Friday, August 15, 2014

An Experiment in Spinning Quickly

I know it sounds strange, but spinning quickly helps you understand which spinning rules have become second nature to you. I originally thought I'd use this fiber to make a high-twist single for plying with bulky yarn to create some kind of stretchy art yarn, but I was suddenly inspired to do something different with it.

Here's what I did. I wanted to make a thick-and-thin single on my drop spindle with big slubs and somewhat thin sections in between. But if you have ever watched one of my videos, you'll know that I sometimes have a hard time making a slubby yarn these days. Using this technique, I have to do it quicly to produce the desired results. Of course, that gave me an idea.

Do you want to level-up your spinning skills? Well, try doing it quickly. First, start out with something simple. When I'm not paying attention to my gauge, I naturally make a sport weight 2-ply yarn. Most beginners will fall into one of these categories, which makes it the best first step with this experiment. Just pick up some basic wool, and spin about 1 ounce at whatever gauge you find comfortable. Do it quickly, and don't stop to fix the gauge, erase slubs, or any other fixes. Let go and see what you make. When you're done, assess the results. What do you love about your sample? What do you hate? Which spinning skills are second nature? Which areas do you feel you need to improve? This is an excellent way to determine your abilities as a spinner, while increasing your proficiency at the same time.

Now that you've done your first experiment, try something else. Do you have trouble with thin yarns? Thick yarns? This is one area that you can improve on a regular basis. It also increases your ability to switch from one thickness of yarn to another, which is a valuable skill for a spinner. Even if you plan to spin mostly X or Y yarns, it's still worth learning and practicing the others from time to time. They're like exercises for your brain and fingers.

Now let's talk about my yarn. I've always loved looking at thick-and-thin yarn made by people which looks soft and airy, with gigantic, poofy slubs. Normally when I make this yarn, it's not as poofy as I want it to be.

I used some rolags I made with my blending board, made of mostly merino with a dash of silk. I drafted them slightly, but kept them as fat as I could. Then I spun the yarn, keeping the slubs nearly the same size of the rolag when I could. The bits in between can easily load up with extra twist, so it was important to make sure that I wasn't imparting too much twist in these thinner areas. As you can see in the pictures, there is some curling going on in those thin spots. This is normal for these kinds of yarns.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the curly bits. In the end, the slubs turned out a little smaller than I had hoped, but I'm nearly there. This experiment has shown me that thick-and-thin yarn is almost second nature to me now! It'll take a little more practice to get the slubs a little larger, but overall, I'm happy with how it turned out. It's extremely squishy and nothing feels overtwisted. I encourage you all to step out of the box and just give something a go, doing it as quickly as you can. We aren't going for Guiness records, we're just ignoring the need to be perfect--which is a good thing, right? As always, share your projects with us over on the Expertly Dyed page! :)