More Navajo Ply

Navajo Plied SkeinsHere’s the finished result — 3.25 oz of navajo plied merino. I haven’t counted the yardage. It’s approximately fingering weight.

After looking at it in day light, it didn’t look as bad as I thought it was. I think I might be able to make a pair of socks with this (I’ll use something else for the heels and toe that is a little more durable). I love it!

Thank you wendy e for your encouraging words. I took things a little slower with the second skein and really paid attention to what was happening. You are right, there is plenty of time to stop and untwist, if necessary. I didn’t have an opportunity to test out your suggestions for restarting the loops after a break, since the second skein didn’t break (and I wasn’t brave enough to purposely break the yarn just to test it out!).

Here are a few things that I’ve noticed while plying the second skein:

I need to be more consistent while spinning the single. With navajo plying, any thick spot is 3x as thick just because they become juxtaposed when plied. When plying from 2 or 3 singles, these thick and thin spots even each other out, since it is highly unlikely that you will get 2 thick areas on the singles at the same time.

Also, when moving from a thick area to a thin area, the transition is very noticeable at the end of the crochet loop.

But there is something really mesmerizing watching the flow of colors. Once you get into the rhythm of making the loops, you don’t have to think about that and you can start focusing on other things. Like the amount of twist that I’m putting in.

EliSpot with skeinI wasn’t the only one that really liked the feel of the merino yarn. EliSpot helped herself to the finished skein and started to play with it (on the dog blanket). Of course, when Martin grabbed the camera to take this shot, she gave us the feline version of the finger.

I’ve been re-reading (aka “looking at all the pretty pictures”) Twisted Sisters. Yesterday, I took some white rovings that I had a did a little Kool-Aide dyeing. I tried the spot method (page 24) and nuked them in the microwave (3 minutes on high, sit for 1-2 minutes, 3 more minutes on high). They didn’t turn out as dark as I would’ve like it. And it was more stripes than drops. Oh well. They should make nice socks nonetheless.

Navajo Ply

I did my first successful navajo ply today … as in, it didn’t turn out as a big knotted mess. The first skein today was over twisted (cat toy now). The second skein was with handpainted roving. Wow. What a difference that makes to the finished yarn.

I didn’t try to stop the colorways exactly at the end of a loop, but let the color “bleed” into each other. This resulted in a blended color transition instead of sharp color changes. This worked because the roving had soft color changes.

Questions for the masses:

– Do you make clean color breaks when navajo plying? How do you do that? Do you treadle very slowly, stop and align the yarn “just so”? Or do you just let it happen?

– What do you do when the single breaks? How do you restart the crochet loops? This was driving me nuts. Perhaps I didn’t have enough twist in my single, but it kept breaking/pulling apart. Do you need to have more twist than you would normally put in?

Anyway, I’ll need to practice some more before I can knit with any of these finished skeins. Now that I can see what the end result in handpainted rovings, I can go back to beast for practice.

must.spin.silk.

Silk on drop spindleEver had one of those days? A voice in my head kept screaming at me all day … “must spin silk … must have silk … NOW!” It was getting quite noisy in my office with all that screaming. It made it darn difficult to work. I left the office as soon as it was deemed appropriate, dug out some silk I had in my stash, a drop spindle, and aaahhh, the voices stopped. I can hear the cat beating up on the dog again (EliSpot missed Waldo while he was at the groomer today.)

Christmas BeanieHere’s a Christmas beanie that I made last year. I wore it today, and remembered why I didn’t wear it last year … my head is too big or hair is too smooth/slick for it to stay on. I do like the fake rolled edge though. I think I’ll have to make another one, a little bigger this time.

The sweater vest is almost done. I pieced the shoulder seams last night and knitted the neck ribbing. I just need to seam the sides and knit the sleeve ribbings tonight, now that the silk spinning demands have been somewhat satisfied.

Long Draw!

By Jove, I think I’ve done it! The elusive long draw! I have some wool/mohair rolags that I carded a while ago. I thought I’d take it for a spin today, with the intent of using the single to practice my Navajo plying technique.

It’s the first time that I spun with rolags. I’ve also spun commercial rovings. One thing led to another, I did it! The long draw. I am so excited.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough twist in most of it to be able to ply it (it keeps falling apart).

I was able to 2-ply a very small bit of it at the end because I finally changed to a higher ratio for spinning the single. That worked much better. It added the requisite spin to hold the fiber together.

And yum! It is sooo soft. There is so much more loft than spinning using the inchworm technique. I know a lot of it is because of the mohair content, but yum-mee!

I don’t know if I can do this with commerical rovings or if I would have to spin from the fold (another technique that I haven’t tried).

This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for experimentation. I know it not places where no spinner has gone before, but they are new to me.

On knitting … I’ve started shaping the shoulders of the front of the vest. I was planning on finishing it today and block it tomorrow, but I got carried away with the spinning. I’ll knit tonight while we watch LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring.

I saw The Two Towers yesterday. Wow! The imagery was pure magic! I also saw it at the right theater. We saw The Fellowship last year at a cineplex, small flat screen with okay sound. This time, I went to the Cinerama with a curved screen and state of the art sound system. I have to tell you, Paul Allen did a great job restoring that theater. You actually feel like you are in the middle of the battle, about to be trampled by the orcs.

Got some knitting done on Martin’s surprise present while waiting in line and for the movie to start.

It’s Preppy Yarn!

pink/grey 2ply yarnI’ve just finished plying the last of the pink rovings. The pink was much harder to spin than the grey was because someone had cut the roving with (gasp!) scissors. I finally learned that it’s better to just pull the cut ends off and throw it away instead of trying to spin it. It makes an awful, lumpy mess. It wasn’t too horrible once is was plied because it balanced out a little, but still not something that I would want to repeat.

End result? About 500 yards each of pink and grey 2-ply that is between sport and worsted weight. Just enough to make a cropped sweater for me! Of course, I can’t start on it until after all the Christmas knitting is done.

On the vest … I’m almost finished with the back. EliSpot decided that it was a nice spot to take her afternoon nap on. At least it’s nice and warm now. I’m a little tired from spinning and plying so I think I’ll leave it for tomorrow.

I went to Lamb’s Ear Yarn and Fiber and picked up some Lorna’s Laces rovings. I couldn’t decide between 2 colorways, so I bought both. Purple Iris and Tahoe. About 10 ounces each.

Of course, I couldn’t resist picking up 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Sport Weight yarn. Two more last minute Christmas knitting projects. Mum on the project because it’s a surprise. I have 10 more days. Plenty of time, right?