Friday, August 24, 2007

Bulletproof Swatch

I neglected to mention my other fiber purchase at the farmer's market last Saturday. This one has been keeping my hands busy during evening chats with friends and the long hours of yard sale tending (I did get some money for all that junk, and I'm thinking it will go into the fiber budget). Did you want a closer look?

So lovely.

I actually have a project in mind for this, so I have been following all the sage advice about spinning a sample and making a guide. I even made of sample of my fiber prep (the top sample).

size 9 needles, 3.5 st per inch, 7 wpi (measurement iffy due to great variation), approx 10 yds

Um, good thing too. I found out I was making some heavy-duty stuff. My first swatch on size 8 needles was as relaxed as particle board. Going up a needle size helped, but I'm still not getting soft and fluffy.

I think a combination of things led to this yarn being over spun: I tried to make the singles a bit thicker (more fiber = less twist needed), I was using a fleece with more crimp (more textured fiber = less twist needed) and I was impatient and plied right away without letting the single relax. Also, my top whirl spindle likes to go fast, which is good for thinner yarn or for people who can draft faster... but I need to concentrate on getting the spindle to rotate more slowly for it to work for me.

This is the first time I've tried to "boss the yarn around" and make it thicker, rather than letting the spindle and the fiber interact and accept the resulting gauge. Ironically, this yarn ended up being much heavier than what I was aiming for, and my experimental yarn knit up to the gauge I wanted.

Size 7 needles, 4 st per inch, 8 wpi (wpi iffy), approx 10 yards
(not pictured, looks the same) Size 6 needles, 4.25 st per inch, 8 wpi (wpi iffy), approx 10 yards

This is a sample of my first yarn, spun just to get a feel for the process. It is finer and the fiber is less crimpy, so the yarn is much softer. I also tried to make this particular single a little less energized by testing it (letting it twist back on itself) and then backspinning until I got a gentle twist.

Having tried these two different fibers using two different approaches has helped me to understand what factors I need to change to get the result I want.

For now "unspinning" before winding on seems the easiest way to get a fluffier yarn since I need to keep the spindle moving while I'm drafting and that seems to inevitably lead to over-twisting. The woman at the market also suggested that I wind on sooner and not let my length of yarn get so long.

To all the non-spinners out there - sorry if this post has been too wordy and too technical. It amazes me how physical the process of spinning is, and how tedious it can be to translate that verbally. It takes so many words to describe a relatively simple action! However, I like to use this blog, in part, to keep a journal for myself as I learn new things. Otherwise, I find that I forget so much of the crafting process.

One last note: tomorrow we will actually be moving across the state :) We are exhausted, excited and a bit overwhelmed. During the transition the blog will almost certainly be neglected, so don't worry if I disappear for a few weeks.

1 comment:

Octopus Knits said...

Wow! You are learning so much, and it's great to read about it.

Good luck with the move!