Friday, March 7, 2008

March Spin-along

Sometimes in creative endeavors we work best by staying within some stated boundary or set of rules. Rhyme and meter in poetry, color palette in any art or craft that involves color, improv games in theater, all of these give us a space in which to begin. The Yarn Harlot wrote a very eloquent (and as usual, ultimately hilarious) post on the subject last year.

When I first brought my wheel home, I knew the first thing I wanted to spin was the BFL, because of its reputation for being easy to spin. I wanted to give myself an easy task while getting familiar with the wheel. Deciding which fiber to spin next, however, was like a mother trying to decide which of her children she loves best. So I started participating in a spin-a-long with the Spinner Central group on Ravelry, to give myself some starting rules. The rules for this spin-along are simple: every month one of the group moderators posts the theme for the month, and participants spin fiber according to the theme. The theme includes a fiber (such as cotton, alpaca, or superwash merino), a spinning technique (3-ply, long draw, beaded yarn), and a general inspirational color scheme. The rules are very flexible, because everyone's there to have fun and share their handspun. This month, the theme is angora/boucle/St. Patrick's Day. Now I have no angora in my fiber stash, I'm totally not a skilled enough spinner to produce boucle yarn yet (if you don't know what boucle is, check this out), so St. Patrick's Day it would have to be.

I pulled out this Corriedale batt that I bought from Grafton Fibers last year. It's bright blue, sping green, and yellow dyed wool, all blended together. Overall it looks very bluish-green, but up close you can pick out the individual bits of yellow and blue. I spun the whole batt up last night (took me about 2 and a half hours) onto a single bobbin, and did a navajo 3-ply this morning. I present Irish Spring, also known as The Crappiest 3-ply You've Ever Seen.

Ok, so it doesn't look THAT bad. But I feel like I could have done so much better with this yarn. First, I was a bad crafter and didn't look up the directions for navajo plying before I got started, I just jumped in. I've done a navajo ply before all of twice. The last time I did it was about 8 months ago and on a drop spindle, which means slightly different hand positioning. I struggled mightily through about 3 yards of yarn, then broke down and looked through my back issues of Spin Off magazine for the article on plying chained singles. Okay. Now I had the hand movements down, but couldn't get the take-up at the speed I wanted it. Or maybe I was chaining too slowly? Too much twist. WAAAAAYYYYYYY too much twist! About 1/3 of the way through the bobbin, it occurred to me that instead of trying to treadle more slowly, I should switch to a lower-ratio whorl (duh). So I think about 1/3 of this yarn will be intensely overspun, and the other 2/3 will be passable.

In addition to all this, I discovered that staying up an extra hour to finish spinning the entire batt last night was probably not the best idea in the world, as my singles got progressively smaller as I worked my way back through the bobbin. At the early-evening end of the bobbin, I was doing a pretty even light fingering-to-lace weight yarn, but at the late-evening end, a solid fingering. The 3-ply helps even that out a bit, but I was hoping for more consistency. I guess I'll have to reserve final judgment until the skein is washed and the twist is set. Hopefully the yarn will fluff out a bit (it is a very nice Corriedale, after all) and I won't feel waves of disappointment and inadequacy every time I look at this yarn.


Ruth said...

I really like the way the color turned out. it's like Spring all in on yarn.
the party will be this commeing saterday
march 15th

Liz said...

Hey, if you don't want the little muggins, I'll take it... ^_^

(Look up muggins in the rules for cribbage if you don't catch the drift.)

I think it looks lovely, Miss Perfectionista. ^_~ You always manage the prettiest stuff, I can't imagine you won't find a good home or use for this very spring-y yarn.