Crafty Stories

I like to tell stories through the creative arts. I may be slightly obsessed with books, movies, TV shows, yarn and fiber. Wanna hang out?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Spinning Locks!

As part of my offerings at the fiber festival, I sold hand dyed merino locks. A few customers asked me if they had to be carded or if you can spin them straight out of the bag. Of course you CAN card locks or fleece before spinning, but my preferred method is to spin straight from the locks.

Here's why:
1. Spinning from fleece is cheap and fast. You can just grab the fleece (clean or dirty, technically, though I prefer to spin clean wool so as to avoid dirt in my lap) and start spinning. You don't have to pay for all the extra fiber preparation steps and you don't have to wait to do those steps either. Instant gratification at its best!
2. Spinning locks sort of forces you to relinquish control. This can be especially fun once in a while for spinners who like to force the yarn into submission or who stress out when a yarn doesn't turn out the way it was "supposed to." Spinning locks/fleece is like controlled chaos, and you pretty much have to let the locks be in charge, which can be fun (I swear)!
3. Spinning locks gives you instant texture. I love to corespin locks, but they look equally well as singles, tail-spun or a plied yarn. It's so much fun, and it gives you the chunky funky texture of a commercial "fun fur" yarn but without all the plastic. Bonus!

So I thought I'd do a little post today about spinning locks. It's also kind of a lesson in learning from the fiber while you spin and also in how to improvise to create art yarn when you can't afford the wheel of your dreams, so stay tuned! It's a good one. :)

This time I started off with some hand dyed (by me) merino locks and some hand dyed Wensleydale locks that I got as a gift. I tossed the two fiber groups together, like tossing a salad, and I held it in my lap as I spun. Here's what it looked like at that point:

Super fun, right?!?!?

Anyway, as I spun the singles I just grabbed a handful at a time, drafting slightly but still retaining that lock formation and shape as I went. I tried to grab handfuls of each fiber type in proportionate amounts as I spun. Here's a close-up of the singles as I spun them:

You can see here how much I drafted and how the curly locks are still taking center stage, so to speak.

Here's the part where I learned a lesson. I started spinning these singles and I realized that since merino has something of a short staple, it's hard to hold the locks together as a strong single-ply yarn. I started wishing I would have corespun the yarn, but at this point I had already spun so much that I didn't want to waste what I'd used so far, so I kept going. At times the singles broke, either during the merino sections or as I joined merino to Wensleydale, so I ended up having to wind it back out the orifice and re-join in several spots.

As I considered knitting with this yarn, I figured the singles would break in that process, too, and that's just no good. So I figured I'd better ply them to make them more sturdy. The problem with that is that my wheel has a standard orifice, flyer and bobbin. As you can see in the last photo, those locks were barely fitting onto my darling Babe as singles; they were never going to fit through there once I plied them.

What was an art yarnista to do, without an art yarn friendly wheel at her service?

Well, this art yarnista went out to the laundry room where she keeps the Storied Yarns shop inventory. She grabbed her Rule of Thirds spindle and took it for a test spin (product testing is very important, after all!). She loaded that puppy up with a super bulky, 2ply locks-only yarn until it looked like this:

That's almost 3 ounces of super bulky 2ply locks on ONE spindle! Pretty awesome, eh? So, lesson learned: as I save up to buy my dream wheel, I can at least still make art yarns on a heavy spindle. Handy!

Here's the finished skein - sorry the photo is a little dark, I took this picture in the wee hours of the morning:

Pretty awesome, huh? I got about 25 yards of super duper bulky texture out of this little exercise, and it's super soft and gorgeous!!! I'll be putting this baby in the shop soon, but if it doesn't sell my sister might get a new scarf for her birthday out of it. :)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!! Head on over to Andrea's blog and join in on the fun!

1 comment:

  1. I always sell out of my lock yarns. Many people use them for doll hair or jewelry. They are always fun to spin.