The big box of light smurf fluff didn’t sell at the Spinners’ Market and in a way I’m glad because working with it really made me want to spin it myself. Which I started the other day.
I started spinning it. The fleece was washed, dyed and put through the wool picker twice. This has made it a wonderful soft cloud.
It spun really well but the single is quite bumby. Here’s the single with a little bit plied back on itself to give an impression of the resulting yarn:
I like it that way, it gives characteristics. I’ve spun and knitted yarns like this before and they’ve resulted in garments I use a lot. February Sweater and Sidewind Cardigan for example. February Sweater you know:
However, since this breed of sheep has a fleece that doesn’t really felt, the garments pill and several times a year I have to snip off the pills so it won’t look so ratty to non-knitters:
I was merely spinning away the mint smurf, enjoying the accents in both texture and colours when I realized I would be making another ratty garment.
I’d rather not. I contemplated spinning with lots more twist to trap the individual fibres but that won’t fly because twist accumulates in the thin parts of a single and this one is thick and thin. There would be hardly more twist in the bulky parts where most pilling starts.
Another option is to ply it with a tight spun single. But again, that wouldn’t trap the fibers in the thick parts of the single.
So I decided to stop spinning and put the fiber through the wool carder first. Spinning from a carded batt would give the option to make a single of more equal thickness and I could give it a lot of twist (trapping fibers) and plying with lots of twist too (round yarn, trapping fibers). I like round yarns.
After carding 3 or 4 batts and dreaming of the garment I’m going to knit with this my mind was all in icy frost palaces and gletsjer caves and sparkling moon stone fairy lands.
pics by Garret Voight and Bethany Carlson
I’ve once been inside a gletsjer cave. It’s magic I still carry inside of me. I need some gletsjer sparkle in this yarn!
So I rummaged through the spin stash and dug up some silk. Textured silk. This silk is a favourite of mine. It started life as a duvet in a bed shop in China. Chinese sleep under a cloud of silk! A friend was on holiday there and bought one and shared it with spinner friends back home. I was lucky enough to get a hand full.
This silk has long and short fibers. This is important. Most things in spinning revolve around how long the fibers are.
Earlier this year, I carded some into a batt I made for a friend and myself and I’ve spun a bouclé yarn from it last Summer, at Tour de Fleece. The skein hangs on my wall, it’s such a pleasure, with its white textured details. (It’s going to be the round top of a sweater, sometime in the future)
This bouclé has two thin strings wrapped around it, hopefully catching all the fibers that want to pill. But the fabric at the top of a sweater doesn’t pill that much anyway. It’s more on the sides and the arms and strangely enough: on my stomach. I must lean against a lot of counter tops or table tops to make my stomach knits pill…
Anyway, I’m carding Chinese bedding it with the wool now and it will be a lovely hand knit, very fitting for a February Ice Princess!
Carding goes like this: a thin layer of wool. When you feed the carder you must be able to see the bottom of the wooden feeder through the wool, it should be that thin. Otherwise you’ll have to work hard to get the wool through the machine and you’ll be damaging the teeth and the mechanism.
On the baselayer you can add silk. I feed the silk on the top. I often use the top of the carder. In this case feeding it through the bottom/feeder would be contra productive as the small carder roll would take away most silk nubbs and the long silk fibers would wrap around the small carder roll and not get onto the big roll.
Add a layer of wool, using the bottom feeder (the wool still needs to be carded). Sandwich silk and wool like this.
The first batt I carded and on the right a batt with silk:
(I’ll be adding silk somehow during the spinning of the batts that don’t have silk at the moment. Haven’t figured out how yet but I will.)
ooh yes. Nice single from the silked batts: