by Lori Law
To knit the Spinning Leaves Shawl, I approached spinning the yarn for it with several different principles in mind.
I wanted to have the colour sections of the yarn transition from one to the other in single groups. And to do so, in order to have clearer colour sections, it would be a single yarn, not plied. I could have achieved the same result (and you could choose this alternative, if you like) with separate colours of rovings or batts, but I thought it would be interesting to just use hand-dyed roving which is widely available.
Going this route meant different sections of the roving would show up here and there, in other sections, which would lend a some cohesiveness to the shawl, overall.
I dyed 4 oz of Merino roving in bands of colours which repeated themselves along the length of the roving, but I’m guessing you could choose just about any hand-dyed merino roving out there and find the same dye technique used with repeating bands of colour. Choose a fibre or fibre-combination which has a longer staple length (Merino, Shetland, Polwarth as well as Alpaca and Mohair come to mind).
Next, I separated the roving into four sections of different colours (orange, a rainbow green section, dark violet blue and red), roughly. I aimed to be accurate but I was also realistic – the length of the fibres meant there would be sections of colours which overlapped. You could certainly separate a roving into more than four sections, if you desired. Each colour went into its own bag.
Label each bag of separated colours with 1, 2, 3, 4… to make it simpler when spinning to keep track of which section you’re working on.
Aim for a lace yarn you are comfortable with knitting.
If you normally prefer a particular yarn, try to emulate it. The yarn I spun worked out to about 28 wpi and about 10 tpi.
I set the wheel up for a small, fast whorl – I used the Ladybug wheel in Scotch Tension mode. One of the things I take advantage of on this wheel is the hooks on both sides of the flyer, allowing you to zigzag singles across with width of the flyer in order to minimize the chance of the fine yarn being grabbed out of your drafting zone accidentally. It just makes for a more relaxed spin when spinning laceweight yarns.
I spun the yarn forward worsted with a fast draw-in, not too highly twisted – lace yarn benefits from having a some drape to it.
I finished the skein in a warm soak and hung it to dry. I did not weight the skein.
The finished yarn worked out to 810 yds, pre-soaking, 4.1 oz (117g).
When winding the skein into a ball for knitting, be sure to wind it with your last chosen colour to the inside and with the colour you want to begin knitting with (the shawl begins at the top centre) to the outside of the ball. When knitting, keep the yarn ball as unencumbered and free of friction as possible. Single yarn is generally strong enough for lace, so long as it has enough twist, but having it rubbing against something while it’s being put to work can cause the yarn to untwist and drift apart.
Another benefit of using single yarn for lace knitting: no splitting of plies.
One of the things I love about spinning is the ability to create unique yarns and projects which can’t be duplicated with commercial yarns. But if you find you would like to create this pattern using a commercial yarn, Noro Sekku is probably your best bet. It has long colour transitions but they will repeat over the length of the shawl.
Photos © Lori Law.
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