Caledonia : Spin the yarn

by Anne Podlesak

When I set out to design this pattern, I wanted to use 2 colors, one in a handpainted/multicolor and the other in a semi-solid colorway. A lot of Indie dyers sell 1 or 2 braids of a color at a time, which isn’t usually enough for an entire sweater, but once I found the pretty blue/yellow braid at Woolgatherings, it was easy to find a complimentary semisolid colorway to go with it. You can, of course, choose to spin all one colorway for this sweater if you have enough fiber.

The original fiber was BFL (blue-faced Leicester) wool roving from Woolgatherings Etsy store. I selected the handpainted colorway first (the yellow/blue/green roving) and then chose a semisolid blue that picked up the small sections of blue in the handpainted roving. This roving was very nicely prepared and easy to spin. Since the semisolid blue was mostly one color, I didn’t worry much about color runs with it. I simply fluffed the roving a little bit to counteract any compacting during shipping, and the spun it from one end to the other, onto two bobbins (since I was going to make a 2-ply yarn). Each braid of roving was 4 ounces.

For the handpainted fiber, since I wished to break up the colors a little bit in the finished yar, I split the roving into 6 equal strips, lengthwise, and weighed those on my postal scale to be sure I had two equal amounts of 2 ounces, and then spun those onto two bobbins as well (also for a matching 2-ply yarn to the semisolid).

This sweater could be spun up using any fiber you’d like, although alpaca or angora or mohair (or blends with these fibers) will cause the hem and yoke pattern to be somewhat obscured. I chose BFL because I love how the crisp yarn makes knit/purl pattern stand out.

Caledonia Spin the YarnI spun the singles using a worsted technique (or inchworm), drafting forward from the roving source, and then smoothing the singles down with my drafting hand as the twist ran into them. I like my worsted yarn to be nice and smooth, with a crisp, noticeable twist, so I made sure to put in plenty of twist. Once I had two bobbins spun of singles of each colorway, I then placed those on my lazy kate, and then spun these into a 2-ply heavy sportweight yarn. Because the singles were spun with a little extra twist, I slightly underplied while creating my 2-ply yarn to create a nice, drapey yarn that still retained a crisp hand and, I think, will wear very well. Note that this spinning style creates a dense yarn. If you choose to spin more woolen or use a lighter, less dense fiber, like merino, you will likely be able to spin more yards per ounce than I did.

To finish the yarn, I wound it off onto my skein winder, added choke-ties, and then let it soak for an hour or so in a lukewarm bath with some wool wash soap added to it. I spun out the excess water, gave the skein a couple of snaps to align the fibers and then allowed it to air dry.

Finished Technical Details: A worsted-spun 2-ply heavy sportweight to DK-weight yarn, approximately 15 wraps per inch, with 250 yards per 4 ounces (or 1000 ypp).

Photos © Woolgatherings and Anne Podlesak