Tag Archive: Pratchett

Once upon a time, I tried to spin a yarn to represent the dashing and improbably perfect Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson. Remember what happened? I decided it wasn’t up to snuff, and ended up relegating it out of the Project and into general stash circulation (go over here if you want to find out its eventual fate, if you haven’t seen it already). It’s funny how plans sometimes just don’t quite go according to … er, plan. (Wow, English fail there, Kat. Well done.)

Happily, though, I evened up the score a couple of weeks back. It was a stunning winter’s day, and my girlfriend and I took our spinning wheels into the backyard to spin in the sunshine and soak up the rays. I planned to spin something quick, wild, funky. I was in the throes of multiple long, fine, endless spinning projects that were sapping both my energy and my enthusiasm, and I was over it. Also, our adorable teapot needs a teacosy, so I resolved in an uncharateristically spur-of-the-moment decision to spin a yarn for a teacosy. (Teacosies, in my opinion, should be extravagant, gauche, and shameless. Thus you can picture the sort of yarn for which I was aiming, right?)

I selected a set of batts I got from AtomicBlue while I was getting her club shipments a while back (brilliant club – get thee hence!!! I mean it!), as well as a “sample” that came with another Etsy order, from Leanan. I say “sample” because this thing was huge! Pink, purple, blue, with tons of sparkle indiscriminately heaped in, it was the perfect sugary foil against the organic texture of Sara’s club batt. This baby was a revelation of fibre. Nary a sparkle came into it, but lots of snips of rainbow-coloured sock and novelty yarns, neps and scraps and drips of various and sundry fibres, ribbon and all sorts of other deliciousness. The batt actually didn’t seem to look like much before I opened it, but then…oh, the goodness. The dazzlement. I tried to get pics, but the brightness of the day and the fractious breeze conspired against me and they are horrid…nonetheless, I want to share. Here you go…

The whole spin took under two hours, I’d say, and for some reason as I was pondering its future name, my thoughts turned to the Unseen University’s compost heaps in Reaper Man, which come to life due to a combination of an overabundance of life hanging around (after the sacking of Death) and their inherent liveliness. The “upcycling” of materials into these wonderful batts made me think of making the most out of something, of life created where there was only waste, of unexpected directions. And so, it seemed inevitable that this become the next Pratchett Project yarn. I haven’t measured yardage yet, and this is still destined to become a teacosy…but not for our teapot.

Topsy Turvy

I’ve reached the end of the Discworld books.

I know. It’s tragic and sad and now that I’m forcing myself to read things other than Pratchett, I’m hating reading again. But never mind, all will be well.

In one often more recent books, we meet a colourful, winsome character dubbed Topsy Turvy. She’s an older dame, the widow of the manager of the Ankh-Morpork bank, and we intersect her life right after his death. She’s wildly eccentric and yet sharp as a rapier, and she sees through our favourite shyster, Moist von Lipwig, right away.

She cracks me up, because she swings violently between unutterably strange and terrifyingly perspicacious. One minute she’s playing up the soft old lady image, doting on her spoilt lap dog (who has, through the cruel whimsy of the newly late Bank manager, become the present Bank manager), and the next she’s cutting intellectual and ethical swathes through the serried ranks of lawyers and bankers breathily gagging for their mouthful of the corpse that is the Bank.

When a friend of mine gave me the above braid (from Knitty and Color, fantastic shoppe) of my favourite fibre, blue-faced Leicester, for my birthday last year and I saw the name of the colourway, I knew this had to become a Pratchett Project yarn, and I knew I had to pay homage to this lady who had such a keen grasp on the finer points of Life, the Universe, and Everything (if I may cross-contaminate my British literary giants, thank you very much).

Now, clearly, anything but a chain-ply or a single would likely end up with the yellow and the purple lining up with each other at some point or another, and we simply cannot have that; Topsy was eccentric, certainly, but far from chaotic. So I want to ply it against some black merino, and just for the sheer fun of it, I’m going to add a giant challenge in, which will also be a nod to Molly’s favourite technique of plying.

I’m going to chain ply the two singles alternately. By that, I mean I’m going to do a chain of the biffle, holding the merino alongside, and then pull a chain of the merino through, and then go back to the biffle, and so on. That should give me a yarn where I move slowly through the colours and they don’t mix, and where I get stretches of intense saturated purple or yellow alternating with stretches of milder colour toned down by the black, and now and then an almost entirely black section. The striping will be incredible.

I’m going to do a test sample, though. I don’t want to spin the whole lot up only to find that I can’t manage this funky technique, and be forced to settle for a 2-ply yarn ( I don’t like 2-ply yarns for knitting – of you’re curious about why, see my post today on my other blog).

Stripping Batts

It never ceases to amaze me, how many different ways there are to muck around with fibre. See, I could, if I wanted, just spin straight from these batts. But it would be more difficult to get the effect I want, and to get a nice even yarn (not that it’s turning out to be all that even anyway – singles I hate you!).

So. I have found that for what I’m trying to do, it’s easier to spin from rovings than batts – they’re airier and come out less lumpy. To this end, I sat down to process half the fibre I’ve got set aside for this yarn. First I stripped the batts, tearing them lengthways into narrower batts. Then I pulled them through my dodgy DIY diz, drafting as I went to loosen the fibres and get more air into the rovings. Each roving was then wound into a little rosette.

Stripped batts, diz and rovings

One of the batts had fairly pronounced sections of different colours and textures. Because I’m spinning quite a fine yarn, and it’s going to be a single-ply, this could result large sections of my green being either bright shiny bamboo, or dark brown wool, or annoyingly tufty camel down. I want a more cohesive, mixed yarn, so I stripped that batt quite widely, into only four pieces.

Roughly carded batt - I need the colours to mix a bit more

Then I dizzed them extra carefully, stretching out the sections of bright bamboo or dark wool etcetera, as best I could, to end up with a more mixed roving.

Carefully dizzing the wide batt section

Fairly well mixed roving

And voila! Lots of little parcels of rovings, all ready to spin. But for today, I’ve spent hours chained to the wheel already so I’m not going to start on it just now . . .

Fluffy little roving flowers

This blog is meant to document and share my process as I explore the creation of yarn as an interpretation of a richly-imagined fantasy series – the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. Many of the themes, elements and even phrases in the books have captured my (dormant) writer’s imagination, and I feel the need to express my impressions through my current medium of choice. So. Here we are.

At this stage, most of the yarns I have planned are probably going to be wheel-spun; however, as I do prefer spindle-spinning to wheel-spinning, I may well be using my growing spindle collection towards this project. Some – if not all! – of the yarns will have multiple iterations/incarnations, both to practice and perfect technique and to tweak the visual and textural elements to more accurately portray my inner vision of what I’m trying to create. And if all goes well, perhaps . . . just perhaps, I may move to Phase Two of The Project . . . but that is a long way down the track and Let’s Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves.

I’d like to quickly mention Ravelry; the guys and girls there have been instrumental in taking me, in the space of a year, from being an unimaginative and very unaccomplished knitter to being a wide-eyed, constantly impressed spinner-who-(sometimes)knits. I have learnt so much, I have made so many friends, and the input from so many Ravelers has indirectly had much influence on my embarking on this Project.

Please join me and comment, critique, add thoughts. Whether you’re here because you love the books, or because you love yarn, or because you love me (ha!) please make yourself known.