Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Tale of Two Handspun Yarns

or, how two braids of the same fibre can end up looking different (on purpose, I hasten to add).

After the disappointment of the last two skeins of yarn I spun, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself today.

Ages and ages ago (probably three or four years ago), I bought two braids of BFL fibre that my friend Lucy had dyed.

Rather summery, don't you think?

My first thought was to spin them as one big 200g skein of yarn.  Then I had another think and came up with a different plan.

The first braid, I spun fractcally.  That sounds rather technical and complicated, doesn't it; but it isn't.  Basically, you split the braid in half lengthways and then spin one half down the whole length of the half-braid so you get very long lengths of individual colours (or, as I did, pull of chunks of each colour and spin them - you get the same effect, but can re-distribute where each colour goes if you want).  Once you've spun all of that half of the braid onto a bobbin, you start another bobbin with the second half.  With the second half, you split the braid lengthways again, but this time, into 4, 6, 8, however many you want strips and spin each thinner strip so you get much shorter lengths of colour than on the first bobbin.  Once you've spun the second half of the braid, you ply the two bobbins of singles together and get a barber-pole striping yarn (although in places the yarn will be one colour where two colours meet).  It's a pleasing effect.  I got approx 400m of yarn from 100g of fibre, which I'm very pleased about:

Enough for a pair of socks or a decent-sized shawl/scarf

With the second braid, I divided it into two (lengthways again), but then I pulled off chunks of the fibre and put them through my drum carder to make into batts.  The first half I just put through the drum carder one time to mix up the colours a bit, but the second half of the braid I (well, we really as DD2 helped me) put through three times in total to really mix the colours so they were blended well.  Here are the two batts I ended up with (I'd already started spinning one, which is why it looks smaller than the other one):

3-times blended on left, 1-time blended on right

The two bobbins of yarn I finished up with looked like this:

Actually, that photo doesn't really show a great deal of difference in the singles on the bobbins, but there was, I promise!  Yesterday, I plyed the singles together and this morning, I wound the 2-ply yarn onto my niddy noddy (with a bit of "shush, I'm counting" when either child tried to speak to me!), tied it up so it wouldn't tangle, then soaked it, squished excess water out and hung it up on my washing line to dry (we're having glorious weather here at the moment).  This afternoon, it was dry and I brought it in to photograph it:

Approx 325 of sport-weight yarn

It's rather shrimpy or lobstery in colour and I'm very pleased with it.  I think this yarn is going to become a Norby hat (for me).

Here are the two skeins, photographed side by side:

Hmm - someone's dripped something on the hall carpet!

So, two braids the same, but two subtly different yarns.

Pleased with myself?  Yes, yes, I am :D

I've now got an empty spinning wheel and I'm trying to resist the temptation to start spinning something new until I've finished at least one of the knitting WIPs.


  1. They are both lovely Christine. Bet you are really pleased.

  2. That is such pretty yarn. It looks like roses in the first photo. You did a lovely job with it.

  3. These are both lovely. It's very interesting to see how different they look when they've been spun in different ways.