Now, sampling is something I don’t like doing. I feel like I’m wasting – wasting fibre, wasting time, over-committing to something because once I get on a track I find it really hard to change my mind. But this sampling story is one with a happy ending! I guess I could have been slightly more stringent about it, but I’m not planning a fitted garment with this yarn so I’ll give myself a bit of leeway.

I am planning a single-ply yarn that will knit, in an open lace stitch something like Kieran Foley’s Sound of Waves stitch pattern, into a snakeskin-like colour pattern. In order to get this, I know I need to spin alternately from the three different batts. My only real questions are what weight single to spin, and how long to make the colour repeats.

The first answer is pretty arbitrary – I don’t want anything too thick because that would make the patterning clumsy, while fine laceweight is categorically out of the question, after the Ptarmigan experience. Because the two green batts are quite similar in colour and the green thus dominates the mix, I feel that the yellow will be the counterpoint or feature colour in the mix.

I got a new spinning wheel yesterday, and was fool enough to try and spin my sample yarn on it! Silly me – but there was no stopping me, of course. It’s a Majacraft Aura and I love it, but it’s a bit of a learning curve, so my yarn was a bit . . . well, shit. It’s yarn, by the most generous definition, but it definitely needs improvement, chiefly to get it more consistently in the sport/5-ply weight range I decided on. The respective lengths of the colours varied between about thirty centimetres and about sixty centimetres. I think I panicked a little in the green sections and ended up not making those as long, so it’s a bit shy on the green. Here is a crap night-time bobbin shot that hides the imperfect single nicely:

Notional Serpent sample on the bobbin

I whipped it off the bobbin and onto the niddy-noddy, thankfully without it drifting apart at any point, then gave it a quick wash and hung it to dry overnight. When I came home today, it was dry and ready to knit up!

Serpent sample, wet-finished and dried

I cast on 33 stitches using 4mm needles, and just as I got to the end of the first knit row, I had a brain fart.

Short rows.

Out went all the fancy lace stitches, and I went with erratic, crazy short rows in plain garter stitch. My aim was to pool the yellow in a matrix of green, so I ended up with spots and splodges of bright yellow standing out against that wonderful rich multi-toned green background. And I love what I got. This is my little swatch, which is about fifteen centimetres by eight centimetres. I can’t tell you how much I love it.

Snakeskin swatch

I think I’ll go up a needle size when it comes time to knit, as this is very scarf-like and doesn’t have a lot of drape and I definitely want some drape in the FO. But this is a great start, very very encouraging. It’s highlighting so many things to me – that not only is there endless scope within the fibre arts for creation of a particular effect, but that fibre and knitting are very forgiving crafts that will express your vision very truthfully, if only you have the courage to give something a go.