Monday, March 16, 2015

Fleece to Shrug: Spinning and Plying the Yarn

Your batts have probably been finished for a while, or maybe you spun it. I meant to post these photos last year in September and October, but I suppose I got wrapped up in other things! (I remember that I was weaving that epic table runner--which has to be fixed, by the way!). No matter how you decide to spin your batts, or whether you want to ply the singles, you should probably have around 200 yards of bulky weight yarn. This will be enough to swatch before you begin, if you want to, though gauge doesn't matter too much.

You can also use a different gauge of yarn, though it will alter a few things in the pattern. I'll show you how to do that in a later post (probably when the project is all done so I don't confuse people), but if you want a quick reference for how to size the pattern for a thicker or thinner yarn, check out my NEW Ravelry group (and join if you haven't already), specifically this thread.

Here's what I did to make this yarn:

I knew I wanted to make a 2-ply yarn, so I looked at the pattern which calls for a 6-8 WPI finished yarn. Merino poofs up slightly when it is washed, so I decided to spin a 16 WPI single for all of my batts. With the poofiness, I figured that my finished yarn would fall somewhere in the 6-8 WPI range.

I didn't want to smash any of the lumps and bumps in my yarn, so my singles look a little bumpy. They'll poof up when it is plied. Beginner yarn looks very similar, and it is with much practice that I have managed to make my yarns look like beginner ones again!

After it was spun, I took a sample to ply it on itself to check for balance, but also to make sure that when I plied it in the future, it would be plied correctly. If you're plying for the first time, don't worry if it is over or under plied when the yarn has been washed--you can always fix that by reattaching it to your spindle or wheel and either letting out some twist or adding in some extra twist. Rewash your yarn to check for balance.

I sat down and plied the yarns all in one go, and I got two full bobbins:

You can really see how the additions have created interesting visual contrast with the cranberry base I used. The little nubby bits from the merino also add some visual texture to this yarn. From a distance, this yarn will look mostly cranberry pink, but as you get closer, you'll see the little pops of yellow.

I also created a playlist over on YouTube for those following along with this project series. Check there for additional information about the spinning and plying phases. I can't really do upclose videos as well as I can do upclose photos.

And when you're all done plying (or just making the singles), you'll need to skein up the yarn and set the twist is warm soapy water. I will also post the two skeining videos below:

I know this is a lot at once, but I suspect that many of you following along with this project will either have made the yarn already, or you have some yarn in your stash! If not, you still have time to get some yarn whipped up. I'll be working on this project for the next few weeks, and I'll post regular progress on Ravelry. Let's do this Spin-Along/Knit-Along together!