If the twist isn't going into a section of your yarn as you spin, here are a couple of suggestions:
- even if that spot is the same thickness, if the fibers there got more squeezed, then there's more fiber in that spot than in other spots; more fibers to take up the same amount of twist may result in a less overall-twisted spot, as there is more fiber in that spot to resist the twist.
- that could be a spot that got some felting from being in your hand; I have had a terrible time in the past with partly felting during drafting due to my sweaty death-grip on my fiber. Now I hold my fiber like it is a baby bird, and my hand stays cool and dry from less stressful holding too. My lead, drafting hand does the gravity/drop-preventing holding so that my back hand need only hold softly and gently to prevent gumming up (or, felting up) the roving that has yet to be drafted.
I recently spent an afternoon re-drafting/spinning some old singles to match some new spinning I'd done for the plying stage, and found some thicker parts were more felted and very resistant to being unspun and re-drafted. But the third recommendation I can make is to hold your yarn with your hands at least 1.5 staple lengths apart, with a fat spot in the middle, and untwist it to redraft out the fat spot.
Staple length is the length of the individual fibers -- if your hands are 1.5 staple lengths apart, then they can't both be holding onto the ends of a particular strand of fiber.
I do this untwisting and redrafting alot when my drafting is uneven (which means I get alot of practice at this ;-) ) so that I can wind on a more evenly spun yarn. You see, I'm one of those people for whom the adage "just ply your thick & thin yarn, the thin spots will meet up with the thick, really" just does not apply -- thin meets thin and thick meets thick, for me, 95% of the time. So the singles have to be spun evenly or I'm spinning unintentional art yarn.
I wouldn't just add more twist overall, as it will migrate to the thin spots and they'll get all kinky and coily. I'd try opening up and redrafting the thick spots out to have a more even single. Or, I'd try enjoying being able to spin art yarn :-)
Now, if I am trying to spin a thick-and-thin yarn like the one shown, then it's simply a characteristic of the thickness that the thick spots have less twist than the thin spots. You can try to force a bit more twist into thick spots, but usually it migrates to the thin areas all on its own. So you end up with variable twist in your yarn. With yarns like this, I will be sure to rough them up when washing them, to full the yarn a bit and ensure the more softly spun thick spots stick together.
Posts on spinning singles
How do you make a good-looking 2-ply yarn?
What does it take to win a yarn competition?
Post your comments on the blog or contact me. Thanks!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
If the twist isn't going into a section of your yarn as you spin, here are a couple of suggestions:
In one of the (too many) blogs I follow (thank goodness for Google Reader) I saw this really cool meme -- post a picture of your spinning/knitting/fiber related Christmas ornament with a link back to the blog you found the meme on. I thought it was on Rosemary Knits ... but it wasn't. I've been hunting, but it's time to do the Christmas dinner grocery stock-up so I'll be hunting more later.
This sheep was a gift this year from a fellow local spinner whom I spin art yarns with :-). And yes, that is 3-color I-cord swag on my tree ... I picked it up at a garage sale somewhere along the line, though, I didn't knit it myself.
Happy Meme-ing Holidays all! and Merry New Year!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Andean Plying is a technique of winding yarn around your hand so you can ply from both ends. Spindlers are usually shown this method as a way of plying a spindle-full on itself. Traditionally, however, it's used to finish off the longer of two balls of yarn from spindles.
I have a pictorial of this published on ispindle.com. (Unfortunately, I made the videos with old-tech, and they don't seem to play anymore -- sigh.)
Recently a new Andean plying method has cropped up -- the Andean Plying Paperback method by Rosemary Knits.
Returning to the topic now, for details on splicing the end of the bracelet to the finished end of the first ball of yarn, I went back to the source -- Ed Franquemont (yes, he's Abby Franquemont's father! How cool is that :-) ).
Ed Franquemont was the first to transcribe the Andean Plying technique for the modern US spinner, stating in the Summer 1992 Spin-Off, p. 106, "this [(the end of the Andean ply winding)] she teases open and splices with the end from the emptied spindle to make a continuous, knotless, doubled strand that can be wound onto the ball." The technique is shown again in Summer 2007 Spin-Off and available online, in Spinning Basics: Andean Plying.
I'd note that Mr. Franquemont is describing this relative to the Andean practice of taking two full spindles and winding the strand from each into a 2-strand ball to then ply from. Abby Franquemont (Ed's daughter!) wrote a great piece showing this practice on Fiber Femmes, simply called, Plying.
Since Mr. Franquemont says the ends are teased open and then a continuous strand is made, I'd take to mean fluffing out the ends and rolling/spinning them together. I blogged about this in What is Spindle Splicing?
If you find that method isn't working for you, there are other splicing possibilities -- felted join (spit-join), Russian join (also available on YouTube), the overlap join, or the back join. Most of these are shown in relation to knitting yarns, but can easily be applied to the single strands and laid next to the continuous strand of your other ply.
Click for a list of all spindle posts on Ask The Bellwether. A few relevant favorites:
How do you avoid getting a purple finger with the Andean plying bracelet?
What is spindle splicing?
How do you make a strong join?
How can I combine two spindle-fulls into a larger skein?
So, how do you use Andean plying? Front of the hand, back of the hand, paperback? To combine the longer of a bobbin or spindle-full with the shorter, or to ply a spindle back on itself? What join do you use?
Questions or comments - post on the blog or contact me. Thanks!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
To maximize the yarn you can get onto your spindle, I recommend trying an X wind-on (ispindle.com has a writeup on this) -- they let me get more onto my top whorl spindles. Also, if the spindle's misbehaving, letting the yarn slip through the hook, I'll wind down to the bottom of the cop on the spindle, twist tightly around the shaft once or twice, and then come up to the top again (on a top whorl spindle, that is), to keep putting more fiber on the spindle.
Another thing to try is to put a half hitch on the spindle hook -- with a really full spindle, this lets me crowd a bunch more wool on. I know it's really full when I have to start putting two half hitches on the hook ;-)
All that said, a Turkish spindle probably takes the most yarn -- I can just keep winding larger and larger balls on my turkish spindle without it complaining. I barber pole up the shaft, half-hitch at the top, and spin again.
Click for a list of all spindle posts on Ask The Bellwether. A few favorites:
How do you spin on a notchless spindle?
How do you wind on a Turkish spindle?
What is your favorite spindle weight?
Questions? Comments? Post them on the blog or contact me. Thanks!
Monday, December 17, 2007
I often get asked, "What does Bellwether mean?" The answer to that is the same as the answer to, "Why the name Bellwether?"
Bellwether is an archaic word; it used to mean lead sheep of the flock. In ye olden days, the flocks were mainly ewes, and it was typically the oldest ewe that was the Bellwether. The shepherd, used to taking an afternoon nap, would put a bell on the bellwether sheep so that he could locate the flock if they wandered away.
I like to think that it meant "bell wither" as in, "wither the bell goest, so goest the shepherd" ... but I often have flights of fancy ;-)
I've been corrected many times, and told that "wether" is the gelded male sheep -- but in fact, even online definitions disagree if the bellwether is the gelded male or simply an "it" of either gender; and searches for wether show that the word may actually be related to Old High German widar, meaning ram. In my flock, leadership has rotated between ewes and wethers so in general it would be hard to draw conclusions!
Special bonus: there is an old Nursery Rhyme that has Bellwether in it:
Bell-wether o' Barking cries baa, baa,
How many sheep have we lost to-day?
Nineteen have we lost, one have we fun*,
Run Rockie, run Rockie, Run, run, run.
And to make it even more appropriate, this is a traditional British knitting rhyme sung to track rounds and decreases as a stocking is knitted!
*'Fun' means 'found'.
And besides, at the time, fuzzystuff.com was taken ... so was bellwether.com, so I became TheBellwether.com. Because, there is only one ;-)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Here's an idea: fill two bobbins or spindles with plied yarn; wind one off into a center pull ball (for reasons that will become obvious, you don't want both on their bobbin/spindle when you do this) ... then use Papuan Thigh Spinning to join the outer end of the ball onto the bobbin. This technique has you roll each single together and then roll the opposite way to reincorporate the plying twist.
Wa-la ... two bobbins full combined into one. Now take the center of the center pull ball, and start winding your mega-skein ... Might work ....
Let me know if you try it, and I'll update this entry when I try it myself!
Friday, December 14, 2007
To quote the judge at my local county fair (ouch I hear this every year) ... inconsistency in the singles will result in drifting during the plying. Which is to say (and I apologize for sounding pedantic, I can't think of a funny way to put this) ... that if the amount of twist in the singles is variable, then your plying will be difficult; and a low twist area in a single is very likely to drift apart during the plying.
If there was alot of drifting apart of the singles, then likely they were too low twist for plying in general. When I'm spinning the singles, I'll use a ply back test so I can see what my two ply would look like. I'll go even further and save a sample of the ply-back so I know how much twist to put in when I ply. If you test the singles regularly (every length, every third length, whatever works for you), then you'll get a feel for how much twist to put in to keep the singles consistent, and ply-able (ah a pun! LOL)
I recently re-read Paula Simmon's Spinning for Softness and Speed. Her drift (it must be Punday...) is that you will get consistent twist in your singles if you use point-of-twist drafting, feeling the drafting amount in the palm of your hand. It's really quite cool, if I do say so myself, to actually feel this. Paula also says it's one of the fastest ways to spin. Having filled up a bobbin of about 12-WPI singles in no time flat with some Tunis roving from my stash, I do agree :-) But I'll also agree with her, that applying it to fine spinning takes time! My finely spun fibers want more twist than this method naturally puts in, at least for the tight ply I'm shooting for, and for the level of skill the palm of my hand currently has for this method. I'm sure with practice it will learn!
* How do I make sure my singles aren't underspun?
* How do you organize your spinning? (sample cards)
* How do you make a good looking two-ply yarn?
* What does it take to win a yarn competition?
Questions? comments? Post them on this blog or contact me. Thanks!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Navajo plying, also called chain plying, is a way of creating a 3-ply yarn. It is often used to preserve color in a space-dyed handspun, with the chains made to keep each color by itself. It's a nice way to ply a spindle or bobbin back onto itself, as you know the fiber amount will fit.
For a how-to on Navajo plying see this post: How can I preserve color in my space-dyed roving?
The loop size of your Navajo chain is a matter of personal comfort and preference. If it works for you, then it's the right way. I've seen Navajo plying done with large loops and with small loops, and I've done it both ways. When it's used to control color changes in plying space-dyed roving, the loops are made to the length needed, which can vary a fair bit depending on the loops between and distance between color changes.
Traditionally? I don't know. I did find this reference to Navajo plying on Anasazi spindles by Connie Delaney. They appear to do one loop, an arm's length, per spindle-twirl.
On a spindle, it may be easier to create several small (foot-long, say) chains and then start your spindle twirling. You can create a few more as it twirls, or simply let the chained length twist up, wind it on, make more chains, and repeat.
Navajo plying is a great way to do more than preserve color changes or 3-ply a bobbin or spindle back onto itself. Gwen Powell has a great writeup on additional uses of Navajo plying.
I've seen a terrific idea for a "Navajo 4-ply" to create a shifting tweed by having two singles and switching back and forth the Navajo chains between singles. But I can't find it anymore -- if you know where it is, please send me a pointer to it in the comments here, or contact me. Thanks!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Circular sock machines are for more than just socks! I've made tube scarves, mittens, and even bath mitts on mine. Roxanna on sockknittingmachines and other lists makes a ton of interesting things -- soap dispenser covers, door-draft-snakes, stuffed animals -- and more! The old Victorian knitting manual available to members of sockknittingmachinefriends has a ton of clothes, of all things, in it -- sock machine knit pieces, sewn together.
I plan also to knit a sock-scarf (one end is a sock! though you're not meant to wear it, LOL), gloves, and fingerless gloves/arm warmers on my sock machine.
My latest non-sock is a pedicure sock. These are also great simply as flip-flop socks!
Here's the pattern:
I used Pat Fly's hand dyed superwash merino sock yarn, though any sock yarn would do; and my 80-needle cylinder in my NZAK with my 40-needle ribber. At the top I carried along my lycra thread for extra elasticity. After knitting on waste yarn and getting it set up in 1/1 rib, I tied on my sock yarn and lycra to start knitting 1/1 rib.
- knit 1 row 1/1 rib (in sock yarn + lycra)
- put the ribber out of work and knit 1 row (this is to make the selvedge edge, so the top won't unravel)
- put the ribber back in work, knit 15 rows 1/1 rib
- break the lycra yarn and continue with just the sock yarn in 1/1 rib for 10 more rows.
- switch out every other ribber needle for a cylinder needle so you are now knitting 3/1 rib, and knit 3/1 rib for 20 rows (more for a longer sock)
- switch out the front (heel-side) ribber needles for cylinder needles and knit 10 rows (this is a "false heel" above the actual short-row heel)
- stop in front and switch out the remaining ribber stitches, remove the ribber, and lift the back 40 (half) needles out of work in preparation for the heel.
- put the yarn in the tension arm and knit a short-row heel (my favorite method is the 10-minute heel, feel free to use yours, or knit a increase-only heel, a scotch flap heel ... the sky's the limit!)
- keeping the yarn in the tension arm, knit 35 rows.
- re-introduce the ribber, putting every other cylinder stitch onto a ribber needle and removing the cylinder needle it came from. The first row of 1/1 rib is hard to knit, so take it easy and hand-latch those that need it. If you want to reintroduce the lycra thread, wait until the second or third row of ribbing.
- knit 10-25 rows of 1/1 rib (the socks shown have 10 rows). Leave a tail that is about 2 feet long, and then knit on 20 rows of waste yarn (in rib if you like, so you are ready for the next sock!)
Now, you aren't done -- granted, there are no toes to close (yay!) but you have live stitches on the foot ribbing. I took a leaf from the professional machine stitchers (thanks April!) and ran my 2 feet length of yarn through all the live stitches on the last row of the sock yarn on the foot. Keep it loosely enough threaded to stretch, and weave in the end. Then I ran some elastic shirring thread through as well to increase its hold.
A really cool thing about these is that they don't need sizing -- pretty much one-size-fits-most. And isn't pink a great pedicure sock color, LOL!
Wa-la, pedicure socks! These are destined for a Christmas prezzie :-)
See a list of all my sock machine posts.
Here are some great sock machine blogs: SoxophonePlayer, The Sock Lady, and Yarn in the Family.
Thanks to the Circular Sock Machine group on Ravelry for the pointers!
Handknit? Knitty has a great pedicure sock pattern!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I purchased some just *amazing* white CVM, combed top, Benny's own, from Benny Fibers at Oregon Flock and Fiber this year. And better than that, if you want a good belly chuckle, is Benny's blog. By some, I mean the last 6.5 ounces she had in the booth.
I found out just how amazing it was when I decided to spin it up on a new electric wheel I recently purchased.
I am now giving serious consideration to pre-ordering a good pound of the 2008 clip (I'm not looking for raw stuff to process, mind you --- a pound of combed top, of course!)
And let me just say that the electric wheel, the Butterfly, lives up to is name (literally, quiet as a butterfly!)
Say hello to my new quilted maple Butterfly e-spinner by Jerry Womack.
Between Benny and the Butterfly, I do believe I've finally master point-of-twist long draw on the spinning wheel! And, the cats don't complain about my shifting legs from treadling (no treadling required).
Amazing fiber meets amazing wheel - wheeeeee!
# How do you make a good looking 2-ply yarn?
# How fine do I spin my singles to get a target WPI in my plied yarn?
See the topic Sock Spinning for tips applied when spinning Benny.
And for great spinning wheel photos, check out the flickr pool of Spinning Wheels.
I'm happy to answer any questions on the e-spinner - ask in the comments here or contact me. Abby F. put a great post in the ravelry SpinTech forum on the limitations of Woolee Winders (which my Butterfly has -- but it can also come with a traditional flyer) while hands-down agreeing with their overall utility. Yes, it can improve your overall spinning -- it has, mine!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
So, there's all this amazing yarn out there (yarnmuseum.com was an inspiration from its creator, and inspires me constantly!). And with books like Pluckyfluff's Handspun Revolution and Creative Spinning, any spinner with the desire can springboard their creative ideas into unique, one of a kind (OOAK! I finally figured out what that stood for!) yarns.
But what do you do with all these funky yarns? LOL, much the same as my regular handspun, I typically will put it in a basket or glass dish as if it were fruit and leave it somewhere I can enjoy it daily once I've mastered a new technique or created a new yarn. My purchased handspun is treated similarly, with great respect for the wonderful spinners I've had the opportunity to buy from (click the links in this sentence to see their current offerings).
I'm planning on a Cat Bordhi Pacific Northwest lap blanket from my study group yarns (we're working through Pluckyfluff's Handspun Revolution) -- it alternates thick & thin yarns, so I can pick and choose and mix it up as I please. Another lady is making a sampler shawl with hers.
With a "smooth" art yarn like one with intermittent coils or beads, a scarf or a hat would look great; use it as an accent band or stripes if you only have a few yards.
I've considered using mitered knitting or intarsia where some of the shapes are commercial yarn or "normal" handspun, and accent areas are the art yarn.
On the crafter spinning forum, other suggestions include:
- Combining it with a “tame” commercial yarn and knitting a diagonal scarf with intermittent stripes of the art yarn (there’s a cool pointed scarf pattern by Iris Schrier that would work great with this!)
- A scarf knit on big needles. I’ve made the ruffle or boa scarf with art yarns and regular yarns interspersed: on size 15 needles, cast on 60-80 stitches (60 for a child, 80 for a tall adult); K one row, K1M1 next row, repeat 2 more times, cast off. Can also be done with crochet using double crochets and doubling them similarly every other row (or trebles, and double every row).
- Use it as trim on a bag or garment – edging on gloves would look terrific, or a band in a knit hat
- Put it on a wall and call it Art. This way you can pet it as you pass by, too ;-)
- Knit or crochet a small creature - arumigurumi style is fun!
*** related posts:
>> What do you teach in Creative Spinning?
>> How do you spin beads into yarn? (and a follow-up post)
>> How do you spin coil yarn?
>> Spinning Over The Edge - The Early Spring Report
>> Do you want to play with thread?
>> Knot Yarn!
>> Over The Edge Yarns
>> What's a Fiber Sandwich?
>> Cool Ideas for Novelty Yarns
>> Over The Edge Group
So, what do you make with art yarn? what's your favorite novelty spinning technique? Comment on the blog or contact me. Thanks!