Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Skills

For better or worse, I judge every commercial yarn on whether or not it would make good socks, because socks are my default project- no matter what else I have on the needles, there is always a pair (or three) in progress somewhere around the house.

I judge every fiber the same way- whether or not it would make good sock yarn. Not just because of the whole sock-obsession thing, but also because I have this inner feeling that in order to use the fiber properly, I need to get as much yardage out of it as I can. 4 ozs can turn into 400 yds of 2-ply laceweight yarn (more, if you're a spinner who can actually get more than 100 ypo), or it can be 375 yds of 2-ply fingering weight yarn, or it can be 350 yds of nice and firm 3-ply fingering weight yarn. Or it can be 300 yds of sportweight (still enough for socks). Or, it can be 200 yds of a heavier weight 2-ply.

My default spin is a hard, tight yarn with more yardage- perfect for socks. In fact, that's why I learned to spin in the first place: to make sock yarn. But I've produced a couple of squooshier, thicker yarns lately, and I've liked their look and texture. Sure, they won't work for socks, but there are other things I can knit besides socks (gasp!).

With that in mind, I spun the last two rovings deliberately larger and softer than my usual style, and I am very pleased with both.

The first was a 100% Superfine Wool roving (style: Puffy) from Twisted Fiberarts, in the Giles colorway (blues, gold, yellow, browns). I had intended to spin that wool as a 3-ply self striping for socks, but I also have a skein of Giles sock yarn that will be self-patterning socks (Twisted sells both yarn and roving, all hand dyed), so I decided just to split and spin the roving and let the colors come out as they wanted. I think the yarn will still be a tweedy stripe, but not with anything like a regular repeat. The yarn came out lovely and squooshy, and probably a sportweight (I'll knit it with size 3 or 4 needles)- it's 292 yds and 4.5ozs. It will probably end up being a hat or mittens.

The second was domestic wool (my guess: Corriedale) from A Knitting Duck, called Desert Stones (lovely shades of turquoise, tan, and charcoal). I just let the colors come out as they wanted in this yarn as well, and I spun the singles even heavier than Giles. The yarn came out beautifully squooshy (though not lofty- which I would like to manage too, though at the moment I spin too tightly for that), at probably a DK weight (size 4 needles, or maybe 5). I got 156 yds from 3.6 ozs. This will also end up being a hat or mittens (it's not enough for socks, so I can't be tempted to knit them with this yarn).

Though it still nags at me a bit to end up with so much less yardage, I am delighted to be learning another spinning skill- and I love the squooshy factor. I have another roving from A Knitting Duck, called Rusty Nail (reds, charcoal, green, tan), and I'm going to try for lofty with that- spinning and plying with less twist for a true worsted weight yarn. We'll see how it comes out.

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