Friday, November 02, 2007


As anyone who has recently peeked in my general direction lately has undoubtedly noticed, I have started trying my hand at spinning.

I'm absolutely thrilled to pieces with my new obsession but am not terribly good at it. However happily for me this seems to be a very common deal amongst new & intermediate spinners, so I have lots of cheerful company & lots and lots of blog posts to read on the topic.

So today, being almost physically unable to do any real work (this week has been a bit of a train wreck between crazy students in the library & a crazy waking-at-6-AM, temper-tantrum-throwing-toddler) I decided to catch way way up on my blog reading. And so I started reading some of my new favorites (Enchanting Juno) and some of my old favorites (Claudia's Blog) that I haven't read in several weeks with an eye towards any mention of spinning. {N.b. - as far as blogs go, I have favorites and then I have favorites. You know - the ones that you like to read yet let go unread for weeks, and then the ones that you like to read and somehow make/find time to read anytime/everytime you see that there is a new post....}

And I did some back reading in Claudia's blog and first came across this post where she shows her "fiber room" which totally made me drool like a Saint Bernard with a can of Alpo waved under his nose. Just LOOK at that bookcase stuffed with yarn and fiber and knitterly books and mags. Doesn't it make you drool too? Then I looked back even further and came across this post which talks all about plying. Something that I had just tried, in fact, and was pretty disappointed with my results.

I thought I had shown just the tiniest bit of improvement in the whole spinning thing, and so was very sad when I saw the over-spun, over-plied, hard, tight mess of yarn (and I use that term loosely - it's so hard and dense that there is no soft springy goodness left in it - it feels more like cheap rope that you need a hacksaw to cut through) that I was left with after I had tried to ply it.

Handspun singles that are still totally identifiable as a new spinner's work. But still, not as glaringly horrible as the very very first bobbin of work that I produced. Progress was made - however slight - and I was happy.

Overspun, overplied 2-ply yarn. Horrible. Uneven. Plied way too tight. Plied way too loose. Horrible.

And after I read Claudia's lovely advice/direction on how to ply, it hit me. I had plied the above yarn incorrectly. WAY incorrectly. Apparently you are suppose to spin the yarn in one direction (a non-spinner would consider this to be, say, counterclockwise, while a spinner would say that it had been given 'S' twist) and then you ply it in the opposite (i.e. clockwise or 'Z' ) direction.

I spun in the same direction as eventually I plied. Overspinning adding to overplying all in the same overly-tight direction. Hence why I could barely fit the horrid mangled mess through the orifice of the wheel, why it sprung into what looked like a skein'd Koosh ball when I was done tying off the skein, and why it looks so appalling in the above picture.

So what to do now?

I think I might bite the bullet and un-ply the yarn and either re-spin the singles again if they seem to need it or else just ply in the correct direction with the singles as they are. I hot-water soaked the yarn to set the twist after I plied it the first time, so I don't know if this is actually a total loss or not and if I'd be much better just chalking this up to inexperience and exhaustion (I was so excited to be done spinning my first true bobbin-full of fiber that even though it was 11 PM and I could barely see anything due to absolute exhaustion, I went ahead and plied the entire thing anyway.) or can actually salvage this pretty cotton-candy coloured stuff with a re-spin, re-ply attempt.

Any advice, from absolutely anyone who knows about this sort of thing, would be greatly greatly appreciated.

In the meantime, I've got new bumps of Piece of Vermont fiber to be eyeballed and fondled, and as soon as Gryphon's package arrives with my new hand-carders and baskets (today? today? let it be today!) I've got a full pound of washed fleece to start carding out. I also have 1/8th of a shrug back and a full sleeve to finish on Belle (not to mention the super-cool edging around the neck) plus the leg of a sock to finish designing, plus a 2nd embossed leaves sock to finish up for the daughter of a friend plus a shawl for a co-worker's retirement (thank GOD she retires in August of '08!)

In case anyone was curious, above is a picture of one of the (3? 4?) baskets that I have ordered from Gryphon. Locally handmade and collapses almost completely flat. Isn't that just too amazing for words???

Plus about a million pairs of Fetching that I have either agreed to or planned to knit in the past 24 hours. I knit myself a pair (FO pics coming soon) in 2 sweet evenings worth of knitting and so decided that they are my Christmas gift to hand out to many this year. I also have a finished EZ BSJ to post about - now that I have finally (!) sewn on the required buttons. However taking proper pictures requires not only sunlight (and my free time these days has lately only appeared after 9:15 PM) but also the ability to focus my eyes - something that I"m lately also lacking.

Which reminds me, I need to pick up my boxes of replacement disposable contacts this weekend. Must away to call the eye doc and make sure they're in before driving dangerously close to the fabric store to pick them up. No need to risk temptation if the desired object isn't yet on the shelf!

1 comment:

Mathgirl said...

Progess is progress, don't knock it! And I love the quick satisfaction of fetching, it's a perfect gift for knitting. And at one skein, I don't mind buying slightly pricier yarn for it either. A perfect combo.