by Anne Podlesak
Well-prepared batts are one of my favorite preparations to spin. For the Thicket Gloves in this issue, I selected two 2-ounce batts from the Artemis, Artemis Etsy store as I wanted a semisolid/lightly heathered yarn for this project.
These batts were a blend of dyed merino, corriedale, bamboo and sparkle in oranges, fire-red, browns and a bit of black. They were very nicely carded with the different colors of the dyed fibers and the sparkle distributed evenly throughout the batts. To prepare to spin these, I unrolled them from their jelly-roll shape (which is how they were shipped to me), and stripped off approximately 1-inch strips of fiber lengthwise. I then wound each of those strips into a loose ball of fiber to keep them from getting pulled apart or accidentally felted.
Once I had the fiber all prepped and divided into 2 equal batches (2 ounces each), I spun using a supported backward draft. The fiber was fairly well aligned, so I couldn’t really do a true long draw, but I drafted backward with my left hand, pinching and controlling the twist with my right, which I kept closer to the orifice of the wheel, and occasionally moving my right hand closer to my left hand to smooth any bumps that might arise in the fiber. This allowed me to retain a lot of the loft of the wool in the singles for a more woolen-style yarn.
Once I had 2 bobbins filled with 2 ounces of singles each, I then plied them together. I did not smooth the finished 2-ply, but tried to retain some of the loft of the singles. I did, however, add a little extra twist into the plied yarn to help give it some structure and increase the wear-ability of it.
Finally, 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 semi-woolen-spun 2-ply sportweight yarn. Approximately 16 wraps per inch, with 270 yards per 4 ounces (1080 ypp).
Photos © Anne Podlesak