Friday, January 27, 2017

Through Thick and Thin: Spinning a Good Yarn

Last week I spent a couple of days spinning. It's the only activity I know that is more Zen than knitting. When you really, really want to go into that deep meditative zone, nothing works like spinning, either with a spindle or a wheel. I was using my wheel because I wanted to get a lot done in a short time, and also because I wanted my yarn to be "woollen spun". For non-spinners out there, that means I wanted the twist to enter the wool DURING the drafting process, not after, as happens when yarn is "worsted spun". Although I was using combed top (plain vanilla Corriedale, to be precise), I used the long draw method to draft and spin, resulting in an airy, squishy wool. And because I wanted the effect of a thick and thin yarn, I worked a bit to achieve that result. Yes, that's right, I had to work to produce a thick and thin wool. The thing is, when you are a novice spinner, your aim is to make everything as even as possible. Once you've accomplished that goal, it's actually hard to let go and simply allow the spinning to happen a bit more haphazardly. If you can manage to do that, it's incredibly liberating. Here's what I ended up with:

The wool is somewhere between a DK and worsted weight. It could be knitted at a sweater gauge as a DK, but because there's so much loft in it, it's lovelier knitted a little loosely at a worsted gauge on a 4.5mm needle. I know I earlier described the fibre as "plain vanilla Corriedale", but in truth it's more like vanilla scraped directly from the vanilla pod to flavour a luscious French custard. I adore Corriedale, especially the special way it blooms after washing. I used it for my handspun Zora, and I've loved it ever since.
As for what I intend to do with this, just catch a glimpse of the blue book underneath the wool. Yup, it's good 'ol Barbara Walker. The first and still the best source for inspiration.


  1. There's nothing so wonderful as knitting with your own handspun yarn. And it feels so much better when ON too. I just wish sheep came in Fuchsia, Plum & Lime . . .