Category Archives: handspun yarn

Gotland/Shetland sampling

In my last post, I wrote about the important things I learned from sampling a small amount (80 grams) of the Gotland/Shetland fleece from my neighbour’s sheep named Aubrey.

Here are photos of processing and spinning the fibre to make a sample skein for knitting. The teasing took longer than it normally does because many of the butt ends were fused from my handling. See previous post.

I started out by hand carding some rolags. However, this fibre, and probably the Gotland part of it, is sleek and smooth. When I tried to roll the fibre into a rolag, it just wouldn’t stay rolled. So I ended up using my drum carder to make two, roughly 40 gram batts.

I spun it with a short backwards draw, re-wound the yarn onto weaving bobbins and let them sit for a couple of days. Then I plied them into a two-ply yarn. I skeined and washed the yarn, finishing it in a cold water bath to fuse some of the fibres, yet keep the drape. It is a lovely yarn and my neighbour loves it. So much in fact she’s not yet knit a sample swatch.

My next experiment with the yarn is to make a three-ply. It will be rounder and I think more durable for the sweater function.

Stay tuned.

A small pile of teased light grey fibre. Shows the shine and curly nature of the wool.
Washed and dried fibre all teased and ready for drum carding
A twelve inch by twenty-four inch batt of drum carded fibre.
Drum carded batt – two passes
Two weaving bobbins wound with grey singles yarn.
Two bobbins of singles yarn – approximately 35 grams each
A finished skein of two-ply yarn.
Two-ply yarn, 125 yards, 75 grams.

Lupine Forest – experiment #2

Welcome to 2017. Here’s a blog post that’s been sitting in my drafts for a while waiting for some photos to attach to it. Finally, I finished it.

A while back I wrote about working with this colourway – Lupine Forest from Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. I liked the result, but also felt that the purples, the Lupine buds, were lost in the yarn. So I decided to try spinning it differently so that I could try to get the purple buds to POP.

2016-07-15 07.14.16

I spun it on a drop spindle because I made this spinning decision at a guild demonstration where I only brought my spindles. I’d never really tried to spin thick and thin on a spindle, but I am always up for a challenge and the chance to learn new things. I hate making mistakes, which may surprise you for the number of mistakes I make, but once I get over the ego-bruising of a mistake, I have always learned something valuable.

Below is the result. Notice that the purple pieces are thicker than the other colours.

2016-07-24 14.50.43

And here is is next to ball of varigated greens that it was plied with.

2016-07-30 14.34.29

I plied it on my wheel. I wanted to try different plying techniques that I have only learned and practiced on my wheel, so comfort was the key to confidence. First I tried differential tension with the plying that you can see along the bottom right of this skein. I didn’t think I wanted that. Then in a fit of enthusiasm, I made a couple of super coils. I didn’t think that would work with the knitting pattern and plan that I wanted to compare it to, so I continued with straight on plying.

2016-07-30 17.48.19

And here’s the final yarn. The purple pops, and when knitted up into half-mitts it popped a bit. Not as much as I thought it would. So there’s a message to those who think their uneven yarn won’t look nice.

And here it is knit up into my Simple Lines pattern. The purple bits did exactly what I wanted them to do.

And here’s a close-up. I love the texture it brings to the mitts.

And I continued the experiment by doing the thick purple parts and this time plying it with variegated brown instead of with green. I haven’t knit it up yet, but it’s a good example of the many yarns you can make from one painted braid.

Happy Spinning!

Yosemite Colourway: Managing Colours

After my self-proclaimed success pleasant experience with the Lupine Forest colourway, I decided that I needed to stretch myself right out of my comfort zone: colourwise. So when I visited the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild annual Spin-In a few weekends ago, (where there are VENDORS so you can BUY FIBRE) I came away with four additional colourways from my newly discovered local dyer Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. One of them was Yosemite (on Organic Polwarth), fraught with primary colours and all the secondary colours but purple. Take note of that.

Here it is on display just hours after I bought it. I met my husband for lunch and simply couldn’t leave it in the car. I had to look at it and start studying it because it scared me. Okay, scared is too strong a word, but was not sure how to work with it. What scared me about it? All the strong contrasting colours. What would they look like plied against each other. Would it be a muted yarn with all the intensity of the colours washed out from the balancing that comes from putting complementary colours next to each other?

2016-07-30 12.10.52

When I approach spinning these lovely dyed braids, I pull them apart and try to line them up so I can see the colours and the colour repeats. Given this, see below, I initially thought about making a 4-ply yarn. There are eight repeats that could work. But I don’t have a lazy kate that holds 4 bobbins (weak excuse I know).  Seriously, I wanted the colours to be strong so the singles needed to be thicker than I normally spin. If I made a 4-ply yarn I’d have a bulky yarn and that wasn’t what I wanted, at this point anyway.

2016-08-07 07.07.46

I decided to make a 3-ply yarn and spin the singles a bit thicker than I normally do. That way the colour intensity would prevail. I divided the roving in three equal lengths. I further divided those rovings into 2 parts, 4 parts, and 8 parts – width wise, as seen in the wee balls below ready for spinning.

2016-08-07 07.38.46

I first spun the balls of four onto bobbin one, and then spun another bobbin with the balls of eight sections. After further reflection I decided that wanted the yarn to be a “wildly dancing fractal yarn” so I needed to further divide it. Thus the bobbin that was to have a roving split only into two sections was divided into 16. Yes, 16. That was challenging, but it promised no long lengths of any one colour.

2016-08-07 14.21.51

This yarn was spun and plied all in the same day. Not because that is the best approach, but because I was impatient to see the result. And here it is. The mini-skein to the right is what was left of the two of the bobbins (the four and the eight).

2016-08-08 15.08.50

I love this yarn. I love the way all the colours come out and are fully present. I didn’t spin it fine, so optical mixing doesn’t have as great a chance to occur, With the thicker singles, the colour is strong. Even though I love it, I am also cautious, because I have had experience with yarn that I loved in the skein and hated once knitted and vice versa.

For now I admire it and make plans for it. A cowl, a pair of mitts and a hat? A scarf? Or another lovely skein that I pet and admire.