Tag Archive: spinning

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.

Mischievous Old Lady

Why, hello there! It’s so lovely to be back. And look, I have a finished yarn to show you! Here is the first skein of Topsy-Turvy, as dyed by KnittyandColor, and double-chain-plied by me. I don’t mind telling you, I’m very excited to see how this knits. I think the fabric will be very exciting, and I’m toying with different ideas to really show off the spun-in stripes.


The technique went well, on the whole, except that I had difficulty spinning the black Ashland Bay merino with a worsted draw, so ended up doing a mix of semi-worsted and supported long draw throughout, which led inevitably to a considerably finer single than the coloured blue-faced leicester single. This caused me some problems during plying, but leaving aside the dozen or so breaks in the black single that I had to repair at some cost to my spinning serenity, I’m pretty pleased with how it worked out. And how fun is this yarn? It’s quite fine – about an 8-ply weight, I estimate – and ever so bouncy-squooshy.


And yes, that is a technical term.


Spinning for Stripes

So you remember last time we spoke I was about to launch into an adventure in plying? Well, I’ve finished my practise run today, and I’m over the moon with the result! I don’t know that you’ll be able to see the effect as it’s very subtle in the yarn and the swatch, but it does prove the concept (and more importantly, proves that I’m capable of doing a double chain-ply!).


I chose two samples of Ashland Bay for my practise run; one in a charmingly background shade of bleige, and the other in, I believe, the “Daffodil” colourway. I’m not generally a fan of AB top, because I find it to have a “dead” feeling in my hand and it clumps together strongly during spinning and gives the kind of dense yarn that I generally try to avoid. But the AB line fills what I think is an important niche, catering for the batt-making artistes whose work I enjoy so much, and anyway, for the purpose of this exercise it was adequate.

I won’t go into detail on the process – chain-plying (also and erroneously known as Navajo plying) is well-documented on YouTube and the only point of difference here was that I was pulling alternating singles through the loop as I plied, carrying the unlooped single along with the loops. Boring, no? No big pitfalls – have a tensioned Kate, set yourself and your wheel up before you start, and try to keep your loops the same length.

Now to the interesting part – the pictures!! Singles, plied yarn on the bobbin, washed skein and blocked swatch. It’s probably hard for you to see the striping but it is most definitely there, albeit both shorter and more subtle than I intended. The four-ply yarn came out to an 8-10 ply sort of weight, or DK to worsted.






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!

It’s just so much larger than life. It’s pretty, it’s ugly, it’s daring and bold and utterly uncaring about what you think. It was such fun to spin something quick and fun and huge! The instant (or almost, anyway) gratification really boosted my optimism after getting a bit bogged down in the other two that are ongoing.

The two batts seemed to dance with one another in a really special drama – the foppish Frog Prince evoking overdressed, bewigged, powdered, gold-braided lords and the ladylike, coquettish Peeps batt, with slashed sleeves revealing hot pink, royal purple and teal underskirts and lots, and lots of cleavage. I spun them with a sexy, stately, decadent waltz in mind, the rhythm of the dance creating thick and thin spots in the yarn that twined around one another, each one showcasing the other at the turns of the dance.

I ended up with just over 50m of 2-5wpi, super super bulky yarn, 250-ish grams in total. And I just love it so much, in case you couldn’t tell. One of these days I’ll figure out how to put in a photo album, rather than subject you to all these shots in the post. But what the hell – the photos are what it’s all about, huh?

It’s Tour de Fleece time at the moment, and I wasn’t wise and made some rookie errors in my planning for the great event. I planned to “get out of the way” a whole heap of “boring” spins, including interminable 3-plies and pounds and pounds of Wensleydale for a rug I’m going to weave. I’ve managed to get myself pretty down in the mouth about it, as things weren’t going according to plan; plus, I really felt the lack of thinking about, keeping up with, and generally plotting for this Project.

So I got home tonight and stood in front of the stash cupboard the way men stand in front of the fridge. You know, when they yell out to you, “Honey, what is there to eat?” while staring at the makings of any number of delicious things. Yep, that was me. All that gorgeous fibre (and I do have a lot, and it is beautiful), and not a yarn to spin.

Until, that was, my eye lit upon the batts I carded a while back, that I posted about on my other blog. They look, to me, like nothing so much as an impressionist landscape; all that blue and brown and green with the floofy white angora highlights.

I simply had to use them to illustrate the Discworld, even though I love the batts and want to keep them for myself (and the PP yarns are destined to be knit into FOs that I ultimately want to sell). Sir Terry’s intros into so many of the books start with “This is the Discworld…” and there is that vivid sense of scale, vastness, scope and perspective, of zooming in and seeing the wondrous sight of a flat world perched on four elephants that stand on a giant space turtle (yes, it will get its turn on the wheel ;)). I really wanted to spin it, and try to do it justice. I hope this has done that.

And just for an extra challenge, I wanted to insert “clouds” by making little twists of undyed top and coiling them around the single. I’m not sure if these are technically called “coils” or what – Jacey Boggs teaches them in her DVD, Sit & Spin, but I just lent that to a friend so I had to try and guess at the technique! I was really inspired by Carrie craftypuppylover‘s “Unicorn Farts” (rainbow yarn with white coils).

Soooo, anyway, after all that – no pics. Srsly, it’s nearly 11pm here and not only am I just Not Equipped Emotionally for camera -> puter -> internet -> blog, I just can’t get a good shot anyway. I’ve got the yarn draped on the heater to try and dry (freezing temps overnight here last night, and I reckon the same will happen tonight, so drying takes a bit of effort) and I’ll try for a good one sometime tomorrow, even if I have to take the yarn to the nice park down the road from my office at lunchtime. Promise. Well, I promise to try.

I just dunno…

So, I thought to sample the yarn as I wasn’t sure the three batts were going to coordinate as well as I first thought they would. I’d spun half a bobbin of each of the Eliade roving and the Enchanted Knoll batts, so I dizzed the Oldsheep batt with some natural brown alpaca (to give it some extra softness and also make it go a little further – this batt was smaller) and spun a quick sample on a Bristlecone spindle, then plied on a Tilt-a-Whorl spindle.

Left bobbin: Enchanted Knoll batt. Right bobbin: Eliade roving. Bristlecone Spindle: Oldsheep batt and alpaca

Plied yarn on Tilt-a-whorl spindle

Before washing

Then I skeined it up and washed it with a little shampoo in hot water, whacked it and set it to dry in the brisk wind.

Washed skeinlet

What do you guys think? I’m over the moon with the yarn itself – it’s about a sock-weight but very light and airy. The different colours have really come together well and the variation is so rich and deep. I just don’t think it gels right with my “vision” of what I wanted to say about Carrot. I think I need something less complicated, larger and perhaps chain-plied.

Please let me know what you think!

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.