Saturday, December 29, 2018

A trick I learned at PlyAway

Last spring I attended PlyAway. I learned a lot but wasn't sure much of it stuck in this sieve-like brain of mine. One idea I did retain was plying with silk to create a stronger yarn for weaving. I finally actually tried this out - well, the plying part, not the weaving part, yet.

This is a 3-ply yarn. Two plies I spun from some unknown roving, the third is commercial silk. I'm pleased with the results. (For the record, I spun this on my Ashford Joy 2 wheel, one notch down, then plied it on the same wheel but an additional notch down.) The silk adds a bit of sheen to the yarn, which I hope you can see in the photo below. If I were spinning a thicker yarn, the silk would probably disappear into the wool.

The logistics of adding the silk ply were surprisingly difficult because the silk was on a cone. I tried to simply put the cone on my 3-bobbin lazy kate, but the brake wouldn't keep the silk from spooling off too fast. I eventually unspooled some silk onto a swift but I had to put a rubber band around the shaft to keep it from spooling off too fast. If I decided to do more of this, I will just put the silk onto a bobbin of its own so I can put it on the lazy kate with the others.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Another plying experiment

A while back, I blogged about plying commercial yarn to create a bulkier end product. While my efforts worked, I wasn't that thrilled with the outcome. Recently it occurred to me that maybe I would like the results better if I first un-plied the commercial yarn, then plied more of it together. It couldn't hurt to try.

What I did was take samples of worsted weight yarn - Patons 100% wool, which is a 3-ply - and unplied each sample onto a separate bobbin. In other words, each bobbin contained all three plies but untwisted. Initially, I plied the yarn from two bobbins, creating a 6-ply yarn. Then I tested plying three samples together, from three bobbins, for a 9-ply. For each result, I set the twist using my usual method: soak yarn in warm water for 20 minutes, press out the moisture, then swing the skein around and around, finishing with a few snaps before hanging it in the shower to dry.

From left, 3-ply, 6-ply, 9-ply

I like the resulting yarn better than plying together plied yarn. The wraps-per-inch (wpi) were not as differentiated as I thought they would be, but do indicate I now have fatter yarn. The 9-ply would be good for weaving tapestries.




For comparison purposes, here is a pic of commercial 3-ply rug yarn. If I wanted to create a yarn fat enough for rugs, I would have to start with fatter yarn, maybe bulky or even super bulky. Perhaps I will try that next.

3-ply rug yarn

Do you know of anyone else experimenting with yarn like this? I'd like to compare notes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tightly plied

The frustrations I outlined in my previous posts got the better of me and I took a holiday from fiber for a while. That means a holiday from blogging as well. But recently I have at least picked up the baby cable socks - and am finally past the toes! - and am spinning again.

Much as I enjoy spinning, I hate, hate, hate plying. That is because I find it awkward, plus I am never very satisfied with the result. In October, I went to a spin-in at my enabler's shop and brought along some yarn I had spun from BFL top to be critiqued. Betty confirmed that the ply could be tighter, but otherwise thought it was a fine skein of yarn.

At this same spin-in, I was spinning a fine thread of some unknown roving. Another spinner commented on the fineness and suggested I move the drive belt on my wheel a notch, to achieve a tighter twist. This made a big difference! About a week later (I'm a little slow), it occurred to me that I could do the same when plying - move the belt a notch to put more twist into the yarn when plying without having to change my already awkward technique.

Since I had more BFL singles, I tested this idea. And it worked! Previously, I was getting 3.5 to 4 twists per inch, now it is more like 5 to 6. That doesn't sound like a big difference, but I could see right away that the yarn looked "smarter" (if that makes any sense).

I still have a ways to go before I achieve better consistency in both spinning and plying, but I feel like I am finally making some progress.