Crossing The Finish Line

The 2014 Tour de Fleece ended last Saturday. I realize I’m a little late posting my finish line, but what can I say? I’m a world class procrastinator. 🙂

My TdF 2014 was quite the success. I reached all my goals and ended up with a lot of really nice hand-spun yarn and some new, still developing skills.

My TdF 2014 results

The yarn in the foreground is a chain-plied Merino from Greenwood Fiberworks in the color way “Holly Berry.” I wanted to improve both my skill at drafting merino and my skill at chain-plying. Both skills need lots more work, but with each project, I see improvement. The final tally for the Holly Berry Merino yarn is approximately 430 yards/127g of self-striping, sport weight yarn.

Merino chain-plied to make a self-striping yarn

I love the soft, cushy yarn, but I’m still not in love with spinning Merino wool top. It’s a bit of a challenge to draft, especially compared to BFL, Corriedale, Polwarth, and Falkland. I find Merino roving much more enjoyable to spin than Merino top–I love spinning Loop Bullseye Bumps–but I’m not giving up on Merino top. I have more in my stash and will keep working toward more consistent drafting.

The big white skein directly above the Holly Berry is a plying experiment that turned out much better than I had anticipated. Here’s the back story. Remember when I was knitting Hazel Carter’s Spider Queen Shawl? I had bought a kit from Blackberry Ridge that included both the pattern and enough B-R Thistledown yarn to knit the shawl. I swatched with the Thistledown and was very unhappy with the results.

The Thistledown yarn was too thick-and-thin to use for Spider Queen.

 

The yarn is a cobweb weight singles that unfortunately is overly thick and thin. I ended up knitting Spider Queen in J & S cobweb, which is also a bit thick and thin, but not to the same degree as Thistledown. Anyway, I ended up with a lot of Thistledown in my stash that I knew I would never use for knitting a lace shawl.

What to do with all this Thistledown? Sure, I could sell or trade it on Ravelry, but, I wondered, what would happen if I plied the singles together? I had never tried plying mill-spun singles together, and I was curious to learn how they would behave. The singles had a Z-twist, which means they had been spun clockwise, so I plied the singles together with an S-twist, counterclockwise.

Thistledown made into a 2-ply yarn on my Ladybug

Each skein of Thistledown was approximately 700 yards, and I ended up with just a little over 600 yards/4.5 oz of 2-ply fingering weight yarn. I thought I would lose more yardage than that.

Doesn’t the 2-ply look fabulous on the bobbins? So imagine my horror when I first took the yarn off the niddy noddy and saw this!

Curly yarn!

The yarn curled up like crazy, and I was afraid it had been way over-plied. This wouldn’t be the end of the world because I could always run the yarn back through my spinning wheel going clockwise to take some of the twist out, but I decided to finish the yarn before deciding whether it needed some tweaking. The yarn was still pretty curly when I took it out of the soak, but I thwacked it on the bathtub and it relaxed and balanced itself perfectly.

My 2-ply Thistledown decided to behave after a bath and a good thwacking.

I really couldn’t be happier with the results I got. Of course, the real test will come in knitting up a swatch and blocking it to see how the yarn behaves in the wild. 🙂

The two beautiful Ashford bobbins at the top of the first picture are filled with singles spun from a Loop Bullseye Bump in the Sizzle color way. I spun the roving end to end onto two bobbins. After the TdF, I plied the singles together and the finished yarn is on the drying rack as I type. But since the plying wasn’t part of my TdF, no pictures of the finished yarn will appear in this post.

The remaining yarn is all my silk spinning. The beautiful skein of golden yarn is spun from Tussah silk sliver made into a 2-ply yarn. The small skein is a 2-ply made from Bombyx silk hankies, and the larger hank is 2-ply made from Bombyx silk caps. I enjoyed spinning the hankies; the caps, not so much. But both yarns are really nice.

The brown bobbin at the top of the first picture holds the singles I spun from some Bombyx silk sliver.

Sixteen grams of Bombyx silk sliver ready to be spun

The Tussah silk sliver was heavenly to spin, but the Bombyx silk sliver was beyond heavenly.

I haven’t decided what to the with the Bombyx singles yet.

Bombyx silk sliver singles on the bobbin

I am leaning toward plying them with a singles spun from wool of some sort sometime in the future, or maybe with some Thistledown. I still have a lot of it. A. Lot. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the Tour de Fleece as much as I did.

6 thoughts on “Crossing The Finish Line

  1. I’m glad you found something to do with your thistledown and that it turned out so well. I’ve never tried plying commercial singles before.

    • Plying commercial singles is interesting, to say the least. I was hoping plying would help even out the thick-and-thin extremes, and it definitely did. I’m not fond of singles yarn and generally avoid it like the plague, so I’m pretty happy I found a way to salvage the Thistledown (assuming it behaves well when knitted up).

      • They seem to be very popular at the moment, but they aren’t my cup of tea. They have a tendency to bias, and I’m not fond of how one leg of the knit stitch is angled while the other is nearly vertical. But my biggest beef with them is that they tend to pill and fuzz and look tatty in very short order. When a yarn tag says 1-ply and/or superwash wool, I tend to run away screaming. (Superwash wool that is blended with Nylon is an exception, as long as it has 2 or more plies.)

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