Sunday, June 20, 2010

Into the Whirled - SAL "Just Figs"

April's offering for the Spin-a-Long fiber was "56s Falkland" wool, which translates into a lovely, soft braid of fiber that is a bit more durable than Merino. Falkland wool comes from an area, rather than a breed, and so this is "probably Corriedale" wool. The colorway for this braid is "Just Figs" and I just love it. I wasn't so sure about the yellow/green portions, but they blend in with the red and purple so well, I just fell in love!

ITW - Just Figs SAL
After getting this gorgeous braid, I pondered exactly how I wanted to spin it. I'm a fan of three-ply fingering weight. It's so versatile. I like to knit socks, mittens, gloves, scarves and hats. Four ounces of fingering weight will do all of these (and in most cases there will be plenty left over)! And the colors were so lovely, I didn't want them to get jumbled up. So rather than just spinning the whole thing and seeing how the colors fell out, I decided to "Navajo ply" my yarn. First I did my best to split the long braid right down the middle. In theory, this would get me two identical skeins with the same striping of colors.

Then I did my best to spin them both the same thickness throughout. Spinners will know that the skill of spinning both halves exactly the same is a challenge you can work on your entire life and not achieve mastery. That's okay. I came out with two "pretty close" skeins!

Just Figs - ITW SAL
Now I want to take a moment here to discuss Navajo plying . This is a method that stirs up a fair amount of controversy in the spinning world (or at least in my little corner of it). Some argue it is not a "true 3-ply yarn" because it is made with a brilliant little trick. You pull one single into long crochet loops and then spin the resulting length. This doubling-back turns one strand into three, and on top of that, because you can judge exactly how long to make each loop, you can keep sections of color together with no mixing at all! The other side of this technique is that because you are pulling the single into loops, there are points where it doubles back on itself as if it were a "knot" in the yarn. These points can be weaker than the rest. In theory they are weaker than three separate side-by-side strands plied together. But no-one seems to have tested it to failure, and I'm too busy spinning and knitting to do it. So I guess for me the question will remain up in the air.

Now, I wanted two striping skeins of yarn because I had this brilliant idea in the back of my head to do matching Fair Isle socks with the resulting yarn. The next challenge was what to use as the contrasting color.

Laughing Rat Studio
I happen to have some brown Falkland in my stash already and my first thought was to pair the two. So I began spinning it. This time it was going to be a true three-ply yarn because I had no desire to preserve any striping in it, but rather I wanted to even out the color through the whole braid.

Laughing Rat - Falkland in Harvest
This came out to be a really lovely yarn, as well. But tonally it is just too close to the purple and red. Both fade into it rather than pop out. While it is a wonderful skein of yarn, I think it is destined to be a fingering-weight shawl (using the Brandywine pattern).

Happily, I wasn't totally out of luck. Cris (the dyer) also creates "coordinating braids". These are semi-solid braids in the same fiber as the SAL braid and are intended to be spun with (or separately from) the SAL fiber. I questioned her about one she had up called "Tea" and her fabulous response was, "I'm not sure.. how about I send you a sample!".

ITW Just Figs and Tea
And she did.

What do you think? I think this one is a winner. I've already spun up the sample yarn and it evens out to a lovely green that makes me want to brew Japanese green tea and have plum sweets with it.

I bought a braid of "Tea" (along with something else I'll probably be sharing in weeks to come) and I'll be spinning that up, next. Hopefully it will pair well and the two yarns will yield some stunning socks!

1 comment:

Araignee said...

They are all so gorgeous. I can't wait to see what they become!