Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Evils of Barberpoling

Here are the not-feather-and-fan socks, done:

One's shorter than the other, but I don't care. It was my first experience with short-row toes and I think they might be my favorite. I can't tell if I like them because they feel familiar (since that's how commercial sock toes are made) or if I like the way they fit your toes.

And then I was looking through my yarn stash, with the best intentions of starting another pair of socks, but I realized I needed to see how the tequila sunrise handspun yarn knit up before I started to spin up the Grafton Fibers batts I picked up at Spa. So this is the Trellis Scarf from the most recent Interweave Knits:

You probably don't remember, but rather than Navajo plying these singles (because I don't know how, and I wanted to see what would happen this way), I spun them in roughly-matching blocks of color and double-plied them. Mostly the colors matched up, but on one skein--near the end, where I was running out of one of the colors--they barberpoled more often than they matched.

And here's where we discover why so many spinners hate barberpoling. It looks so pretty on the yarn, you know? But then you knit it up and it's all muddy and gross. Here's a closeup, where you can see exactly where I attached the second, far-more-barberpoled skein.

I must learn to Navajo ply. I bought four Grafton Fibers batts at Spa, hoping for a subtly-striped sweater (medium blueish green and lighter blueish/greyish/green). I don't mind heathered, muddy colors on a scarf. But on a sweater? Disaster.

I don't regret this experiment, and before I started to run short of one color, the colors matched more often than they did not (as you can see to the left in the picture). Had I taken more care (and bought another batt), I probably could have avoided the poling altogether.

However, the other constraint with this method is that in order to avoid barberpoling, your blocks of color must be a decent size. You can only switch colors in your single after about three feet so that when you're plying it's bound to match up at some point. If you switch too quickly you've substantially narrowed the odds of your colors matching when plied (and as we see above, odds are they will miss each other entirely throughout). But the long strands of color mean that when it works, you end up with a bumblebee effect rather than a subtle, thin striping effect (again, as seen on the left: 1" of orange, 1" of yellow, etc.). I'm pretty sure you can't spin subtle, thin stripes in double ply. At least not this way.

Oh, and I know what you're all thinking: yes, I am a bad friend who hasn't finished sewing her fishie blanket yet. I just haven't felt like sewing. I know, I know. I never said I was a good person.

Lastly, in aviary news, we have a chickadee couple building a nest in a knot in one of our oak trees. I'm pretty sure this means the tree is dead, the leaves just don't know it yet. It can't be a good sign when a tiny little bird like a chickadee can peck a hole in a trunk knot big enough to build a nest in.

I believe that is Mr. Chickadee there. Mrs Chickadee spends more time inside the nest. I think the mister brings her the nest materials, and then she constructs it. At any rate, he does more flying in and out than she does (although she does some, too).

You don't think of chickadees as being particularly camouflaged until you try to take a picture of one up against an oak tree.


melanie said...

Look at you all spinning experimental! I'm so impressed.

As for the fishie blanket, puh-leez, like I'm in any rush. Procrastinate all you want, it's not like they'll outgrow it. :)

Kellee said...

I just can't get over how beautifully and quickly your spinning is progressing. Your stuff is stunning.

Are you coming to NH this weekend, by chance? If so, snag me at some point during the weekend and I'll be happy show you the Nav. plying. It's easier than it sounds, scout's honor.

elisa said...

The not-feather and fan socks are beautiful, and since, for the most part, they will be worn under pants, it doesn't make a darn bit of difference if one is longer/shorter than the other.

Fabulous job! :)

And your spinning? So. Pretty.

Stephanie said...

I agree about the evils of barberpoling, and it was for just that reason that I learned to Navajo ply. That said, it's a bit of a pain in the arse because you need to spin a little thinner, since it makes a three vs two ply. I'm sure that you'd have no trouble though. Your spinning is lovely.

Laurie said...

This is so very helpful. I'm spinning some silk/merino that I wasn't sure how to ply. Your post was instrumental in telling me to Navajo, and don't leave it up to fate. I appreciate this.

mf said...

Looks great! Navajo isn't is bad as it ocund.. You'll get it, you knwo hwo to make a chain stitch right? Practice with your chain with the singles as you ply it