Sunday, May 17, 2015

Spinning "Butterfly Effect"; a 4-ply cabled yarn

Into the Whirled's October 2014 colorway "Butterfly Effect" is Superwash Merino in oranges and blues.  It is making me think of my BIL's wedding, although the colors are a bit more muted.


I decided to pull out my copy of The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs: Techniques for Creating 80 Yarns for this spinning project.  I want to try something new, but what should I try?  It would be fun to spin beads into my project, and I also really like the look of wrapped singles, but I don't have any silk thread (yet... I'll have to order some once we move!)  I think I'm going to go for a simpler "advanced" spin and try a cabled yarn.  This is essentially a 4 ply yarn created from two 2-plies.

This project will start with me spinning in the S direction, counterclockwise, and plying for the first time in the Z direction. This is the opposite of how I normally do this.  I'm working on my smallest whirl (8:1) to get a thin single.  I just ordered smaller whorls but I'm going to have to wait for those to arrive and I want to finish one more yarn before February ends.

Smaller whorls will give the wheel a higher ratio.  On the smallest whorl the wheel came with (8:1), I get 8 twist in the yarn per revolution of the wheel.  This is great for beginners because the twist travels into the yarn slowly, but it can be harder to spin thinner yarns without treadling your feet much faster.  

I could start out by dividing the yarn into 4 equal parts and making singles etc... but instead I'm going to divide the yarn in half and make one bobbins of Z 2-ply yarn.  I'm then going to create a center pull ball and make the cabled yarn from this.

This project involves over-twisting the 2ply yarn.  One recommendation is to ply normally and then run this yarn back through the wheel in the same direction to add more twist.  We'll see how I do the first time around.  My yarns usually have a little more twist in them than I need.

Am I crazy?  This is MERINO!  Merino is hard to spin sometimes!!  Wish me luck.

Bundle 1 is 56 g, bundle 2 is 59 g.

I tried to start spinning a really thin single (thinner than my last one) but the staple length of merino is shorter than the Falkland, and I couldn't get enough twist into it for the yarn to be stable.  I'm therefore doing a slightly thicker single.  It is spinning and drafting SO FAST that I'm afraid I'm no putting enough twist into it... wish me luck.  (How many times am I going to ask for luck in this project?)

I am learning a lot from being part of the Into the Whirled fiber club.  I haven't spun merino for a while, but spinning it immediately after the Falkland I am amazed at how smooth the fibers are.  I tfeels so silky going through my fingers.  Even with too much twist in parts of the singles, they feel smooth and wonderful, not hard or rough.

This yarn isn't exactly balanced.  I think I'm spinning the second spindle much thinner than the first one.  I've also noticed that I have a lot less tension in the breakband to get uptake of the yarn onto the bobbin.  Maybe this is because of the counterclockwise spinning?  I have no idea, I've never spun singles this way before.  Of course, it is possible that the old break band was worn out enough to break,m so when I replaced it there is more friction.

My tiny whorls arrived!  I now have 1:10, 1:14, 1:18 and 1:20 ratios in addition to my 1:5 and 1:8.  Since I want to over ply my singles the first time around, I'm going to ply them with the 1:14 whorl.  his way I should have an easier time getting too much twist.  In the worst I'll have to spin slower where I was spinning as fast as I could on the reverse end.

With the first round of plying the colors matched well at the first, but as the plying went on I got more and more barber-poling.  This doesn't bother me, because since I am going to ply a second time from a center pull ball this should even itself out a ton.  Wahoo!  So far so good, right?  (On an aside, I broke my tailbone a bit ago so that is making the spinning much harder to do.  Oy am I in pain!  I sit forward when I spin so it is somewhat manageable, but I have to take lots of breaks.  Therefore I am giving myself a bit of leeway if I take longer to get through my Into the Whirled backlog.)

A preview of the 4 ply cabled yarn from the overtwisted 2ply
For plying step 1, I wound my 2 ply yarn into a center pull ball.  Then using the 1:8 whorl (to not overtwist the cable) I spun these Z 2plies in the S direction for my 4 ply cable yarn.  While I was at it, I also wound the left over S singles into a center pull ball.  There are a ton of pictures from this spinning project because I thought that each step was lovely.

Z 2-ply yarn
1 ply and 2 ply on bobbins
1 ply and 2 ply in center pull balls.  Each are ready for the next plying step.  
When creating the 4 ply chain, I quickly swapped to my slowest whorl (1:5).  This would allow me to ply slowly and make sure I was happy with my twist ratios.  You can really see that the fiber looks like a chain!  It is less pronounced when you're getting a barber pole of 2 plies, but when you are twisting two barber poles it looks like there is some woven fiber going on.  Pretty fun!

Spinning the 4 ply yarn
A close up of the cabled yarn.  Doesn't it almost look like a chain in some parts?

I think I may have lost some twist while winding into the center pull, but I like how the yarn is coming out, even if it really isn't a perfect cabled yarn.

I really am enjoying spinning with the faster whorls.  I think that it makes my 2 ply much more balanced and I'm really excited to try to spin lace weight and maybe even fingering weight 2 ply yarns.

1 ply - 21 dpi (fingering weight)
2 ply - 12 wpi (DK weight)
4 ply - 8-9 wpi (Worsted/Heavy worsted)

4-ply (left) and 1-ply (right)
2-ply (left) and 4-ply (right)
Two bobbins of 4-ply yarn

Large Skein - 54 wraps * 4 ft/wrap = 216 feet = 72 yards, 90 g; 8 wpi
Small Skein - 33 wraps * 2 ft/wrap = 66 feet = 22 yards, 23 g; 9 wpi

So I ended up with 94 yards total of my 4 ply cable yarn.  This means that I had 386 yards of singles!  This might just be a record for me.  I'm so excited for the improvement that I cannot wait to try out spinning thinner singles.  Yippee!

Did I already mention how I had no breaks while spinning or plying?  This is a miracle!!

  Spinning begun 2/24/15
bobbin 1 finished 2/25/15
bobbin 2 finished 2/27/15
Plying round 1 - 3/3/15
All plying finished 3/5/15