Saturday, January 28, 2006

Spidey Sense

Odette & I have been spinning silk this week. Here are my unplied singles, post-blocking:

I snagged this silk blend at Claudia's destashing event. As it turns out, when I asked her about it, she said it wasn't hers and suspected it might have been donated by Rosemary.

It was surprisingly easy to draft--so much easier than the wool I'd been spinning!-- and really helped me inprove my drafting skills. Because I wasn't constantly tugging away on the roving to draft, I got better at controlling the speed of twist with my forward hand and keeping my back hand ahead of the twist. I had planned to spin the silk fine, to maximize what I could get out of the roving, but it wanted to spin up even finer than I had intended, so we got on well.

I've never spun silk before, and as a result, the singles were as active as a toddler after a quart of expresso and 2 pounds of gummy bears. Each individual strand corkscrewed when I took them off the bobbin. If I had dropped the skein, I'm pretty sure it would have bounced across the floor singing the Tigger song.

They had to be tethered with a 5 pound weight (read comments here) to achieve their current state of inner peace.

Before one of you wags makes the inevitable joke that this is the most exercise my weights have seen in a long while (sadly true), be forewarned that I have been working out. Occasionally. When it doesn't cut into my spinning.

If my singles are so energized I could take my house off the power grid, you ask, why didn't I ply them? Because then I wouldn't have 540 yards, silly. I'd have 270 fairly useless yards. My singles may be generously twisted, but now I have a prayer of knitting a shawl from them.

And I have a friend who shares my love of this shade of green, so I'm hoping to knit her a silk shawl before the next holiday season. Like I've said before, I like to plan ahead.


Beth S. said...

That's amazing. Your singles can support a five-pound dumbbell! I guess silk really is as strong as they say it is.

As a brand-new sort-of spinner, here's something I want to know: how do you make a singles that doesn't need to be plied? What makes it balanced enough to knit with? Is weighing it down like that really the only thing you have to do?

claudia said...

Wow. Free weights. That's a darn impressive blocking system.

mamacate said...

One thing. I haven't subjected this to any in-person experimentation, but I have read in a couple of places that simple wet-blocking will NOT permanently set the twist. If/when you wet the yarn again (say, when you block the finished garment), it will return to apeshit, I mean, energized status. I think if you took a steam iron to those weighted skeins, you'd be all set--steam (or hot water) blocking is supposed to set the twist permanently, which I think is what they do with commerical singles yarns.

For Beth, there's no such thing as a balanced singles. You can spin low-twist and then block the bejesus out of it, but it won't be balanced unless it's plied. You can also, supposedly, knit a fabric with a balanced number of knits and purls to avoid biasing.

So far, any sampling I've done with handspun singles has been unsatisfactory. But that's just me.

laurie said...

Very interesting. (No, M, none of us would EVER have said that about the weights.)

The Mamacate answered my unspoken question about how to spin singles to knit with.

Rosemary said...

Wasn't me who contributed the silk to the de-stash pile. If I had green silk, it would not be going anywhere but to Washington, DC, with me. Or maybe it and a spindle would be going on vacation. But it certainly would not have been put into a de-stash pile.

Jackie said...

Oooh good idea for weighing down the singles - I used the windex bottle, and I don't think it was heavy enough.

Cassie said...

That's a gorgeous green color there. It seems that you and Odette are getting along very very well.