I am still here, not gone away. Rather busy I suppose – but certainly not with either knitting or spinning. I have done virtually no knitting since last we spoke – just a little edging on my Rivington Cowl. Spinning is a different matter – I have done some, though not much.
We were speaking of colour, if you recall. I abandoned my North Ronaldsey sweater spin and picked up the gorgeous gradient-dyed roving that I had from Hilltop Cloud. Purple, if you remember. It proved to be a more difficult spin than I had anticipated… and far, far thinner than I had intended. I have half of the roving spun into two fairly fine singles and am still uncertain as to how to proceed. The last time that we spoke, I determined that I needed to spin up some of the silk hankies before I decided what yarn to make.
I have spun hankies before – back in my early days of spinning. I made a lumpy bumpy single from un-dyed hanky and then I used it to weave some texture in to my second attempt on the Knitter’s Loom. I do not seem to have recorded the spinning adventure anywhere, at least I cannot find mention of it at this time. It was probably around 2008. A long time past. So, I did the only thing that seemed sensible and I Googled up some You Tube videos on spinning silk hankies.
The first video that I watched treated the hankies in the same way that I had treated the un-dyed ones: pop a hole in the centre of a single layer, widen it, stretch the silk by pulling your hands apart, ever wider, then cut the ring, drafting further if required. O.K.
The second video had no truck with all this extra effort and recommended just spinning from the corner of a hanky layer. That sounded pretty gung-ho and just my kind of instant-gratification kind of spinning. I decided to give it a go. It works, and it works well – so long as I can accept the textured yarn that results as being the joy of spinning this kind of silk. I can do that. I can imagine lots of characterful nepps in my completed yarn. Lets play at being bulls in a china shop.
What I had not reckoned on is the way that spinning from the corner provides me with a far thinner single, on average. I had hoped for greater visibility of the silk in my finished skeins.
I have not got very far yet – too many other pots on the boil right now – but I have got far enough to feel that I have to stick with the way that I have been spinning. I do know however, that I wish that I had taken greater notice of that first video. Rexie R demonstrates plying the drafted silk into wool (actually, Alpaca) singles without first spinning the silk. Look for it from around 3:15.
Now, I see much sense in that – to be adding twist to the silk at plying time instead of taking twist away, with all the potential for slippage/breakage that offers. If you are at all like me, and are far too impatient to add sufficient twist to your silk, plying could be fraught.
I imagine that the plied yarn would have a very different character to one plied with 2 wool singles and a spun silk single. It is too late to change what I am doing, I do not want to run out of hankies nor to end up with less yardage in a consistent silk than the wool, but I would hope to have some left over and a little of the wool singles, just to experiment with the technique.
Have you tried this? What did you think?
Here’s a thought – what happens if you spin your silk single in the ply direction and then ply it in to two wool singles spun in the opposite direction? For a spinner such as I, it would add in the missing twist to the silk – but does it work? Have you tried that?
Well, I found my colourful antidote to all those neutral projects but, guess what? Gill was round yesterday and seeking fibre for hackling. I delved into my box that contains the contents of a Botany Lap Waste bag that I had from World of Wool. In it I found some lengths of roving that jumped out, wrapped themselves about my neck and screamed “SPIN US!!!” They are gorgeous, wondrous soft and a blend of at least 4 fibres in shades of… white and beige. I cannot stop thinking about them and how to spin them. I have purple silk hankies on the Traveller and my North Ron on the Schacht… could I, dare I, should I just do a quick spin on the e-Spinner with these lovely pieces of fluff?