Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Riverstone Handspun

Riverstone Top
Originally uploaded by JLW in PA
I finished up a bit of spinning this weekend. This finewool top was purchased at MDSW just last month. The colorway is "riverstone" and I bought it from Shadeyside Farm in Oxford, NY. Note how much more varied and bright the colors are in the top than in the finished yarn.

My goal was to spin this differently than the other yarn I've made; specifically, I wanted to spin it more finely and tightly, in an attempt to get closer to sock yarn. Not that I really thought this particular fiber was appropriate for sock yarn... but I needed the practice. I sampled regularly throughout the spinning process and I definitely think my singles were spun with more twist that I usually get. I used a smaller whorl, too - the bigger size of the smaller whorl. When I say "smaller," I just mean the smaller of the two that came with the wheel. Schacht calls this the "fast" whorl and the ratio is 10.5:1. I have to get used to this new terminology!

My singles were tighter, but I was worried about plying. I spun tighter singles in my spinning class last month but totally arsed up the final product by severely underplying. I was worried about the same thing happening again. I waited to ply until I had a rare few hours to myself in the middle of a day (not at night, when I'm tired). The first bobbin seemed to go okay. When I took it off the niddy noddy, there was a half-twist or so in the skein - not a big deal. I was happy! Then I plied a second bobbin full and started to wind it onto the niddy noddy. I could tell immediately that the ply was not as tight as the first one. It was way too loose, just by sight. I decided to add more twist (you can do this by putting the full bobbin on the kate and running it through the wheel again onto a new, empty bobbin). I guess I didn't add enough, because it was still too underplied. I took a break and went to the web to do a little reading.

This caused even more frustration! I read this post about under/overplying, which says that if your singles have rested on the bobbin (mine definitely had - most do), the twist you see is not actually the twist you have. Therefore, the plied twist you see will not be the plied twist that you have - you won't really know what you have until you're done setting the yarn. Whaaaa?!??

I came back to this bobbin again later that evening after the kids were in bed and ran it through the wheel again, deliberately adding a LOT more twist. I finished both skeins and here they are. If you look carefully, you can see that one skein has a tighter ply than the other. I think I like the tighter one best (the one I worked a lot harder on).

I'm not sure what I'll use this for. I have about 475 yards. I'm trying not to worry about that and just concentrate on practicing spinning. I need to log more hours at the wheel so I can improve, and not be petrified that I'll mess things up because I don't know what I'm doing. Consistency is definitely going to be an issue for a while.


  1. This is beautiful! I'm feeling your frustration, even though I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about. I'm in awe of spinners and all the many things they have to know about fiber. I can't wait to actually watch you in action. Until then, I'll remain blissfully ignorant.

  2. I think this is beautiful! I can empathize with your problems, however like Steven, I too am ignorant. I'll keep watching you crank out these beautiful hanks of hand spun yarns.