Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pretty in Purple

Pretty in Purple
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
And now, for a monster spinning update.

I've been wrestling with a mild repetitive-stress injury (self-diagnosed) that left me with aching arms and difficulty gripping my knitting needles. There was this sense that as I knit, I was making things worse, but it didn't actually hurt. At least, not yet. So being body-aware, I decided to leave things off for a while and try something else that wouldn't aggravate my arms, or at least not bother them in the same way.

A day later my arms really started to ache along the tendons, so I counted it a good deal, and on the advice of a friendly P.T. began to douse myself to the elbow in ice-water and a warm bath on a 3-minutes-cold / 3-minutes-hot cycle for up to 15 minutes at a time. It's amazing what properly applied cold and heat can do!

In order to distract myself from my waiting knitting projects, I pulled out my lovely purple fiber that I got as a Christmas gift, and my new Bosworth 22-gram Midi spindle, and got to working. This fiber is a Corriedale / Romney / Alpaca blend, and before you ask "Why that blend" let me remind you ... it was a GIFT. It's also fabulously dyed ranging from powder blue and lavender to deep royal blue and rich purple.

My first thought for it was a lace-weight shawl, but after petting it for a while, and consulting more experienced spinners, we all arrived upon the conclusion that this stuff is a bit too hardy for a lace wrap. Corriedale and Romney are both long-wool breeds (more or less), and long wools are better suited for hard-wearing outer garments. Sock yarn, my spinning friend suggested. Spin the heck out of the plies and then three-ply them with lots of twist. So that's what I attempted to do!

40 grams
Here, we can see one third of the roving. It's actually slightly more. The bag was labeled 4.4 ounces, so I spun up what I thought would measure 1/3 of that, but ended up being 40 grams. Close enough. I went on to spin the remaining 2/3 in 37-gram sections. The first cop and second, I wound off onto toilet paper rolls with my ball-winder. The third I left on the spindle. This was because I knew my spinning started a fair amount thinner and thickened as I got more fiber on the spindle. By working from the 'tail' end of one cop, and the 'front' end of the other two, I was able to even out the thickness a bit over the entire length.

Makeshift Kate
Here we can see my "bobbins" on a makeshift kate (a "lazy kate" is intended to hold multiple bobbins of yarn to allow you to spin the singles on them them back together as plies). I wound these three bobbins together onto a ball to use for plying. This is a great suggestion made by Abby Franquemont of Abby's Yarns, a very knowledgeable hand-spinner. The benefit of this technique is that it leaves you with an extremely portable storage "container" for your yarn, rather than having to tote around your kate wherever you are going.

100g wound on ball
At this point in time I have plied about 80 grams (of 120g total). My spindle is starting to get VERY heavy and the excitement of having a soon-finished yarn is wearing off under the realization of how much further I still have to go.

I'm still pretty excited about it all. I should finish with over 300 yards of fingering-weight yarn in lovely colors, ready for whenever I finish enough projects that I can actually get around to knitting it up!

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