27 August 2006

P is for Plied Yarn.

Yeah, I know I'm doing things out of order and I'm missing an "O" post, but I have the "P" post ready and don't want to wait to post it until I come up with a suitable "O" post. Sorry!

As alluded to earlier, I plied my first yarn* this evening.

First, here's a shot of the singles. Again, this is superwash merino lambswool in "steel". The singles were a little rough in spots, but it was mostly pretty consistent. The weight varies from laceweight to near fingering weight throughout the skein, but I was hoping plying it would even most of that out.

I didn't take any pictures as I wound the "bracelet" for Andean plying, mostly to spare anyone what could be interpretted as an obscene gesture. *smile* I wound it up on my hand, but by the time I was finished, there was no way it was going to slip over my wrist. I ended up just sliding it off my hand and it held together well enough that I just spun from it as if it were a center pull ball. It worked pretty well, though I did run into one rather large tangle that took a bit to work through.

As an aside, a full drop spindle's worth seemed an awful lot to try to wind around my hand. As I neared the end of the winding, I was afraid I was going to start losing loops off my thumb or the end of my middle finger. I think for smaller amounts, winding around the hand will work okay for me, but I'm going to try Rosemary's paperback-and-popsicle-stick trick next time (isn't her red yarn beautiful?!).

The hardest part was that I couldn't remember which way I "normally" spin the spindle. I'm pretty sure I spun the singles clockwise, so I plied the yarn counter-clockwise and since by the time I reached the end of the "bracelet" the yarn was more or less naturally plying in the same direction, I'm guessing that was correct. But it's something I'm going to have to remember to make note of until I learn to tell just by looking at the singles themselves.

Because of the tangle it took me a little longer than I wanted to wind the "bracelet" and ply the yarn - pr'bly about 3 to 3.5 hours total (we watched one DVD of Aeon Flux and one episode of Carnivale, which I think works out to just over 3 hours). Not the most time efficient, I'm sure, but not too bad for my first time plying!

I feel like I might have overspun the plies, but I've been warned that when plying if you don't spin it enough it will fall apart. I've also been warned that plied yarn grows when you wash it, so what might look like overspun yarn turns out to be just fine.

You can also see in this picture the vendor information and the rest of the roving I have yet to spin. I really can't recommend Ursula's Alcove enough - she's a very knowledgeable spinner and terribly friendly and helpful, especially for folks just learning. Nor can I complain *at all* about the price for this roving (especially after some of my more recent purchases!).

There's still some residual twist in the yarn - not sure if it's from overspun singles or overspun plies - so I wound it off onto my little niddy noddy and will steam it to set the twist in the next day or two.

In the end, I'm happy with the plied yarn. It's slightly thicker than I'd been aiming for, but still well within sock knitting weight. It's much softer than I thought it would end up, too, which is good. I'll pr'bly run some reinforcement yarn in the heel when I knit them, or drop down a needle size to do the heel flap so it's a more dense fabric, but otherwise, it should make lovely socks.

And since I steam set the twist on the most recent skein of Shetland singles so I could use my niddy noddy, here's a shot of those, too:

Still haven't figured out what to make with the Shetland - I have quite a bit of it, but as it's really my first handspun, I've found I've been terribly picky about what I consider suitable for it.

* Or at least, my first successfully plied yarn!


mamacate said...

It all looks beautiful. You can't trust anything about residual twist until you've washed the yarn. The twist in the singles will set on the cop, and it will look overplied, but when you wash it, it will re-energize. Perfectly balanced yarn is rarely achieved, you just want it generally balanced. Kind of like people, lol.

That plying looks great, by the way, in both cases.

About the direction of twist, most people can't just glance at a singles and figure out which way it was spun (though if you imagine an "S" (widdershins) or a "Z" (sunwise) superimposed over the yarn, you can usually figure it out. But the difficulty of figuring that out is why conventions exist in spinning. Most people always spin wool Z (sunwise) and ply S (widdershins). Flax, because of tradition and some incomprehensible (to me) feature of the fiber, is done the opposite way.

Exceptions are as follows: if you're doing twined knitting with wool, you may want to use the flax method. Some lefties who knit left-handed have more success with a z-plied wool yarn. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that come to mind.

But for everyday spinning, spin Z and ply S. If you knit right-handed, this works best with the action of knitting--a z-plied yarn would untwist slightly while being knitted.

Ack, I'm such a geek. :D

Sara Skates said...

it's all beauteous! -- Sara

spaazlicious said...

Beauty! (and what a good price on the roving too!)

Thanks for the offer of cards from your tablet weaving, you're sweet. I've been meaning to learn tablet weaving--if they really are like my homemade one, well now I know what to do with all these stupid club cards. That's on next year's resolution list. :)

dread_ex said...

Well done. I can't wait to spin with you.

I agree with your assessment of Ursaul'a Alcove, I have a ton of rovings from her and I've gotten books from her as well.

I told myself I won't buy any more roving until I spin what I have.

Swanknitter said...

Why do you steam your yarn? Washing it will allow it to relax to its "normal" state while steaming will set it in an "uncomfortable" state that will change the first time you wash the knitted garment. If you're weaving, forget I asked.