Category Archives: plying

Love Letters completed

In my last blog post “Spinning on the Road” I had a good deal of the February Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club spun up, ready for plying.

Well last weekend I plied it all, gave it the boiling water treatment to finish the silk, and now have 460 yards of fingering weight yarn in three lovely skeins.

This colour way has clear contrasting colours, in the sense of light sections and dark coloured sections. I didn’t know how I wanted to spin it until I came across two azalea bushes- one pink the other purple – in Charleston, South Carolina. They were in full bloom and growing against a grey stone wall. I was smitten with the way the pinks, purples and greys all worked together. At that moment I decided that’s the look I wanted for the end project. In my mind, that called for a stripped yarn – one singles of the light and one of the deeper colours.

This isn’t an azalea – as I didn’t take a photo of those bushes – but it  has a similar effect. It’s an ornamental cherry in my neighbour’s yard.

At the spinning stage. You can see the different colour ways in action here.

Here I am spinning up the last of the lighter colour way.

And here’s the lot of it, plied and skeined. See how skinny these are? Remember this photo and compare it to the finished skeins. You see, fibre gets stretched out a lot during processing, spinning and plying. This yarn needs a good long soak in hot water to help it bloom and plump out again.

And here it is in the hot water bath getting the “treatment.”  What’s the “treatment” you ask?

Fill a cauldron with water.  Add a bit of soap, I added shampoo, about a tablespoon. I slipped the skeins in and slowly brought it up to a boil. I lifted and moved them a bit to avoid hot spots. The second it started boiling, I lowered the heat enough to keep it on a simmer. I let it simmer for 30 minutes then took it off the heat and let it cool enough so I could handle it. Not the best photo, but it shows what’s going on.

After the hot water treatment, I rinsed it, adding a squirt of vinegar to the rinse water. Then I towel dried them and hung them to dry.

And here are the lovelies. All plumped up and ready for some project. The yarn is soft and silky. It would make a wonderful shawl. All of this spinning was done on my drop spindles.

Spinning on the road

Over the last week and a half, my husband and I traveled to Georgia and the Carolinas. We landed in Atlanta, rented a car and drove north to the Appalachia mountains. I’ve always wanted to see the John C. Campbell Folk School and maybe even attend some workshops, so that was the first stop. We spent the morning there, touring around the workshops, grounds, History Centre and Craft Store. Then we drove to Asheville, North Carolina. A lovely, funky, totally accessible town/city situated in a valley in the Appalachia mountains. After a couple of days there we drove to Charleston, SC visiting the capital, Columbia NC along the way. Two days in Charleston and then we went onto (my new favourite spot) Savannah, GA. Two days there and then we made our way back to Atlanta, stopping for a day in the city of my birth, Augusta.

When you are on the road, site-seeing and touring around, you do a lot of sitting, reading and watching. While it’s always good to have a break from the regular routine, my hands got itchy do something creative. Luckily I brought along my Houndesign lace weight spindle and some fibre from the Sweet Georgia Yarn’s February Fibre Club, so every evening while hubby searched the channels for playoff hockey, I spun.

The fibre is a Merino 50%, Bamboo 25%, Silk 25% blend. The colourway is called Love Letters. From the insert: “. . . this sweet little colourway, Love Letters, reminds me of the innocent days before texting and snapchat. . . .Tiny packages of mild chocolate kisses and cinnamon hearts. Trepidatious steps into young love and new crushes.”

Here’s what the colourway looks like when you break it into the dyed sections. A grey that moves into white, onto pink and then a purple. It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to spin this up. When you are faced with a colourway that has serious light and dark spots, when making a 2-ply yarn you can easily get yarn that has two light singles and two dark singles and lots of barber-polling. I’ve made that kind of yarn before and while the skein looked nice, I didn’t like the way it knit up. Besides, I really loved the pinks and purples and wanted them throughout my yarn.

I decided to separate the pink/purple from the grey/white sections and spin them separately. Then I made pencil rovings from each of the sections and spun that up. With pencil rovings, I was making short sections of pink and sections of purple so these colours were fairly evenly distributed in the pink group. I did the same thing for the grey/white section.

When I filled the spindle with one colour group, I wound it into a tight ball and set it aside. Then I filled the spindle again with the second colour group. After that, I took the first ball and combined it with the singles on the spindle to make a two-stranded ball. Here’s a photo of my make-shift lazy kate; a paper coffee cup with the spindle stabbed through it to hold it tight and provide a place to hold the other ball while I wound the final ball for plying.

And here is a photo of the pink/purple singles still on the spindle. To the left of it is a two-stranded ball ready for plying. Below that is a tightly wound ball of singles, waiting for the spindle to get full so it can be wound into a two strand ball for plying.

I have a little more to spin and then I can get down to plying. Because I filled each spindle to capacity, I need to use a large spindle for plying – that’s why I had to wait until I got home to do that stage.

Stay tuned.

Skirt Update IV

I blew my right knee spinning so the skirt won’t be ready for FibresWest. It’s true. The story is pathetic because it was an entirely preventable injury.

In a short while, I did a marathon amount of spinning to get enough grey alpaca and blue merino/silk onto 4 bobbins. No problem, knee was fine. Then I started plying them last Thursday evening. Remember, this is a cabled yarn so this stage of plying has a lot of twist in it, which required a great deal of treadling. I got this one above started, and then realized that I had a “Wild Silk” spinning workshop on Saturday and needed the wheel, so I had to madly finish the plying on Friday night. I was sitting on the couch and it’s too low so my knee was doing more of the work than usual. But in my frenzy to finish I ignored the pain and never even considered moving to a better chair or position. What’s wrong with me?

And then to add to the problem, I spent the entire next day at a silk spinning workshop. And if you know anything about spinning silk, it’s fine and requires a lot of twist – ergo treadling. Nothing that a couple of Advil couldn’t handle. After the workshop I wanted to get back to the yarn for the skirt so I spent the evening plying the second bobbin.  My knee was aching, but I kept at it because I wanted to finish the yarn, so I could get back to knitting the skirt.

The next day I was limping around the house and couldn’t go for my morning run. In fact, I haven’t been able to do any running since — well it’s only been a week, but I miss it. It’s on the mend, but I’ve learned a good lesson:

Pay attention to PAIN. It’s a signal that something’s not right.