Wednesday, January 14, 2009

THIRD (interim) Spin: Trying for Slubby!

Okay, even at the beginning of this new spinning endeavor, I've found that when I look at a fiber in its braided, unspun state, it just seems to tell me that it would SING and ZING if it were to be spun in a certain way. This fiber... its colorway of golds and greys, from light to charcoal, along with its coarser (perhaps more kinky) texture... it just said, "Spin Me Slubby!"

Well, in the middle of Spin #2, I decided to load another spindle (Jenny loaned me her Kundert while a glitch was being remedied on the one she got me) with that fiber, and see if I could purposely spin thick-thin and slubby.
Man, did I EVER overdo it! I'd draft what I thought would be a slub, and it just spun quiet. A little thicker, of course, but no slub. And those really thin parts next to the thick parts... I didn't know how much spin to put in a combination like that, but those thick parts just didn't seem to take any spin, so I spun more. And more. And more! I decided I'd definitely stop after an ounce or thereabouts, and process it, then see what I got. So when I soaked it, I used HOT water for this because I'd read that you want to kind of slightly "felt" a slubby yarn so the slubs won't come apart. I also whacked the crap out of it. I mean, my dog ran for cover. Slam, slam, slam!! I then spun it dry in the salad spinner, and hung it to dry.
Oooomigod. It was a freaking kinking mess. I ran to Beginning Spinners Forum on Ravelry, and screamed HELP! I mean, I could practically hear this yarn screaming,
"Ouch! Argh, OUCH!!"
Well, in Beginning Spinners I asked if there was any way I could gently UNspin it to some extent. I had really processed it, I didn't think I still could.
They said I probably could, so that's what I tried. Now that was a neat learning experience, because it's a thing you do by feel. You just sense when to stop, and I mean for me, it came down to one revolution of the spindle.

Time Out for some drippy stuff: It seems to me that as ridiculous as this sounds, if you almost "listen" to your fiber or yarn in progress, it'll tell you exactly what to do. It's an instinct thing. It's not something that screams out at you, you have to listen for it. I've had just glimpses into this, and I'm sure it's commonplace with experienced spinners, but for other newbies, just be open to what the yarn is telling you.

Anyway, I did that unspinning in places, and not in others (that's fairly obvious EXCEPT that you have to mentally picture what's going to happen to the unspinning. Where will it gravitate? So I soaked it again, spun it in the salad spinner again, and this time I didn't whack it. I also didn't want to put a weight on the bottom of the skein loop because some of these slubs are damned long. I figured they could easily pull apart. So I looped just a dry wash cloth over the bottom of the loop. Not a lot of weight, true. But just enough to... well, it wouldn't hurt. It felt right to do. And this is how it came out. Still a little squiggly, but soooooo much better. And I didn't hear the yarn yelping anymore.

So what did I learn that I THINK will be the case?

When I draft thick and thin, I'm thinking that doing everything in more moderation is best. Things that looked like little slubs grew. If there was too much difference in yarn thickness, it invariably overspun the thin parts, and the bigger difference between thick and thin, the more that would happen.

With this spin, and this treatment (which is probably above my head at this point to be trying it), I'm going to do another ounce before proceeding, just to make sure these learned ("suspected") points are real.

SECOND Spin and notes

This is the fiber I bought on New Year's Eve in the snow storm, fearing I'd run out of my first dwindling "stash" on New Year's Day when ALL stores are closed, and when I thought I'd want to spin while watching the parade and pondering New Year's Resolutions. Besides, I had made a mini-breakthrough on the drafting. The safest textured fiber, and in a colorway I thought I'd like, I bought Louet Northern Lights wool blend that came in an 8-oz. bag of what the store owner told me was a little thicker than pencil roving. I later learned that this form is called a "sliver" (pronounced sly-ver).

Here's my best photo of what I was now able to get in terms of even thickness. I was now just getting the hang of the FEEL of how much fiber I was releasing into the draft zone. Still slow process of park-and-draft, and still holding my drafting and pinching hands too close together (for some reason terrified the fiber would drift apart... I was not good at joining, and still have a little trouble with it. I understand the tendency is too close together. More about that later.

Well, as Jenny put this yarn on her niddy noddy, she said that it was actually pretty tightly spun. But then she also said she thought this yarn would be great if I plyed it. She thought I'd see a whole lot less purple, to boot. So she put it on her umbrella swift and split it into two equal lengths, for two equal sized balls. And showed me how to ply yarn on the drop spindle.
ET VOILA!!! My first plyed yarn!

Gee, for first photos on a first blog, these just don't look as clear as they do elsewhere. If anyone knows some setting to get them clearer, please let me know!
Anyway, I didn't have wool wash yet, or a niddy noddy, so just wrapped it around the bottom of a plastic storage box and soaked the yarn in pretty hot water, then stuck it in a salad spinner which works amaaaaaazingly well. Hanging on a hook, it dried in just a few hours! Way faster than when we squeezed it dry. I did whack it, but not that much. There was some clockwise twist still in it after it dried. I guess I plied it even tighter than I spun it!
So I am now spinning up the rest, planning to ply it and hopefully the two shall be the same. What spinning a sample did teach me is to make a control card! One that shows the singles and the ply. I can't remember at this point how thickly I spun the single originally, so no clue if it'll come out looking the same as the ounce I have here.
I'm still in the process of spinning up the rest of this fiber. I don't yet know what I'll make out of it. I'm going to knit a swatch with this sample, and see if any ideas come to mind.

FIRST Spin - Photo and notes

Along with my brand new kick-ass Kundert Spindle that Jenny gave me for Christmas to see if I'd like spindling, she gave me a braid of gorgeous blue and white hand-dyed BFL Superwash fiber that she'd bought from The Woolen Rabbit. I LOVED that fiber! So here's the initial stab at my first spin.
The next photo is after I brought my FOUR (4) little balls of spun yarn to Jenny's to be washed and whacked. (It kept falling off the shaft.) We were really short on time, so I told her to just tie the ends together, I'd deal with it later. This is apparently very typical for a first spin -- thick, thin and slubby. As it was hanging to dry, I thought I had slubs throughout that seriously exceeded the staple length (for non-spinning friends, that's the length of each fiber and that would make it easily split apart)...

BUT! When I wound it into a ball, I discovered much to my delight that the really long unspun parts were all at the knots! Yeee-haw! I cannot wait to knit this yarn, the rest of it came out much to my liking. It's going to become a neck warmer (probably ribbed) that has a split at one end that the other end slips through.

This is a single, I got approx. 123 yards out of this 4-oz. braid. And I will treasure it forever as my first spin, and also just as meaningful to me, the result of the best, sweetest Christmas present I've ever received.