By Lori Law
When I knit the initial design sample for these slippers, I used typical sock merino which is usually 2-ply, spun worsted style, with quite a bit of poofy twist for lots of springy knitting and which also adds durability and warmth to garments.
So, to spin the yarn for the final Babouches samples, I decided to emulate as closely as possible typical 2-ply sock yarn.
My resulting yarn is nearly identical in grist but has a little more yardage due to the lightweight cashmere included in the fibre blend.
The nifty thing having spun this yarn is it is most likely going to be also perfect for socks (aside from these slippers) so I will most-definitely be utilizing these techniques to spin fingering yarn again in the future.
Here’s how I approached my development of this yarn.
First-off, I found a piece of sock-weight merino (not terribly hard to find around this house) to use as a guide. I took it apart and analyzed the singles as well as the general construction of the yarn.
The plied yarn had about 8-9 tpi (twists per inch) stretched, and the wpi (wraps per inch) were about 18 wpi.
Using this information, I aimed to spin the yarn for the Babouches to be as identical as possible.
I wanted to know the tpi with the yarn stretched because if I was able to recreate the same tpi while plying (which, in my case, stretches the yarn – but you will want to consider your own plying techniques if you are attempting to re-create existing yarns), I felt it would be very close to my chosen sample once finished.
And, I lucked out.
Here you see a very close match when comparing the two yarns – the original yarn I used as my sample is on the left, and the in progress 2-ply on the right.
So, with all of these factors considered, I also considered what to do with the hand-dyed roving, in terms of colour distribution in the resulting yarn.
I chose to split the roving in two (for a 2-ply) equal-length pieces and then into four pieces again, lengthwise. I chose to also split the second four pieces in half once more, instead of just spinning end to end, which meant the second half of the roving was split end to end into eight sections. For each ply I spun the lengths end to end.
This approach is, technically, called ‘fractal’ spinning but I rarely approach my spinning with the expected mathematical attention given to actual fractals.
My approach is simple: spin one half of the roving end to end or with longer colour repeats in the resulting singles than the other half which will have shorter colour repeats in the resulting singles.
When plied together, the single spun with the longer colour repeats acts like the ‘backdrop’ and the other single provides movement over the backdrop. It also, depending on the actual colours in the roving (higher contrasting colours will make for a livelier yarn), allows for more subtle blending of the colours in the roving and less garish ‘stripey’ behaviour in the resulting yarn.
Here is how the bobbins of singles looked after spinning:
You are able to see how the one on the right has longer more solid-looking sections of colour and the one on the left is more busy, with faster-changing colour sequences.
I use this approach relatively frequently when spinning hand-dyed rovings dyed in striped colour sequences (and I would gesture about 90% of hand-dyed rovings available are dyed in this format).
And, after plying these together, there was yarn!
Although it’s hard to tell from the skein how the different layers of striping show up in the yarn, it is fairly apparent in the Babouches knit from this yarn.
2-ply, 275 yds in 2 oz. (2008 ypp), 80% merino wool, 20% cashmere. Spun worsted (forward-draw) using a medium whorl and scotch tension, plied on a faster whorl. Plied tpi: 8-9, at about a 60° angle.
Photos © Lori Law.