This is Part 2 in a series reviewing Noro Rainbow Roll and Imperial Yarns Bulky 2-Strand Pencil Roving. Here’s Part 1.
Today I plied, but I’ve been spinning the Noro Rainbow Roll every day since February 23. It’s been an experience.
I gave the fiber one last look before sitting down at the wheel, and noticed neps, small clusters of fibers that have tangled into knots, on the outer rim of the roving. At the time I wasn’t sure if the neps were localized in one spot due to handling or were present in the entire batch. The only way to find out was to get spinning.
My original plan for this fiber - it was what I had in mind when I bought the Rainbow Roll - was to spin a fingering weight single to preserve the color repeat and then full it to improve durability. I found the end on the outer edge and started drafting from the outside in. Once I was a few feet into the roving, I could tell that I was going to need a new plan. The neps weren’t localized to one spot. They weren’t caused by rough handling or improper storage. These neps were created when the roving was carded. At first I thought it might just be in a particular color, but the neps were consistent and constant throughout the entire 3.5 ounces. Picking them out, a fairly common thing to do with neps, wasn’t an option for several reasons. One, the neps were very close together and often several to an inch. Two, when there weren’t neps there were clumps of wool and picking them out would mean pulling the roving apart.
If you’re weaving or knitting or felting with the roving, neps aren’t a big deal. They can add texture and interest. If you’re trying to spin fiber filled with neps, it’s just a giant pain in the ass. Wether you’re aiming for a smooth worsted style yarn or an airy woolen style, neps muck up drafting. The first 2 colors I spun from the roll are an annoying combination of weak blobs of wool and tightly spun thread. Definitely not the fine single I had in mind. My frustration was growing which meant I had just two options - quit or completely change gears.
So, I changed gears and decided to modify how I drafted. My initial drafting method was to draft fiber from the roving and then let twist enter said fiber. On a complete lark I decided to reverse this process. I let the twist into 6 or so inches of pencil roving, and then pulled on the roving to even out the single. It actually worked. The single was more consistent, and the neps seemed more like an intentional texture than a hinderance. Don’t misunderstand, the single was still on the wild side. I’d just found a method to work with the roving that didn’t make me want to quit. Good thing there’s lots of different ways to make yarn, huh?
I finished drafting the yarn on Friday and let it rest over night before plying. What drew me to Rainbow Roll in the first place was the color and I wanted to maintain that clarity as much as possible. The best way I know to keep distinct color is chain-plying. So I set up the bulky bobbin and flyer and got to work. Once I found my rhythm, plying went very quickly - less than two hours and I was done. Well, done with the more consistent part of the single. The bobbin was literally full at the same time I started into the weak early section. Seemed like the perfect time to call it quits.
I haven’t skeined the yarn yet or given it a bath to set the twist, but I’m very happy with what ended up on the bobbin. It’s colorful, soft, bulky, and has a certain rustic charm. I want to knit it and wear it which is a far cry from the frustration of when I first started spinning it.