Swamp Thing Plied

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

I’ve made a lot of handspun over the years and have a bin full of the stuff. There are skeins I’m intensely proud of. There are beautiful skeins that I have no idea what to do with. There are skeins I made because I wanted to spin. There are skeins I learned a lot from. Then there are skeins that I want to keep on my desk and pet when the urge strikes. Swamp Thing turned out to be one of those. 

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

I finished plying this yarn and the leftovers over a week ago, but was lazy about getting it off the bobbins. I was smitten with it then and when I wound the skein, but it wasn’t until I set the twist that Swamp Thing transformed into my dream yarn. If I saw this at a yarn shop, it would be coming home with me - Cold Sheep be damned. The yarn has body and drape. It’s just the right amount of softness, but still seems sturdy. It has a smooth, lustrous surface with just a bit of uneven texture. And it’s deliciously plump with a pleasant wooly smell. Plus, I’m a complete sucker for grays and earthy greens. I know most this description seems contradictory but that’s my dream yarn. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

And now I’m rethinking my fiber buying preferences. I usually go for hand dyed fiber with distinct, matching colors. The Swamp Thing roving was different. The fiber was dyed with a few similar shades of color and small pops of contrast colors. The colors were mottled across the width of the roving instead of taking up long sections. The end result is a yarn that looks more like a semi-solid than the 2-ply barber pole that it is. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for roving dyed in a mottled style in the future. 

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

There’s one other good thing about this yarn. The roving was 100% superwash BFL which I’ve never spun before this skein. Spinning it was the aggravation the internet lead me to believe. Now I’m not afraid of the other superwash fibers I’ve got tucked away in the #YarnFort. So long as I stick with a short forward draw that I used with Swamp Thing, I might end up with more dream yarn.  

Stepped outside my comfort zone, and spun my dream yarn. Swamp Thing Plied| withwool.com

Now that the yarn is ready for knitting, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do with all 386 yards of swampy goodness. It’s going to be a hat and mitt set. I haven’t decided on a pattern for either yet. Only that the hat is going to be slouchy and on the simple side. I have to finish my holiday gift knitting first though. At least I can pet the yarn for the next couple of months.  

Spinning Swamp Thing

Back to spinning Swamp Thing. | withwool.com

My back of the envelope plan for this superwash BFL, very appropriately named Swamp Thing, was to spin both the plies, put them together, and then set the twist by last weekend. If I hadn’t gotten a cold, that’s precisely what would have happened. I’d have new handspun to show you too. Instead I’m still spinning the second ply. The good news is that I’m mostly over my cold and back at the wheel. 

The second ply has been a little harder to spin than the first. Even though the fiber was listed as superwash, the roving seems felted in spots. I’ve had to work a little slower to get the surface and thickness to match the first ply. Double drafting has been a very good friend of mine the last couple of days. Next up is plying, and I can’t wait to see how this yarn comes together.  

Back to spinning Swamp Thing. | withwool.com

Spinning for the Joy of Spinning

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Registration for Spinzilla was last month, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate this year. I’ve participated every year since Spinzilla began in 2013. Two days before registration closed, I finally decided that I might as well keep the streak going. But I didn’t actually remember to sign up until the afternoon of the last day, and missed the deadline. Frustrating? Yes, but I’m spinning anyway. Not for Spinzilla though.

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I didn’t spend any time at my wheel during September. I had packed it up to go to a spin-in at a local yarn shop only for my allergies to knock me out of commission. Then other projects and deadlines kept coming up, and my wheel never made it back out of the bag. I’d also packed 4 oz of superwash BFL, an Akerworks flat pack bobbin, and notions. It turned out to be a nice kit when I was ready to spin again. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

After the wheel was set up and oiled, it was time to finish prepping the fiber. I’m aiming for a heavy fingering weight yarn which is hard for me to achieve when I working from the full bulk of the roving. I split the roving lengthwise into 16 more or less equal sections. 8 for each ply. Then there was nothing left to do but start spinning. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

The roving was dyed in mottled pattern without a color repeat, so I joined the sections at random. Working from the smaller pieces really helped keep clearer colors. There’s black, brown, dark green, light green, blue, and acid yellow which would be so easy muddy. The colorway is called Swamp Thing after all.  Plus, not having to work type-writer style across the top of a big chunk of roving helped me draft a fine and consistent yarn. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

I’ve been trying to be more adventurous with my spinning this year, and work with new fibers. This is the first time that I’ve spun with superwash fiber of any kind. I went in expecting the fibers to be slippery and hard to work with. While the fibers definitely weren’t as grabby as regular wool, they weren’t any harder to spin than a well carded merino. I’m glad I finally tried spinning a superwash yarn since it no where as difficult as I’d built it up to be in my head. 

Spinning something new for the joy of it, and not worrying about yardage. | withwool.com

Not being able to register for Spinzilla was a bummer at first, but I’m not aggravated about it anymore.  Just the thought of Spinzilla was a good kick in the pants to sit down at my wheel again. I’m working at my own pace without worrying about trying to beat my numbers from 2015. Plus, it’s nice just to spin for the joy of it. 

Spinzilla Eye Candy

Last year I was living in a different city and, having just gotten my Sidekick, still getting to know my wheel. Spinzilla was just a fun challenge. I had a few ounces of Perendale that I spun and chain-plied into 310 yards (there was no plying credit that year). After the competition was finished, I read about other spinner’s yardage and it was obvious that they took it far more seriously than I did. To put it mildly, my 310 yards seemed a bit lacking. Still, I was and felt like I’d leveled up a spinner anyway. Spinning 3 consistent skeins was something that I’d never accomplished before. 

This year, I started Spinzilla with a little intention, not that I got up early or anything, and set a few goals for myself. 

  • Spin (or ply) everyday.

  • Spin more yardage than I did last year and aim for at least 1 mile, 1,760 yards.

  • Not hurt myself.  During Tour de Fleece this year, I hurt my shoulder spinning long-draw, thanks to poor posture and technique. Didn’t want to repeat that.

  • Have fun. What good is a week full of spinning if it feels like a chore?

By Sunday night, I’d done all of those things even if my shoulders were a little sore. Plus, I had yarn to show for it, 933 yards - 2,533 with the plying credit - of Targhee, BFL, and Polworth. Since I was going for speed and ease of spinning, I stuck with my favorite fibers that I could spin long-draw because it’s my fastest default method. Even better, I love the resulting yarn. Why churn out the yardage if you’re not going to love it and want to use it in the end? The only exception is the neon pink single which I spun inch-worm style in hopes of a smoother finish and a little more durability.  

My numbers aren’t record breaking by any comparison but I had one other goal, to only spin against myself. It was one that I had to remind myself of every time I read a number more than twice mine. “Spinning against myself. Spinning against myself. Just spinning against myself.” A hard mantra to repeat and remember while reading other’s yardage but, at the same time, the right one for me. I’m proud of what I accomplished during Spinzilla and the yarn I made. Plus, I don’t have to recover from  sleep deprivation or aches and pains . So, there’s that.

Batt Showcase

My time with the drum carder is over. It went back at last months and the 4 weeks that I had it were a crash course in carding. I made the first batt because I wanted to see what would happen and it turned out pretty despite my complete lack of knowledge. With one batt under my belt, I decided to do a little research and figure out how to actually use a drum carder. What could you make with one? What could be carded? Maybe more importantly, how do you clean one? I watched videos, read articles, and came across people that knew what they were doing. People that threw in disorganized fiber and had art come out the other side.

Up to this point, from the lone batt I’d spun and most of the listings I’ve seen on Etsy, I had the idea that batts were an everything and the kitchen sink kind of thing.The kind that was 3 types of wool, sparkly bits, silk noil, and some angora for good measure. After my research, I found out differently. Sure, there are kitchen sink batts but batts can also be smooth and uniform. They can focus on color instead of texture. Batts can be bold or subtle. Fibers can be carefully blended or smashed all together. Variation is awesome stuff. 

My batts got better was the weeks went on. They’re all on the subtle side since I just wanted to prep my stash of unprocessed fiber to spin - several ounces of alpaca, locks, angora, and random mystery wool. I wanted to play with color too but ran out of time. Well, I can always rent it again.

The very first batt was 40g of mystery wool from a Gwen Erin grab bag.

Second batt was made from 40 g of Corriedale roving.

This batt is my attempt at duplicating a rolag given to me at a previous guild meeting. Looks similar but I won’t know for sure until I spin it.

These 4 soft and lovely batts were carded from the very first ounces of my fiber stash, 4 oz of light rose grey alpaca. Took me years to prep this fiber and I’m glad I finally did.

The Romney, and reason I rented the carder, turned into 2 batts.

More alpaca from the stash which got a good wash before going on the carder. 

Had a small sample of a BFL and Silk roving that I decided to blend with half its weight in Angora. The batt is wonderfully soft with great luster.

Last batt off the carder was 14g of 100% Angora. Working with straight Angora was more difficult than blending it with wool but not impossible. 

It’s nice to have my kitchen table back but I kind of miss having the drum carder around. I still want to play around with color and blending fibers. Plus, using the carder was just fun and I enjoyed it. Before I had one to my spinning wish list though, I’m going to spin up a few of the batts I made. If I like working with them and the finished yarn, I’ll do some research to pick out the perfect drum carder. Any suggestions on where I should start looking?