Spinning Rainbows

Spinning Rainbows

Shortly after I started to spin, someone gave me a really gorgeous rainbow braid of merino (sorry, I can't remember who you were, it was 2008).

This was super awesome! It really was beautiful (and I totally failed to take a photo). But, as such things go, I was starting the business, so I was trying to spin my own fiber and such. And then there was my dissertation, and a "real" job and the Army and... here we are!

The other day I finally pulled it out and decided it had languished alone in my stash for long enough. So, as usual, the first question was how to spin it? I don't spin merino very often at all. It's a perfectly nice fiber, but there's so much millspun easily accessible that I rarely bother. And it doesn't have much of the "character" I enjoy in things like downs breeds. It's a drapey, slick fiber. 

I thought a lot about just spinning one long single and saving it for weaving. But. I don't currently have a loom (though there are plans PLANS I tell you!) and I've already got a stash of things for weaving... ok well that's out. I don't like knitting with singles yarn. Nothing wrong with it, I just don't enjoy it. Ok, so no singles. 

BUT, I knew I wanted to preserve the really well done gradient. I could split it in half and do a two ply. Hrm. Well. I had recently done a gradient like that and... welllllll... I'm just rusty enough my spinning wasn't really even enough and so I had a bunch of leftover. I really wanted to use all of this.

Ok, that leaves one option. Spin it from beginning to end and then chain-ply. A quick note here that I use "chain-ply" rather than "Navajo ply" because A) I'm not Navajo B) The Navajo use multiple plying techniques and C) The technique is not unique to the Navajo. But if that's the term you know, know that this is the same. Basically the world's biggest, loosest, crochet chain, twisted.

Well, that'll make this a fun experiment. I don't enjoy spinning Merino, and I'm TERRIBLE at chain ply. Oh well! That's what learning is for!

Well, my automatic muscles have improved since the last merino spinning, so it wasn't as physically challenging as before. And the prep was WAY nicer (thanks gifter person!). And MAN that color made it worth it. 

Pretty and changing colors make any spin more enjoyable! Since it wasn't planned for any particular purpose, I let it be the size it wanted and spun it worsted, which ended up being this smooth, fairly fine, heavy lace as a single. Not bad. 

I did not get any photos of the actual plying process. I can barely manage the process as it is, and then there were some... issues with the wheel midprocess that made everything even more hectic. So, no process photos. 

However, here's a good video of someone FAR BETTER and smoother at the process than I am. 

And my own result... 

But after much struggling, I eventually had a bobbin of this. Not awful? My spinning was more even than I had thought, though my chain plying is ALWAYS wildly uneven. Time to wind off and measure. 300yds. My help is, as always, extremely helpful. 

Even just winding off helps even out the ply a little. And man that COLOR. Love it. And that chain ply doesn't leave obvious bits (though you can see one in this photo if you look close) is still magic to me.

Wash, snap, skein... that evens things out a little more, and it looks pretty good! Once I put it into a cake, the color progression is much clearer. Wow. Such clean colors!

Overall, not a bad job. It's a little underplyed (funny since I kept worrying I was overtwisting when I was doing it) but definitely knittable. 300 yards on the nose. Right in the heavy fingering/sport range. 

Of course I *still* don't know what I'm going to do with it. I might still weave, who knows? But until then, I've got a really pretty rainbow cake!


~The Gnome

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1 comment

I love how we all have our different likes and dislikes when it comes to fibers and techniques — your please-don’t-make-me-do-this is my I-can-do-this-all-day. Merino (as long as it’s not that new waxy stuff) is in my happy, squishy comfort zone, and I chain-ply nearly everything (both to cut down on how many bobbins I need and because I hate leftovers). I LOVE the result you got with this fiber, even if the process wasn’t your favorite.


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