Tag Archive: woollen

Confession time

Ten days later, I’m back! Sorry. I’ve been working on the newest yarn, I promise. Life exploded and went nuclear on me last week, so I’ve barely had time to photograph the fibre, let alone compose a post about this yarn.

So, it’s confession time. Most of my good friends know me well enough to know that I have a rather unhealthy fetish for attraction to redheads. Yup, true story. Particularly if they’re short of stature and left-handed, but that’s another story. So. When we were introduced to Carrot Ironfoundersson in Men At Arms, I was head over heels in love straight away! I can’t help myself, what can I say.

He’s a stereotypical character. He’s a kind of repository for all that is ideal, or simply stated, or obvious. Nevertheless, he’s a paradox in that he appears completely naive while inside he actually understands in great detail the complexities of every situation . . . and then he goes ahead and behaves as though he’s naive anyway. And everyone goes along with it.

Clockwise from top - Oldsheep batts, Enchanted Knoll batts, Eliade roving

To represent his simplicity and naivete, I wanted to do a basic 3-ply yarn, straight and plain. The colour scheme is dominated by reds and oranges, because I can’t help myself. There are more types of fibre in this yarn, though, than I can name – including various types of wool, silk throwster’s waste, sari silk threads, firestar and others. I like this mixture – quite apart from the fun of spinning such varied textures, I think it represents Carrot’s strange patchwork upbringing as well as the melting-pot of Ankh-Morpork where he came of age. I particularly like the streak of that sort of faded, tired royal blue through one of the batt sets – I think that particular blue is synonymous with policemen and having it really ties the idea of Carrot to the city in the visual appeal of this fibre.

So there you have the fibre. I’m halfway through a bobbin of the roving braid, spinning quite fine with a supported long draw on my Ashford Traditional. It’s fun to spin and I hope to have some yarn to show you guys before long!

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

Dizzy Ptarmigans

Well, they would be, if you spun them, wouldn’t they?

I’ve started spinning the brown ply of the Reversed Ptarmigan yarn. I’m pretty confident on this yarn as it’s not as demanding artistically as the (ongoing) Hedgehog yarn, so I’m going all out. I’ve divided my brown mixed fibre into two equal halves by weight in order to come at the cabling from the right sort of angle. I wasn’t too fussy on how fine it was to be spun but I wanted the final result somewhere in the 8-ply (DK) to 12-ply (aran/bulky) weight range. Plenty of wiggle room. I’m toying with the idea of some funky plying in the first plying pass, but I’ll see when I get there. Long way to go yet, as once I started spinning the brown it kind of wanted to be spun pretty fine; I’ll probably end up on the finer end of my target range.

Sayra’s batts are really lovely and chunky; I admire her work so much because of the incredible texture she manages to maintain in her batts. However, for this yarn, I really needed something smoother, so I had to do something with the batt. This is what it looked like when I started:

Fieldmouse batt as received from Sayra (ignore the random bit of pink fluff)

Now, I prefer the results I get when I hand-card fibre, but my big hand cards are currently on loan to a friend and I was NOT going to use the little ones or I’d be there forever. So I got all brave and used the Ashford drum carder I’ve got on hire from the Perth Handweavers’, Spinners’ and Dyers’ Guild. Because this carder is quite small and I frankly suck at using it, I made sure and split the batt into small bits in order to get a smooth result. What came out was actually quite nice:

Re-carded batts

For the record, I felt a bit bad carding the batts again. I sort of felt like I was running roughshod over Sayra’s work, but I hope she understands my intention and the need for it.