I’ve been following Treadle Handspun Yarns on Instagram for quite a while now. Robin spins the most beautifully even yarns – they are such a pleasure to look at. Every now and again she also works up a bag of Tiddly Bits to sell in her shop. Tiddly Bits are bits and bobs of different coloured rovings all tied up and thrown in a bag together. They always sell quickly, and I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bag for months.
The idea is to reach into the bag and spin the next colour, no matter what it is (or I suppose you could carefully lay them out in colour order if that’s how you prefer it). I started spinning my bag of bits last night and oh, I love it!
So many colours just jumbled up next to each other, all willy nilly! I think when the bits are done I may spin up something a bit more staid to calm everything down and make a 3-ply yarn like I did with my SkyWool: 2 fun plies, one calming. Or maybe I’ll really go crazy and ply with a cone of crochet cotton!
Who knows. I have the Tiddly Bits, and the world is my oyster.
I hoped to show you a finished skein of yarn today, but I overestimated the length of my 3rd ply.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
I bought this Merino Top on a trip to see my family. I love how it looks like the sky. It reminds me of the wallpaper in Toy Story, and thus, of my childhood.
I started spinning it around the same time I started making gnomes. Bigols was so excited about it! I wanted to make a 3-ply yarn, but I didn’t want to divide the roving in 3 pieces and risk wasting some of my precious fiber (This is the trap I always fall into. I need to start realizing that it is just wool and there will always be more). I decided to spin all the blue as one yarn, then spin some undyed BFL separately. I would cake the blue singles and spin both ends together with the BFL to make a 3 ply. This would also stretch the yardage I would get from my “SkyWool.”
On Sunday I finished spinning the blue. Happy day! I immediately started on the BFL and hurt my wrist by spinning too much. Oops.
Over the last few days I’ve worked on the BFL a little bit at a time. Last night I thought that maybe I had enough.
The yarn is plying up quite nicely. I want it to be quite plump, so after I finish plying I may run it through my wheel again to add a little more twist.
It has been almost a year since I bought my spinning wheel. In that time I have spun many skeins and learned a lot. Last week I tried something new.
In my spinning so far I have only used Combed Top (This is where the fibers are combed so they lay parallel to each other). Top is very easy to find commercially and comes in many colours and fibers. When I bought my spinning wheel I bought the previous owner’s fiber with it – including 10 little tiny batts (A batt is where the fibers are carded on a drum carder where the fibers are not parallel. It is a very airy preparation).
I set out to spin these tiny batts woolen (it’s a spinning term that means you don’t micromanage how your yarn comes out), but the fiber had a bit of the original grease still left in it, which made it a bit tacky and hard to draft. After fighting with it for a while I reverted back to my normal worsted draft (this is when you do micromanage your yarn), and from there it was smooth sailing.
I ended up unintentionally spinning the singles Z (counterclockwise) and plying S (clockwise). Normally I do it the other way. I attenuated the batts from either end so they looked like large rolags to maximize the squishy airiness of my yarn.
This has been a happening week! Several things are almost done. Do you ever do that thing where you only need to put in an hour or 2 of work to get a beautiful finished object, and yet for some reason it languishes unfinished? I have a sweater that only needs a neck modification to be perfect, and yet it has sat in my drawer for months. It is madness, I tell you!
Exhibit A: Pink Floyd Socks
We see the first sock finished except for a heel, which I have since begun (but not finished)
Exhibit B: Rumplestiltskin yarn
This is actually a partial success. I had just a few lengths of fiber left to spin, and it is now all spun up! I now need to string eighty jillion beads, because I am going the whole way with this yarn. It is going to be amazing.
I hope for it to look like this. Except, you know, yellow.
Progress on the yellow yarn was imperiled by a crack in the pulley on my spinning wheel. I emailed Majacraft (the maker) and they said I could glue it, so glue it I did. It’s terrifying to think your precious wheel might be falling apart!
Step 2: Acquire some wool appropriate for spinning yarn
Step 3: Learn to use said spinning wheel
Step 4: Spin. A lot.
Step 5: When you are finished spinning singles, wind your yarn into a cake to be plied with itself
Step 6: Ply your yarn
Step 7: Go to the Home Improvement store for some PVC pipe and T-joints (I don’t know if they’re actually called this). You will need this to build a Niddy-Noddy.
Step 8: Assemble your Niddy-Noddy
Step 9: Wind plied yarn onto your new Niddy-Noddy
Step 10: Tie yarn scraps around your new skein in several places to prevent tangling and take your skein off the Niddy-Noddy. Hooray! You have a skein now!
Step 11: Wash your skein in lukewarm water with wool wash – be sure not to agitate, else your wool will felt
Step 12: Rinse the skein thoroughly (again in lukewarm water and being sure not to agitate), thwack it on a hard surface (this helps to set the twist and is incredibly satisfying to do), and hang to dry
Step 13: Wait an interminably long time for the yarn to dry
Tadah! You have just made yarn! Rejoice! Celebrate! Pet it lots. And then you get to decide whether to keep it as a skein or knit it up. Mine is going to become a Honey Cowl.
Once upon a time a knitter decided she wanted to make her own yarn. So she bought a spindle and some roving and learned to spin.
Pretty soon she got decent at spinning with a spindle and wanted to spin faster. She wanted to buy a wheel, but alas, her yarn budget was small, and if she bought an expensive wheel she would not be able to buy yarn for 8 years. So the knitter contented herself with her drop spindle.
But then one day as she was perusing the interwebs she saw something shiny! It was a spinning wheel not too far from her that was much more affordable than usual. Tentatively she contacted the seller. After a brief conversation they decided to meet to discuss a sale. The knitter and her fiancé met with the seller and the knitter was so charmed that she bought the spinning wheel on the spot.
She took it home and now she spins on it every evening after work.
I blog about crochet, knitting, painting and other craftsy stuff. I love working with natural colors and materials, dark roast coffee and Cadbury chocolate :) You can find my items on Etsy or at Crafters Gallery, Saratoga Springs.