Only a few more days left of the Tour de France/Fleece. It’s been such a neat challenge, and I’ve seen some improvement in my spinning over the time span. Practice actually does work, eh? Here are some photos of the latest yarns, taken yesterday.
This is spun from fiber that came from a Fiber of the Month club that a friend generously lavished upon me for Christmas last year. It’s another reminder that appearances can be deceiving. It was a fine but unassuming bit of fiber in the bag. It was surprisingly silky to spin and I really love how the finished yarn turned out. It’s a 50/50 blend of New Zealand wool and silk, and it came to 347 yards of 2-plied yarn.
This is another of Meg’s beauties, colorway Sherwood in her Festive roving. It might be one of my top two favorite colorways she does. I decided I wanted to maximize the number of color changes throughout the yarn, so I tore the one long piece of roving into 6 or 7 long, narrow strips. I spun those and navajo-plied the single to preserve the color changes. It came to 422 yards, which is a record for me for 4 oz. in a 3-ply. It’s sock weight again, so another goal has been achieved: sockweight on a 3-ply. (yay!) It’s listed for sale in the Etsy shop.
My sister Kaele asked about the weights of yarn and how someone who was not familiar with spinning would know why I’m excited about achieving fingering weight.
The process of spinning involves taking a wad of fluff and turning it into a rope. You do it by introducing twist to the fluff. The fibers, twisted around each other, are very strong and much harder to pull apart than the fluff all by itself. Spinning on a wheel requires coordination of two things: handling the fiber (controlling the twist) and maintaining the speed of the wheel (creating the twist). When I started, the rate of introducing twist was very inconsistent, but even less consistent was my ability to pull out just the right amount of fluff from the wad and allow the same amount of twist to be introduced to each section. My first yarns have very thick and very thin sections, and the overall thickness of the finished yarn is no smaller than the diameter of one of those really thick pencils we thought were so cool in elementary school.
As I’ve gotten more practice, I can manipulate the speed of the wheel (the rate of creating twist) without thinking about it. The real key, though, is becoming consistent with the amount of fiber I pull out of the fluff at a time and making that amount of fiber smaller. The smaller the wad, the thinner the yarn, the more yardage you can get from the fiber. It has also helped that I’m comfortable enough with the process now that I’ve set my whorl at a much higher ratio (that has to do with how many times the flyer that does the actual twisting goes around with one rotation of the big wheel), allowing for a tighter, thinner twist.
I hope that helps a little. It was a landmark to be able to achieve a consistent fingerweight. It also means (theoretically) that I can be choosy in what I do with a particular fiber. If I want a worsted weight, I can do that. If I want a sock yarn, I can do that, too. I can be a little more intentional than “let’s spin this baby and see what comes out!” The best way to show you, of course, is to show you the whole process…I may try and test the JAKE’s documentary movie making skills some day. 😉