Monday, March 21, 2011

Something pretty

In case my experiment didn't interest you, I thought I'd share some pretty pictures of my latest spinning escapades.

First, I'll start with the burgundy Corriedale from the experiment. I confess, I didn’t really enjoy spinning it – this Corriedale was rather rough and a bit matted (probably partly my fault for storing it as I did)

Despite not liking it; the experiment being of interest, I spun it reasonably quickly. Here are the results:

43g / 72yd (100g/167yd), Z spun, S 2-plied, approx DK/Sport, quite heavy.

See the white ties - that's how I know it's the 43g skein.

50g / 96yd (100g/192yd), Z spun, S 2-plied, approx DK/Sport, still reasonably heavy.
This one has blue ties, for the 50g second skein!
After that, I decided I’d quite like a change. Since I hadn’t spun any of the samples from the Fibreholics pack I ordered before I got my wheel, I thought I’d give some of that a go. I had a bit of a rummage and found that Laal Bear had sent me some Blue Faced Leicester, which I fancied having a go with. I wasn’t enamoured with the colour of the fibre, but I thought for 20g I could put that behind me. I spent some time fluffing and pre-drafting it – after all, my experiment suggests that will produce longer yarn, which is good.

So, from fibre…

Fibre Sampler
I've tweaked the colours in this picture, but the fluff is about the right blue

…to yarn:

20g / 64yd (100g/320yd), Z spun, S Andean-plied, approx 4ply
Laal Bear BFL Sample
The two colours in the plying give it a nice depth that the fibre alone didn't have, much improved!
The resulting yarn is actually a rather nice colour; I just need to decide what to do with it! If anyone has any ideas for 64yds of blue heavy 4ply yarn do shout up!

Finally, I decided to move on to another sample, I was drawn back to the My Heart Exposed braid, and even though it was Corriedale (which had fallen out of favour with me) I decided to go for it.

Fibre Sampler
Pretty but not so bold as I usually go for!
This Corriedale was nicer than the previous stuff, whether it was because of different storage or just that the dyes that MHE use are that much gentler on the fibre I don’t know. I quite enjoyed spinning it! Well, when it was on the bobbin (bad spinner didn’t take any photos at this stage) it looked really pretty and I couldn’t bear the thought of plying it with itself and muddying the lovely colours. I did a Google search for Navajo plying (also known as N-ply or chain-ply) and decided to have a go. The benefit of N-ply is that it allows you to keep the colour sequence of a yarn, to create a self-stripe (or variegated) rather than heather or barber-pole yarn. I’m pretty pleased with the result, but because N-plying provides a 3-ply thickness to the yarn, I got a rather short length out of it!

20g / 36yd (100g/180yd), Z spun, S Navajo-plied, approx heavy 4ply

MHE Corriedale Sample Navajo Plied
The texture of the Navajo ply is so finished looking!
and because I like it so, here’s another shot of the MHE:

MHE Corriedale Sample Navajo Plied
The pinks, greens and golds all get to shine individually!
I’ve already got some more fibre on the wheel, I’m working on some Bonkers Fibre, it’s a merino / bamboo blend, which is rather slippery! It’s a pretty colour though, called Flamingo. I’m likely to finish that before I have any finished knitting to show – although I might consider showing off my WIP at some point.


Does the amount of air added to fibre make the resulting yarn less dense?


An experiment to show that fibre preparation prior to spinning helps to produce a longer yarn without detriment to the thickness of the yarn; only the density is altered.


The aim of this experiment is to discover whether the amount of air one adds to the fibre prior to spinning (by stripping, fluffing and pre-drafting) changes the resulting yarn, providing a less dense, longer strand of yarn than when the fibre does not have air added. Should this prove to be true, it will enable me to work towards spinning enough yarn from 100g of fibre for a three-ply to make a pair of socks.


The more air that is added during the spinning process, the less dense the resulting yarn will be and therefore the resulting piece of yarn will also be longer.


Fibre: 100g of Corriedale Fibre (colour: Burgundy) split into two 50g strands
Spinning Wheel: Ashford Traveller


Split the 100g of fibre in half lengthwise to produce two 50g strands.
Split the 50g of fibre in half lengthwise.

First 50g
Spin directly from the strips of fibre, drafting while spinning.

Second 50g
Separate the fibre width wise to produce a wide fluffy strand
Elongate the fibre lengthwise (pre-draft) to produce a long fluffy strand which is virtually see-through.
Spin from this pre-drafted fibre, still drafting while spinning.

For both cases
Spin direction: Z
Ply type: Andean
Ply direction: S
Using the niddy-noddy wind the yarn off the bobbin and into a skein.
Count the number of wraps of the niddy-noddy. This number should be multiplied by 4 to provide the number of feet of yarn produced, which should be divided by 3 to provide the number of yards produced.
Tie, wash and whack the yarn to even and set the twist.
Measure the wpi of the yarn.


First 50g
Second 50g
Yarn ThicknessDK/SportDK/Sport
Yarn Weight (g)4350
Yarn Length (yards)7296
Calculated Length per 100g167192

Final result: Second 50g is 115% length of the first 50g, so the length has been increased by more pre-drafting.


The length of yarn spun from a given amount of fibre can affect the length of the final result.

I was expecting a more dramatic difference between the two fibres than was achieved, but this smaller difference may be due to my spinning style varying between the two, and how quickly I was spinning. Spinning faster may cause less drafting, which could also result in a more dense yarn.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I don't think I can stop...

We went cycling today for the first time in over a year. That was not a good plan, especially since I'm still recovering from a cold. Managed about 3 miles though, which is better than nothing. Celebrated with a glass of summer fruit squash.

In other news... Well, it's not news is it? I've been spinning again. I've finally plucked up the courage to spin something which isn't a plain colour. I still haven't done anything with the alpaca singles, but that will be dealt with.

So, back when I learnt to spin on a spindle, I bought some lovely fibre. I then put that fibre in a box in my craft room, the box stayed there before moving briefly to a friend's house while we moved, and then it moved back in with me. At last, I bought a spinning wheel, and the fibre could meet its destiny of becoming yarn.

So, the fibre (see previous post, I have no new pictures of the fibre itself) was spun over the course of a couple of evenings. I spun it pretty fine, I thought. I haven't measured the wpi (that's wraps per inch for the uninitiated) yet, but by length-to-weight ratio, it's around worsted weight again. I would have liked slightly finer.

First I spun two singles, I was hoping they'd be the same length as teach other, but it wasn't to be.

Geyser Peach Singles

The colours look great, don't they?
Next, I plied the two singles with each other (and Andean plied the remainder with itself) to produce some pretty yarn.

Geyser Peach 2ply

which wound into a very pretty skein too.

Geyser Peach on Skein

Overall, even if it is thicker than I planned, I'm pretty pleased with this. I think it might be enough for a cowl or a hat of some sort, especially if it's lacy. However, before I jump in on that I need to measure the actual wpi of the yarn - to see whether it's different to what the average weight calculation I've done suggests. If it is, I might have to consider a different method, like actually measuring the wpi!

I'm back to the Corriedale now, but it feels rough compared to the Merino I have just spun. I have one more ball of Corriedale after this, but I do not love the colour at the moment, and I want to enjoy the spinning. So, much like with knitting I believe that even at the beginning you'll get further using the nice stuff. After all, I'm not going to knit with something that's rough either.

So I measured the wpi and it comes out at about 12 - or "sport" weight - somewhere between DK and 4ply. How odd.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yes, more spinning.

(and more to come too)

This began life as some undyed alpaca from a swap.

I dyed it up using some natural dyes to produce this less-bold-than-I’m-used-to fibre.

Naturally Dyed Alpaca
Naturally Dyed by Me!

and then it sat there, waiting for me to decide to spin it on my spindle.

Well, that day never came, but I’m so enthusiastic with my wheel that I ended up spinning it on that instead. Now I just have to decide what to do with it.

Alpaca singles
Singles on the bobbin

At the moment it’s 50g (I think) of singles. It’s pretty thick, for a singles, though it’s thinner in places. One option that’s been suggested on Ravelry is that I might ply it with some silk/cotton thread. This would give the yarn some strength while still retaining the fluffy soft nature of the alpaca. Then I’d be able to knit something with it.

While I decide, I’ve gone back to the fibre bin and picked out some more pretty fluff to play with. I’ve finally gone away from the plain colours and picked out this

Royale Hare 2
sorry; this picture is tragically awful, I hope my photography skills where fibre is concerned have improved.

It’s spinning up quite prettily. I’ve split the whole thing in to four pieces lengthways and I’m spinning that into two singles. I’ll ply them together and hopefully the colour repeats will approximately match. I expect some barber pole effects in places.

Of course, all this spinning is still detracting from my knitting. Though that said, I’ve not had the concentration to do the lace on the hoody so it may be for the best.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Yes, more spinning...

I’m not sure what’s more worrying, the amount of time I spend spinning, or the amount of time I spend when I’m not spinning thinking about spinning.

I know, it’s the same with any new toy – it consumes me for a little while and then I settle back into a normal routine.

I’ve had to self-impose a rule though; I’m knitting for the same number of hours as I’m spinning, approximately. Yesterday that was enough knitting time to do a few rows on the hoodie. I love the lace pattern now, it looks great! I’ve got into the swing of it now too. I do hope that it doesn’t grow too much when I block it, as it’s looking about the right size pre-blocking. Though also, I was making a smaller size than I thought strictly necessary, and it will need some under garment, being lacy.

All the spinning time seems to be paying off though. I’ve made some quite nice yarn now! I spent some time washing and drying the red and yellow yarn, I hope to turn it into a hat. There’s a nice basic roll-brim hat pattern in my “Spin to Knit” book which fits the bill nicely. I reckon I’ll begin with the yellow as it’s a bit more robust, then stripe in the red in some sort of sequence.

Here’s my latest offering:

Green Corriedale
P&M Corriedale in green
It’s about 155yds and 96g. I looked up a random DK, a random Aran and a random worsted weight yarn on Rav, and decided that this makes it somewhere between worsted and aran weight. So I’m thinking about knitting fetching in it, which claims to need between 100 and 200 yards of yarn. I guess the question is what happens if I run out?
Green Corriedale
Much finer than the red and yellow!

I have made fetching before, using about 130 yards. Fingers crossed! Though I did modify those, I think in the end I made them bigger. I hope that the yarn will hold up to that pattern, and hopefully the cables will look great in a plain (rather than stripey or varigated) colour. We will see!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


So, I’ve been doing some more spinning! (and not a lot of knitting, or anything else!) I’m starting to enjoy it – I can get into that great quiet zone where there’s nothing but me, the sound of the wheel whizzing and the yarn being created.
It is making my hands rather dry, which I heard was a side effect.

Second Attempt!
Second attempt at plied yarn - not bad

This one is about 62 yards (I counted 47 wraps around my 12 inch niddy noddy) and weighs 86g (there’s a little more on the bobbin because I couldn’t quite fit it all on the one bobbin – though I tried!) The jumbo flyer sounds like a fun idea; I assume that you can get more yarn on with that!

I’m going to have a rainbow of yarn! I think, now that I’m moving on to the green Corriedale, which I might consider trying to spin a little finer. Both the yarns I’ve created are on the chunky side.

P&M green
Fluff due to become yarn

I am not sure what I might want to knit with some aran/dk weight green Corriedale yarn, but that is my aim. If I can keep going at that rate of improvement (I think the red might even be super-bulky, the yellow/gold is certainly bulky, so if the green is aran, then the purple could be DK and I might manage the burgundy at sock-weight!) then I will be pleased.

I really must do some knitting too.
I’m almost at the point of shaping the bust on my Apr├Ęs Surf hoodie.