The Tiniest Little Bit of Spinning Tech

This is a Tuesday, and I’m trying hard to stick to the Tuesdays are for spinning rule, even though Frankenmitten calls out to me from the knitting basket by the chesterfield.  Wanna peek?

I did start with a braid (from Latvian Mittens), and then did a little colourwork thing that seemed sort of snowflakey, then another braid and then started with Annemor #15 from Selbuvotter. So far, so good.. but today is not about the mittens. Forget the mittens.  Until tomorrow, the mittens are dead to you, because  today is, as a I mentioned, a Tuesday, so my wheel is out and I’m a spinner. 

I told myself that if I shifted a little fibre out of the house, my reward could be that I’d bring one of the new bags of wool from Wellington upstairs and start the spinning for the sweater that I’d like to make – Cosima.   I feel good about how much fibre left (tossing that big batt I didn’t care for made all the difference to the list) and so today I trotted downstairs, fetched the biggest bag of brownish grey and sat down at the wheel and was instantly consumed with wave of maturity and intelligence.  (I’m as shocked as you are.) I decided, my friends, to sample.  Now –  I didn’t really, properly sample.  Proper sampling, as it has been explained to me by people who really do things right, is sort of like swatching for spinning.  People who do gauge swatches right knit a good sized chunk, wash it, make notes about it, maybe even go so far as to pin a note on it or (I swear some people do this) affix it in their knitting notebook so that they can remember what needles they used with what yarn so they have a record. 

I’m not that sort of knitter (I do swatch, just not like that) and I don’t sample like that for spinning either.  Properly done, when I sample I should think about the yarn I’d like to have, think about ply, twist,  ratio or woollen vs worsted, and then start spinning little pieces using all the options until I get the yarn that I have in mind.  Then that sample is washed and perhaps even knit… if you’re spinning with a particular project in mind.

Well I am spinning with a project in mind, but that sort of sampling isn’t really me.  I admit, it’s smart. It works.  It gets you a better crap to awesome ratio going down, but there’s something about it that just isn’t me.  Maybe I lack the patience for it, maybe I like the element of risk that not sampling properly gives me… I can’t tell you.  I can just tell you that quick and dirty is more my style, so this is what I did: 

I looked at the yarn that the pattern calls for, which is Cuzco.  I looked at it for about two minutes in Lettuce Knit last week, and then I walked away.  I noted that it was a two ply, that it was pretty bouncy, that it was light, and that it was a chunky weight.  Then I bought the pattern and left.  This morning I pulled out the fibre:

(It’s a corridale, for anyone keeping track.) and I resolved to spin a two-ply chunky weight.  I sat at the wheel for a couple of minutes, and I spun this.

This is not bad yarn, but it’s not what I wanted at all.  It is a two ply (that’s good) but it’s not a chunky (that’s bad)  it’s sort of dense and heavy (that’s bad, since the sweater would weigh twelve kilo’s if I kept that up) and it needed way more bounce and loft to make  it work, and that was sort of bad news for me, because most spinners will tell you that as time goes on, making big yarns becomes harder and harder for them, and that is certainly true for me.   I remembered then that two of my favourite spinning teachers ( Maggie Casey and Judith MacKenzie McCuin ) both say the same thing. That if you want your spinning to be different, you’d be better of changing the wheel than the spinner – sort of like… if you wanted your gauge in knitting to be looser, you’d be better off changing needles than resolving to knit more loosely.  Even if you could manage it for a little while, eventually you’d revert to type and knit your regular way, and that’s what happens with spinning too.  Eventually, no matter what you resolve intellectually, your hands will start making the yarn they like to make, without regard for what you would like to make.  So I gave it a think, tried to remember what I could and then I did this:

1. I moved to a lower ratio on my wheel.  This adds less twist with each treadle.
2. I increased the tension a bit, so that the yarn was "pulled" onto the wheel more quickly, and so that more fibre was pulled into the drafting zone (to make it thicker yarn.)
3. I changed to a full on big sweeping long draw, so that more air would enter the fibre and it would be loftier. 
4. I slowed down my foot, sped up my hands and er… cut back on the coffee for the rest of the day.

When I did all that, I got something way, way, way better.  See?

New one on top, old on the bottom, and while I wouldn’t quite say that victory is mine (It’s too loose now… maybe more ply twist?)  I’m as sure as I can be (without proper sampling, which I’ve already admitted is a buzzkill for me) that this is going to work.

I know. Famous last words. Yarn critique, anyone?

155 thoughts on “The Tiniest Little Bit of Spinning Tech

  1. Phew. Good to know other people *cough* sample like I do. Usually I just spin, well to enjoy spinning and the fiber. I’ll worry about what to do with the yarn later. Usually.
    Then there is the 2lbs of Merino/alpaca yarn I spun – attempting to match a commercial yarn. *sigh* For the lovely Imogen. Learning curve goes the other way when you aren’t paying attention – bulky…down to sport. I know.
    So I am determined to use said yarn – gonna be a lot of maths involved!

  2. Am I in the top ten? OMG!
    Harlot, it looks beautiful, and I’m sure you will end up with a lovely sweater. Makes me wanna spin myself a sweater too! 😀

  3. Wow! I had no idea spinning was so…technical! I have a drop spindle that play around with, and I never realized how much there was to think about when making yarn you want, not just what you end up with after farting around with some roving. Now I’m intimidated. And interested. I can’t wait to see how it will all turn out in the end. Good luck!
    P.S. The mittens are looking great! Good grief you’re fast!

  4. What a teaser for the mittens! They look great so far. Love the yarn comparison. I tend to spin…whatever. I know I should play with the ratios and pickup and treadling, but I rarely do. Now I feel inspired – love the photo comparing the two. However, sadly, Tuesdays are not my spinning day – Friday or Saturday, usually.

  5. I don’t imagine I’ll ever take up spinning, but as a handcraft it’s quite amazing. I guess knitting is like that for some people – I know how to knit laceweight or chunky or smooth or bumpy, but I have no idea how it is made.
    What happened to Joe’s gansey; did we ever see that?

  6. Nice yarn! And congratulations on being able to spin something thicker than sport weight – this continues to be a challenge for me.
    In the critique-ing department – it’s really worth giving it a quick dunk and thwack. I am repeatedly shocked SHOCKED to find out how much some yarns bloom. I don’t think Corrie blooms all that much, but it likely will. So, if you’re in the neighborhood of it being right, a wash and a thwack might be all it takes.
    Remember that cone of yarn from Webs that you used to make the Sunrise Circle Jacket? That puppy loomed LARGE after a bath!
    Now, if only I can make my Corrie/Romney cross look like that, I’ll be in good shape for sweater knitting, too.

  7. That Cosima pattern is calling out to me, too.
    Your yarn has a lovely color (at least on my screen) in both iterations. Blue-gray? Brown-gray? Natural sheep color or dyed? Anyway, it looks quite compatible with Cosima.

  8. I know exactly nothing about spinning, but the top one looks a lot softer, and lighter, so I would think that would be more suitable for the lovley lace pattern of the jumper that you have in mind. I think that the soft colour of the yarn will also draw attention to pattern. It certainly seems like you have a full proof plan. (Sorry, have I just completely put a jinx on the whole project). Dawn

  9. Looks great, and your 1960s “black and white” tv colours will match perfectly with your 1960s avocado appliances.

  10. Brilliant! I’m going to try that technique. I clearly need to read more about spinning instead of just sitting down and creating whatever the fiber and wheel decide they want to create!

  11. I have got to save these notes of yours for my own spinning – thanks!
    And the glimpse of the frankenmitts looks lovely – can’t wait to see the finished product!

  12. What exactly is the gauge of the top spun yarn? I can’t tell from the pic if it’s the weight you need it to be. So, if it’s not I’m assuming that you’ll either three ply or navajo ply it to get it to work, but then again there’s the possibility of adjusting your needle size, but then again the whole point of Tuesday is spinning and so perhaps this needs to be decided on the wheel. Triple ply and spin closer to what you’re comfortable with making. Is the yarn as “itchy” as it looks? Of course, after you’ve fulled it by whacking the heck out of it, it just might be the gauge you need it to be!

  13. Uck – I can ‘barely’ get through a swatch. No wonder I can’t even begin to consider spinning. All you spinners out there – go for it. You have my admiration!
    p.s. Do you let the cat, whose name is ?–? into the spinning room? What fun!
    Tuesdays are mourning day for me – had to let my little guy go into the light 5 weeks ago today.
    Maybe Tuesdays should be called tearing day for me!

  14. I’m trying to do the same thing, only I need bulky singles. Bleah! I’m getting nowhere. I shall persevere!

  15. I’m working on that same sweater (sleeve and 1/2 front)and I have to say I think it’s the alpaca in the Berroco yearn that makes it so bouncy. I will be interested to see how a solid wool works since I have lots of that in my stash and I like many of the other patterns in that book.
    Good luck.

  16. p.s.
    Love the mittens. Still thinking I should order the Selbuvotter book. It has been on my list for many moons.

  17. I have also had more trouble getting bulky and lofty yarn as I have been spinning for 8 years now. I am glad to see you were successful.
    The second sample is very nice looking and I am surprised that it is too loose. I think much more ply than what you have will risk being too much, particularly if you are already in the habit of spinning tighter yarns. It would be easy to overply, I think. It is easy to find out though- you can always add a little more twist to the ply without having to spin a whole new sample.
    I wish you well on your spinning and look forward to seeing the results.

  18. The yarn on top is definitely loftier. Not sure if you want more twist in it or not. Corriedale can make such a nice yarn. Maybe spin a little more, knit a small sample swatch, and see what you think. Easy advice to give, hard advice to follow.

  19. Cool. I don’t think I could stand to “sample” either. I’m still trying to make myself knit swatches.
    On the mitten topic – OMG! did you see the fornicating deer mittens on Ravelry? Certainly not the formal mittens you were looking for but entertaining nonetheless.
    Why yes, I am apparently still 12 – why do you ask?

  20. Unbelievable. You’re spinning grey wool for a whole new sweater.
    Rams? This one’s all yours. I’m speechless.

  21. I can’t believe that spinning is SO interesting! I mean seriously..spinning wool! Makes me laugh every time! Anyway…I like the second go round:)) Totally soft and cuddly looking. Great job:)

  22. Your spinning is fantastic! While I am not a spinner, I tried with a handmade drop spindle and some roving…it didn’t work.
    So I then tried it with a plastic bag, and strangley enough….it worked. Which is just so typico in my life.

  23. Beautiful mittens! Can you tell us how that braid is done? I feel up to a little wristwarmer action but not a whole 2 mittens yet! (I would have to start in May as EZ recommends). I would like to have the book, but the right book…?

  24. Surprisingly, actually sitting down, counting my treadle to draft ratios, and plying tighter is what made my yarn actually start to look like yarn that I would want to spin with. For me it’s more like knitting a complicated lace pattern once I understand the repeats — I am actively engaged at some point, keeping it all on track, but I am also able to just zen out as well.
    I seem to only be able to do a consistent good worsted weight though. Working on that however. Arizona’s not such a great place for worsted wool 🙂

  25. You make me want to spin! Although, I’m not sure I have the brains for it. Seems pretty complicated and I like simple things these days.

  26. I’m a knitting teacher. I preach swatching. I tsk tsk at the student who didn’t swatch.
    I can’t handle it, though. I hate it. I can’t even imagine “spinning with a project in mind”. I’m ok with that…if I ever manage to spin enough to make myself something, I’ll let the yarn speak to me!

  27. I’m not a spinning, but I’m wondering if it’s possible to tink your spinning like I do my knitting at times?

  28. Tuesdays here are for deciding how much knitting one needs to pack for a flight to England. Maybe I could get a pair of mittens done too, but certainly not as intricate as yours. Beautiful!!!

  29. I want to know more about the mitten. Spinning is boring but probably only because I am jealous that I can’t seem to get the hang of it…that and I don’t have a wheel. Can’t wait until tomorrow when the knitting is back. 🙂

  30. I think the the yarn (the one on top) is beautiful. The First one is nice, but the 2nd attempt is stellar.

  31. The mitten is fabulous!
    I love the tighter yarn myself, and am now daydreaming about an Aran sweater… What if you were to cable ply it?
    Can’t wait to see what comes, whatever you choose!

  32. Love the start of the mittens, can’t wait to see more of them …
    On the spinning: what Diane said — wash the sample, see how it looks. The bloom may surprise you.
    The thicker yarn looks only slightly underplied, because the fibers aren’t running quite parallel to the length of the yarn on the surface [nice yarn closeup, BTW]; you don’t want to add just more plying twist to a balanced yarn unless you want it overplied. So, wash it and see if the skein twists on itself, too (you did spin up enough for a skein, right? even just a little one?) If it twists opposite the ply direction, then it’s underplied, and you can go ahead and add more plying twist to it.
    Maybe go back to Lettuce Knit with your samples in your hand … or a protractor, to measure twist angles on the Cuzco 😉
    Hope this helps — happy spinning.

  33. OK, but next time? Start with a 2 color braided cast on, and follow up with the Latvian braid..
    (i am cast on obsessed, but really, a braid cast on is just about REQUIRED for beautiful mittens like that!)

  34. I’m with the other commenters who recommend washing your sample. I’m not convinced that your yarn will be as lovely, soft and lofty as you will want it to be (it might be the photograph, but it looks kind of wiry), and hope you’ll wash, measure the dpi, then swatch before committing. And, do take a few notes, just enough to remind yourself of what you did so you can do it again.
    This from the woman who carries around a spinning notebook in her bag but never opens it.

  35. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think you should knit a swatch of the second sample before you decide if it’s too loose or not. If you’re like me and usually spin a thin, tightly twisted yarn, you may be surprised at how this yarn looks knitted up.
    The mittens look gorgeous, at least from the stingy little peek you gave us. Can’t wait to see the FO!!

  36. Go with Diane’s advice to dunk, etc. That sweater is too beautiful to not fit in the end! Mitten sample looks great. Also wondering about golden sparkly mittens and Joe’s gansey.

  37. Stephanie, you need to get a copy of Paula Simmons (Pat Green’s wife) book called Spinning for Softness and Speed. It has revolutionized my spinning. The yarn you get with her method is exactly what you are looking for! (JMM does not approve, but I decided I didn’t care.)

  38. I’m even more haphazard than you and am likely to just change pattern size to fit my yarn. I’m thinking I would like to check out Marcia’s suggestion about Paula Simmons’ book.

  39. I’m quite amazed that you can change the way you spin – mind you, I can barely spin on a drop spindle. Hrm, looks like it might be time to look into some classes.
    The mittens are beautiful, btw. Would this be a bad time to mention that today will be 25 degrees Celsius in Melbourne, Australia?

  40. I love how I always learn something when spinners discourse. Yes, I see how much puffier the yarn at the top of the picture is. And the colour is beautiful. I see how the yarn at the bottom would probably end up making a 100-pound sweater. The mittens are lovely too. I love making mittens too, I just don’t like thinking about why we need them. Have you noticed how short the days are getting?

  41. Sorry, praise for brilliance. No criticism. I cannot imagine spinning, let alone spinning to have a desired outcome. So go girl, I love to learn.
    However, that mitty—too wonderful! I’m going to have to find something to add that wonderful braid. Off to search.

  42. Wait, you mean you don’t think both of those are within tolerance for the same skein? :). I’ll be more apt to sample when my spinning gets more predictable!

  43. That’s one good-looking mitten! Have you tried the vikkel braid out of Folk Knitting in Estonia? That’s the only one that I’ve messed with (so far) and it’s lovely as well.

  44. You could add a third ply, which might make the lace pattern pop. You could also card the roving (it takes a lot of time, I know…) to add softness and spring.

  45. Well the mittens are gorgeous and I am thinking you are very inspiring with the spinning. I am going to push myself away from the computer before I feel the urge to try that on for size. I think I will be an observer not a participator in that sport so this is me giving you appreciative applause as I back away from the temptation.

  46. I’m so impressed by your conviction to Tuesdays are for spinning. I try to make one day a week and I always sneak in some comfort knitting. Way to spin!!

  47. I love these spinning posts! This one was particularly neat. It’s great how wheels can be adjusted to create such different yarns. Now I’m getting really excited to do some of my own spinning later.

  48. awesome! i’m not that advanced in my spinning but as I hope to spindle for a bit today (i’ve leant my wheel out) i’ll see if any of that can be applied. Must think, but not overthink, and most importantly… HAVE FUN! 🙂

  49. When you get your mitten made, don’t forget to make a hat and scarf to match. Unless you want to belive the poll you took last year that ended with the results being that we are all going out in unmatched knitting as an intentional idea and not one born of laziness.

  50. I’m way too cheap to spin a thick yarn. I like to get maximum yardage for my money. I do have a big bag of cream-colored alpaca in the stash pile, though. After sharing some of it out with a fellow spinner, there’ll be more than enough to sample and spin in various ways. Would you mind showing us your long-draw method next Tuesday?

  51. Don’t forget that your yarn will change when you wash whack and dry it…I am with a previous poster, do that to your sample and then take it to the store with ya to compare.
    Do show us what it looks like after washing and drying, I am still learning about these changes and would love to see what yours does.

  52. In my local spinning shop the other day I saw a wheel specifically for spinning chunky yarn. Ever heard of such a thing? You seem to be doing great, though. But you really ought to swatch n’ wash. ‘Member that one sweater that grew to 60 times it’s original when it hit water?

  53. Not a spinner so can’t give much of a yarn critique, but I like the look of the batt….and you picked the pattern that I was just looking at the other night. I had even put Cuzco in my cart at WEBS in preparation. 🙂 Spin on……..

  54. I like the spinning content as well as the knitting. I’m expecting delivery of my first share of fiber fresh from the fiber farm (sort of a tongue twister, that), and will save it until I have enough skill to do it credit. I’ll be getting my first wheel for Christmas, and am madly reading all I can about the various wheels so I can decide which to get.

  55. My handspun has serious issues with loft and whatnot. I think some of your suggestions might help! I’m spinning on a Babe though, so adjustment options are somewhat limited…

  56. Your yarn looks beautiful, and I’m trying to learn by osmosis for that inevitable point where I fall into the rabbit hole that is spinning. So far I’ve resisted admirably.
    I just purchased the Cosima pattern, too, for my wonderful non-knitting friend who is kind enough to go to yarn shops with me when I’m visiting. Now THAT’S friendship! She fell for the pattern hard, so how could I resist?
    The Frankenmittens are beautiful–Latvian braid is so pretty, and for some reason, makes me feel clever when I knit it. Can’t wait to see them finished.

  57. It was 80 degrees here today but you make me want to knit mittens. I’ve got the Selbuvotter book, I’ve got perfect yarn from Rhinebeck, I just need to pick a pattern, drop everything else I’m knitting, and begin. Trouble is, whenever I pull out the book, I cannot decide, they are all so beautiful. Maybe I’ll take another look at 15.

  58. Doesn’t look too loose to me. Looks perfect. But then, I add twist as I knit, so looser is better. What a great sweater to be spinning for!

  59. every time i read a post about spinning i am just boggled! for me, the non-spinner type, it is akin to listening to stephen hawking discuss quantum gravity. i am in awe and afraid all at the same time! and this is ok!

  60. Lovely difference between the first and second yarn. I’d try just a slightly looser tension to get a smidge more twist in and I think you’ll be there. Corriedale is excellent for the long draw and this kind of yarn, it really is a nice balance between grabby and soft, usually!

  61. I “steam set” the ply twist on some of my spindle-spun yarn for the first time last weekend. I was absolutely shocked to see it move, fluff, and sort of wiggle into place. I didn’t know wool would do that. Does yours do that?

  62. OMG! You’re a lifesaver! I bought 8 braids of fiber so I could spin yarn for my own sweater, but I was too scared to start and now I’m totally going to use your post as a guideline. Thanks.
    Of course, if it doesn’t work out it’ll be my fault, but I’m begging your forgiveness in advance just in case I *accidentally* blame you if my sweater fiber becomes a baby blanket! 😉

  63. Make sure you find the irratta on that pattern! I started it before I properly researched. They yarn looks nice, a bit loose for that pattern.

  64. Nice. I was thinking long draw.
    Your dissertation on what some people do with swatching reminded me of a tip I heard long ago, and have recently benefited from, that I thought I’d share. Someone once suggested putting the number of purl bumps of the US size of the needle you used for any swatch that you happen to do and keep. I was recently stash diving and came across one of these nicely documented swatches (that rely not on pinned papers that rip off, btdt, and notebook, ha!) and it made me think well of the me from 4 or 5 years ago that knitted it. Thought you might like the idea too.
    Gawrsh, two comments in as many days. Hello!

  65. So I started a group on Ravelry. Spin Your Stash. Starting on the equinox to the spring equinox spin up as much as you can. Making room for the spring fiber shows! Perfect for your tuesdays are for spinning.

  66. Those mittens are looking smashing! Can’t wait to see more. Totally in awe of the braids.
    About the spinning, speaking from experience, the softer, loftier yarn will also yield much less stitch definition than the more tightly spun sample, so you might want to knit up a smidge of the sweater pattern with some sample yarn (washed and thwacked, of course) to make sure the pattern doesn’t get lost in soft, lovely, squishy, vagueness.
    Love this topic, and am looking forward to the next installment.

  67. I think your plying twist looks about right. Have to see after a wash and good thwacking. You might try decreasing the tension just a smidge on the singles. To my eye that looked like it might be the issue. Good luck.

  68. I’m wondering about the fleece you tossed. Did you give it to the squirrels? They would surely owe you something then, or rather, you’d own them! And you’d be far out on the positive end of the karma scale after that, while the squirrels… not so much.
    I love the Frankenmittens, I’m thinking of a similar project. I love almost all the single elements from Selbuvotter (for some reason, not the dogs and moose), but not all of the finished patterns so cooking up something of my own is definitely a good idea.

  69. I think that Cosima will look better with a slightly more tightly plied yarn, so I highly approve of your plan to try plying it a bit tighter. Good loft though, and of course I’m very impressed at your intentional versatility. I know that not everyone agrees, but I just love the texture that handspun 2-ply knits up with in stockinette. Kind of flat and light and nubbly all at once. (Some say 2 ply is just good for lace, hence the not everyone agrees comment)

  70. Is there enough of it to knit – we can critique the yarn from now until Easter but the test is whether it knits up to the tension you want. It’s all about the knitting,the yarn is just an intermediate stage.

  71. Did you wash and finish your bulky sample? it will bloom more (as you well know!!)
    If you want it poofier try spinning long draw from rolags…yes, fast takeup, low twist. Spinning long draw from top will give you a denser yarn. Spinning long draw from rolags will give you a true woolen yarn. But if you can’t be bothered with all that carding (seems fair!!) then try spinning frm the fold.
    If that’s still not bulky enough, navajo ply it?

  72. My usual spinning looks like your first try- dense and tight. I’ve been playing with my wheel to see what works and what doesn’t- hopefully I can work my way up to your lovely chunky, bouncy yarn!

  73. Ohhh my gosh would you look at that, it’s a spin tech post that I actually completely understand! I’m an “advanced beginner” spinner dragging myself, page by page, through the (incredibly well-written and informative) Alden Amos Big Book of Hand Spinning. This post was the perfect antidote to feeling like a total idiot. Thank you!

  74. A few months ago (before I started spinning myself) I could not imagine a spining post could be so interesting…
    Can’t wait to see how the sweater turns out, it is such a lovely pattern BTW…
    Oh, and the mittens, mmmmm…

  75. Sorry I’m late, but I’m glad to clear things up for you, Presbytera. Stephanie is understandably tired of spinning gra[e]y on Thursdays. But see, this isn’t gre[a]y — it’s BROWN-gray/grey-Brown. See?

  76. Weigh it. Measure a yard, weigh it on a crack scale, and figure out how many yards are in 100g. Then compare that to your commercial yarn’s yardage, and see how close you’re getting.
    If I was attempting this, I would have bought one ball of the commercial yarn to compare to. ONE BALL. Then make a hat out of it or something when you’re done.

  77. I’ve often found it easier to make the yarn then find the project rather than to spin for a particular project. I have resolved to finish the weaving on the (now) 3 looms and the 2 knitting projects. THEN I can find the spinning wheels.

  78. Ohmygoodness, my computer colors are totally off. Steph is spinning BROWNISH-grey fiber for an entire whole complete new sweater for herself. *blush* I see it now.
    Thanks for clearing that up, Rams. What would I do without you?

  79. “Crap to Awesome Ratio” —– complete genius!
    I don’t like swatching/sampling much either! Looks like you are right on track though… and I couldn’t resist that pattern booklet either, It’s at home waiting for me to either spin or buy the perfect yarn. It may be waiting a long time lol

  80. The second attempt looks perfectly balanced. I would not change the plying twist! Of course without the commercial yarn you are trying to copy being in the photo for comparison, I can’t tell if you have the correct grist! I like what you are doing, I am constantly telling my spinning students that they should try spinning specific yarns instead of always spinning their “default” yarn!
    Good job!
    Beth P.

  81. I hate to be a buzz kill, but maybe you could knit just the tiniest swatch with the new yarn, check your gauge, see how the drape is (Cuzco is half alpaca), carry it around a bit to see how it wears. Better than spinning the lot of fiber and realizing it’s not going to work!
    Now if I would just take my own advice…

  82. Oh, yeah, you definitely want to knit Cosima. I did it late last year and wore it all the rest of the year. I did make some adjustments to the neckline but the only thing I would do differently next time is make the sleeves long – the pattern has 3/4 sleeves and those don’t work so well when it’s actually cold enough to wear it. I would also, probably spin for the next version. Cuzco is alpaca and it’s pretty heavy. I like the idea of doing it in wool and not having so much weight to it. I don’t think the pattern really needs it.

  83. I just want you to know that, because I am your friend and this is what friends do, I’ll happily knit up a swatch for you in your finished yarn to help you determine its suitability. No, no…really. Completely selfless, totes all about helping you succeed. I PROMISE I’ll return any and all unused handspun. AHEM.

  84. Well, I don’t know about critiquing you, but that second yarn you spun looks absolutely gorgeous.So, so yummy.
    And thank you for the thoughts on changing needles rather than resolving to knit more loosely. I’ve heard that one before, but somehow the lightbulb finally turned on this time. (I have a terrible reputation for making knitting resolutions I can’t keep.) So thanks for making my brain click at last!

  85. I just took my first spinning lesson, and what you say scares me…scares me, I tell you! I think it is because I am realizing what a huge learning curve I am facing. I don’t even have a wheel yet, for cripes sake! But I love the yarn that I made at my class…more of an art yarn, but I knitted it right up into a neck warmer and am in love ith that too. So I think I will face the curve with fortitude and not think about how much it scares me. Love the mittens, btw.

  86. Thank you! As a new spinner I do read instructions and hear suggestions for all the ways doing this or that can change one’s spinning… but to really comprehend it there’s nothing like a head to head comparison.
    Your list of specific changes to the wheel settings combined with the photos of the two yarns spun lets me really see the difference.

  87. I knit Cosima last winter (out of the bouncy Cuzco). Great, great sweater. But — watch out for the neck ribbing! 😉 Also, the pattern runs a bit on the large side. . .

  88. Thsi si why I love your blog because you walk your readers through the thought process and learning curve and we get to have the aha! moments vicariously.
    I’m petting some lovely fleece that I want to start spinning soon, and everything you said this morning is going to make starting easier. Thanks.

  89. Nice! You’re getting there. I recently went for a worsted (instead of fingering) on my Ashford and was happy to end up with dk! Now I’ll have to make a note of the adjustments you used. Thanks!

  90. I have been spinning for a good long time, but I’m a terribly slow learner, so I’m just now starting to get decent yarn, so actually attempting to spin an entire sweaters worth of yarn in a gauge called for in a pattern is mind boggling to me. I applaud your resolve, and wish you the best of luck. I think both the bottom and top look great btw.

  91. I know this is a Tuesday post, and should be about spinning, but I’m not reading it until Wednesday. I love the pattern. I see it’s from Berroco, so is it by Norah Gaughan, or just inspired by her? I loooooovvvve her designs. I haven’t braved knitting one yet, but I’m trying to get my daughter to pick one out. She is 26, and not as enthralled as I. I just got Norah Gaughan #2, and can’t wait to show it to her. Hopefully, she’ll like one of these!
    I do love your yarn, and envy your spinning ability. I wish I could spin. But, no room, no time, and too many other activities to take up my time.

  92. I love the color of yor wool — it will be lovely when it’s finished!
    I looked at the sweater you were going to make and then went back and studied your spun samples. I like the bottom one better. From what I’m seeing, I think the fibers on your corriedale are probably a little short to be spun bulky. The upper sample has more little hairy fibers than the bottom, which means that later it is going to have more pilling which won’t be pretty in a lace sweater. Since you don’t have all of the “harriness” in the finer spinning, maybe your yarn would be better 3-plied to give you the grist you need?

  93. Nope, no critique here. That second batch looks much more like what you described with your desiderata. I love that quote from Judith; when I heard her say that the first time, it was like someone just shook up my whole head and everything settled into a more sensible place. Now I wish I was at home with me wheel instead of here at work…

  94. I’m totally with the “wash and whack” crowd. And increase your take up by just a teensy smidge and you’ll get the twist you want – shouldn’t take much at that grist to make the difference. But definitely see how much bloom you get after washing before commiting to spinning a sweater’s worth!

  95. Are you sure it’s too loose??? I hate to say the “S” word, but you could knit up a smitch on the needles you are planning and see. Of course with a monitor pic it’s hard to say, but for a chunky yarn with drape etc. it looks good from this angle.

  96. I realize this is more work, but I’ll mention it since no one else has (from the quick skim I did of the comments). Have you thought of doing a woolen prep to the sliver instead of worsted? I think part of the reason why it’s *too easy* to spin too thin of a yarn is that it’s prepped wrong. I’m stuck doing lace and sport weights or else a 3-ply to bulk up my yarns.
    I agree with everyone else to wash and whack to bloom a yarn, but fundamentally you will end up with a loftier yarn if you give woolen prep a try. 🙂

  97. Good timing. I’m still a very new spinner, but am gravitating towards finer and finer yarns. I want to spin something more heavy worsted for my next project, and this is good info on how to do it.

  98. Well, I don’t KNOW because I don’t spin, but I thought I read that Corridale does bloom nicely. I could very easily be wrong.
    If the yarn is too puffy, couldn’t you just squunch it with smaller needles? Maybe not with the lace of the sweater.
    I love the colour and I admire your ambition. I am attempting a spell of finishitis. It seems unfair at this time of year, and I am jealous of your lovely new project. I am looking forward to progress reports. The non-existent mittens are gorgeous.

  99. Those mittens look gorgeous! However, if you are making them for your children, don’t forget that they need to have a matching scarf or hat, so they look like a ‘store-bought’ set. I thought that that observation by your daughter was priceless.

  100. Ooohhh, no more ply. Keep it soft and loose and it will knit soft and loose. Many handspun yarns are overplied because the spinner thinks they look better as yarn that way, but they knit better with a softer ply.

  101. The yarn is quite nice. However, here’s what I do/believe: Fiber tends to have a mind of it’s own, what kind of yarn does the fiber want to become? I always spin with a project in mind, well, almost always. But what I do is spin up a skein, spinning with the idea that this fiber is for a shawl/sweater/vest/hat and then make a final pattern decision from there. If I get too specific from the get-go, I lose spinning zen and I hate the project before I have even begun.
    Gillian, who is currently spinning her Jacob sheep Hobbes in the grease for a chunky yummy sweater, some other yummy something for trade, a correidale for a shawl, and some blue faced leicester for sale.

  102. I know nothing about spinning. However, regarding swatching: pinning a note to a swatch or putting it in a notebook is never going to work for me. So when I finish a swatch, I take the leftover ‘tail’ from the cast on, and I make overhand knots in it. Five knots mean I used size five needles. Eight knots=size eight needles. Etc. This is the only clear instance I know of where the US sizes are actually easier to reference than the mm sizes.

  103. Your mitten is beautiful! How funny… I have a photo of my Latvian mitten at about the same spot, on a table just like that. In fact, when I saw your picture I was confused for a second!

  104. I love the sweater! It’s been in my queue for ever, and I’m looking forward to seeing yours.

  105. I have read your blog for a long time, but this is my first time to comment. Are thoe Signature DPNs you are using for the mitten? I am about to start my first mittens with the ones I purchased after I first saw them on your blog earlier this year. I can’t wait the try them!

  106. I have no yarn critique since my cat kept eating the drive band on my wheel. I’ve temporarily given up trying to learn till the cat goes or I think up some devilishly clever way to keep him from eating twine and requiring *ahem* extraction.
    But those mitten braids are a heck of a lot of fun, aren’t they?

  107. Hey, anatomically correct snowflakes! Great minds run in the same direction… so do heads of cabbage.
    As for the yarn, it all looks lovely. I am irresistibly drawn to your first attempt, but then my hands always want to make laceweight. It makes for very slow spinning. I am impressed with your output.

  108. how’s the frankenmitten? i’m hoping we’ll get to see an mitten FO post on friday – with maybe 2 pairs of mittens… or has the cuffless mitten been hidden away in the sofa?

  109. I know you have chosen (cobbled together) your mitten pattern, so this is closing the barn door after the horses got loose, but … have you seen the Winter’s Eve Mittens, by Janel Laidman, Rustling Leaf Press??? They’re on Ravelry, with this quote:
    “It’s a winter’s eve, you see the lights shining through the windows … the snow is falling softly, softly, softly as you turn over your mitten and catch a snowflake.”
    Naturally, there’s a snowflake motif on the inside of the mitten, where your fingers would be. Too cute.
    Want to start a second pair of mittens? I would.

  110. Actually, leah, Farmgirlnow beat me by over 2 hours. Credit where it’s due.
    Still, it’s one amazing mitten.

  111. How do you feel about pre-drafting? If you can pull out pre-drafted strips, you can just spin them as-is instead of drafting at the wheel…thereby forcing yourself to make chunkier yarn.
    I find that’s usually the best way to do it for me.

  112. Sing The Spinning Song while treadling. Brings my speed down and the loft up every time. In Canada at the moment (though not close) so maybe could ring and sing? Or it’s probably on the Net somewhere. It begins, ‘Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning’ if you hunt.

  113. Your blog is such an inspiration to me and I enjoy it so much. In your quest for the perfect mitten last week I followed up on all the suggestions and admired them from afar. Here in So. California we don’t need mittens but I can love them anyway. I was inspired to order some books and here’s one that just came that is wonderful. I think you might enjoy it too. The book is called
    Norwegian Handknits, Heirloom Designs From Vesterheim Museum.
    This museum is at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
    It’s just lovely and has some of the snowflake mittens in it as well as other wonderful things that I could only dream of making.

  114. LOL – okay, feeling a bit embarrassed, but I get so excited reading about another spinner’s efforts and seeing their work/samples/attempts and all that! I read your post verrrry slowly just to get the max enjoyment out of it. Yes, I’m a dork; I admit it.
    Yeah – that 2nd sample should work a LOT better, Steph. I like it, and your ideas worked out so well. Doesn’t that feel great to work out a problem like that? I always feel so clever if I can manage to pull that off (not very often). When I was a new spinner, most of what I spun was sooo tight that anything knitted from it bigger than a coaster would’ve felt like a bullet-proof vest.
    Mayyyybe you want a tad more twist, but it’s excellent just as it is and I think it would work, providing you like the gauge. I’d try drinking another cuppa joe to get the extra twist if you decide you need it. That should do it (thus speaks the 5-pots-of-coffee-per-day drinker). 🙂 I’d love to see a knitted up sample of the Corrie in the Cosima pattern, though, before you add in any more twist. Ha – you’ve probably got that on another post, but I’m sooo far behind in my reading this month! I’m betting you’ve enough twist already to get some great stitch definition. Good luck!
    I also love how your mittens are turning out – they’re so beautiful! Wish I could do better color-work, but I’m so busy spinning I haven’t taken the time to practice Fair Isle. Your mittens are an inspiration for me to get off my duff and Just DO It.
    Would it be okay if I bragged to you a bit? I’m so lazy with my own blog (hate taking photos), so haven’t bothered updating it since May (!), but I gotta tell SOMEBODY or bust my drive band. See, I too have been trying to work on getting bigger singles and I’ve alllmost got it – sometimes. I’m almost to where I can spin worsted or bulky consistently with a 2-ply.
    I have some butt-ugly (when spun) combed merino top from (famous-Brand-wheel-company) that is – basically – orange and blue. Gorgeous sunset-effect in the top – majorly hideous when spun up – total mud. I was a newbie spinner when I got it – but still should’ve known better.
    I tried 4 times to make it look decent. When I decided to spin it “really thick” at least I could see the individual colors. Still ugly, but an improvement, nonetheless. Walking by one of my (dozens) of full-and-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-them bobbins, I spied 2 nearly-full bobbins of chocolate brown alpaca. Feeling desperate to make that ugly roving look at least respectable, I twisted a few inches of them together: MAGIC! It’s a GORGEOUS, glorious tweed-y look I totally didn’t expect.
    The suri alpaca, having very little body, gives fab drape and silky feel, but no “memory”, so it droops and stretches when worn – or even when NOT worn. The merino gives the whole yarn structure and enough body that the alpaca shouldn’t sag too much when knitted up. I hope. Cuz I’m gonna make me a shrug from this stuff, I yam! It’s soooo beautiful!
    The hubster even said, when I showed him the knitted up sampling result (I rarely do this), he said (nearly knocking me over with a feather): “Well, I guess that just means there no such thing as an ugly yarn – or fiber!). I still can’t believe he said that. My sister and daughter are witnesses to this. He stunned us into dead silence, but perhaps he meant to… LOL
    I’m sorry for bragging on YOUR blog, Steph! I just wanted sooo badly to tell Another Spinner what I went through and what I did… THEY understand, totally.

  115. Hi Stephanie –
    I’m a long time (and daily) checker and reader of your blog. Part of what appeals to me about your blog is your disposition, but I mostly enjoy your political perspectives. It’s lovely to hear a vegetarian feminist speak eloquently about day-to-day experiences (be they frustrating or wonderful) in Canada.
    My partner and I are starting a pilot project. We’ve been asked to go teach revolutionary English to adults and teenagers alike in exchange for room and board voluntarily in a beautiful town called Carora in Venezuela. We’re trying to make our ends consistent with our means, so we’re trying to pay for all of this ourselves. We’re going to have a benefit show featuring a really cool band called Three Sheet, plus my partner and myself on September 26th at 8 pm in The Music Room in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I was hoping that you could advertise our blog on your blog, since your blog is so cool, and our project is so awesome.
    Thank you for your time and consideration!
    P.S. I’m about halfway through the Owls pullover pattern on ravelry. I highly recommend it!

  116. The second sample looks like it will work. I agree that you should definitely wash and thwack it, then knit a little sample of the pattern as suggested by others. The sweater is going to be so nice. 🙂
    I am knitting a sweater with my handspun as well. It’s another Berroco pattern, “Ditto”. I had to go up a needle size for both the rib and body, and down a pattern size to make it work. I think I could have gotten away with one size smaller than I’m doing, but want to wear it over winter clothes. The fiber I’m using is from a friend’s Coopworth sheep in a lovely rose gray color.
    Now, I’m spinning for a February Lady Sweater. The yoke yarn is finished, so I’m working on the lace part.
    I keep a small piece of the single yarn in front of me for comparison spinning so I can maintain the same thickness. It works most of the time.

  117. Love your spinning – I am not nearly as far along the spinning learning curve as you! I don’t properly sample as described, and generally spin for the pleasure of creating yarn, worrying about what to do with it later – thus, I have an entire basket of random yarns that I have spun, and have no clue what to do with them! I hope to be inspired by the new Homespun Handknit book I just ordered, though – I must say, though, you do inspire me to greater things, and one day, I hope to have the courage to do exactly what you are doing now, planning for and spinning for a major project – (sigh) one day….
    thanks for your blog, your humor, and your ability to laugh at yourself, it is not an easy thing to do, and I appreciate you so much – you inspire so many of us average knitters out there! Hope you have a marvelous day!

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