N-ply Polwarth Wool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather last week by me was cold, dank, and dreary. I needed an extra cheerful spinning project. I pulled out this Polwarth wool I bought last summer from Woolgatherings on etsy. The colors remind me of summer melon and inspire me to look forward to the upcoming change in seasons. After completing this project I think I can say that I’ve mastered the n-ply, or Navajo-plying, technique. This technique involves crochet-chaining your singles while the wheel spins, and yields a 3-ply yarn from a single strand.

In the past I’ve struggled with finding the rhythm of the technique and ended up with entirely too much twist in the finished yarn. When I changed my drafting pattern from forward from my body to the orifice to sideways across the body and at right-angles to the orifice, everything sort of fell into place. I look forward to trying this technique again, going for a skinnier singles aimed at sock yarn. And yet again, I learned that Polwarth blooms a lot after the good old soak and whack.

2-ply Handspun Polwarth Wool

2-ply Handspun Polwarth Wool


This handspun wool yarn began its life as 4 ounces of Polwarth wool purchased at BlueDogFibers on etsy. Originally I bought the fiber for two reasons. The first is that Polwarth is, thus far, my favorite fiber to work with. I’ve heard many spinners say before that there is normally a fiber that “clicks” for you, and your hands intuitively know what to do with it. For me, that’s Polwarth wool. I was in love with the colorway, Vanda, because it reminded me of the beach on the familiar coastline of North Carolina in summertime.

I spun this yarn on slowest whorl on my Schacht Matchless. For the past couple of spinning projects, I’ve forgotten to change the whorl which resulted in some tensely twisted yarns. Carefully and deliberately, I applied the minimum amount of twist to make the yarn hold together, so that it would be pleasant to knit with in the future.

The decision I made that I wish I hadn’t was to spin for yardage and create a 2-ply yarn. The twist was low enough in the singles that it probably would have worked ok as a 3-ply, especially because of how springy Polwarth is. Rushing to finish the project is something I regret. I chalk it up to being really excited about having a finished yarn in this particular colorway, and forgetting to take the necessary steps to preserve them.

Thus I am only mildly happy with the end result. It is a bit barber-poley and tweedy for what I had in mind. I don’t hate it, but it’s not my favorite. I have learned an important lesson to think more carefully about the properties of the finished yarn before I begin a project. Tactile-wise, though, I’m pleased with the bouncy, springy quality of the yarn and predict it will feel pleasing to knit with.

2-ply Romney Handspun, Pearled Shells Colorway


A weekend spinning project of 6.5 ounces of Romney wool in the Pearled Shells colorway from FiberFancy on etsy. I spun it Scotch-tension on my Schacht Matchless. I used my second-smallest whorl (unintentionally-I lazily forgot to change it). The finished 2-ply yarn averages between 9-11 wpi.

This was originally destined for a sweater yoke combined with the Gotland I spun over the holiday break. The finished yarn bloomed a bit more than I had hoped, so it ended up with a few too many wraps per inch. It will make a nice patterned yoke someday, just not for the sweater as planned. The whole time that I was spinning this I was under the impression that it was BFL, (it has been a while since I purchased it.) I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually Romney because now I can say I have even more experience with longwool.

I’ve been fiddling around with the “Create Collage” feature of Picasa. I’ve decided I need to do more of these. I like the idea of documenting the whole process, especially for projects that start out as raw fiber and transition from yarn to finished object. This is one pound of lovely, silvery Gotland. Costume designers for the LOTR movies used Gotland for the hobbit cloaks in the film. I spun it worsted to bring out the sheen, but that was a bit of a tradeoff for softness I fear/ The finished yarn is a bit like twine. The raw fiber feels very much like human hair. The finished heavy fingering to DK weight yarn (ranges from 12-14 wpi) is destined for a raglan sweater that I accept will probably not be suitable for wearing next to the skin. I’m going to do a patterned yoke with some hand dyed BFL from Fiber Fancy. I’m in the process of spinning it up now. I guess I’ll need to do another collage of the whole shebang once it’s done. The Gotland took me a year, off and on, to finish. I hope the finished sweater won’t take nearly as long.

Hat Collage

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s pattern for a tam o’shanter in Knitting Without Tears got me through the very end of graduate school. I knit them compulsively and I still may not be finished. In addition to the three below, I also knit two more which have found good homes. One was to match a sweater I made years ago for my mom. Except the beanie, these are made of handspun yarn whose origin was fiber from dyers on etsy. These hats were a study in color and texture. Manchvegas, from Zarzuelas Fibers (the subtle colored one), is a 2-ply Falkland wool that I spun lofty and full of air. This resulted in a soft, squishy DK weight yarn which I held double to make a warm hat. Slouchy and drapey Manchvegas is by far my favorite one of these. The bullseye-looking one is in a colorway called Agamemnon, a Polwarth wool from Sheepish Creations. I knit it at DK weight so it is lighter and softer. The bright-colored one is a gift from my friend Cyd–she sent it to me after her travels to a fiber fair. It was my first attempt at N-ply, which ended up sort of overtwisted (I’m still learning!)┬áinto a heavy worsted weight yarn that will wear like iron. The overtwist gives a sort of felted or velour look to the finished fabric. The beanie I just love. It’s made out of Noro leftovers. I knit it top-down and custom fit it to my head. I may never take it off.