I finished spinning two skeins of merino/nylon blend and now I have a giant bobbin of squishy softness. I can’t wait to set the twist, and then knit something up with this. I’m thinking that I’ll dye it with avocado pits so that it turns a dusky antique rose. This is by far the thinnest and most constant spin I’ve gotten so far. I wish it was a three ply, but since I only have three bobbins, I figured I’d be safe (you need one bobbin to ply onto). Next? I’ll be live streaming making socks on my antique sock knitting machine on Wednesday! It should be exciting.
This spin was an absolute delight. It’s knitpicks stroll (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) that I picked up in bulk a few years back, when I first got my wheel. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I didn’t touch it at the time. I wanted to see how my sock yarn spinning would be, so I tried it out. I have 19 other bundles just like this one to work through and goodness, I am in love.
I have some dye that I hope to use (requires some preparation) once I spin some more and ply it. It is by far the most lovely fiber I’ve ever spun before, including the aplaca. I’m going to make this particular batch into a 2ply but eventually I’m hoping my spinning gets good enough that I can make a fingering weight 3ply. I spun the entire 4oz over the course of three days, which is absolutely fantastic for me. In case you can’t tell by my gushing, I really like this fiber.
Three years ago I bought a kiwi2 spinning wheel from someone who was looking to get rid of theirs. I paid $100+ shipping, and it was probably one of my better fiber hobby purchases. The kiwi2 is a double treadle wheel, so you need two feet to peddle it. After some time, I was having physical issues with this part of it. Some days my feet were in so much pain I just couldn’t bring myself to use the wheel. I started looking into pricing out an e-spinner, and did a bunch of research into the different models available out there. I had a few requirements, but nothing unreasonable. I wanted my e-spinner to be quiet, have a battery, be able to handle lace to worsted weight yarn, and have an OK sized bobbin. Companies like Ashford (who make my kiwi wheel) also have e-spinners, but what I eventually settled on is the Starling, by Daedalus. They’re pretty expensive as far as e-spinners go, but having owned mine for a few weeks now I have to say, it is an absolutely incredible machine. I have nothing but good to say about it. Right now the waiting list is a year, but mine arrived in 6 months (I ordered it in December, and finally received it in July). Still worth it.
I have an entire bin filled with different fibers just waiting to be spun. I bought alpaca fleece (so.much.alpaca), and I have some merino/nylon, and just bits and bobs from subscription crates like Paradise Fibers. The act of spinning (to me at least) is incredibly therapeutic, and I really love knowing that I worked the yarn from fiber to something useable in a project. It takes practice. You have to draft the fiber out into the thickness you’re looking for, and then feed it into the wheel once you’ve applied spin to it. On the e-spinner, applying spin to a strand of fiber is incredibly easy because you manually set the control / speed. On my wheel, I’d have to peddle my feet at the same time as drafting and at the same time as applying that spin. Now I just have to pay attention to my hand movements. It really becomes like second nature, especially if you have nicely prepared fiber.
Lots of people ask if this is cheaper than buying yarn, and honestly – not really. BUT it does take time to spin the yarn and then knit with the yarn, so it’s almost like you’re getting two hobbies for the cost of one. You can also source out some lovely wool for a great price if you’re friends with some Sheppard’s. I prefer to buy natural coloured fleece, roving, and combed top. I do also have a drum carder so I can prepare the fiber myself.
The goal is to get good enough / consistent enough to be able to use my yarn on my circular sock knitting machine (that ancient hand crank machine I have from 1895 that I absolutely adore). It will only take fingering weight yarn, and I’m not quite there yet. I think with a bit more practice on my e-spinner that this will absolutely be an obtainable goal. Then the whole world better watch out, I’ll be cranking socks for everyone. It’s been a while since I wrote about the sock machine, so maybe that one will be next. I’d also love to start streaming as I crank socks, but I need to figure out some sort of camera set up for that one.
It’s finally done, all chain plied and made into a skein, ready for when I decide to use it. I didn’t particularly enjoy spinning this fiber, it was a batt, and those are prone to neps (lumps) and it makes drafting quite difficult. Over the three years that I’ve been spinning yarn I’ve learned what sort of fibers I enjoy, and how I like them prepared. I do have a drum carder but I didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the batt that I had purchased from a vendor. Next time I might just prepare it the way that I prefer anyway.
I’m glad to have completed it, I’m incredibly thankful to finally have an e-spinner, and I am excited about all of the future spinning I’m going to be doing. I have an entire bin of fiber just waiting to be made into yarn. Of course then I’ll also have to figure out what I’m going to spin with it all.
In a single evening I managed to finish spinning the singles of the alpaca, merino, & finn fiber that I had. It was 3.5oz, which on my kiwi would have taken me a few weeks, at best. The fiber wasn’t the easiest to draft (as I already mentioned) and was quite filled with neps, but I’m hoping to learn how to chain ply using it. Chain plying is perfect for when you want to keep colours together, or for when you don’t have 2-3 bobbins of yarn to ply it with. In this case, I only have the one bobbin. I’ve never tried chain plying before, but it has been on my to-learn list for a number of years. It’s just a nice skill to have. I think using my Starling will be a good way to learn, I can keep the speed very low, and I can forcus on the hand motions required rather than focusing on my treadling. Hopefully the next update on this yarn will be the completed version.