Good news and bad news

So the good news is that I got my drumcarded batt for the yarn gift spun. Bad news is that, while I rather like it, it’s not quite fitting for the project I was thinking (not as fluffy and bouncy), and not quite as soft. Below is the batt I did on the drumcarder the other day (see previous blog post).


I think the percentage of one of the blends I added had a little too much adult mohair and Romney wool. I like the strength, body, and hairiness, but the percentage of higher micron sized fibers is making it slightly prickly. I had some merino wool, silk and kid mohair, but the balance is a bit off. Didn’t use as much of the merino because the dark color of what I had was muting the overall color.

Also, the majority of the fiber was a longer staple length (length of individual fibers). That makes it trickier to not spin as dense. And density adds to the prickle-factor. This yarn came out with a nice halo, as planned, but dense and not as lofty as I’d hoped. It’ll be great for showing stitch definition, but a light-weight fluffy yarn it’s not.

I do like the electric green kid mohair I added. I’ve found adding a small amount of a slightly uncomfortable color (in thus case a high-value complement of the dominant purple color) gives it a pizazz. Squint your eyes and visualize the blend without the green. Much duller, huh?

On spinning the batt, the first thing I usually do is tear it into fluffy strips.


Then pre-draft or attenuate the strips so they’re thinner and longer. Once a strip is attenuated, I wind it into a loose nest and pile those up, ready to spin.


When I have a bobbin of single-ply I can leave it as is, spin another bobbin or two and ply all that, or just self-ply it back on itself. Or to preserve color shifts and have less blending, can ply making sort of a long crochet chain 3-ply. Or can play with tension and make something highly textured. In designing yarn, there are all sorts of choices.

In this case, I wound a center-pull ball and plied from both ends for a two-ply yarn. Once the spinning and plying is done, then I wind it in a big loop on a tool called a niddy-noddy. It’s the wooden stick in the picture that has the cross pieces on both ends. This is a simple tool that is pretty ancient. I’ve seen a book with a picture of one found in an unearthed Viking ship. Quite a few fiber tools today have changed very little from their ancestors. I like that feeling of connection with ages past. We do it for enjoyment rather than necessity today, but the basic action is the same. Kinda neat.


The idea of making a big loop is a couple of reasons. If the yarn is going to be dyed, it needs to be loose so the dye can penetrate, but contained so it won’t tangle in the water. (I tie loose figure-eights at least a couple of spots always, with each end of the yarn. If submersion dyeing, I’d secure it with more like six ties.) Along those same lines, when I wet-finish, I don’t want it to tangle while I’m swooshing it around in the water and hanging it to dry (see a couple posts ago regarding wet-finishing). Also, it can be twisted into a skein (below) for storage. I like skeins for storage, rather than balls (unless loose), so that it doesn’t put a lot of tension on the yarn and stretch it out.


So, time for Plan B. Next week I’m going to get some dyed alpaca and bamboo, and then use a different spinning technique. That should give the texture, sheen, and drape I’m looking for.

As for this yarn, really like it. I think I’m going to go ahead and spin the other batts since I’ve switched projects, so I’ll have a bit more yardage. I’m not hung up on everything being next-to-skin soft out of fine wool or luxury fibers. There’s a use for everything. What makes a scrumptious scarf makes a crummy hard-wearing sturdy bag.

Hm, speaking of bags, this would probably make really good weft for a woven bag. Would need to spin the warp still. This yarn ain’t it. Remember the deliberately making it hairy? Hairy yarn is grabby and insanity-inducing in a warp. There’s ways to work with a hairy warp if you just want to. I don’t. Not at all. A similar fiber content, prepared and spun differently to be worsted-style or smooth versus woolen-style or fuzzy will work. Hm, will have to dig through the stash. Sounds like a project for next quarter…


And also on the subject of bags, made some clay buttons in class. I was wanting some buttons to use on woven bags that had larger holes (and no rule it has to be 2 or 4-holed). I like the darker mottled green of the bigger on and the subtle beige-pale green of the smaller two. I think they’ll look great with natural or earthy colored wool or the neutral-palette cotton I’m thinking of.

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