Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Batts in the Belfry

Hello again,

I know it’s been a long time. I was wondering if my blog had slowly wound to an end, but then I decided to reallocate some time and recommit. Specifically, I unsubscribed to some email lists and unfollowed a bunch of instagram folks. I am reclaiming the time I spent looking at what other people make and redirecting that time to making my own stuff. And that stuff includes this blog. I enjoy documenting my making process, and I reference my posts more often than I expected to. So here we go again! 20180403_174931

My latest spinning project took about 6 weeks from start to finish. The riotous pile of color above is six skeins of yarn made from the six batts I received in Jillian Moreno’s Batts in the Belfry class last fall. I wasn’t at all sure how to spin them but I knew I had been encouraged to play, so I just looked at them for a long time (thank goodness I have a baby grand piano that doubles as a fiber table). Ultimately, I decided to separate the colors (some batts were layered or striped) and card analogous colors together into rolags. I spun those into singles, and then plied the singles together in different combinations.

Here are some of the rolags I made. This was great practice for me to use my hand cards. You can see that some of them have a more homogenous color, while others are more lively:





The content of the batts was not consistent. the labels said “Batts definitely contain mostly wool. They may also contain Alpaca, Mohair, Silk, and/or Nylon.” Different colors drafted differently. I spun these with a long draw technique, but my singles weren’t super consistent because different colors drafted differently. Some were stickier than others, and some were more delicate.

I also did not end up with equal amounts of each color. I knew this would happen and I tried not to let it bother me (but of course it did, a little!).

I wound all my singles onto storage bobbins and decided to make two 3-ply yarns, in these combinations. The top one is “hot” and the bottom is “cool”:20180322_082529

Want to see the results?

Here is the “hot” yarn – a total of 288 yards and 106 grams:20180403_174516


Here is the “cool” yarn – a total of 396 yards and 127 grams:20180403_174404

I still had some singles left, so I made a little 2-ply skein of orange and green together (very sherbet-y). This is only 60 yards and 13 grams:20180403_174624


And then I still had more orange left, so I wound it into a center-pull ball and made a 2-ply from it. I got 94 more yards and 20 grams:20180403_174810

I have a tiny bit more singles in a deep blue and a deep purple, but not enough to mess with.

As usual, I don’t know what to use this yarn for. I thought it might be interesting to try some two-color brioche with the hot and cool skeins of 3-ply, so maybe I’ll look at patterns for that.

I have been reflecting on how uncomfortable I felt that I had all these little batts with little control over color choice and no plan for how to use them. I’m generally okay making a yarn for which I don’t have a project plan, but making a yarn out of material that I didn’t intentionally choose was a new level of discomfort. I find I’m relieved to have turned this into yarn, and also a bit chuffed that I solved the puzzle of how to handle them. Stash no more!


  1. I really love reading about process. And this was interesting even though I don't spin. Glad you decided to keep blogging!

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  3. I would love to see what you might do with the two color idea!

  4. I have been watching and wondering what you are up to so am glad to see this post.
    It gives me some interesting ideas to play around with on my wheel.
    I think brioche would be a great idea for your warm and cool yarns.
    I have made a few hats and cowls using my wild hand spun paired with a solid commercial yarn or solid color hand spun. I like having a wild side and a calm side. I even made a cowl with a thick neon green paired with a thinner undyed natural hand spun and love it. I didn't use a pattern I just cast on and started. I even added an i cord to one side of the cowl so I can pull it closed and wear it as a hat.
    can't wait to see what you come up with

    1. Thanks for the brioche encouragement, Whatzitknitz! I'll keep an eye out for cowl patterns to try.

  5. Thanks for recommitting to blogging Janelle. The instant gratification of posting to social media has its place but there's so much value in a well-written blog post.

    It's a great idea to prune an Instagram feed and using the time more productively!

    1. I've been pruning in many places and it pleases me. I've also been unsubscribing from newsletters so I don't feel inclined to buy more fiber supplies I don't need at the moment. I know where to go shop when I have an actual need.

    2. I hope you didn't unsubscribe from Hand Spinning News! (I'm included this post in April's issue if that's OK because this is an interesting way to deal with a batt!)

    3. Nope - in fact, the opposite! I found Hand Spinning News thanks to your comment and subscribed to it!