Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I've got the Polwarth blues

The other zebisis spindle that I bought for myself for this past Christmas was a beautiful amazonite whorl/black rosewood shaft spindle.  I love the marriage of form & function with the whorl's carved flower shape, which gives me plenty of options for notching the yarn to the spindle while I spin:

I've been happily using this spindle to spin Polwarth wool for the first time.  And I have fallen in love with Polwarth wool.  It is the most perfect blend of length and softness, which makes it dreamy to spin.  I had purchased 4.2 ounces of handpainted Polwarth top from (you guessed it) woolgatherings on etsy.com and decided that I wanted to spin it with the plan to make sock yarn for myself.  The top was painted in a lovely mix of pale and bright blues, a bit of teal and a bit of grey:

Knowing that I wanted to create a sock yarn with this wool, my goal is to create a smooth, durable 3-ply yarn.  I want to emphasize consistency in the yarn to make soft, comfy socks for myself.  The best way to spin a very consistent final yarn is to (1) use the same spindle for all singles and (2) mix up the singles in your plying as much as possible so that any changes in the singles' thicknesses is balanced throughout the final yarn. 

The method I have developed to manage my singles for plying is to use my bobbin winder.  I spin the singles on the spindle until it looks like I have enough to fill one of my small bobbins.  I wind off enough of the yarn to fill a bobbin, then rejoin the fiber to the spindle & continuing spinning until it's time to wind off more singles again.  The process of winding the singles yarn on to a bobbin has the excellent side benefit of equalizing the twist energy in the single, which will further enhance the balance & consistency of the final yarn. 

I keep filling bobbins until all of the fiber has been spun, and I'm just about at that point with this blue Polwarth fiber.  The unspun fiber by the spindle is the last of it:

I should end up with 6, maybe 6 1/2, bobbins of singles to ply together to create the final yarn.  Given the thickness of my singles yarn, I estimate that each bobbin should hold between 200 and 250 yards of singles.  I need at least 350 yards, ideally 400 yards, of fingering weight yarn to knit a pair of socks for myself.  Score!  I will definitely have enough yarn for the final sock project I have in mind for this fiber. 

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