Posts tagged ‘wool’

While I was going through the closet, I pulled out a bag of brown Bluefaced Leicester top. It’s nice fiber, but the prep is less than spectacular. I knew this when I bought it and it was certainly a nice price, but the little bits of tangled fiber mixed in are a bother. I’ve taken it out several times to try to find a project for it, without coming up with something I could get excited about. And the nuisance of picking out the neps isn’t really the problem.

Modern handspinners love them some BFL. It’s hugely popular among novices: fast to spin, easy to find and not hideously expensive. I got it originally to practice short forward draft (I normally do short backward draft for worsted) so it’s ok if the yarn doesn’t come out perfect. But it’s not the fine wool that I normally work with and I can’t decide what to do with it. I’ve tried a bunch of different samples in different techniques and still nothing jumps out as “gotta do this!” I know that brown is part of the problem for me, but I thought it would be interesting to play with.

pile of random bfl samples

It drafts well with long draw either from the fold or directly from the end of the top, in 3-ply it makes a fuzzy knitting yarn. I can’t think of anything I’d want to knit except maybe another hat. Hats make nice gifts. I’d have to think about who I might give a handspun, hand knitted hat to who doesn’t have one already, can be trusted to take care of it and would actually wear it. Fuzzy yarn is warm, but prone to felting.

The next sample was sock yarn, a couple different ways. Directly from the top a 3-ply worsted was ok but uninspiring and picking out the lumps a nuisance. I combed some to see how annoying it would be to remove the bits and the results were only so-so. There is a huge range of fiber lengths so combing makes a top that is half the fiber length at the shorter end. This makes it draft differently in the different sections. And planking, re-combing and all that is way too much work for an eh fiber. There is also still the question of who would I be giving these brown socks to, provided I were able to actually finish both of them.

Then were various weaving yarns. As a single, with enough twist for warp, it was a little harsh. It might be interesting garment fabric. 2-ply was just boring. I tried carding, both to see if it would open up the lumps and if it would make a more interesting yarn, and it accomplished neither.

Once again I set it aside for another day. I’ve gone through probably 50g trying to find something I like, so it’s good I’ve got a bag full of it.

With the sample spinning finished I went looking for some more fiber in the closet to work on. I pulled out something that has been sitting around a while to try to at least get all the fiber spun. I originally bought two packages of the Ashland Bay multicolor merino with the intent to make a scarf, woven of singles. I spun the first about three years ago and then it got put aside.

purple merino singles

I kept the little reference sample I was using, but in getting back to it I had a hard time keeping the same size. So the new skein turned out a little finer. This isn’t a disaster, I can measure the two ends together so they are mixed in the warp and evenly distributed. But still not exactly what I was after. I’ve had other yarns where one skein ended up very different from the others and sometimes there just isn’t much you can do about it but decide you were going to make a different project. My usual practice of spinning way too much yarn generally saves me but isn’t exactly the most efficient. Better is to work more on matching the existing yarn, or just finish all the spinning at once in the first place.

With that dubious success over with, I picked up another long-abandoned project and started spinning more of the merino from the county fair yarn. I have one full bobbin, two partial and tons of fiber. I figure I can at least get through the stuff already combed that has been sitting in a box for over a year. I’m doing better on matching the existing yarn, as I still can compare how it looks on the bobbin along with my reference sample. Plus this was intended to be a 3-ply, which hides a multitude of sins.

I’ve got both yarns skeined, blocked and measured. The second S yarn came out slightly finer but not enough that it’s a problem. I still have fiber left so I can always spin more. It came out a bit hairy, what I would expect for a coarse fiber, so I’ll need to thread it on more shafts than you might think for simple plain weave. In this case, I think 4 should be fine.

Z 643m, 145g
S 707m, 142g

matching s and z twist yarns

The hard part is going to be keeping them straight. I already had to check my numbers several times to make sure I got the right measurement with the right yarn. I hope to have this warped and well underway while The Boyfriend is out of town else I’ll never get enough quiet time to get it done right.

The Z bobbin of romney is done and I’m well along on the second S one. There are some pictures I haven’t gotten off the camera yet, but I can tell you exactly what it looks like: a skein of 400-ish meters of off-white singles. Rather a lot like this, actually, although a bit finer and nowhere near as even. I’d guess it’s around 25 wraps per inch, for those who pay attention to such things (I usually don’t.)

I left it on the skein winder and sprayed it with water rather than wash, I don’t want it to fluff up at all and drying under tension would be a good thing. The skein winder is wood, but I long ago finished the pegs in clear nail polish so it could handle a little water. It’s still not a proper yarn blocker, but it will do for now. I started to count the finished skein to get an accurate length measurement, but I tried it the day I was home sick and managed to lose track before I could write it down.

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