Category: Octarine



Finally! I got my Octarine yarn plied up, and now it’s washed and dried and ready to show you!

While we’re at it, though (and in case you’re at all interested), here’s a little about my process. Bouclé is a 3-ply yarn, sort of. It’s got three strands, but one of those doesn’t get along with the other two, which makes it loopy. I call them, for the sake of having a point of reference, the loop strand, the core ply and the locking ply.

For the loopy strand, I spun a Z-twist single of Wensleydale with slightly more twist than I would for a singles yarn. The core ply was next – I did an S-twist single in the silk/merino/firestar batt with as little twist as I could manage, slightly finer than the Wensleydale single.

The next bit is the bit that takes practice. You have to get the two strands to ply against one another, and get the loopy strand to … well, loop. So you tie the two strands to your leader yarn, and then slowly begin to ply in the same direction as your core ply was spun. While you’re doing it, you push the loopy strand up, towards the orifice, along the core ply, to get those lovely curls and loops. The difficult part is getting your timing right, and getting a rhythm happening.

Your wheel setup will need tinkering with, you’ll have to get your treadling to the sweet spot, and you have to work close to the orifice so that you don’t crank too much twist into the core ply, so your yarn has to go onto the wheel pretty fast. But it’s important to keep your takeup light, because otherwise the flyer assembly will tug all your loops to one place and ruin your lovely wriggly yarn. I’m so lucky to have my beautiful Majacraft Aura, because being able to balance the speed of the takeup against the strength of the takeup is the only way I could have made this yarn happen. While you’re plying this time, you’ll see the loopy ply untwist and become much softer. This is why it’s important to use a fairly strong, long fibre, such as silk, mohair or a longwool like Wensleydale.

The locking ply is pretty easy. You spin another S-twist single, with approximately as much twist as there is in your core ply after plying with the loopy strand. Then you simply ply the locking ply (in the Z direction) against the core ply plus loop strand, working at getting a nice balance between the core and locking plies. The structure of the yarn is in these two plies, so try not to get hung up on what the loopy strand is doing. It’s really just there for decoration. You might have to wrangle it a bit during this second plying pass to make sure the loops are fairly evenly distributed along the yarn, but that’s it.

I finished my yarn the usual way – a hot bath with a little lavender-scented shampoo, then squeezed in a towel and thwacked on the back patio. It didn’t get too hairy, which is good, but it did fluff up and it’s now really light, airy and springy. While it’s not exactly what I envisioned (I was going for something more delicate, not a super-bulky yarn), it illustrates perfectly what I was trying to do. I could have driven myself mad getting it much smaller, but in the end I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad it’s as fat and delicious as it is. And that’s yet another yarn chalked up!

Shall We Try This Again?


As of my last post here, I was struggling with the Octarine yarn, remember? Well, I found the perfect braid of Wensleydale on Etsy, dyed by the charming Marilla of Moonlight And Laughter.

Wensleydale top from Moonlight And Laughter

It arrived last Wednesday, and I spun it into a single on Thursday. I’d forgotten how fun and easy Wensleydale is to spin – it was such an enjoyable and fast experience.

Then yesterday afternoon I sat down to figure out the other plies of my bouclé yarn. The directions I’m following say to spin your core ply quite loosely, because you’ll tighten the spin when you ply the loops against it. But the batts I’m using, while stunning, aren’t making it easy to spin loosely, so I’m just spinning it and will likely wind it off the bobbin onto a spindle, taking some of the twist out while I’m about it.

I’m spinning extra angelina into the core ply as I go along, and I’m loving the yarn I’m getting (even if its terrifying resemblance to fairy floss is making my teeth hurt) – it reminds me of My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls and all that jazz. The result is going to be a truly unsubtle evocation of the idea of the Colour of Magic, that’s for sure.

Corgi Hill Farm "Aurora" batts with extra angelina

Hopefully this works out. I’m a bit nervous of it, to be honest, but we’ll see. If it does, when I show you all the finished product I shall explain the method of making bouclé that I’m using, but until I get it to work there’s not much point!

Nope, just…nope.


I finally sat down at the wheel to try and spin a nice boucle ply from those pretty Teeswater locks today. And nope. They’re just too tangled, too matted, and it’s just too, too hard. Now I’m shopping for an alternative for my boucle ply. Wish me luck.

I’m torn between feeling really annoyed at myself for failing at the challenge of spinning from those locks, and liberated for having made the decision to move forward with it, even if that means a change of plan. It’s difficult for me to admit defeat like this, but I knew going into this whole farce I mean, lofty and noble project, that there’d be times that things wouldn’t go quite according to plan. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky so far, so I’m taking this in good grace 🙂

Off to shop!

Sucker For Punishment


As if this whole project wasn’t enough of a hare-brained scheme, I’ve had an idea that will make one of the next yarns a bloody ridiculous task.

Bouclé. Real, true, push bouclé, not faux-clé like you get when you thread-ply something (I’m going to thread-ply the next yarn, but that’s another story, for another post).

One of the yarns I’ve been really keen to do for ages now has been one based on the eighth colour of the rainbow in the Discworld, the colour of magic – octarine. The whole mythos surrounding the magical element in the books really appeals to the occult scientist in me, because there’s something approaching intellectual rigour in Sir Terry’s treatment of it, and the idea that magic has a colour, a colour that is beyond the reach of the normal human eye, really got my mind and imagination working.

Shortly after I started this project, I snagged a set of batts from Corgi Hill Farm, the colour of which seemed to totally encompass my mind’s-eye image of octarine.

CorgiHillFarm "Aurora" batts

AnnaMarie’s batts are stunning – smooth, generous and intricately layered, and her colour sense is impeccable. But I wanted my vision of octarine, of magical energy, to have a bit more texture than the ultra-smooth CHF batts allow. I wanted bubbles, I wanted haziness, I wanted complicated.

So…bouclé? What makes a good bouclé coil ply? A strong, inflexible, shiny fibre like mohair or Wensleydale does it really well, and it really has to be in top form rather than a carded prep (at least for a less experienced spinner like me). But I’m allergic to mohair, and I didn’t want to go with Wensleydale this time, as I work with it so much and I’m a little over it. Lately I’ve been trolling the usual suspects for a suitable substitute – I wanted a longwool in a multihued mix of purples, blues and aquas, with a touch of pink … and wouldn’t it be just ideal if I could have some sparklies in there too?? But nothing was just the right thing.

So, to cut this TL;DR* post shorter, I have decided to make my own combed top. I have combs. I have Teeswater locks, and I’ve already dyed them myself with food colouring (what an experience! Talk about magic!).

14-inch locks! Shiny and gorgeous!

Dyed with food colouring - can't believe I got *exactly* the colours I was going for!

I have ordered sparklies (at a prohibitive shipping cost, from a clearly misinformed seller).

I thought to reveal this grand scheme only when my attempt at making top had succeeded, but that’s not what this project is about. I want to share the journey with you all. So I’ll get on making it when I get the sparklies in the mail, but I wanted to bare my soul on this count. Wish me luck!

*Too long; didn’t read