Sunday, May 10, 2020

Two Heads Are Better than One

This past week, I've been spinning an old shipment from the HipStrings Synergy fiber club. I think I only spun one shipment when it actually arrived, so I have a few left to spin yet. This one had two 4 oz. bags of combed top with the same blend of fibers -- 75% dyed wool, 12.5% tussah silk, and 12.5% flax -- but the difference was the type of wool. One bag was Corriedale and the other Merino. These wools aren't too dissimilar, but the point of the fiber study in this shipment was the difference in how they'd take the dye and thus have slight differences in appearance. The colorway of the fiber was Janus, after the two-headed Roman deity -- seems appropriate!

I decided to spin both bags exactly the same way -- worsted, relatively fine, and end to end -- and then ply the resulting singles back on themselves. The first bobbin of singles spun up very quickly (because work was pretty quiet at the beginning of the week), but it took me a bit longer to get to the second batch of fiber. Still, by the weekend, I had two matching bobbins (and I should note, for anyone who is curious, that in the two following photos, the Corriedale singles area on the left and the Merino singles are on the right):

To ply from both ends, I wound off the singles from each bobbin using my ball winder to get a yarn "cake." I did that earlier this afternoon, though the Merino cake didn't cooperate quite as well as the Corriedale.

Plying from both ends of a center-pull ball like this is a bit tricky because there's a tendency for tangles to form, so it's a matter of taking it slow and, I've discovered, holding the yarn cake sideways so that the outer end can be pulled cleanly off the outside while the other end pulls from the center.

I'm hoping the other ball is a little less messy when I get to it! I decided to ply the Merino first because it looked less tidy but also because I knew I had overspun some parts of the singles, so as I ply, I'm taking care to get out that extra twist. It takes some extra time, but I like how it's plying up:

I was kind of hoping to have both skeins of yarn done by today to show you, but given that I was dealing with 8 oz. of fiber total, I think I did pretty well!

It's hard to believe that another weekend is already almost over, but this was a pretty good one. Yesterday we got to meet some friends' newborn daughter via FaceTime. Today we picked up plants for our garden and visited with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law at a safe distance. It was definitely a big strange and sad not to have our usual Mother's Day brunch, but I am thankful to at least be home with my immediate family and to know that the extended family is all safe and healthy. I've requested that my family give me the Mother's Day gift of letting me watch my Sunday evening PBS shows in real time for once -- I am easy to please! I am hopeful that the week ahead will be a good one, with better weather (would you believe it snowed here on Friday?) and more time to craft. I know Mother's Day is a hard day for many people, and no doubt this year it's difficult even for those of us who usually celebrate it happily, so whatever the case may be for you, I hope you were able to to find some joy and relaxation today.


  1. That looks complicated! But gorgeous!

    Your Mother's Day sounds lovely. I hope you enjoyed your PBS shows! Other than Masterpiece, which shows do you tend to watch? I'd like to develop a PBS habit as well :)

  2. I'm imagining that you must have plied with patience as those twists look like they could spell danger! It is a lovely silvery-gray and taking your time is paying off. I hope you got to watch PBS and enjoyed it!

  3. I'm glad you had a Happy Mother's Day, despite the differences this year...while I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday, she was looking forward to ending her day with Call the Midwife :) (our favorite). Looks like you have a lot of patience, Sarah--that plying looks like it requires a lot!

  4. I think you've just demonstrated why . . . it's a good thing I don't spin. ;-) Once you tame it, that yarn will be so lovely. (And it sounds like a perfect Mother's Day gift to me. XO)

  5. I love those colors! Wow!! (and go you on center pull ball spinning - that is not a task for the faint of heart!)

  6. another fun lesson in making yarn - thank you! and what are you watching on PBS?? the last thing we watched was the documentary on the Vatican that gave me corona-nightmares because of the total lack of social distancing!