Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Blue Yarn, Woolen This Time

Last week I had the fun opportunity to do a spinning demo for a class of first-year students at my college.  Their course is called A Matter of Substance, and it’s about the raw materials that make up our world.  The faculty member is a physical chemist by training.  The students are writing papers about things like wood, glass, steel, plastic, etc., and one of them chose to write about textiles.  (She might have had a nudge from me, her friendly reference librarian.)  So the professor asked me to do a short spinning demo for the class.

I decided to take both spindle and wheel, and to have the wheel set up with finished singles ready to ply.  That meant I needed to spin some singles, since I had recently finished the Mohair-Finn yarn.  I grabbed the remaining Heidi’s Blues roving I purchased at the 2008 Knitters’ Day Out market.  This was one of the first things I spun, and some of it became 40th Birthday Yarn for Kristina. 

Here was the original 1/2 lb of roving (called Heidi’s Blues – I think one of the sheep was named Heidi):

Heidi's Blues

Here was Kristina’s birthday yarn (248 yards, 114 g, 2-ply):


And here is the remaining yarn from the Heidi’s Blues roving (209 yards, 91 grams, 2-ply). There was way more yellow in this half of the roving!IMG_4567I tried to spin this in more of a woolen style and I do think it looks fuzzier than the first skein.  Usually I spin worsted, but I wanted to try something different and see if I could change my drafting style (which is very inchworm-y). I think I felt more free to experiment with this roving because some of it had already been finished successfully.  It’s a weird mind game, but I felt like I could afford to mess this up, you know?  My singles were definitely less consistent and more fuzzy (less smooth) than they usually are. 

I had a little bit left on one bobbin, so I fired up YouTube and taught myself how to Navajo ply (I found this video to be the most helpful).  For my readers who don’t yet spin, Navajo ply is a 3-ply technique that actually creates a chained yarn rather than a plied yarn.  You make it from one single (not singles from 3 different bobbins), which makes it great for using up every last bit of single on the bobbin.  It is also used when spinners want to preserve the color changes in a painted roving so that the resulting yarn moves from one color to another (rather than showing a barber pole type stripe).  I WAY overplied my Navajo ply bit – it relaxed a little in a hot bath but is still twisting like crazy.  Clearly I need to work on this technique some more.  IMG_4562 Let’s end with another good photo, shall we?



  1. Beautiful spinning job. You're becoming quite the master. And imagine getting to have fiber fun on such a scale at work.

    No way Kristina is 40. I don't believe it.

  2. I always overply my najavo-ply, too. I wonder if it is because we get concerned with the najavo-plying on the wheel and treadle more?

  3. Steven,

    Thanks for the nice complement. Yes, I am indeed 40!

    Great spinning Janelle.


  4. My favorite part of this post is your note to your "readers who don't yet spin"...because, of course, we will SOON spin!

    I've been meaning to ask you how the class went!?!