So, I’ve been spinning again!
But first, as my old Dean would say in his British accent, some “mental masturbation.” Scroll down to the bolded heading if you don’t want to read my rambling about spinning method.
I suppose I should say here, again, in case it wasn’t clear in the past. I do not have the One-True-Way of spinning. I don’t believe there is one. There are a lot of ways of approaching spinning, depending on your goals and your reasons for spinning. And none are universally more valid than others, though for any given set of circumstances some may be more ideal.
Me? I’m a process spinner, as a hobby. I mostly spin for myself, to “have yarn” as my friend Marcy says. Sometimes I spin for socks or a particular project. But all of it is because I enjoy it, which means my primary goal is the enjoyment aspect. This most definitely changes the process I use. There are things I do and do not do that I might otherwise. For example, I almost never count my grist, or calculate my ypp (yards per pound).
I have done it for a few projects. I have briefly been a professional spinner and sometimes people still commission me for my spinning skills. In those cases I pay and have paid more attention to exactly the technical specs of the yarn. I’ve even “spun with numbers” for a project of my own. The resulting yarn was lovely and quite even. If I was producing a perfectly even light lace for someone’s wedding shawl, I would probably do it again. I will be the first to say it’s a useful skill to have if you want to be able to get truly consistent results over long periods of time.
However, by and large, I spin for my own projects and my own enjoyment and my own uses. My feet don’t require yarn to be ideal for my socks, in fact they prefer yarn that’s a little off ideal (for example: woolen spun yarn, mmm squishy!). Just like a lot of people will still spin and knit socks with polwarth because it’s soft, even though it will wear out sooner, I will spin and knit socks with woolen spun yarns with less than “perfect” numbers because it makes me and my feet happy.
It does mean that my socks may not last quite as long as they could otherwise. My laceweight will not block as flawlessly as it might. The last hat I made had some, “character.” And this is the crux of the question. Like most decisions in life you have to balance the competing forces driving your spinning. Me, I’m a scientist. I live a life of concrete details and exacting numbers of ridiculously small amounts. That drop of water on your counter? 50 times more than most of the numbers I’m dealing with. So when I get home, the last thing I want to deal with is numbers that exacting. So I’m willing to sacrifice some long-wearingness and numerical perfection on my yarns to maintain my enjoyment. My socks still last for ages (I’ve only ever worn through one pair of handknit socks), and that’s enough for me.
I’m somewhere on the “right yarn for the job” end of the spectrum, but I’m nowhere near the end. The other end would be, “let the fiber do what it wants” which can also be valid – again depending on why you’re spinning. I find that as frustrating as spin by numbers because though I’m a process spinner, I’m a results knitter/crocheter. I want to make an item, usually a particular item.
If you’re using me as a model for spinning, that’s what you will get, yarn that serves the purpose. What I spin these days, however, is not “professional” yarn, because I am no longer a professional spinner and spin for other reasons. My yarns will not match perfectly in grist, will not have perfectly balanced twists per inch, and a ypp measurement is not going to be perfectly accurate.
Spin to make yourself happy. Now, to be clear, that doesn’t (necessarily) mean charging in willy-nilly and just doing one thing “because it makes you happy.” There should be some thought involved. I have made a conscious choice to sacrifice some things in order to bias towards others. But it should be a choice. If wearing holes in your socks is going to make you sad, read up on what people use for socks and why.
And never accept that you “can’t” spin a certain way if you want to. Yes, even you over there that thinks you “can’t” longdraw. I can spin by the numbers. I can also spin to just let the fiber do what it wants. I, and you can spin any way there is to spin. And in that ability is to evaluate your own needs/goals and choose the method and balance that will make you most happy in the long run.
Coopworth Heavy Laceweight:
So, the actual spinning. Coopworth that missed getting its photo taken for an update. This was interesting in that I didn’t have a purpose planned for it when I started spinning. After a bit of fiddling, I decided to spin it fairly fine, with a longdraw/double draft combination method. I originally thougt I would go with a pure longdraw, but decided that the roving was just grabby enough that I really wanted the double draft to get it a little more even. This is a coopworth roving with a fairly long staple, so I thought I’d let it halo a little via longdraw. Maybe I’d actually do some lace?
So I split it in two and spun it up. One then the other.
Not bad, put the two bobbins on the lazy kate and they look pretty similar, a good start.
At one point in the middle I did lose track of my rough wpi goal and got a little thicker. ::shrugs:: Nothing absurd, but definitely noticeable if you put them near eachother. You could also see it by the fact my second bobbin still had a fair bit left on it after plying and running out on the first bobbin. Drat.
Luckily, there is a fix for that, even if it also tells you that there will be some thicker parts in your yarn. So, I wound off the remaining singles with my ballwinder, onto a TP tube.
Now, in theory you can ply from the two ends of this. And when I have not much yarn on there, I do just that. But since this was laceweight, I had a fair amount. So I didn’t want to risk it all getting tangled and messy. So instead of plying off the ball directly, I took the TP tube and wound from both ends BACK onto the ball winder again…
So now I have another ball, but this time with two strands right next to eachother. This is WAY easier to deal with going onto the wheel without dropping things or having things slip and knot.
So I finally had two bobbins, plied
Time to wind off and thwack the holy mackeral out of it and swish it hard against itself in the water. Get some nice fluff and fulling. Then back on the swift again to reskein and measure (since with that heavy thwacking it can lose a fair bit of yardage).
420yds. So… a little thicker than my ideal in some spots. Otherwise there would have been more than 420 yards with this fiber. Hrm, let’s see…
Yep, there it is. This is the thickest along with the thinnest. You can see at some point I was paying too much attention to someone else and drifted. Sadly, no amount of counting or sample cards will protect you from not actually paying attention to what you’re doing. You can see I lost gauge, but I also wasn’t putting in quite as much twist. Again, not disastrous since there’s no plan for this yarn. It doesn’t have to be flawless or meet a certain yardage. But, I couldn’t use it for some exacting projects, and I couldn’t make a 500yd project with it.
Overall, it’s a pretty nice yarn. Fairly soft, even with heavier than my usual plying. As a longwool, this tight plying isn’t strictly necessary, though it means it would hold up well to harsh lace blocking. As it stands, I’m going to be giving it to a friend of mine who I think has something in mind. Maybe. Maybe he just wants to “have yarn.”
Also, Gobo loves you. Pet him or he will be very sad.
That’s all for now!