Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lesson learned

Over the last year, I've been feeling like part sponge when it comes to spinning. There seems to be so many little things to learn about.

Take plying. When I first started spinning it would give me fits because I knew what I wanted the finished yarn to look like but didn't realize the relationship between spinning the singles and the plied (or is it plyed?) yarn. Then, when I learned to test my singles to see if they had enough twist to make a nice plied yarn, I was also told that the easy way to tell if the yarn would be balanced was to hold the plied yarn up to the orifice during the plying process and if it hung in an open loop, it would be good to go. Well, right after hearing that I embarked on spinning some lace yarn. It took several months to spin two bobbins, but I was confident that my yarn would be balanced because I used that open loop test. Imagine my surprise after I set the twist to see the skein twisting around itself.

This year I learned what happened. The time the singles sat on the bobbins waiting to be plied, some of the twist went dormant. So, it looked balanced until the twist was set and the Z twist in the singles reawakened causing the finished skein to actually be unbalanced. So now I always keep that little sample control yarn to use as a guide for my plying. And I'm glad because the same thing could have happened this summer, too.

At MS&W, I bought some lovely alpaca/mohair/silk roving from Persimmon Tree and spindled it on my little Golding Tsunami. I wound each cop onto a TP roll, joining them together so I could get a large skein instead of several smaller skeins. Consequently, in the time it took to finish spindling it, the twist went partially dormant again. I plied it on the wheel to match my control yarn and this is what it looked like when it came off the niddy noddy. Looks tremendously overplied, doesn't it; just look at all those pigtails.

I watched carefully when I placed it in the sinkful of water and sure enough, could actually see the twist reawaken. The little strands moved about and totally relaxed. Here's the dried skein. All those little twisty pigtails are gone and it hangs in an open loop. Lesson learned.

BTW, if anybody else bought the same roving from Persimmon Tree last May and is feeling they really don't want it, please let me know. I absolutely love the color and my heart aches to make it into a sweater (but only have enough yardage for a shawl). Yeah, always buy more roving than you think you need. Second lesson learned, too.


At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Kerry said...

Interesting!! I have some silk that's just sitting on display because of the pigtails. Maybe I just need to stick it in some water. I'm going to give it a try!

At 7:02 AM, Blogger vanessa said...

vicki, that is simply gorgeous!

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Vicki said...

Let me know what happens, Kerry. I'm afraid to set the twist on my silk because of what happened to Caroline when her Tussah skeins got much stiffer after she set the twist on them. Oh, BTW, if your skein still seems unbalanced after it's little bath, you can fix it by running it through the wheel again (whichever way it needs it--Z to take out some of the plying twist or S to add more) and if you do it while it's still damp, then you can do that little open loop twist by checking it at the orifice before feeding it onto the bobbin. Good luck! :)

At 3:32 PM, Blogger jenknits said...

Wow, that's pretty! Persimmon Tree farm is one of my favorite vendors.

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Melanie said...

I can see why you'd want more of the fiber for your yarn, it's a lovely colour. The spinning is just perfection!


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