Oh, Yes I DO Have a Problem!

I have no idea how this happened.

Well, maybe an inkling. I mean, I was curious about how to ply my new singles yarn into something a little more well-balanced and less twisty-wormy. So I consulted one of the many books on spinning that I checked out from the library last week and ooh it looked so simple. Before I knew it, I woke up from a daze with an overloaded spindle full of newly plied yarn. Did you know that there is a name for the bunch of newly-made yarn wound around the spindle? It’s cop. I had a big cop on my hands. I don’t even want to think of who might arrive here having googled the words in that last sentence.

So yeah, new yarn. I washed it to set the twist and now it’s hanging on the line in the back yard to dry. It’s probably mostly dry right now. Because all of this happened before 9 a.m. this morning. Right before some little friends came over to play – their mom needed a sanity break, and Sophie needed some company while Julie was at school. A totally symbiotic relationship – especially since their mom brought me a giant Cafe Mocha from Starbucks when she came to pick them up.

But back to the yarn for a minute. While I was in that wool-induced haze of plying, something occurred to me. I tell my students in my beginning knitting classes something all the time. I tell them that although they are working on a pair of mittens, the real product they should get out of the class is the ability to knit. And they roll their eyes at me and keep swearing under their breath at their mistakes. But I find the thought to be comforting. I’m making some crappy yarn, yes. But I’m learning how to spin, and I’m having a great time doing it.

For those of you out there who are real spinners, can I ask a question? The resulting yarn seems relatively balanced – it doesn’t twist up on itself when relaxed. But I wonder – could I have put a little more twist in the singles in the first place, and then a little more twist in while plying it? I was hesitant to put too much twist in the singles because they wanted to worm like crazy as I rolled them onto the spindle. I guess I’ll be doing some experiments to figure it out for myself on the next batch – as soon as my elbow stops hurting.

And, in my defense – although my right arm is still sore from rolling the spindle down my leg to start it spinning, it’s okay that I did a little plying this morning because you use your other side to ply the yarn – the twist has to go in the opposite direction.

10 Responses to “Oh, Yes I DO Have a Problem!”

  1. The Bon says:

    You’re definitely light on the ply-twist there. Not a bad thing, as it will definitely produce a soft and lofty yarn.

    There’s a lot of good info out there on the technical aspects of spinning. There’s the “spin tech” group on rav http://www.ravelry.com/groups/spin-tech [There are other spinning groups too!] There’s also http://www.abbysyarns.com/wordpress/ which is a great resource, Abby is a wonderful teacher.

  2. Jen says:

    I think your line “But back to the yarn for a minute” could easily sum up your guiding principle in life Shelly Kang!! lol! Thanks for the babysitting…

  3. v.j. says:

    Shelly you should frame this “new yarn”. And then when you are a good spinner you can look at it and feel good about the progress you made. vj
    P.S. I don’t have a blog.

  4. Cindy says:

    If your goal is to have a firmer yarn, yes, you would need more twist in the single ply. I like a fair amount of twist in most of the yarns that I spin, so my original ply has too much twist to use alone for my use. You can purposely apply excessive twist for a design element, but that is a discussion for another day.

  5. SwissKnits! says:

    Ahhhh just when you thought that you couldn’t fall deeper in love with knitting and yarn… ain’t it grand?

  6. Lindsey says:

    I like a tighter spun single so I get more ply when I twist two singles together. When I have to wind on to the spindle – I first sort of itsy bitsy spider the yarn onto my left hand – usually a few fingers – keeping it under pressure – then wind on. That way all the snaky curly Q’s don’t get tangle. To get more twist or ply in the finished yarn, you can try holding the two strands a bit wider apart so it sort of holds the twist back- but really its just winding the yarn on at a different angle. Its also fun to have ‘helpers’ My 5 yr old and my 3 yr old love to ’spin’ for me, I just show them which direction to go. :) Have fun! I’ve been spinning via spindle since Nov….but now I have found the Mach 1 from SpinOlution… Sure am trying hard to justify that kind of purchase! Its a fast rabbit hole to jump down :)

  7. Katherine says:

    Does anyone know if certain types of roving are better for spinning? I tried doing the drop spindle thing awhile back (I was using the free stuff they give away at some LYSs), and the roving kept on breaking. I had fun at first, but it kept on breaking and breaking and got very frustrating. I applaud you, Shelly, for sticking to it. Yours looks way, way better than my first attempts did!

  8. sopranospinner says:

    Sounds like you’re doing great! I would echo what Lindsey said and wrap the single around your hand before winding it on so it doesn’t get a chance to twist back on itself.

    You can absolutely add more twist to the singles and when you get it in your head that you want sock yarn, you will! Remember that with a really balanced ply, you will lose about 50% of the singles twist in the plying so you can put extra in there.

    And you might not know yet, but if you don’t ply right away, some of your twist energy goes away and it’s harder to tell whether the yarn is balanced while plying. Not something to worry about, just something to know. You will get a feel for it very quickly, I’m sure.

    Congratulations on joining our happy band!

  9. Kristine says:

    Congrats on your lovely single and lovely yarn, and the big time spinning bug bite! Hooray!

    For Katherine, who asked if some kinds of wool are better for spinning, I would say that some kinds of wool are better for some kinds of spinning. If the single is breaking as you drop-spindle, that particular roving is probably being spun too thin for the weight of the spindle you have. If your roving is coming out too thick, sometimes your spindle isn’t heavy enough.

    That’s the really really simple answer. There are entire books written about this.

  10. T2 says:

    Have you ever heard Brenda Dayne’s podcast Cast-On? In one of the shows she talks about how as a beginning spinner she couldn’t wait to get her yarn nice and even and tight. Now that she can do that, she wishes she could replicate her earlier, looser, nubbier yarns. So enjoy what you’ve made. It looks terrific to a non-spinner like me.

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