March 1, 2010
I recently finished my first real 3-ply yarn. It is made from 4 ounces of merino combed top, dyed by Into the Whirled. I found the Into the Whirled group on ravelry, just in time to join the January-February spin along. Everyone starts with the same fiber in the same colorway, and spins it up. Its been fun to see the different results that the spinners came up with.
The fiber comes in one thick strip, dyed in different colors throughout. I decided to try a 3-ply and started by splitting the top into 3 parts lengthwise, creating 3 thinner strips from the original length. Each of the three parts would be spun onto a separate bobbin, then plied together at the end. I didn't necessarily want the colors to match up, so I stripped the fiber further, into 3, 4 or 5 thin strips. Then I predrafted a bit, loosening up the fiber so it moved smoothly, and rolled the fiber into balls, all the while keeping the original 3 parts separate.
The spinning seemed to take forever. I tried to see just how thin I could spin. Even though the fiber wasn't superwash, and I knew I wouldn't use it for socks, I wanted to see how close I could get to a sock-weight yarn.
Merino is tricky! I've heard that it is not the best for beginners, and would modify that to say *dyed* merino is not the best for beginners. It just seemed to resist drafting. Right after I finished spinning for this fiber, I tried some undyed merino top, and there was a world of difference. The undyed merino moved much more smoothly. It felt like a different fiber. I think this is just a natural part of the dyeing process, and not anything specific to Into the Whirled, because when a fiber soaks up water in the dyeing process, it crimps up, and holds onto its neighbors.
Once the 3 bobbins were spun, I let them rest overnight, then set them up on the lazy kate for plying.
At first, the colors matched up and created areas of the same color in the yarn. Then, as the plying went on, the colors became more variegated.
Amazingly, the finished yarn ended up much thinner than I expected. It really could be sock yarn! 581 yards from 4 ounces.
This is definitely the yarn I am most proud of so far in my spinning adventures. It felt like an epic amount of spinning. I was just not used to spinning for a couple hours and making (what seemed to be) so little progress. The whole process took two weeks from start to finish. In the end I am really happy with how it turned out. Its probably just a matter of practice to get faster and more comfortable with dyed merino and spinning thin.
For now I'll take a break from 3-ply and go back to a little thicker spinning and some nice 2-ply yarns!