Spinning In The Time Of COVID

Regardless of spiritual, political or social affiliation, I doubt that there is anyone who will forget the year 2020. In addition to worldwide social and political change, COVID changed our lives in ways that we never imagined and I hope once it’s been contained that we will never have to experience anything like it again.

In addition to dealing with all the pandemic brought, I moved, transitioned the group I work for currently to fully remote operations and I had to deal with (initially mysterious) life threatening health issues (thank God I’m okay now but still being monitored). So 2020 is definitely NOT a year I’ll ever forget.

I did not knit or crochet a stitch. The only thing I had energy for was spinning and even that was not on a consistent basis. I love knit socks but haven’t even finished my first pair, so I thought, while the chaos of 2020 was going on, that maybe the thing to get me knitting socks was if I spun sock yarn. I think maybe the day I thought to do this I might have been loopy from meds because your girl here thought spinning 3-ply sock yarn WAS the thing she should do. Silly, silly me! LOL!

Clearly I didn’t think of fiber properties, the blend I used has bamboo in it and while that would actually make for some cool socks on hot summer days, the fiber combo — Targhee, silk and bamboo — has more drape and less elasticity that socks need. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I would even hit the mark, I just picked a braid I liked from my stash and went at it.

The evolution of this spin in pictures:

Project Details:

  • Fiber weight: braid was 5.7 ozs.
  • Dyer: Inglenook Fibers
  • Colorway: Lion’s Mane from the 2020 Narnia series
  • Fiber Composition: Targhee, silk, bamboo
  • Fiber Attributes: top with use of commercial dyes
  • Spun and plied on Lendrum DT
  • Single Spun: with Z twist
  • Plied: with S twist
  • First Pass:1683 yds of singles
  • Skein Finish: 3- plied
  • Skein weight: light fingering
  • Wraps per inch (WPI): 18
  • Final Skein Total: 561 yds of 3 ply yarn
  • Finished Object: for Tour De Fleece 2021

The singles for this project were spun at thread size so plying took longer than i expected it to. It felt like no matter how much I plied, the bobbins looked the same size. LOL! Altogether, plying took about 9 hours before I got to the end of the first bobbin. Once that happened, I joined the remaining yarn from the other two bobbins and chain plied them together to make a three ply mini. I haven’t calculated grist and all that yet, not even sure I will. The only thing I’ve thought of now is that I should find a shawl pattern to show off this spin brilliantly instead of using it for socks.

To say that I am immensely proud of this spin is an understatement. Spinning, and even plying it forced me to slow down. It helped me focus on making my joins as neat as possible, I had a number of breaks during plying, I aced that too, you can’t tell from looking at the skein where any of them are. The project itself has made me aware that I *can* be a more intentional spinner. I set a goal and even though I was winging it on this first pass, I met my goal and am now equipped to do this again.

This skein also represents being able to do hard things during really tough circumstances and I can’t think of a better takeaway from the year that was 2020.

Cherry Blossoms At Night

No, you’re not mistaken, you’ve seen this title before. 😀 Today however, instead of a WIP you’re getting a finished object! As I told you last week, Tour De Fleece 2021 met me with the same finish, finish, finish energy I had in the #casualcraftalong I hosted on Instagram and this spin finish is as a result of that energy. Before the Tour started I got all my spinning projects — wheel spun, supported and suspended spindles — and put them in my spinning basket. I’ve been methodically crossing them off my WIP list and it feels really good!

The nuns of Inglenook Fibers are phenomenal with color and blends. Cherry Blossoms At Night came to us by way of a fiber club series they planned in the first quarter of the year — Armchair Traveling. The concept was to imagine yourself, despite the pandemic, visiting countries around the world via your armchair through fiber. The series ran for 3 months in which participants received a batt, a braid, and a set of sticklebatts, each from a different country. There were inspiration pictures from each venue and these were used to create the fiber item. For the visits I received, a braid from Norway, sticklebatts from Peru and a batt from Japan aka Cherry Blossoms At Night.

As an aside: every crafter is unique with a different set of skills and although Ravelry is difficult for me to navigate since the change in the interface, I use it for notes sometimes looking at how spinners broke down items to create a finished spin object. One of the most frustrating things for me is when I see a lovely finished item, I go check the notes and boom — NOTHING!!! Not even the number of plies! Sooooooo frustrating!!!! So in addition to adding notes on my Ravelry page, this post will also serve as a breakdown of how I did the batt spin so others can see what I did and maybe, just maybe, learn from it.

Opened, the batt displayed 5 distinct colorways with soft transitions between each of them. I divided it according to those colorways trying my best to keep the transitions intact.

I then spindle spun each of the colorways. These singles were spun thin because I knew I wanted a make a 3 ply yarn. Additionally, since I planned to use the chain ply method to create the 3-ply yarn, I knew I had to spin the fiber thin enough to get a resulting 3 ply yarn of more than 200 yds.

After spinning each single, in order to create a single ply ball of one long continuous yarn, I joined the spins together.

Pro Tip: always leave a bit of fluff at the beginning and end of your spindle spins if joining. I leave about 1.5 to 2 inches of fluff so I have space to draft the fiber together when joining and still keep the integrity of the already spun yarn (allow the joins not to be made too thin or too thick)

After the single ply join, I make a chain ply ball — this video’s instructions are the ones that I connected with the most so this has become my technique for creating a chain ply ball.

After the chain ply ball, I spun the fiber on my Lendrum Double Treadle wheel for the gradient result below:

Project Details:

  • Fiber weight: batt was 3.9 ozs.
  • Dyer: Inglenook Fibers
  • Fiber Composition: Corriedale fleece, merino, polwarth, silk, bamboo, silk noil, angelina.
  • Fiber Attributes: carded with use of commerical dyes
  • Spun on Kerry and Bosworth Spindles. Plied on Lendrum DT
  • Single Spun: with Z twist
  • Plied: with S twist
  • First Pass: 690 yds of singles
  • Skein Finish: chain plied
  • Final Skein Total: 230 yds of 3 ply yarn
  • Finished Object: for Tour De Fleece 2021

Corriedale by itself isn’t as soft as merino, but the merino and silk adds to the batt makes it deliciously soft. The Polwarth adds some bounce and the bamboo some drape. Some spinners don’t like to spin nepps, silk noils, angelina or firestar but presence of these makes spins interesting to me and my goal is always to spin them in such a way so that they add visual interest and not dominate the end result.

I hope your Tour De Fleece is going well and looking forward to catching up with all of your projects in today’s YOP blog hop. ❤