Purple and my love for same.
Friends, I have a lot to get caught up on. Although I haven’t been blogging much, what with my burrowing instincts kicking in, I’ve been doing scads of crafting. Lots and lots! My love affair with my new spinning wheel is unabated, and as we get to know each other I’m coming to appreciate her more and more. So much, that I finally gave her a name! She’s all tiny and cute, but also clever and tough, so “Roxie” seemed like a great name. Also, Roxie rhymes with moxie which seems appropriate and is also just a word that I love 🙂
One thing I still can’t get over while spinning on Roxie is how stupid fast it is. When I was spindling, it took me waaaaaay longer to get through my fiber. Part of that I’m sure is just experience, but part of it is most definitely that wheels are just faster. I know that some spinners who use drop spindles take them everywhere they go, and move through their fiber at a pretty quick clip. However, I tend to use knitting when I’m commuting and spinning when I’m at home with free crafting time, so it really made a big difference to me. Because of that, I finally got through a project that I’ve been working on since last summer!!! (Granted, part of it was that it was sitting in time out for being too difficult.) I finished up my white to dark purple gradient that some of you who have been around for a while may remember from when I posted about it the first time. (You wanna click that link. There’s pictures :P) It’s lovely, lovely stuff. It’s 50% Tussah silk, 25% yak down (much like cashmere) and 25% Optim Merino. This blend was so interesting, as it’s got a lot of shine and drape from the silk, a bit of fuzzy halo from the yak, and an almost angora-like feel from the Optim Merino. It’s merino that has been chemically treated and then stretched so that it loses its memory and bounce, but becomes thin and fine and silky. Super fun stuff! It’s always wanted to be a shawl, and with that mix of fibers it’s pretty ideal for it.
Here’s the story on it. I started spinning it last August, on one of my really pretty spindles from Tina’s Angoras. It even matched the fiber! However, this fiber started out as two four ounce braids, the biggest project that I’ve attempted to date. Plus, I wanted to spin it as a laceweight. At first I played with the idea of spinning it as a single, but I swiftly realized that these fibers did NOT want to be a single ply. Not only were they very short and delicate, they didn’t want to grab onto each other at all, so I had to put in a lot of twist just in order to keep them from drifting apart like the world’s most annoying fluffy little clouds. Too much twist gives you a single ply yarn that just looks funky when knitted up, so I scrapped that idea.
Next, I thought, “Well, I have two identical braids. Why not just spin them up individually and ply them together?” This seemed like a perfectly elegant solution, minus the fact that my spinning wasn’t even so I knew that I would end up with leftovers from one of the braids. Then, I started to feel nervous that over the course of eight ounces of fiber and several months, my spinning would not be consistent enough to ensure that the colors matched up. I was still considering it, but then I went and looked closely at the braids. While they were nearly identical, and they started and ended with the same colors, there was still some charming variation between the two. I loved that, and I wanted to preserve it. I knew that a 2-ply would mask that a bit, and you wouldn’t see all of the colors individually, more a mashup of all of them. So I went with a much more difficult solution, but one that made me happier in the long run and gave me more control over the results. (I’m kindof maybe just a little wee bit of a control freak.) I decided that I would alternately pull fiber from each braid, carefully following the color progression in both of them. I would spin a very very fine single, with the intention of chain plying and getting something resembling a laceweight. The gradient would be preserved, I could decide exactly where I wanted each color to go, and chain plying would give the yarn some stability. I started spinning.
Now, to be honest, I flamed out pretty early. I got through about two ounces and I couldn’t go on. The singles I was spinning were so tiny, and the fiber was fiddly and needed careful handling, and the singles kept breaking (see aforesaid point about how thin they were) so I just got fed up and threw them into my stash bin to think about what they had done. This lasted from about September 2013 to March 2014. Then, I started thinking about how maybe things would be easier now that I had more experience. (I tried to do that exotic mix of fibers as my fourth spinning project ever. Big mistake.) I mused that the wheel would speed things up considerably. I thought longingly of the beautiful, soft, lovely fiber, and I went and got it out of timeout. I started spinning on the wheel this time, and it was instant love. SO MUCH EASIER. Part of the trouble was that my spindle was getting too heavy and breaking the singles. With the wheel, I can adjust how much tension gets put on the fiber, and this fiber needed very gentle handling. Once I got the hang of how slippery and finicky it was, spinning it was a dream. (I still plied on my spindle though. Haven’t quite gotten chain plying on a wheel.) Wanna see what I got? (of course you do!)
Isn’t it scrumptious? It’s about 660 yards of amazingness, and for a chain ply where I also trashed a lot of fiber due to my learning curve? I’m quite happy with the yardage. I’m thinking a semi-circular shawl to show off the gradient, possibly Kleio by Romi Hill. But without the Latvian braids because A) I only have one color and B) I am not completely bonkers. (Though this may still be somewhat up for debate.) I hope you like it friends! I’m not knitting it yet, just appreciating it as an objet d’art. (and snuggling it occasionally.) Lolly out!
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