Friday, July 9, 2010

Not Giving Up

This week was a tough stretch on the tour. Time was very short thanks to work and family issues, but I still managed to keep up (although, as a result, I only went to the gym once this week).

The second bag of fiber I pulled out for the Tour was the club shipment from December 2009, a set of blues called "Cold Front."

Tour de fleece 2010 - 019

The fiber is wensleydale, which I had never spun with before. I did absolutely no research prior to plunging in, other than pulling a few staples out to check them out. I saw that they were super long, and didn't appear to have much crimp.

I decided to predraft this fiber. I don't do a whole lot in the way of color control when I spin, I pretty much let things fall as they may, other than deciding to strip the fiber or predraft it (Amy the Spunky Eclectic queen can tell you about that here, so I'm not going to try). When I spun the falkland over the weekend, I tore the roving into strips. This time I predrafted, which gave me a lovely watercolory result - which I did photograph this time:

Tour de Fleece - 022

I posted previously that I had a lot of trouble spinning this fiber, and I did, right up until the end. Even the plying was a bit of a challenge. I actually felt rather discouraged after the first bobbin, and I thought about switching to something else, but I soldiered on and completed both bobbins.

Tour de Fleece 2010 -   - 033

When I sat down last night to ply, I was pretty worried. I was afraid the singles would just break. But, although plying was not without its challenges, my singles held together and I am actually really pleased with the finished yarn.

I mentioned in my TdF prep post that I wasn't getting enough twist in my singles, and that as a result I thought I would also have to add more ply twist. I have found this to be less true than I expected. I am paying a lot of attention to my singles, making sure they stay in my hands long enough to get some good twist. The more even my drafting, the less of a problem it is, since the physics of spinning dictate that twist accumulates in the skinny areas and you don't get as much in the thick areas. (I can't explain why this is, but I'm sure it's physics. It's always physics.) So, if my singles are mostly even, the twist distributes mostly evenly anyway, and I don't end up with skinny areas that are too tightly spun and thick areas that are barely holding together.

Anyway, I've been stopping regularly to check my ply twist, and almost always, if my yarn twists up, it twists up because of too much ply twist instead of too little. (We won't speak of the agony I went through trying to figure out how to tell. Suffice it to say, after much struggling with the concepts of z twist and s twist and pictures of same, I have concluded through trial and error that if it twists to the left, it has too much ply, and if it twists to the right, it doesn't have enough. Don't ask me why this was so hard for me to grasp.) So even though I'm adding more twist to my singles (I think), I haven't had to add more ply twist.

After all the pain, I have to say, the wensledale looks pretty good.

Tour de Fleece 2010 - 034

I soaked and blocked it last night after this picture was taken (wet handspun looks ratty) and this morning I checked on it before I left, and I was pretty happy with the results. There's one or two areas that look kind of wonky (I had issues maintaining even tension on the singles while plying and it shows) overall the yarn looks good and useable. I came out with about 190 yards I think.

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