Monday, March 9, 2015

Handspun to Necklace: Making the Handspun

For this tutorial, any handspun will do. You can even use your first yarn for this project, especially if it isn't strong enough to make usable fabric. Just be sure that you're comfortable wearing the yarn around your neck. If you want to know a bit more about my starting fibers, you can find out over in my other post. Something I love about this tutorial is that it's easy to turn any yarn into a finished item, and they make excellent gifts (even for 'just because' reasons!).

I will be using three different kinds of handspun for this project, just to show you how easy it is to make a quick statement necklace. I will do a video tutorial to show you the steps as well. Here is a closeup of the original yarn I made for the tutorial (the same yarn from the video):

I was testing out my new (at the time) drum carder by taking three colors and blending them together in various ways to see how the fiber looked. I also blended in extras, like silk, firestar, and angora, to see how it looked in the various blends. As a result, I had about 20-25 mini blended rovings, each weighing about 4-5g. I kept it tucked away and clearly labeled for some future use. It was a great teaching tool for me so I could get acquainted with my new carder, but it wasn't being used for anything. When I came home for the holidays, I dragged it out of my storage unit and set it next to the wheel to be spun.

I liked how the yarn looked, but I wanted to give it more durability. I ended up plying my thick-and-thin single with a thick, black, cotton crochet thread. Since my single was already lightly spun, I didn't need to do anything to my plying thread before I plied the handspun and crochet cotton together. The yarn hung balanced after setting.

The second handspun I will be using is from the Raven colorway (now sold out). I just did a basic thick-and-thin yarn, reminiscent of the yarns that beginners make. I really didn't pay much attention to the size changes; I just let the yarn happen as it would. Since I wanted to keep this a single, I made sure it was 'soft-plied'--meaning, there is just enough twist to keep the yarn together (and when I pull on it, it doesn't begin to draft apart), but not so much that it feels hard or kinks up on itself.

For the last one, I decided I wanted to try a new art yarn spinning technique. I've been wanting to use the auto-wrapping technique to get some visual interest on the surface of the yarn. The auto-wrapping occurs by letting a plying yarn loosely wrap itself around the yarn which is being made. Usually, it sits at the orifice and does its own thing. For this experiment, I attached a metallic sewing thread to the leader and placed the bobbin on my lazy kate (which fit amazingly well!). While I spun the A Cloudy Day batt, the metallic thread wound itself around the fresh handspun, lying almost perpendicular to the yarn being made. Here's the setup I used:

I'm actually not sure why this turned out so dark, but I hope you can see that it's sitting on my lazy kate. :)

And here is the yarn as it's being made with the auto-wrapping technique:

Its almost like the auto-wrapping bundles up the fluffy bits of the fiber. It's a very cool effect, and one I will use again in the future. I had some trouble adjusting the uptake. It wasn't fast enough to prevent me from overspinning the yarn, but when I increased it slightly, it tugged too hard at the underspun yarn and threatened to draft it apart. So, more practice is in store for me.

I think this also might be a really great project for my coiled yarn that I made several months ago. Because your first art yarns might be a little wonky, this project might give you the right amount of motivation since there is an end goal--I know that some of you don't want to try crazy things because you have no idea what to do with the finished yarn!

Here's the finished auto-wrapped yarn:

It's slightly overspun, but I think I can work with that. Beginner handspun can be overspun, so I'll keep it that way and talk about what to do if your handspun is also overspun. Maybe it'll stay that way and offer a cool twist when we make our necklace--who knows! If martial arts and living abroad have taught me anything, rolling with whatever life gives you can make your life easier, happier, and more fulfilling. So, if you haven't spun up your yarn yet, you still have a bit more time before we start on this project together. Share your handspun with the rest of us over on Facebook if you haven't already!