Last weekend I went on a little trip to a local yarn store. While I was there a braid of very pretty roving forced itself into my hands and bullied me into buying it. What’s a handspinner of yarn to do right?
This handpainted roving wanted to become a long colorway yarn. It told me in no uncertain terms that it wanted to be a Noro-like yarn. That meant spinning it as a single ply yarn.
If you have ever spun, then you know spinning a single ply yarn… and getting it to be balanced…. is kind of tricky. That kind of yarn looks simple but its not the easiest thing to do. There is a tendency to over-spin like you would when making a plied yarn. That over-spin certainly helps hold the yarn together but since you aren’t plying, its just all twisty and it will curl back on itself when you try to work with it. (Ever use a ball of Noro yarn and find yourself cussing at it for being over-twisted? Yeah me too.)
When you are spinning for a single ply yarn you should add just enough twist just enough to keep the fibers together and then full the yarn. That’s how I do it. Fulling is basically felting but only a little bit. The handspinner dunks the handspun into some hot water, maybe agitates it a wee bit, and encourages the yarn to fluff up, stick together, but not too much. Don’t go all out or you’ll have felt. (And that leads to more cussing.)
So when I found myself buying this roving (against my will) I told myself I’ll spin it as a single and then do the fulling thing. But… then I actually read the label and saw my new roving was 100% superwash. Superwash fibers don’t full (or felt) of course.
So I came up with Plan B. Plan B was to spin up my yarn all as one ply but with plenty of twist. Then I’d use a commercial yarn and wrap my handspun around it. That gives me alllllllmost the same effect as a single-ply Noro-clone yarn.
Part of the trick to making this work is to hold the commercial yarn straight and under tension. Its already finished and balanced and you don’t want to be adding any twist to it. The second part of this trick is to hold the handspun off to one side, at an angle, and under almost no tension. When you get it right the commercial yarn just feeds onto the bobbin while the handspun wraps itself around the commercial yarn.
It makes for a nicely balanced, finished yarn. It will work up in long stretches of color. I don’t have to worry about over-twist. But it is bumpy and what I have is, in essence, a thicker yarn that I would have if it was a simple single ply yarn.
I can live with that.
And of course you don’t have to wait until you find yourself the involuntary owner of superwash roving to give this technique a try.