Winter Foilage : spin the yarn

by Becky Herrick

chain-plying fingering yarnI spun this yarn using a 4-ounce sampler pack from Into the Whirled.  The pack contained 11 mini bumps of roving of a variety of unknown fiber types and colorways.  Sampler packs are fairly common in spinning fiber and I knew I wanted to design something that would use the variety to its best advantage.  Fingering weight yarn is fairly common for spinners so another alternative would be to use those leftover bits from many other spinning projects which you’ve been unable to throw away!

I started by comparing all 11 bumps.  Two appeared to be the same colorway, and since 10 is a more common number that is how I wrote the pattern.  But the stripes could be worked with as many or as few different colors as you prefer.

chain-plying fingering yarnAll fiber was spun semi-worsted on a 0.5 ounce Golding spindle.  I chain-plied directly from the 0.5 ounce spindle onto a 1 ounce Golding spindle for a finished 3 ply yarn which is fairly tightly spun and 12-14wpi.  I wanted to create a fingering weight yarn similar to sock yarns.

There’s no wrong way to prepare these fibers for spinning.  I used a variety of prepartion methods on my variety pack of fibers.  In some cases I pre-drafted the fiber to pencil width without any prior prepartion, allowing the colors to mix randomly.  For 2 bumps I seperated each color and arranged them prior to pre-drafting so the finished single transitioned slowly from one color into the next without mixing.  In one case I tore the top lengthwise until all the pieces were pencil width and then spun those so the resulting single had many, shorter, color repeats.  for another bump I seperated the colors, drafted each, and then lay them vertically next to each other and finished drafting, so all the colors were evenly mixed.

chain-plying fingering yarnOnce the single was finished I plied it right away, to free up my 0.5 ounce spindle for the next color.  I used chain plying which is a technique that allows you to loop the single back on itself.  What you do is you create a loop of the single, and pull the next loop throug that one – as if you’re creating a single crochet chain of very large loops.  As the twist travels up the chain the three strands ply onto themselves.  This is useful because A) you can maintain the color repeats you spun in the single B) you don’t need to divide small bumps of fiber into even smaller bumps in order to ply them together again later.  One potential downside is that any inconsistencies in your spinning can be magnified instead of evened out during the plying.  So you’ll want to make sure your single is evenly spun, and be careful not to leave any slubs of fiber at the points where the chain loops back on itself.

[See also: Spinster's Corner • 2 - Chained Plying.]

chain-plying fingering yarnTo finish the yarns I soaked them in room temperature water with a little hair shampoo.  After squeezing out the water I snapped the skeins against the wall a few times to straighten everything out and let them hang loose to dry.  Once dry I twisted them into mini skiens allowing the fibers to relax until I had finished all the spinning.

Photos © Becky Herrick.

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