Reflecting on My Summer Spinning Ramage

My summer of family fun was also filled with lots of spinning.  I was just in the mood for it and enjoying myself immensely.

First up was “Frothy,” a delicious, pink blend of Cormo, Border Leicester, Coopworth, and silk from Fiber Trends that I finished plying in early June.

“Frothy” called to me in the depths of winter and although I don’t think of myself as a pink girl, I couldn’t resist her siren song.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  This was fun to spin, fun to ply, and I keep looking at it and petting it and dreaming of what this 500+ yards of DK weight yarn will become.  Probably a shawl.

“Frothy” was spun up on the Majacraft Suzie Pro that I am fostering for a friend of a friend.  So I decided that the next project would be on my own Louet S15, who hadn’t been used all winter.  I chose another Fiber Trends roving that I picked up in February at the Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair.  Called “Peacock,” it’s a blend of alpaca and wool in wild, but subdued colors, kind of like a tartan: burgundy, blue, orange, yellow.

Photo of fiber on a spindle

The alpaca in “Peacock” was too slippy for my mighty Louet S15, which kept ripping it out of my hands, making the the spinning No Fun.  After about of week, I did the big girl thing and switched tools, to my Schacht Hi-Lo spindle.  Now we are getting on.  Spindle projects are always slow going for me because it is not the project I reach for first.  Here in early October, the “Peacock” spindling is still ongoing, with no end in sight.

In mid-August I decided to clear out some leftover singles and practice my navajo plying.  I made quick work of Rambouillet leftovers and then took on the wheel-spun Peacock singles.  I’m happy with how these turned out although I struggled to get the n-ply going.

Then I started spinning the green glitter mohair batt (wool/mohair/silk noils/glitter).  This was one of those fibers I probably would have never bought for myself and I am so glad Julie destashed it in my direction because I learned a lot!  First, mohair is fun and easy to spin owing to its looooong staple length.  Second, a little bit of glitter (like angelina or firestar, not confetti) isn’t obnoxious at all; it just peeks out here and there.  Third, I might want to try making some blended batts of my own soon.  Just for the fun of it.

I spun this 8 oz up in about a week, which is pretty fast for my multicraftual self. It was so fun that it had my full attention — while watching Life on Mars with Matt in the evening (I like the UK original version better, but we ultimately watched both series).

About two weeks later — slowed down by the start of the school year, etc — I navajo plied the leftover singles.  That was a lot less successful (it’s worse in real life than in these pictures).  I’m not sure why, but maybe it needed more twist in the ply.  No tears though, this was just a practice with leftovers and gives me stuff to think about.

I also navajo plied (on the wheel) some leftovers from the yarn I spindle-spun for Julie as a thank you gift.  Also less successful, also done on the same night as the green glitter mohair n-ply so another theory I have is that I was just off my game that night.

This clearing out of leftovers was all in preparation to finish a years-old project.  I got this red and gray probably-Tunis from a local vendor when she closed up shop.  Red is not really my color so this was purely for the practice of spinning.  I started spinning it on an friend’s Ashford Traveler, even plied up two skeins of it, then wound the remaining singles on to cardboard tubes when the wheel went back to its owner.




I wound the singles on to my Louet bobbins, had some trouble with directionality and I think I had to ply that last skein the opposite way of what I normally do, but no worries, I am just making yarn, not winning prizes here.  One of the things I tried while spinning this fiber was playing around with blending the red and grey in some areas and separating the colors in other areas.  I am interested to see how that looks when knit up.  The wool is a bit scratchy, so it is definitely destined for outerwear.

Now I am working on spinning some dark grey cormo pencil roving.  This wool is very clean and smooth and soft.  So soft!  At first it was a bit of a challenge to spin on my mighty Louet S15.  I really like spinning on that wheel, but it has a powerful take up owing to its bobbin-led drive.  But I found that if I get just the right draw on the cormo, it’s not a fight.  I’m already halfway through!

What’s on your wheel or spindle?

14 Replies to “Reflecting on My Summer Spinning Ramage”

  1. this is amazing. i love that you do this. I would love to come over sometime and see how this magical transformation takes place.

    1. Monet, you and your kids are welcome any time! I’ll send you a message to set something up. For what it’s worth, age is no predictor in how well one does with spinning. Mostly it’s interest-level so that you spend enough time getting the dexterity of it to produce a yarn you like. In the pre-industrial era, when families knit stockings for income, kids started drop spinning at age 4.

  2. What is the difference between Navajo plying and regular plying?

    Currently I have something similar to your “Frothy” on my Ashford that is glaring at me -since I’ve been too busy to spin. And on the drop spindle is some local llama fiber blended with a lovely white (and yeah, I really suck at remembering specifics about fiber). Both are going pretty well once I can dedicate time to them. Am loving the drop spindle as I can do some while waiting for the kids to get out of school.

    1. Navajo plying, or chain plying, is a way to make a 3-ply yarn from a single strand, thus making it a good way to use up leftovers. Here’s an article about it on Knitty:

      Uh, I think that photo of the unspun “Frothy” is actually of your ball because it is the exact same thing (the picture I took of my unspun “Frothy” was taken at night so the colors were not so good). We have good taste, you and I. 😉

      I’m glad the blended llama drop spinning is working out! Maybe you should check out one of the loaner drum carders so you can make some big batts of it.

  3. On my wheel… still… is my orange BFL x Dorset cross that is blended with mohair. I was so excited about this project, but then it ended up getting set aside for a bit. I did do some spinning on this last night after reading your post. I think I’m about 1/3 of the way to spinning enough for a sweater.
    I’m looking forward to finishing this so that I can start spinning the raw fleece that I’ve been processing.

  4. Wow! You’re amazing at this. I still have the wool to spin that I bought a couple years ago, on my drop spindle. I’ve been able to make some pretty chunky artistic yarn, but the problem is that I don’t know what to do with the results, so they’ve just been sitting around.

    1. Aw, thanks Kell! It really just takes a lot of practice to do well — and my spinning is not all that spectacular compared to many. The really good spinners can (quickly) produce a yarn that is indiscernible from store bought. Don’t worry about what the “art” yarn is going to one day be. Maybe it’s just practice. Maybe it’s a gift to give to a funky friend. Maybe it’s trim for a project or yarn to tie up and decorate a gift. Oh! How about this? I remember that it was grey or white? You should practice dyeing it with kool-aid. Now THAT’S a fun rabbit hole to go down.

      1. I’ve been having fun dying other yarn in Dye Guild with Arina, Aeffe, and Helva. It’s been a blast! We’re trying out pigments found in nature. I’ve really loved the results from onion skins (deep yellows and oranges) and black walnut husks (tans to pretty deep brown). Overdying woad onto onion skin also made a really pretty green.

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