just looks like mud.

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I wound the whole thing onto a center pull ball to see if the differences would show up a little more that way…

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…nnnope. Oh well! I think the beige isn’t really grey enough to carry out this experiment properly anyway.

I had planned all along for the gradation to only be visible on the bobbin, and to ply from a center-pull ball, which would totally fold the gradient in half and almost erase the effect. That’s because I want to use this color with the others I am making, and a gradient would kinda stand out. It’s a good thing this was my plan, because it would have happened anyway.

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It reminds me a lot of the water lily colorway that I made Dwarrowdelf with. It’s a nice color… we’ll call it “sandy” instead of “muddy.” And it does seem kinda desaturated, don’t you think? Though more in a brownish direction than a greyish one.

For the spinning, again it was late at night, but I did my best to emulate the style I used with #10: soft singles, lots of ply twist. It ended up a little thinner than I wanted, but not too much. I wanted something fun; as I’ve mentioned twice already, it had been a long day.

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #16):

1 single, short strips of beige and medium teal in the following proportions (probably):
4 teal:1 beige
3 teal:2 beige
3 teal:3 beige
2 teal:3 beige
1 teal:4 beige
1 teal:2 beige
Spun supported semi-woolen, pulling back across my lap.
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
6-7 treadles per “length” across my lap
Plied from a center pull ball
Plying Ratio: 6:1
8 treadles : ~12″ (measured)
S twist, Z plied
Yardage: 46 yd after finishing
Weight: 1 oz
Appx. Grist: 734 YPP
TPI: 4.25 before finishing, ~4.5 after finishing
WPI: ~11 before finishing, 10 after finishing
Angle of twist: 45 degrees before finishing, 35 degrees after finishing (huh?)

Blendlings 14 and 15: Simultaneous Contrast

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

In Color in Spinning by Deb Menz, I read about a phenomenon called “Simultaneous Contrast.” That’s when you take a color that’s nearly a complement – say, a green and a violet-red – and put them together. When one is dominant, it tricks your eyes into thinking the other color is closer to the actual compliment. So if the green was dominant, the violet-red would really pop, looking more red than it actually is. (This is paraphrasing Menz, p. 36).

I really wanted to try this, since the color combinations Menz showed as examples of this were some of my favorites. The problem was, most of my colors were on the cool side of the color wheel, so I had very few complements to work with. (Kinda like preaching. Kidding! a joke!) So when I got two warmish colors back into my arsenal, I consulted the rest of my colorful nests to see if I could scare up any simultaneous contrasts. Here’s what I came up with:

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I would call that salmon orange-red, so that would put green in a simultaneous contrast position. My dark green was really too dark, so I threw in a little medium teal to lighten it up.

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I decided the gold was most like yellow which would put it complementary to purple, and in a simultaneous contrast position to red-purple or blue-purple. I only had one dark purple left, so I had to add a lot of red to make it weigh the same as the other ply.

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N has become my afternoon spinning buddy. We’ve been talking about color so much that, the other day, she kept talking about primaries and coloring with them.

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I spun the singles for each of the two yarns one right after the other, then plied them one right after the other. Above are the green/teal single with the salmon, and below is the gold with the red-purple.

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Once they got together, I was in for a surprise!

The salmon and green did not turn out how I expected, and I do not love the results.

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Instead of simultaneous contrast, what we really have here is an exercise in differences in saturation. In Menz’s words, when you put a bright and a dull color together, the bright color looks brighter, and the dull color looks duller. (See Menz, p. 195.) In this mix, the salmon looks an unpleasant fleshy color.

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #14, Fleshy Green):

ply #1: Salmon, ~16 WPI. Spinning style unknown
ply #2: 2 dark green, 2 medium teal, ~19 WPI
Spun worsted, kinda alternating between short forward draft and short backward draft; I’d do one for a while then would notice my hands had switched.
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
1 treadle: 1-2″
Plied from 1 bobbin, 1 cake
Plying Ratio: 11.5:1
4 treadles : ~12″
Z twist, S plied
Yardage: 25 yd after finishing
Weight: .6 oz
Appx. Grist: 667 YPP
TPI: 3.5 before finishing, 3.3 after finishing (not sure what happened here)
WPI: 10 before finishing, 9 after finishing
Angle of twist: 30 degrees before finishing, 37 degrees after finishing

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The second combination, though? wow.

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I think I did end up with some simultaneous contrast here, though not in the way I expected. I was mistaken in categorizing the gold as yellow; it’s more between yellow and orange. That would make blue-purple the true complement, which means that just purple is really in position for simultaneous contrast. You can see that happening perfectly in the picture below: the streaks of purple (which I did not have very much of) really pop and look blue-ish!

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #15, Medieval):

ply #1: Gold, ~20 WPI. Spinning style unknown
ply #2: 4 red, 1 dark purple, ~21 WPI
Spun worsted, as above
Spinning Ratio: 6:1
1 treadle: 1-2″
Plied from 1 bobbin, 1 cake
Plying Ratio: 11.5:1
5 treadles : ~12″
Z twist, S plied
Yardage: 48.3 yd after finishing
Weight: .9 oz
Appx. Grist: 853 YPP
TPI: 4 before finishing, 4.2 after finishing
WPI: 11 before finishing, 10 after finishing
Angle of twist: 34 degrees before finishing, 37 degrees after finishing

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I guess one measure of success in color mixing is how the colors make you feel. I could look at that blend all day! It reminds me of a medieval tapestry, or colors you’d see in a costume in The Tudors.

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Put all the warm-influenced colors together, and that medieval feeling is carried through. I think it’s the gold mixing with the dark simultaneous-contrasting green and violet-red that does it, with the salmon adding in a strong dose of pure “vintage” feel.

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So fun!

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The Thirteenth Blendling: Recombined

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

It was nice to see how the two pre-spun yarns could look better with a bit of extra ply twist, but I really want them for their color. To play with their colors any more, I would have to deconstruct them. In other words, I took the other half of the two pre-spun colors, and un-plied them.

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Measuring 12″ for each two treadles.

I’ve unplied before, and it’s a pain in the neck. After some trial and error, I decided to just untwist the plies onto the bobbin first. Meaning, I calculated the original twists per inch, and fed the yarn through the wheel in the opposite direction for the same twists per inch.

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Unplied yarn, ready to be separated. For the whole length of yarn, the two plies are just lying next to each other.

Once the yarn was untwisted, it was ready to be separated it – one ply onto the wheel again, another pulling away onto my ball winder. I’m not entirely sure why, but I had to spin my wheel back in the direction the yarn was plied in order to get the plies to keep coming away from each other. This meant I had to keep the brake on hard and make the whole process go pretty fast, or I’d actually be putting more ply twist back into the yarns I was supposed to be pulling apart. It was all pretty confusing, and I’m explaining it badly because even as I was doing it, I didn’t understand why it worked this way.

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For the salmon, this went really well. For the gold, not so much.

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I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I couldn’t get into a rhythm, and quickly there was so much ply twist back into the yarn I was trying to un-ply that I spent the rest of the time fighting with the snarls.

But I persevered. In the end, I had four separate plies to show for my efforts.

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For my first attempt to play with these two colors, because I wanted some quick results, I took the two plies on the bobbins and just put them together.

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Because the singles were different thicknesses, however, this made the yarn quite textured. I’m not sure I love this, though it’ll probably be much less noticeable knit up.

Colorwise, I like how the analogous colors kinda mute each other. They almost want to blend, to my eye, to make a sort of terra-cotta. The value difference is a little too strong, though. Compare it to the original colors to see what I mean. The dots are too big to really mix, though they are trying.

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #13, Recombination)

Ply #1: Gold, ~20 WPI
Ply #2: Salmon, ~16 WPI
Spinning style unknown
Plying Ratio: 11.5:1
4 treadles : 12″
Z twist, S plied
Yardage: 24 yd after finishing
Weight: .5 oz
Appx. Grist: 768 YPP
TPI: 3.5 before finishing, 3.7 after finishing
WPI: 10 before finishing, 9 after finishing
Angle of twist: 35 degrees before finishing, 38 degrees after finishing

Tune in tomorrow to see what I did with the last two singles from the rescued yarns.

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Blendlings 11 and 12: Old Made New

The Blendlings are a series of small skeins of handspun I am making, in order to study color, learn combination drafting, and improve my spinning by studying and adjusting my practices in small amounts. For a fuller project description, click here.

My Blendlings have been humming along so nicely that I decided to do something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do at the beginning: rejuvenate the two pre-spun yarns that came with my colors. Of the 12 colors originally in the kit, two had already been spun up into a two-ply worsted. My initial goal was to match these so I could use them all together. But as I proceeded, these originals looked more and more underspun and unhappy. I could see there was plenty of twist in the singles, but they hadn’t been plied enough, and the result was leggy and ropey. They’re also the two warmest colors in the kit, so bringing them back into play would seriously extend the range of colors I could play with.

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Caked and ready for transformation!

Here are their original numbers.

Initial stats (Old Gold): 942 YPP, 9 WPI, 2 TPI, 24 degrees ply twist angle
Initial stats (Old Salmon): 586 YPP, 8 WPI, ~2 TPI, 27 degrees ply twist angle

For reference, my final yarns have been landing somewhere in the range of 4 TPI. I was liking the look this gave. 2 TPI or less is WAY underplied, especially since I could see that the singles had plenty of twist in them.

The first thing I did with these two old yarns was to take half of each and put them through the wheel, adding another 2 TPI, so they’d match the yarns I was making. Check out the difference a little more twist makes!

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #11, New Gold):

Two singles of gold ~20 WPI
Spinning style unknown
Re-plying Ratio: 6:1
2 treadles : ~12″
Z twist, S plied
Yardage: 25 yd after finishing
Weight: .4 oz
Appx. Grist: 1000 YPP
TPI: 4 before finishing, 4.5 after finishing
WPI: 11 before and after finishing
Angle of twist: 34 degrees before finishing, 40 degrees after finishing

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The salmon is decidedly thicker, but I added the same amount of twist: hence, in the end, a higher twist angle.

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The Nerd Numbers (Blendling #12, New Salmon)

Two singles of salmon ~16 WPI
Spinning style unknown
Re-plying Ratio: 6:1
2 treadles : ~12″
Z twist, S plied
Yardage: 17 yd after finishing
Weight: .5 oz
Appx. Grist: 544 YPP
TPI: 4 before and after finishing
WPI: 9 before finishing, 8.5 after finishing
Angle of twist: 40 degrees before finishing, 43 degrees after finishing

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Don’t they look happier now?

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So now you’re wondering – what did I do with the other half of each color? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

A Non-Yarnie’s Visual Spinning Glossary

I know that most of my readership are not spinners; many are not even knitters, and are just friends and family who like to know what I’m up to. These recent posts have probably been hard for you to follow, non-yarnies, and it’s been pointed out to me that you might want to follow what I’m saying. With that in mind, I’ve prepared this short primer to some of the terms I use when I talk about spinning. There is, of course, much more information, and I’m sure there are many better posts like this one out there, but my college buddies aren’t going to read them. So I’m just going to give you enough to understand my blog posts.

The Wheel

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You will here observe my ineptitude with GIMP and the clutter of the study/spinning closet. I am a firm believer in making others feel better about themselves by sharing an accurate depiction of my clutter.

Let’s start with the big tool, shall we?

  • The big wheel is called the drive wheel.
  • The pedal is called a treadle.
  • That general business end on the left is called the mother-of-all or flyer assembly (no, those terms aren’t really interchangeable, but I’m not sure I could describe the difference, let alone in a way you’d care about).
  • The small wheel on the business end is called a whorl.
  • The short version of how a wheel spins: The treadle makes the drive wheel spin, and the drive wheel is connected via a string called a drive band to the whorl. The point of the entire mechanism is just to make a whorl that spins fast.
  • When I talk about ratio, I’m talking about how many times the whorl goes around for every one time the drive wheel goes all the way around. A bigger whorl means a lower ratio, and thus a slower spin; a smaller wheel makes a higher ratio.

Here’s another angle to show you the business end bits.

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  • The whorl (at least on this wheel) is part of the flyer – that whole thing spins really fast when the wheel turns.
  • The bobbin is where the yarn goes as its being spun; it’s removable.
  • The maidens have little bearings sticking out of them that hold the flyer in place while it spins.
  • The oriface is a hollow shaft in the flyer that goes from the bobbin side of the whorl, through the whorl and the bearing on the maiden, to point at the spinner.
  • The way that yarn goes onto the wheel is this: The yarn, as it’s being made, goes through the oriface from right, out a hole on the side of the oriface, over the guide hooks, and onto the bobbin.
  • The brake (on this style of wheel) makes the bobbin go slower than the flyer is spinning, and that pulls the yarn onto the bobbin as I’m spinning. When I’m adjusting the brake, I’m adjusting the tension, i.e. how much the wheel is pulling on my yarn as I make it.

This is all very nice, but in all these pictures the yarn is already yarn. How do you actually make the yarn, Rebecca?

Well, it starts as some kind of fluff. It starts on a sheep, of course, and some spinners start with the wool right of the sheep, but I usually don’t, so I’m not going to go there. I usually start with dyed, prepared fiber, which has gone through some fancy processes to get all the fibers lined up and easy to spin. I’m usually working from one of these:

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  • Top is put through a process called combing to make a very fancy fiber snake with all its fibers lined up nicely.
  • Roving (not pictured) looks a lot like top to the uninitiated, but goes through a very different process to become a fiber snake, with its fibers rather more jumbled up.
  • Top and roving are often stored in braids. They’re really giant crochet chains, but whatever.
  • Batt is fiber that has been through a drum carder (google it).
  • Rolag (not pictured) is what comes off handcards; you might have seen these operated at olde tyme re-enactments. It’s rolled off the handcards to make a fiber caterpillar.
  • Puni is basically a baby rolag. It’s finer fiber, like cotton or something more exotic and expensive like qiviut or whatever, that’s rolled tightly over a chopstick or something to get off fine handcards.

Here, for the person who has never made yarn and probably never will, is what I do to make yarn. I take my prepared fiber, fiddle with it to have a small, fluffy bit ready to go, attach it to yarn already coming through the oriface, then I make the wheel go with the treadle. The spin in the drive wheel goes into the flyer, and transfers to the yarn going through the oriface. That makes the yarn through the oriface go really twisty. I use my hands to draft. That is, I pull or fiddle with the fluff in my hands in some way, then carefully let all the twist energy in the yarn go into a small amount of the fluff at a time (the fluff in my hand is called the fiber supply).

Drafting: pulling a bit of fluff out from my fiber supply, ready to be twisted.

Drafting: pulling a bit of fluff out from my fiber supply, ready to be twisted.

The twist goes into the drafted fibers. Now it's yarn!

The twist goes into the drafted fibers. Now it’s yarn!

Then voila, yarn! Yarn is basically fluff plus twist. That’s really all there is to it. There are many many different kinds of draft, and I write about them a lot as I experiment with them. However, I’m still very much learning them, so there’s not much point in me trying to explain it, and I think that’s beyond the purview of this non-yarnie’s primer.

The yarn

When you’re first spinning from fluff, you’re making a single: just one strand of twisted stuff. You can have yarn that’s just a singles, but most yarn you see is two or more singles twisted together into a plied yarn. When it’s going to be plied, or is already in a plied yarn, one strand is called a ply. (The word ply is also the verb for twisting singles together.) Handspun yarns are usually one or two plies, plied in the direction opposite to that at which the singles were twisted. The twist or ply direction is described as “S” or “Z” – just look at the strands and imagine an S or Z on top of them. For an S twist, my drive wheel was spinning to the left; for a Z twist, it was spinning to the right.

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A sample card from one of my Blendlings. The top two samples are singles yarns (wrapped around the card a few times); the bottom sample is a 2-ply – two singles twisted together. If you tilt your head sideways, look at the plied sample, and imagine a letter “Z” over it, you can see it was plied with Z twist – to the right, or with the drive wheel going clockwise.

The kind of yarn I make is controlled by all sorts of factors: from how I draft and what ratio my wheel is at, to how the fiber is prepared originally, and how it’s prepared immediately for spinning by me, and other factors. You can see why I have to sample – make practice pieces of yarn. I try different things ’till I get the yarn I want, then measure it (see below), and put it on a sample card to stare at while I work to try to stay consistent.

Tools 

I don’t have very many spinning tools, but I thought I’d show you what I do have, since I talk about them.

From left to right: niddy noddy, lazy kate, ball winder.

From left to right: niddy noddy, lazy kate, ball winder.

  • A niddy noddy is what I wrap finished yarn around to make it into a skein (a big loop of yarn for storage.)
  • lazy kate holds my bobbins when I’m not using them, and when I’m plying. They come in many different styles.
  • ball winder is used for winding yarn into center pull balls that looks like cakes. Center-pull balls just mean that you can get at the other end of the yarn that’s in the middle of the ball, so you can pull from the middle, or pull from the outside and inside at the same time, which is often handy.

Measuring Yarn 

I’ve been recording my “Nerd Numbers” (and I use the word “nerd” in the most proud and affectionate way possible, of course), because all those little measurements are how you make a particular kind of yarn – thick or thin, soft or strong, etc. – to be used for a particular thing. I’m still learning how to control all those factors, so I’m measuring a lot. Here’s what I’m talking about:

 

  • WPI is wraps per inch. This is a measurement of how thick the yarn is. When you gently wrap yarn around a special tool (or a pencil, or a ruler, or your finger), you can measure how many diameters of the yarn fit in an inch. The smaller the number, the fatter the yarn.
    • Yarn weight just means thickness. I’m not going to go into the weird names for all the weights, but I’ve been shooting for worsted weight, which is a sort of standard sweater yarn, which comes in at 9 WPI.
My quick-and-dirty method for measuring WPI on a finished skein: stick a finger into the skein and line up some yarns gently across my finger. I know this isn't "proper", but since I'm enough of a beginner that my yarns are pretty uneven, it feels pretty pointless to measure WPI by wrapping a short length around something. This gets me a nice average across the skein if I try it in a few places. Does anyone else do this?

My quick-and-dirty method for measuring WPI on a finished skein: stick a finger into the skein and line up some yarns gently across my finger. I know this isn’t “proper”, but since I’m enough of a beginner that my yarns are pretty uneven, it feels pretty pointless to measure WPI by wrapping a short length around something. This gets me a nice average across the skein if I try it in a few places. Does anyone else do this?

  • Angle of Twist is the angle of the fibers in the single, or the plies in the plied yarn. A yarn with a smaller angle is more loosely twisted or plied; a yarn with a bigger angle (45 +) is tightly twisted or plied.
Measuring twist angle got way less annoying after I made this card!

Measuring twist angle got way less annoying after I made this card!

  • TPI is twists per inch. I literally lay the yarn next to a ruler and count the bumps. This number varies with the thickness (WPI) and angle of twist. It’s controlled by the ratio (described above) and how long I draft between my fingers.

SONY DSC

  •  The weight (as in literally how much it weighs) and yardage (how long a piece of yarn I just made) are pretty self explanatory.
  • Grist is a measurement of yardage per weight – usually yards per pound (YPP). It’s a way of measuring how dense the yarn is. Two yarns with the same WPI, based on how they’re prepared and spun, might have a very different YPP. A higher YPP (for the same thickness of yarn) means a lighter, airier yarn than a lower YPP.

And that’s it! Clear as mud.

I hope this makes the rest of my spinning posts a little more enjoyable for my non-spinning / normal friends. This is not actually any kind of tutorial or how-to; If you want to actually learn about this stuff, check out this handy list of resources for spinners. If there’a anything else you, as a non-spinner/non-yarn-interested person are curious about, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Have a great Monday doing whatever not-spinning thing it is you like to do.