Sunday, January 18, 2015

Speed Spinning

While I was home with a sick Rainbow earlier in the week, I found that I was too anxious about her to knit, but I could manage to spin. As a result, there's been a lot going on and coming off the wheels this week.

I mentioned last week that I'd started spinning my Fat Cat Knits Shetland the previous Friday. I finished spinning up the first bobbin on Sunday, spun up the second on Monday, and plied the whole skein on Tuesday. It was a quick and dirty spin, but I'm still pretty happy with the resulting skein.

I spun each colorway braid separately and then plied them together. Both had wonderful depth of color thanks to the fiber (a "swirl" blend of ecru and black Shetland), and there was enough variety in the dyed colors that the yarn barberpoles pretty much throughout. After washing, the yarn is roughly sportweight and 282.5 yards for my 5 oz. I have no idea what to do with it -- perhaps a hat or some mittens. For now, it's going to marinate in the stash.

Almost as soon as this skein was off the miniSpinner, I pulled out something new. You may remember that a couple of months ago, I received a package from Louet (courtesy of the nice folks over at Stitchcraft Marketing) with some fiber to spin and review. With the frigid weather we've had recently, I've decided I need some new wool mittens, so I thought it would be a perfect use for the 8 oz. of Manx Loaghtan top in the package. I'm spinning it into a three-ply worsted/Aran weight, and I think it'll be great to use for something cabled.

I've spun this breed once before but didn't know much about it, so I pulled out my handy copy of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook to do a little research. This breed is native to the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom and is considered a conservation breed. The sheep have fleeces in a variety of colors (white, gray, and black, for instance), but, as the authors note, "Today brown is by far the dominant color within the breed, an artifact of its near extinction and the breeding preferences of the individuals who brought it back from the brink. The lambs are born black and turn brown within weeks." The fiber can vary in its softness, and its staple length is usually 2.5-5 inches. The authors indicate that it can make a very durable yarn when spun worsted (as I am) and a very bouncy, relatively soft yarn when spun woolen. It's a fiber that's great for knit sweaters and socks or woven fabrics.

The fiber I have is the lovely moorit brown that's the most typical color, and I'm working from combed top. It is beautifully prepped, which means that it drafts effortlessly as I spin. I've not run into any significant VM or neps, which means there's very little stopping while I spin to pull those things out. I'll save a full review for when I'm done with the skein, but I will say that I'm really enjoying it.

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