by Terri Peña
The theme of the April 2011 issue of Ennea revolves around Celtic connections – cabled projects and natural wools. Immediately my brain went to Ireland, with all their Celtic cables carved in stone and sheep wandering the lush, green hills. I know this is a stereotype, but it is such a pretty image.
Most of the fiber I spin is full of colors that no sheep could grow themselves. What I needed for this project was something undyed and a little rustic. Something to match the natural charm and beauty of the ancient craft of spinning. As expected, I found it on etsy from Smoky Mountain Fibers.
I purchased eight ounces of a Romney/Shetland blend. The fiber is soft, but not so soft you would want to wrap it around your neck. You would not mistake it for Merino or Cashmere, but it is perfect for an unassuming, cabled bag. The natural grey color is amazing. Because there are no color runs or sequences to deal with, the fiber preparation was very easy.
First I pulled out four ounces. Those four ounces were divided into two ounce sections because my intention was a 2-ply yarn. From there, I split the roving lengthwise at the places the fiber wanted to be split. There was no need to worry about keeping the sections uniform, as color was not an issue. I pre-drafted each section and was happy to see and feel rougher bits of fleece here and there, along with some crimp. I love it when the fiber reminds me it was grown by a real sheep.
The goal was a 2-ply worsted-weight yarn with enough snap to show off cables. I spun the singles using a worsted spinning technique. Letting the twist build up behind my front hand while drafting the fiber to the right thickness, then moving my front hand toward my back hand and letting the twist enter the newly drafted piece of fiber. This made for a sturdy yarn with lots of twist.
Once the two bobbins were spun I put them on a lazy kate and plied the singles in the opposite direction that I had spun them. Because this yarn was intended for cables, I was careful not to under ply. The yarn was wound off to a niddy-noddy and then placed in a bowl of cool water for about an hour.
To finish, the yarn was set outside to dry and the final results were softer than what I had expected. After the spinning and soaking the yarn really came in to its own, showing the way right back to the image of those green hills and flocks of happy sheep.
Finished Technical Details:
A worsted-spun 2-ply worsted weight yarn, 11 wraps per inch, with 220 yards per 4 ounces (or 880 ypp).
Photos © Terri Peña.