Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spinning Mishaps......

Just so you all know, while I love spinning yarn, it's not all happy and wonderful. There are times I mess up and could kick myself. One big struggle I have is with the niddy noddy. A niddy noddy is a long pole with horizontal bars on each end, making it a capital "I" shape. After you ply the yarn, you wrap it on the niddy noddy to make a skein. Then you wash it, hang it dry. After it's dry you can put it in a ball. Though I'd heard it's best to wait to put it in a ball until you are about to use it. I believe the ball shape pulls the yarn, whereas the skein shape is best for long term storage. My struggle comes somewhere between using the niddy noddy and getting it into a ball. That skein that I make always ends up in a big knotted mess. It's horrible! I have literally spent entire evenings getting knots out of my "skein" so that I can put it into a ball. For the life of me, I can't make a skein that doesn't end up in a knot. I know the problem starts with putting it on the niddy noddy. I've wondered if I just made a skein off of the swift instead if that would work better. But, I think the niddy noddy is supposed to pull the yarn straight which the swift would not do. If any of you have more experience in this area and could offer suggestions I would love to hear them!

Another spinning mishap is something awful I did the other night. Oh could I kick myself over this one. I had a strand of Sommerfield's fiber on 2 bobbins, ready to ply. To back up a bit, to make yarn you spin up 1 strand at a time, take 2 (or 3) stands and ply them together to complete the yarn. I was in a great mood because in one evening I had made 2 strands of Sommerfield's fiber. I waited to the next night to ply them. I've read that it's best to wait overnight to ply to set the twist in the strands. When creating a strand, you spin the wheel clockwise to make a twist (this is a Z direction twist). Then to ply, you spin the wheel counterclockwise to ply into yarn (this creates a S direction twist). Plying does sort of loosen the twist in the strand because you are going the opposite way. This to me make sense in why you would wait overnight to ply, so that you don't twist it the opposite way right away. I can imagine a more experienced spinner would say they have plied right away and all was fine, so maybe this isn't an essential step. But, since I read this was a good idea, I try to work it out to include this rest period to set the twist.

Reading from my favorite book "Start Spinning, Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn" by Maggie Casey, I see there are several good reasons to ply yarn:
* plied yarn is stronger
* plied yarn will even out inconsistencies. All home spun yarn has spots that are thinner and wider than the rest. "By plying, chances are the skinnier and fatter spots will balance themselves out in a plied yarn."
* plied yarn is easier to use than singles
* yarn is plied in the opposite direction of how it's spun "which removes some twist, balances the yarn, and allows the fiber to bloom."
* "A plied yarn has more personality." You can ply the same color together or mix colors. I've had a lot of fun mixing colors. I love my Maddie (black) and Victoria (brown) mix. Oh, or the Tehya (fawn) and Victoria (brown). This part is so fun to me!

So my adventurous plying starts, I have both bobbins ready and start the yarn on the wheel. I'm excited to see how this Sommerfield yarn is going to look! As I get going, I can't figure out why but the yarn is very twisted and almost creating hard bumpy knots. I loosen the wheel adjustments, and try to adjust the speed at whichi I treadle. Nothing is working, so I work harder and hard. I'm about 1/3 of the way through plying the yarn and I take a quick break. When I come back to the wheel, I realize my horrible mistake. While I had the yarn on the right side of the wheel to ply in an S, it was going under the bobbin, not over, and was actually a Z direction twist. I had been turning the wheel the wrong direction all along! I was over twisting my yarn, creating a very tight twist and knotted spots.

Oh the mess!

So, there I am at a crossroads. Do I continue to twist in the wrong direction and end up with an over twisted knotted yarn? I can't see much use for that kind of yarn. It was hard and bumpy. Do I scrap the whole thing? I hate to throw away such nice fiber, but where do I even start to fix this? Do I attempt to un-ply the yarn? I can't just start twisting it the other way (at least I don't think I could).

I decided to un-ply the yarn. But I had no good plan of how to untwist it. Maybe there is a suggested way to do it, I'd love to hear about it if there is! I ended up having to cut each strand at the bobbin. Then I stood on a bench and held the plied yarn up, letting it dangle and un-twist itself. This worked well until the un-plied yarn got longer and longer. In the end, I had a huge knotted mess. Several hours later (and let me add that our dog Quinn ran off with a strand at one point, so add in chasing down the dog in there), I finally had my strands back on their bobbins ready to ply. By that time it was way past my bedtime. All that work and I accomplished nothing for the day. I wish I had just not even tried to ply that night.

The next night I did ply Sommerfield's yarn and it is the most wonderful yarn! It was worth all that :)

I don't think I will ever make that mistake again. What a huge mess that created!

1 comment:

Linda said...

first off--don't scrap it. If I understand you, you started plying in the wrong direction. if so, try to pull it off gently, through the orifice and wind it around your hand or the dreaded niddy niddy. once it is neatly pulled off and wrapped, then spin it back in the other direction. You will have to untwist all the wrong way and then continue to put in twist the right way. I think I should be ok. Just take your time. I've done that too.
as far as your first question, the twisting. I've had that happen when I overtwist the ply. If I watch the twist as I ply, that helps some. And when you get done and get ready to wash, before you do, snap it between your hands a couple times. (One hand in each end of the skein before you twist it.) If it twists when you let it hang from your hand, when you dry it, hang a weight on the bottom. I use the handle of a spray bottle to catch the bottom and that will help too.
Hope this helps some.

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