Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Sock Yarn Experiment

Over in the Spin Doctor Ravelry group, several of us have started an informal spinalong to try out some new techniques for spinning sock yarn. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to use up some of the Crown Mountain Farms fiber in my stash, specifically some that I bought in a weak moment during one of their sales a few years ago. (Incidentally, they're having their spring sale right now. Yes, I am happy to enable.)

I used some of the Corriedale pencil roving, which comes in 8 oz. bundles. I didn't see the need to spin up that much, so I split the fiber in half, giving me 4 oz. to work with now and 4 oz. to do something else with later. I decided to spin up two skeins of yarn, one for each sock, so that I could compare the durability of the skeins/yarns, so I split that 4 oz. in half. Then I split each half into thirds; two-thirds of each half was spun onto one bobbin and the remaining third was spun onto another. All the singles, with the exception of one of the smaller bobbin's worth, were spun in the normal direction (Z). That one smaller bobbin's worth was spun S. Then I plied three singles at a time -- using both larger bobbins and one smaller one. When I used up all the singles on the smaller bobbin, I broke the other singles and started plying using the other small bobbin.

Still with me?

I plied the regular three ply first, then the opposing ply skein (the one with one ply going in the same direction as plying). The effect is that the opposing ply skein is much springier and twisty than a traditional three ply; this is supposed to add to the durability of the yarn.

Here are the two skeins freshly off the plying bobbin. Both are a little twisty because the plying twist is still active (this is before washing and finishing).

Traditional three ply on the top, opposing ply on the bottom

Here's a closeup for comparison:

Both skeins went into a hot bath, after which I vigorously snapped both of them by putting my arms in the middle of the skein and then stretching them out. After they'd dried, the change was significant, though you can still spot the difference in the skeins:

The opposing ply skein is still a little kinked up, but the skein hangs relatively straight. I ended up with approximately 190 yards of the traditional three ply and 153 yards of the opposing ply (there's more of the former because I started with that one and ran out of normal singles on the second skein).

Eventually I'm going to use the remaining 4 oz. of this fiber for a 2x2 cabled yarn (essentially two two-ply yarns plied together), but I need a little break from the fine green spinning and started yarn for a hat for Rainbow -- the Falkland she picked out about a week ago.

This'll be a two ply, probably sport to DK once it's plied -- it's amazing how fast fiber spins up when you're not doing superfine singles!


  1. wow! That's a crazy difference when you add an opposing ply. They both look gorgeous!

    Rainbow is going to love her hat =D

  2. OK. I don't mean to pester you, but now I want to see the socks. Hurry, hurry!