Last weekend I attended the 2018 fleece and spinning championships in Dala-Floda. I was there as a visitor, spinning teacher and participant in the Swedish spinning championships 2018. I have entered the championships several times before, and in 2017 I won a bronze medal in the advanced level.
My yarns din’t get to enter the competition, though, since the yarns I spun got lost in the mail and I still don’t know where they are. Still, I am very proud of the yarns I spun and I will share the process with you here.
Spinning championship levels
There were two levels for the spinning championships, intermediate level and advanced level. For both levels the participants got wool and instructions for the construction of the yarns.
In the intermediate competition the spinner had to spin a 3-ply yarn. We received industrially carded grey batt and the yarn was supposed to fit 2–2,5 mm needles. I am not used to either industrially carded fiber or fiber without lanolin. The spinning was really frustrating! Since the 3-ply yarn was supposed to fit small circumference needles, the singles had to be really thin. I tried to spin in some sort of English long draw, but the yarn kept breaking. It was not the most relaxing spinning I have had.
Spinning this yarn 3-ply and so thin took a long time and a lot of frustration. In fact, I longed for the spinning to be over so that I could go on to the advanced level yarn.
For the advanced competition we received a periwinkle carded batt and dyed locks in dark and light pink of what looked like Swedish finewool. The instructions was to spin any kind of yarn with a combination of the batt and locks.
An obvious choice with a carded batt and untreated locks would be a tailspun yarn. But to me, the dye work in these fibers suggested something else. I wanted to emphasize the contrast between the fluffy batt and the silky locks. I also wanted to show the beautiful two-colour dye work in the locks.
I browsed through The spinner’s book of yarn designs and found the perfect yarn to show off the fiber I had received. I only had to manage to spin it…
The yarn I wanted to spin was a cocoon yarn. It is a singles yarn with spool-shaped cocoons every now and then.
This is how I did it:
- I spun the batt in a thick single. After an arm’s length or so I broke the yarn so that I had a couple of inches of unspun fluff at the end. I divided up this fluffy end and
- inserted a combed lock perpendicular to the single, cut end first. Then I treadled and let the lock roll on to the single in a cocoon shape.
- I fixed the cocoon by exhaling warm air and rolling them and thus felting a little.
- For extra security, I needle felted the cocoon slightly.
- After the cocoon was finished, I let the single untwist a bit before I continued.
- I attached the batt to the remaining end on the other side of the cocoon and continued spinning the single.
Here is a short video I made of the cocoon yarn. I did not have the time or the energy to make a pretty video outdoors, so you will have to settle for our ungroomed living room.
After soaking, I still thought there was a bit too much twist in the cocoon yarn, so I ran it through the wheel in a counter-clockwise direction to relax it a bit.Baby cocoons on their way to the big championships adventure
As a final step, I went through the whole skein and did a quality check of all the cocoons. The first ones were less than perfect in their shape and density. Also, the cocoons closest to the bobbin were collapsed under the pressure of the outermost layers of yarn and not so much cocoon-shaped anymore. I rolled the misshaped ones between my palms to remind them of their original beauty.
All the parts of the spinning process took a long time. I think I spent a good part of the evenings of almost two weeks to spin the advanced level yarn. But it was worth it. I am not an art yarn spinner by nature and I have learned so much in this process!
I wasn’t the only one who played with coils/cocoons/beehives in the advanced level. It was so inspiring to see all the creativity in the advanced level yarns.
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