Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Handspun Yarn and Peter Parker's Assistant

I've finally finished another spinning project. I spun it from a braid of roving by Sweet Georgia Yarns, a superwash merino (translation: combed fluffly fleece that has been treated not to felt in the wash). I loved how it looked as I was prepping it for spinning.

I think it ended up being a hank of approximately 275 yards in fingering weight, which I figured out by counting the number of strands while I had it stretched out... I'd go into the math, but I suspect that's not really important here (even though I thought I was quite clever to figure it out).

When you knit in public, it is said that you are "KIPing." I suppose that, when you are spinning in public, you are then "SIPing." And when you SIP, you usually get the following questions:
  • What are you doing?
  • Is that enough to make a sweater?
  • Why are you doing that?
  • Is that cheaper than buying it already spun?
And my personal favourite: Are you STILL working on that?

And you know, I actually don't mind these questions so much (well, maybe I mind that last one just a little bit), but I think that it's good to show people that things can still be done by hand, and that anyone can do it. And I really don't mind letting other people have a try on my spindle, since most are really careful and they don't want to wreck my work, which is pretty much impossible.

This whole spinning thing is not easy, though, at least not when you're a relative beginner like me. Sure, spinning itself is pretty easy, once you've practiced and you're diligent at churning out yarn at regular intervals. Maybe that lulled me into thinking I was a veritable spinning machine... that I could spin yarn out of air... call me Spiderwoman and get me some leotards...

But it turns out that I'm not really that clever sometimes. I certainly don't have spider senses.

When you finish spinning, you have to set the twist so that it doesn't try to untwist itself and fall apart. I do it by using a swift which I got from a friend of mine who is a former weaver. It's basically a square frame with wooden pegs in it. I wind the yarn directly from the spindle onto the outermost pegs on one side of the square so that it forms a big loop of multiple strands of yarn, which is technically called a skein. Then, I spray it with water and let it dry over night. This make the twist stay in the yarn, so that, if I take it off the pegs, the yarn won't twirl around and release the twist I put into it.

So, I'm following these steps. I've spun half the roving, and I've taken the resulting yarn and wound it around the pegs so that I can free up the spindle to spin the other half of roving. I spray it, leave it overnight, and the next day, I unwind a couple of strands and find that the twist has set to my satisfaction. Jolly good, I think. This is where you're supposed to tie the strands in a special way to keep it from tangling. Do I do this?

Of course I don't.

I take the skein off the pegs and start to twist it into a hank like the one shown in above photos, but then I stop and think, It would be better to join the rest of the yarn onto this so that I have one large hank, rather than two smaller ones. I'll just pop this loop back onto the pegs.

Easier said than done.

Three hours later, after a beer, many utterings of several curse words, and lots of untangling of my precious handspun yarn, I finally get all the yarn back onto the pegs. Whew.

Things I learned from this experience:

1) Always tie the skein like you're supposed to.
2) Untangling yarn is more difficult when your dog wants to lie on the mass of yarn on the floor.
3) You can make a bottle of beer last a long time when you have a job to do.

My boss probably wouldn't appreciate me trying that last thing out at work.

So, in all, I finished spinning the rest of the roving, and I learned some new lessons. I have ended up with a pretty hank of yarn. What'll I make with it? That's the best part. Oh, the possibilities...

It'll probably be a lace project, since that will make the best of the stiffness of the strands I've created, and probably something I'll wear over my shoulders, like a shawlette. And, as I knit it, I'll wonder if Spiderwoman could wear a shawlette whilst swinging around the city fighting crime as Peter Parker's assistant...

Nah. It just wouldn't go with the leotards.

No comments:

Post a Comment