Saturday, August 27, 2016

Breed School is back in session

club cropA new year of the Sheepspot Fiber Club and Breed School has begun! Breed School is so much fun that it starts in July and everyone is happy about it. Well, by the time my shipment made it through U.S. Customs, it was early August, but that’s okay. Sheepspot is worth waiting for.

IMG_3861The first shipment of the 2016-17 club year is Shetland top. This year, we have can choose from multicolor and solid options. I picked “Bronte,” which is blues and purples on a natural base that includes grey and brown. At least, I think that’s the base and not the dye. Even though this is top, it feels more like roving to me. I was inclined to spin it long draw. [Side note: I feel a little guilty about not sampling, but this was the first thing I spun after an unexpected appendectomy and I was inclined to do one of my default yarns. 14:1 whorl at the ready!]IMG_3865

As I held the fiber in my lap for a couple of days, I realigned it and quite liked the progression from grey to blue to purple. This made me want to make a gradient yarn. So I started tearing it up into smaller sections:IMG_3872 crop

Even though I could not spin for very long at one sitting (my back muscles ache from compensating for my compromised abs), this spun up pretty quickly. Soon enough I had a bobbin that was purple on the outside. IMG_3885

I planned to chain-ply it in order to produce a gradient yarn in one skein. And I did… but let me tell you, it was one of the most frustrating plying experiences I have ever had. For some reason, my singles bobbin wasn’t unwinding very easily from my kate. I really had to pull to get the yarn off. Then, when pulling the single through the loop (which creates a chain, hence the name), the working yarn abraded against the loop. My woolen yarn wasn’t always strong enough to withstand that abrasion, and it broke. Like, five times. There was cursing. I’m pretty sure it was breaking at the joins, of which there were MANY because of how much I had torn up the top. I guess my chain ply technique is not very elegant, because I feel that one needs five hands and several lengths of scotch tape in order to keep everything under control. I could use a lesson on that! But it got done. I just tied knots at the breaks and I’ll cut those out of the skein when I knit with it. IMG_3887

Here is my gorgeous skein winder which I still adore. I put washi tape on one of the pegs (the one on the left) so that I can easily count each time the winder does one full rotation. I have the pegs set to a 72” circumference, so if I count while winding, I know my yardage right away. I always found counting the yarns on the niddy noddy so tiresome…this is a big improvement. IMG_3891

Chain play makes a 3-ply yarn. You can see that I had a fairly tight angle of twist… my understanding is that this is preferable in woolen-spun yarns to add strength. Plus, I think it looks nice. After a nice wash, this is what I had:IMG_3897

I’ll admit that I have strategically wound the skein so you can’t see all the knots. But even so, it looks pretty good, right? It is only 186 yards, though… that 3-ply really eats up your singles. The tighter twist angle contributed to that a bit, too.IMG_3893

So, I’m glad to be back in the saddle in the spinning department. My hope is to squeeze in another spinning project before the next club shipment arrives, which will probably be sometime in September. DOH, September is next week! August is just a blur.

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