It is like a stargate

Tuesdays are for spinning, so yesterday (prepare yourself, those of you who have noticed I have trouble observing my own rule) I spun. I’m still churning out the singles of the polwarth roving, and now I have five, count ’em FIVE, bobbins of the stuff done.

My big plan, since I want the colours (and my uneven spinning) to come up as randomly as possible, is to do all of the spinning, then all of the plying, swapping out the bobbins at then end of each plied bobbin. This means, that if my bobbins were named A, B, C, D, E and F, then when I ply (and I’m making a three-ply) I might begin plying with A, C and F on the kate, and then, when I had a full bobbin of yarn, stop and ply A, B and D. The next time, B, D and E…. and so on.


This approach has a lot of advantages. It means that all of the skeins of yarn will have different, random colours, which overall means that they will go better together. If I didn’t swap them out, I would probably end up with three skeins that went ABC and three that went DEF, and that’s going to be two obviously different types of colourway. Mixing it up like this means that I’ll have six different skeins with six different colourways that are all basically related, and that seems like it will give me a more harmonious sweater overall.

Now, even if all of my bobbins were the same colour, I would still – if I were doing a big spinning job, mix up the bobbins like this. See… over the course of 40 hours of spinning, all done on different days, it’s really unlikely that my spinning is going to be really consistent. It’s more likely that there’s going to be a subtle shift from the beginning of the spinning to the end – a few weeks later. If I mix three bobbins, one from the start of the spinning, one from the middle and one from the end, then I’m probably going to end up with plied yarn that’s more consistent than if I plied as I went. In knitting terms, having several bobbins of yarn spun over the course of several weeks is a lot like having several examples of one colourway, dyed over several weeks. They are all likely going to be a little tiny bit different, because they weren’t made on one day.

If you had to knit one sweater out of several dye lots, you probably would notice the difference if you used one skein for the top half and another skein for the bottom half. There would likely be a discernible line halfway. (If we actually follow one of murphy’s laws about knitting, that line would probably be in the place you would least like it to be. Like right across your breasts or right across your belly, depending on which you would rather not draw attention to.) To avoid this, as a knitter, you would probably alternate your skeins as you went, one or two rows with one, then one or two rows with another. This blending would make the difference between the dye lots not at all obvious, and that’s what this spinning strategy is like. I’m acknowledging that I essentially have different “spinning lots” and that it might show up if I don’t blend randomly. Get it?

In any case, my big plan was to do all off the spinning, then all of the plying and mix the bobbins all the way down the line. Yeah, well. I’ve been thwarted by something.


This bag of polwarth is apparently a gateway to the seventh dimension, where no matter how much I spin, the universe is shoving more into the bag through an equalizing dimensional gate. (I actually have this same problem with sock yarn.) I have spun five whole bobbins – which is totally a LOT, and I don’t appear to have less roving.

At all.

It is still a huge pile, and I’m almost out of bobbins, so I’m going to have to start plying whether I like it or not. I’ve already freed up more bobbins by deciding to ply on another wheel, which means that I can use all of the bobbins that fit on this wheel and not need to hold any back for plying.. but damn- I wish I could close that gateway and finish. The irony of course is that I started out the spinning for this sweater worried I wouldn’t have enough, am now concerned that I am going to have way, way, way too much…

and will eventually run out of yarn halfway through the second sleeve. Can’t you see it coming?

(The spinning fates like a good joke as much as the knitting ones do.)

All of this will have to wait until next week though. I’ve got to go pack for Alberta, since I’m leaving in the morning, I’m teaching “Knitting for Speed and Efficiency” (there’s another bit of irony for you) at the Make One Fall Knitting Retreat. I’m excited and nervous.

Also.. not packed. Gotta fly.