Friday, March 25, 2011

The magic of finishing yarn

Last week, I plied my dark mill ends singles.  These singles had been on bobbins for months, so the twist energy in them had gone dormant.  When I plied them, the plying twist energy was active, so the unfinished plied yarn looked a mess.  It curled up on itself and looked more like a bird's nest than yarn.

Behold the magic of finishing yarn, which reveals its true character!  When I plied the yarn and filled a bobbin with it on my wheel, I then wound off the freshly plied yarn into 2-yard skeins.  Before the finishing process, the freshly plied yarn is bunched up and literally cannot hang straightly, while the finished yarn hangs all lovely and balanced:

And here is a close-up of the change in freshly plied vs. finished yarn:

To finish this yarn, I soaked it in very hot water with a drop of liquid dish soap for about 20 minutes, by which time the water had cooled enough that it didn't burn my hands anymore. I gently agitated the yarn in the cooler water to full it slightly, then put it into cold water for about 10 minutes. Following a final 10 minute soak in hot water, I squeezed out the excess water, thwacked the yarn a few times, then hung it up to dry with no weights on it.

So I started with 12 ounces of singles on 4 bobbins and ended with 3 skeins of 3-ply yarn and 1 skein of 2-ply yarn.  The finished yarns are very soft and have a pleasing rustic quality.  I'm not quite sure how I will use them (as usual, I have lots of ideas!), and it was a lot of fun to have these thick, bouncy yarns as a comparison to the spindle-spun yarns I have made recently that are very thin and smooth.

Vital statistics for the combined 3 skeins of 3-ply yarn:  dark mill ends wool, 202 yards, 9.5 ounces, 7 wpi, very bulky

Vital statistics for 2-ply yarn:  dark mill ends wool, 56 yards, 2.25 ounces, 9 wpi, bulky

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