Category: Sudden Hedgehog

After having to wait for a while for my leg to recover, I’ve finally managed to complete the Sudden Hedgehog! I eventually decided to tie the hedgehogs on with crochet cotton, after everything else was done. So this is a really good example of the miracles of experimenting and sampling, because I learnt so much during the making of this yarn. I really set myself free from the “lust of result” and allowed myself the room to make mistakes and let things just happen. And here is the result – the perfected (well, almost) Sudden Hedgehog.

And the gratuitous macro shot:


I won’t inflict more photos of undyed polwarth and jute on you all; suffice to say I had another go at this yesterday and it came out better, if not perfect. I deconstructed the twine and made pompoms out of it that way – they were much lighter and softer and less . . . unwieldy. I affixed them during the plying pass with white crochet cotton, but I’m thinking I should use some sort of anchor technique to make them stay put. Not sure how I’d go about that with the spindle. I don’t want to have to give up and tie the hogs on after plying, but it’s still a possibility. It could turn out to be the most structurally sound way to get them in there.

Then I put the new yarn in the steamer to finish it . . . and wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed the first time. I scorched the yarn in four places – not terminal, as I can always pull them out and rejoin the yarn, but I’m still annoyed at myself. I always seem to accidentally get things right the first time, then stumble on the second or third or fourth go, on something that you’d think would make itself pretty obvious the first time you try whatever it is.

But I’m learning to experiment with fibre, and feel a little freer to play around and make mistakes. This is a lesson that I needed to learn, and it’s coming hard, but I do feel a bit more relaxed about it than I would have expected.

I still have 4oz of polwarth to mess around with, and I do want to end up with at least 150g so I can make . . . the thing I want to make (mwuhahahaha!)

Before finishing:

Before finishing - nice, but a bit lifeless.

After finishing:

After steam finishing- WOW! Look at that bloom!

Yep, the biggest lesson I learnt this time around was how to finish polwarth top! I’ve done the 2-ply with thick and thin before, and I recall that the finishing was pretty brutal on the soft fibre (that was South African, similar in feel to polwarth). So this time I thought I’d try steaming it, rather than a hot bath. I put it in my veggie steamer with just enough water in the bottom of the pan to produce steam but not to touch the yarn, gave it five minutes then turned it over for another five minutes, then pulled it out – it was so so so puffy! I can’t believe how much it’s bloomed with this finishing! I wish you guys had Squoosh-O-Vision! It’s stunning.

But all in all I’m not happy with it. The hedgehogs just aren’t sticking properly and they need to be lighter-weight. I’ll tie them up with some fine crochet cotton next time, and deconstruct the twine to make fuzzier, lighter hogs.

Hedgehogs! See!

Jute Twine "Hedgehog"

I like it but they are a bit bigger and heavier than I wanted. I might have to deconstruct the twine . . . there’s an idea.

So yesterday I sat down to ply. My plan was to put the hedgehogs in during plying, but I sat down at my wheel and was all ready go when . . . I realised that the hedgehogs won’t be fitting through my orifice! Dammit! Plan B. Out came my big Forrester plying spindle and away we went. Not an easy task on a spindle, very difficult to put the hedgehogs in and have them be stable.

Spindle plying from lazy kate

And I just couldn’t resist how wonderful the yarn looked on the spindle when I was done, so here’s a gratuitous eye-candy shot.

Forrester spindle

It has begun!

Last night I started my first Pratchett yarn! It was just a thick and thin undyed polwarth single, but it was still exciting!

I had some trouble at first rediscovering the technique for thick and thin, so the first ten metres or so will be a bit lacklustre, but after a while I was cranking out giant fat sections between itty-bitty thin bits. I’m a bit uninspired by the Ashland Bay top, which feels “killed” in my hands, as compared to polwarth I’ve handled before which makes a whole career out of the word “squooshy”.

The yarn was spun on my Ashford Traditional (single drive), using the bulky flyer on the largest whorl (4.5:1) and reeeaaaaalllllly slow treadling.

The phrase that really kicked this off was perhaps that msot elusive of writing achievements – an innocent afterthought of a pairing of words that seemed to be off-the-cuff but could have taken days of agonising . . . or maybe it arrived in a flash of divine inspiration.

Pratchett was speaking, I ?think? in the book “Wyrd Sisters”, of the pros and cons of covenly witch activities performed sans clothes in the open air. He spoke of the danger of “sudden hedgehogs” – and that image anchored itself in my imagination in the most tangible of ways. I laughed out loud, in sheer delight at the thought!

So how does one spin a “Sudden Hedgehog”? I thought of pom poms, as dealt with in Lexi Boeger’s Intertwined – pom poms in rough, spiky jute or hemp twine, that would be a tactile shock in much the same way that a hedgehog would be underfoot! The book’s image seemed to evoke warm summer nights on deeply-grassed hillsides, with hidden grey stones and glinting stars overhead . . . but somehow spinning that didn’t really take my fancy. So instead I played with the idea of snowdrifts, and the play of texture between snow and hedgehog! What if I spun a thick, fat, soft, barely-twisted single and included the jute tufts?

What if . . . !! What if I put two thick/thin singles together, as I’ve done once before, and plied the tufts in at odd intervals just to make a statement? Here’s the one I did before; I made a few mistakes, mostly in the finishing, but overall I loved this yarn and really am keen to try it again.

South African top from Crown Mountain Farms in club colourway "Celtic Glow"

That settled it for technique – now, what fibre? Jute or hemp is going to be hard, rough – and I wanted something really soft and squooshy to counterpoint against that. The stash reveals a choice of merino in carded rolags – not great for thick/thin – targhee top, or polwarth top. Hmm. Being that I will probably muff at least one attempt at this yarn, let’s plan on trying both!