You’ll recall this beautiful braid of BFL top I’m sure?
Well I’m a firm believer in using materials you actually like when your learning something, rather than opting for a more economical choice. Yes, this does mean you may well end up throwing something into the bin, that with a little more experience under your belt, would be positively gorgeous. Then again, there’s also the chance that if you dislike the materials you’re using so much, you might actually be turned off of the idea altogether.
I’m telling you all this in order to justify using this yummy woolly goodness to try and learn a new technique, well actually two as it happens.
I’ve been spinning for a little while now, but I haven’t tried to learn any of the specific draw or plying methods. Instead I’ve been treadling and drafting in a sort of intuitive way and the resulting yarn has been usable, but it wouldn’t win any awards.
Determined to work on my technique, I purchased the Drafting from Worsted to Woolen Craftsy Class taught by Jacey Boggs Faulkner. Having watched the whole class a couple of times, I’ve discovered my ‘technique’, has been a mishmash of short backwards draw and long draw spinning, with maybe a little short forward draw, thrown in on occasion for good measure.
So I decided to go right back to basics and started at the beginning, using a short forward draw whilst spinning from across the top. The process was painfully slow and not because short forward draw is so slow, but because trying to draft across the top of my fibre was proving too much for my tiny brain to handle. Actually to be fair, the head knew what to do, but transferring those thoughts into something my hands could do was proving problematic.
I persevered and ended up with a single, that wasn’t too bad, well that is if you kept one eye shut whilst examining it. With one and a half bobbins of an ok yarn, most sensible newbies would probably have created a 2ply yarn. Sure, you’d probably have to split the yarn on the larger bobbin in order to ply it, but that’s not really too much of a hardship. Except, it was a step further than I actually wanted to go, so instead, smarty pants here, thought she’d try chain plying.
The chain plying meant I could work from one bobbin at a time, without the need for spinning half of the fuller bobbin onto a separate one. So convinced I knew what I was doing I sat down at the wheel and began chain plying.
The whole thing kind of ran away on me a bit, I had issues with getting the correct tension on my wheel and there were a few times the whorl sort of jammed up, from not keeping the single taught enough. I kept going though and my resulting yarn is um…., well it’s still yarn, but it’s really not the best. Completely over plied, to the point of resembling cord in places, it’s not something to be proud of, but 2017 is my year of being HONEST and that means warts and all.
So I’ve caked it up and I will knit something with it, although it might end up being something to wear just on the farm 😉
Next up on my wheel is this lovely braid of 100% Corriedale from Irish Fairytale Yarns. I’m sticking with learning to spin across the top, but I think I’ll revert to the two ply method. At least that way, I’ll hopefully be able to see any improvements as they happen. Maybe that should be if they happen?
On a more positive note. Did you see my finished handspun hat on episode 11 of The Olann and Podcast? I don’t mind saying that I was thrilled with how it turned out and I really do love the texture of the fabric. It has character and I know I couldn’t replicate it even if I tried. It’s a slouchy hat, but not one that’s too floppy and I sort of made it up as I went along, after swatching the yarn (see my post here for more details).
The best bit for me about this hat though is that colour there, right as the bright pink starts to turn into the orange. It’s a kind of rusty red, that’s still got a pinky tone to it. Isn’t it lovely?