Sometimes I really wish that I could convey touch over the internet, like right now, so that you could feel how amazingly soft and lovely this fibre is!
I have two skeins to share with you today, both made from handpainted rovings composed of 40% baby camel, 40% Merino and 20% cultivated silk. The rovings were from Woolgatherings, an etsy store with an amazing collection of fibre and colour.
(Tim got to this one before I did)
Normally I do try to buy my fibre from within Australia (Woolgatherings is American), but I’ve recently converted my friend Choni to spinning, so now I can add onto her orders with international suppliers :) And some things are worth making exceptions for… these are so very soft and beautiful! I think that it’s the baby camel that does it, while the silk adds a wonderful lustre.
I decide that I wanted my skeins to follow the same colour sequence as the rovings, so I tried splitting the rovings into two parts, spinning them to different bobbins, then plying them together. This colour handling technique is tricky because it relies on you being able to split and spin the colourway evenly. It went okay, but there’s certainly room for improvement. I wasn’t helped by fact that one colourway had already been attacked by a cat.
I spun my singles finer then I’ve been doing lately, going to a fingering-weight (4-ply) finished yarn. When spinning fine on my e-spinner I’ve found that it’s really important to make sure that I’m getting enough twist into the yarn.
The finer yarn is, the more twist it needs to hold it together. However, in general espinning lends itself to ending up with too much twist, so I always start with the spinner on a very low speed. This way I can take my time with drafting and make sure that the yarn I’m creating doesn’t have too much twist.
As I get the feel of the fibre, it’s easy to start drafting faster without taking the twist into account. And the trouble is… when the yarn is under tension while I’m spinning, it will often hold together with a level of twist that wont hold once the tension comes off. Meaning that I can be spinning along happily, drafting faster and faster, until finally the yarn gives out, and I find that I have to go back a fair way until I find a length with enough twist to get started again.
To combat this issue, I simply have to make sure that I’m increasing the speed of the spinner with the speed of my drafting. Which means paying attention to how fast I’m drafting and increasing accordingly. I also like to stop the spinner regularly, particularly in the early stages of spinning, as I’m finding my pace, to make sure that there’s really enough twist entering the yarn. Once the spinner has stopped, I let the tension off the yarn, and if everything holds together, I know that I’m going well :)
Because this fibre of was so lovely and soft, I tried to keep my twist to a minimum… enough to hold the yarn together, and no more. Here the silk was a help, because it’s long fibre length and innate strength provided a solid base to the yarn.
The two singles plied together pretty well, there’s still a decent amount of barber pole in the skeins (that’s when different coloured singles ply together), but there’s also a lot of matching ply. And I kind of like the variation it creates.
And the two skeins are beautiful together. I’m debating whether or not to use them together in a project. My only concern is that it will end up looking ‘Christmasy’. Then again there’s a lot of blue in one and a lot of burgundy in the other, with the gold drawing them together. I think some test swatches are called for.