Saturday, October 5, 2013

What type of yarn can you spin on a spindle?

Bilingual post coming soon, on my other blog.

I have had spindles on the brain recently for two very good reasons. 
First, we now have a spinning group here in Madrid! "Hilando Madrid" is a small group of really great people and this Sunday we will be having our second meeting! If you are in Madrid and interested in going, stop by our Ravely group (if you are a Spanish speaker) or email me (if you need details in English). Last time we all spun on spindles. We spin on spindles because they are very portable and can be used virtually anywhere and in very tight places.

Secondly, I want to try teaching fiber arts, instead of English, this semester and I am determined to make that happen. So, for the past week or so I have been madly putting together spindle-spun samples. The best part about these preparations are the mini-skeins of art yarn I am making. Odds are my student will not be able to haul a wheel into class and this had me thinking about the various types of yarn that you can make with a spindle.

Hint: there are more varieties of art yarn that you can make on a spindle than you might think. Some of the following samples were made with a wheel, but I know that they can be made with a spindle too.

Here is a photo of all of my mini skeins together.

OK, let's get a close up view and more detailed descriptions of them:

Here is a beaded yarn Consisting of 2 plies of Polworth wool and 1 ply of grey cotton thread strung with beads. Yes I plied this on a spindle, it is all about the angle you ply and the trick of holding about 5 beads or so in your hand. I put in a bead about every 20 cm. Not that I was obsessive about the distance of the beads, it just ended up being a good rhythm. The best thing about plying this kind of yarn on a spindle, is you can make the process as slow as you want giving you more time to construct your perfect yarn.

 This next one, was a two ply yarn I had in my hand-spun stash for a while. One ply is blue and the other is red orange. since each ply is a separate color, I decided it would be a good example of a cable plied yarn. This was originally spun on my wheel, but cable plied on my spindle. A basic 4 ply cable (it can be more plies) is a highly twisted 2 ply yarns that are plied together in the direction of the original singles. The result is a hard wearing, very strong yarn.

Navajo plying, or chain plying, on a spindle can be done as you go or after you have spun all of your singles, like I did here.

Yes core spun yarn can be spun on a spindle! Although if you pick a mostly black batt to spin from, it can be very hard to photograph. I was inspired to try it from this video, but technique is not showed very clearly. Basically, you draft lose fluffy fiber at a 45 degree angle to a "core yarn". This method allows the fiber to wrap around the core completely hiding the core yarn (a strong cotton works well as the core yarn). It is a great method for producing bulky art yarn out of those art batts you have no idea how to use.

This next is a think and thin singles* plied with cotton, threaded with beads and sequins. If you hold the singles at a 45 degree angle to the cotton while plying, you can create a spiral effect as well.

Then there is the thick and thin singles yarn plied with just a cotton thread. I made this from a batt which I made using different pairings of complimentary colors.

And of course you can create more utilitarian yarns with a spindle.

Such as: a thick and thin, bulky 2 ply.
Recognize this color? It is left over from my brain project.

A standard hand dyed worsted spun 3 ply (in two different colorways)

A worsted spun 2 ply (top) and, my personal favorite to make on a spindle, the woolen spun 2 ply (bottom).

There is also the *singles yarn, this one is in hand dyed 50/50 merino/silk

What kind of art yarn/ yarn can you make on a spindle? Have you tried any of these techniques?

* Yes the correct term for a single ply is always plural. Don't you just love English?

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