It's been a month since my last post, and it's time to let you know about my first spinning experience. Above is my finished product - a simple cable headband. As you can see, it's very "thick 'n thin," which is only half on purpose. I didn't throw out any of what I spun, so this headband includes the entirety of my first spin, aside from a few inches I had left once the headband was big enough. I have that few spare inches wrapped around a clothespin for safe keeping. Jennifer Beamer of Expertly Dyed mentions on her Youtube Vlog that your first hand-spun will be sentimental and especially pretty. Of course she's right.
To begin spinning on my top whorl drop spindle, I used a scrap piece of yarn as a leader to get the twist into my first bit of fiber. This batch was spun from some of the Corriedale I got at Rhinebeck. It took me a little while to get the hang of drafting, which is why my yarn started out so inconsistent. About a quarter of the way through, I starting being able to keep a pretty good DK looking weight, but I purposely messed it up to keep the batch thick 'n thin throughout.
I guess I was excited and distracted, because I didn't take any pictures of the actual spinning process or of my yarn while it was still on the spindle. In fairness, my hands were busy. Below is the first picture I have in the process, which is of the freshly spun yarn.
There's probably a better or faster way to do this, but to get it off the spindle, I used my ball winder first, and then I put it on a niddy noddy because I wanted it in hank form for the dying process. Having it on the niddy noddy also made it easier to calculate yardage in order to pick an appropriate pattern.
I definitely skipped some steps with this batch. First of all, I didn't even bother trying to make it a plied yarn, mainly because it was pretty thick to begin with, and I don't mind the look of single ply yarn. I didn't measure my wraps per inch, since my project didn't really need to be gauged (in my opinion). I also spent very little time letting the twist set in. All I did in that regard was to hang a weight off the bottom of the skein while it was drying after the dye process. I know some people beat it on a towel and all sorts of things, which I'll probably try someday, but I generally tend not to do things by the book until I've learned from my own mistakes.
Since I had spun such a small skein, and I knew I wanted to keep whatever I made for myself, I decided to dye my alpaca/wool blend in the same dye bath, hoping they'd coordinate so I could make a few winter accessories. In the end, the Corriedale seems to have dyed a little darker and with more of a red tone than the rest of the yarn, but since they're variegated, I think they still look nice together.
To dye, I have a few simple tools I like to use. First of all, I have this big, deep stainless steel pot, which I also store my dying supplies in. (I obviously never use any of the same things I cook with, other than the stove itself, even though my dyes are all natural and technically edible.) I like this old wooden spoon (thanks, Mom) to wrap my skeins around when I'm making variegated colorways. I decided to make my two skeins of chunky alpaca blend more variegated by doing this, while I had my hand-spun and my finer, slightly irregular skein right in the water the whole time. I also have a plastic measuring cup and a pair of tongs in addition to my dyes and vinegar. I use disposable pipettes to suck the dye out of the containers and put it in the pot. To avoid inhalation, I always store my dyes in liquid form, even if they come as a powder. I just add water to the powders, so I only have to be careful about inhaling that one time. Since I'm not trying to make repeatable dye lots, I don't concern myself with PH and all the factors that could come into play by adding the water to the dyestuffs. Maybe someday...
Most of my dying is experimental, and while I have a general hue in mind, I'm really just going for something I think is pretty. :-)
For this batch, I started will red dye and then added some blue, black, and purple later on, moving the chunky hanks around on the spoon as I went and picking up the other two skeins with my tongs every so often to see what they were up to.
Below is my yarn when it was hanging to dry. Alpaca blend on the left and hand-spun on right.
I'm making an infinity scarf with the chunky yarn and I plan to make mittens with the finer one. I'll put pictures up when I'm all done.
I guess that's all I have to say about my first spinning experience, but please ask any questions you might have in the comments below.
I have since started to spin some cotton to make my husband's new winter gear from, since he's allergic to wool. I ordered the cotton from Paradise Fibers and it's so soft and pretty. It's a little harder to draft, but I think it'll turn out well, and I'm hoping to make it a two-ply. I also got some silk! I'm saving that for when I have a little more experience, but I couldn't pass up the awesome sale they were having...
I want to mention that the pattern I used for the headband is not my own. You can find it on Ravelry by clicking below.