Outside my comfort zone

Regardless of what I intend, I end up spinning lace weight yarn. It’s apparently typical of advanced beginners, who are finally able to spin finely, but are then unable to spin the thicker yarns they used to.

Below is an example of my spinning slump:  worsted-spun lace weight that seems to go on forever. (For the record, this is Blue Moon Fiber Art’s Sheep 2 Shoe kit in “Twinkle Twinkle Little Vampire” and I’m about half way through what will eventually become a 3-ply sock yarn.)

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So, to shake things up a little and to take a break from the above pictured spinning project, I’ve been trying out some different drafting methods. I’m hoping that these new techniques will jolt me out of my default mode, which is to spin using the short draft method.

I decided to try my hand at spinning semi-woolen yarn using this beautiful falkland braid from Pigeonroof Studio in “Electric Rose.” The colors and intensity are stunning, but I wanted to make the color contrasts and shifts less dramatic.

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Woolen and semi-woolen yarns tend to be fuzzier than worsted, which would help with smoothing out the color changes. The other reason I wanted to spin semi-woolen was I wanted to create a thick but light and airy yarn.  Since I don’t have hand cards or a drum carder, I decided to spin from the fold, which meant separating small pieces (as pictured) and spinning each section separately but still sequentially. Mine were really small pieces, though they don’t have to be. I held each piece folded over and just let the twist travel up through the center of the fold, pulling the fiber away from me. For a great photo tutorial on spinning from the fold, check out Abby Franquemont’s site.

The swatch on the left is worsted spun and the one on the right is semi-woolen spun. There is a bit more stitch definition in the swatch on the left and the color shifts are more pronounced. The woolen swatch is fuzzier, with slightly blurred stitch definition. Also, the colors are a bit more heathered and the color shifts are more gradual.

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The worsted yarn is more tightly coiled and the stitches are more refined and uniform. The semi-woolen yarn is looser and rough around the edges.  I used a US 7 needle for both and cast on 17 stitches (a random number) for each swatch, but they’re obviously not the same size. You can see how the energy of the  worsted yarn draws the swatch in and up while the semi-woolen is more expansive and relaxed. They’re like the Felix and Oscar of yarn.

Hopefully these differences are clearer in the two photos below. (I should also add that though they are roughly the same height, I’ve knitted 20 rows in the worsted swatch and only 18 in the semi-woolen.)

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Here’s “Electric Rose” all spun up. Since spinning from the fold is a new drafting method for me, my yarn was especially uneven. Still, I love this plump and sprongy yarn. IMG_3643

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One thought on “Outside my comfort zone

  1. Pingback: Handspun Hats | Left Twists

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