Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Second Chances

When I'm knitting, I know I can always take it out. Undo it and start over afresh. (Except with mohair or angora--those are just better to get right the first time.)

I thought spinning was different.

I told you before that I was spinning some grey fibres and was hoping to use one of them with some red cashmere for a pattern. I started spinning some Jacob fibre and it just seemed to want to be thicker than I could use. So I put it aside and spun some Blue Faced Leicester. That was spinning a nice thin thread that I thought would really work.

But it was white and I couldn't let go of the idea of using grey.

I don't remember if I watched the Craftsy class on plying yarn before or after this, but in the class she made the point that you can always go back and respin something to add more twist (or unspin it some if it's too twisted). At some point when I was spinning white fibre and wishing for grey, I tried the grey again and was able to get a much thinner result. So I spun the rest of the grey, but didn't finish the yarn with a soak or a blocking.

What I did do was wind it into a ball and then redid the spinning process. Yes, I had to untwist 3-5 inch sections, draft them and then retwist them, but I have to say it went faster than working from a raw fibre and I was getting the result I wanted.
On the left (above) you can see some of the original yarn and on the right is the newly respun yarn. It made a big difference! I have no idea if this is "allowed" in spinning, but I took the chance that if there are no knitting police and no quilting police (and many people have assured me of this), then there are no spinning police about to bust down my door and take me a way in handcuffs. (At least, they haven't yet.)

In the first spinning I had 75 yards of a yarn the maybe averaged 12 WPI (wraps per inch, a measure of thickness). After the second spinning I had 130 yards of a yarn between 16 and 18 WPI.
I soaked it last night, gave it a couple of good snaps while still damp, hung it to dry and rolled it up this evening:
 I was time to swatch again.
Although it's still not perfect (you can see how the sides bulge out where the grey is), it is much better than my last swatch and I think it is good enough. The grey is used in smaller amounts (no more than four rows at a time) and in places where a bulge won't really harm (sleeve cuffs and cowl collar). The pattern calls for grey stripes at the bottom hem too, but I had already decided to omit it there.

I did most of the respinning in one go on Sunday and didn't realize I was using the same spot on my thumb to pull on the fibre to draft it. By the time I noticed, the whole pad of my thumb tingled and felt numb. Once I was aware of it, I used different areas of my fingers, but my thumb is taking a while to heal. Unfortunately, it's the same area on my thumb that I use to hold a knitting needle so I've had to limit my knitting time this week. Today was pretty good, but it's Wednesday and my thumb still tingles when I push on it! Live and learn.

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