Last week I released a video where I tried to learn Andean spinning. Towards the end of the video I showed some clips of how the yarn got all tangled and we needed to shoot the scene again. Several followers commented on this and said that they especially liked this part. So, for this week’s post I will take you along on a rescue operation of a spinning project gone south. I did manage to take pictures during the operation. They are of poor quality, but they do their job in showing you what happened.
A pattern request
In February I was asked to write an article and pattern description for Spin-Off magazine. The deadline was short and I needed to spin a yarn, knit a pair of mittens, analyze and write the article and the pattern description. The pattern was in twined knitting, which is quite time consuming.
Spinning gone south
I was quite stressed out by this and started spinning immediately. I asked a spinning friend who has made several twined knitting project how she prefered her Z-plied yarn. She said that she liked it with a high twist so that the yarn would be nice and round. A higher twist makes the patterns in twined knitting stand out more, she added. So I started spinning with a lot more twist than I usually do.
But for some reason, my fiber didn’t want to be spun with high twist. Perhaps the fibers were too long, combined with the low (or non-existing) crimp. Perhaps I didn’t understand how to adjust tension and intake. The yarn turned into phone cord with curls all over.
I was a bit bothered by this, but hoped that my problem would solve itself when I plied the yarn.
My assignment for the magazine hovered in my head and I realized that I needed to take some serious action. I decided to implement a rescue operation and respin the yarn.
The problem was in the singles, but I had already plied the yarn. Therefore I needed to unply the yarn, ease the twist in the singles and reply.
Unply, ease and reply.
This is how I did it:
I put the bobbin with the plied yarn on the flyer and treadled the same amount of treadles as in the plying process, only against the plying direction. After having unplied a section of yarn I rolled each singles section onto a separate bobbin. If there was still ply left, I shifted the bobbins to undo the rest of the plies.
This process took around an hour and a half for each skein. I had two. It also took some blood, sweat and tears. I had lots. When the yarn was fully unplied I wound the singles onto my niddy-noddy to make skeins.
I then soaked the skeins of singles overnight.
To ease some of the twist I rolled the singles onto bobbins again and ran them through the spinning wheel against the spinning direction until the curls had let go.
The singles looked a bit tousled and shocked, but who can blame them? They had been through a gruesome ordeal.
The final step of the rescue operation was to reply the singles into a balanced 2-ply yarn. This went quite smoothly. I made a skein and soaked overnight. The operation was successful and the patient recovered.
There were a few curls left after the operation. I see them as a reminder not to spin under pressure. The yarn had less twist than I had wished for in the beginning, but it was free of phone cord curls and well behaved, which was more important.
Patient released, lesson learned
I got it all done on schedule. I made my analysis, knit the mittens, wrote the pattern and article and submitted the night before deadline.
The name of the article was Twist analysis.
- Listen to your friends.
- Listen to the wool.
- If friends and wool contradict each other: Think. And listen to your gut feeling.
- Don’t spin under pressure.
- If spinning under pressure, you are less likely to think or pay attention to any gut feeling.
- Don’t spin under pressure. Really.
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