Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just like riding a bike!

I haven't spun any yarn in so long, I wondered if I had forgotten how. I guess it's like riding a bike, once I started again, it came back to me immediately and began to feel natural again. The fiber I bought at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival just spoke to me and I was glad to get started spinning it up. The reds are actually darker and more red/less pink than in the picture here. I bought a pound of this roving, it's Merino Wool, Alpaca, and Mohair (from the Angora goat-it's what makes the yarn have a hairy halo about it). It's so very soft and I just had to have some when I saw it. I used to do a lot of hand dyed rovings, both space dyed and processed like this one that has been extruded from the carding machine in stripes. I don't want to have to dye and deal with a lot of fleeces to get a nice colorway so I was glad to have found it. I was even more happy with the results once I began to spin it.

If you're not a spinner and you're wondering why I'd go to the trouble of spinning my own yarn, I'll try to's because it feels so good, it's therapeutic, it's creative, and it's a way to really get exactly what you want for your project. It's also nice to know that nobody anywhere will have the same project in the same yarn as you will. A good quality yarn for the project I'm spinning for would cost me far more than the unspun fiber I've purchased for this project. Spinning is also very relaxing and rhythmic...and I do it in front of the TV in the living room so I get to spend time with the family and watch the shows I enjoy, but I get the added plus of yarn for knitting that I've completed while most people just watch TV. There is a tee shirt out (on cafe press) that says "I knit so I don't kill people" and spinning is just as therapeutic as knitting...the creative outlet is a very important aspect of good mental health for me. :)

I am also a great believer in the value of my time and effort. If I spend the time working on a project, I'm not going to use crappy yarn on it, my time is more important to me than that. I use "good" yarn on all my knitting, I use only natural fibers because I want my projects to be beautiful and to last forever, to be passed on and to be enjoyed by someone else after I've checked out. I do use a lot of commercial yarns, but again, only natural fibers. With hand spun yarns, I love the way the slight irregularities of hand spun yarn add interest, character, and beauty to a finished project.

This is a bobbin of singles or a single ply spun from the roving on my Ashland Joy spinning wheel against the backdrop of the ball of fiber. As you can see, the reds are much subdued after spinning, and the yarn is beginning to have a lot of interest and color contrasts in it, exactly what I'd hoped for. I've never spun this light weight of a yarn before, and it's actually much easier for me than trying to spin sport or worsted weight. I'm hoping for a fingering to lace weight once I've added the second ply to the first.
I made the second bobbin of singles today, and I was so excited to ply them together and see what the finished yarn will look like. This is the bobbin of two plied yarn on my Louet S-75 which is my workhorse for plying. It has more uptake so while I decided to use another wheel for the singles which I wanted to keep very thin, I always go back to my favorite S-75 for ease in spinning and I love the monster 4 ounce bobbins. I also have a skein winder mounted on this wheel so I made a skein of the yarn so I can set the spin on it before I use it.

This is the skeined yarn that I will be using for my project. It turned out to be 16-17 wpi and this skein weighs 3.7 ounces and contains about 309.17 yards, less than half of what I'll need to complete the project I'm going to use the yarn for. It's a little thicker than the lace weight called for in the pattern by diameter but not by weight, so I'm guessing I got the calculations wrong on the number of yards I made. I will need another skein and perhaps more, but I do have enough to get started on the project (after I finish some of the "on the needles" projects I'm in the middle of).

The project this is being spun for is this rectangular shawl. It's called "Miss Lambert's Shetland Pattern for a Shawl" and the pattern is in the "Victorian Lace Today" book. I've seen other examples of this shawl on Ravelry done in thicker yarn and I think it's going to be really nice regardless of the actual weight of the handspun. And the best of all is that nobody will have exactly the same yarn as I do!


Fiber Ninja said...

Ever since Franklin's class you have really been bitten by the lace knitting bug, haven't you?

Fiber addikt said...

Always have loved knitting lace...just finished a lace sock before his class. I've never really gotten away from lace projects but since I was getting burned out on socks, the class gave me some other project ideas. :) It's all good!