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.

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.