Thick Crushed Velvet – A Yarn At Last!

I FINALLY finished the “Crushed Velvet” merino spinning I started during this year’s Tour de Fleece. This was the extra thick handspun I attempted for one of the challenges. (You can see how it started out here.) I decided to chain ply the singles because I definitely wanted the extra thick squishy that you get from a three ply yarn. But I didn’t know how much was on each spindle, so I would end up with an uneven amount left over if I just plyed directly from the spindles. Plus, my singles were split among four different spindles. I would have to chain ply whatever amount was left over, so might as well just chain ply the whole thing!

This project had been such a great learning experience, discovering I could still spin thick yarn. (If I reaaaaaaaaaaally concentrated.) I continued the learning by trying a new approach to chain plying. Last time, it was just a hot mess trying to smoothly and evenly connect two separate singles while in the middle of the chain ply. And then the drop spindle I was plying on would get full, and so I would have another join to deal with. (This was the Broken Ornaments yarn, if you were wondering.)

This time, I took each Tibetan spindle’s worth of fiber and chain plying it onto its own drop spindle.

Four supported spindles of singles turned into four drop spindles worth of chain plying
Four supported spindles of singles turned into four drop spindles worth of chain plying

Then I used a “Russian join” to connect the yarn between the four drop spindles. If you’re unfamiliar with the Russian join technique, there’s a tutorial here.

Using a Russian join to connect two pieces of chain plyed yarn
Using a Russian join to connect two pieces of chain plyed yarn

The Russian join didn’t work as smoothly as I was hoping because it was very hard to feed the needle and yarn through my lumpy, overspun, spastic chain ply. However, despite the difficulty of threading it nicely, I am happy with the result as long as I don’t tug too hard on the yarn.

Skeining in progress
Skeining in progress

I also learned with this yarn that if you have a problem anywhere in your singles, chain plying can exacerbate the issue because that section of yarn may get plied to itself, rather than being balanced out with a more stable section of yarn somewhere else. This shows very dramatically with the join photo, and also in the photo above. The Russian join is just left of center, against the background of my Spanish Peacock plying kate. When spinning that section of yarn, I apparently stopped paying attention to drafting thick, and it’s much, much finer than everything else. (Although still significantly thicker than what I normally spin.) If I had made a regular three-ply, the thin sections would have been plied with thicker sections and the difference would not have been quite so dramatic.

Last lesson from this spinning project: there is such a thing as too much twist! I like my yarn to be slightly overspun because I always feel like it looses a lot of twist during the plying and finishing process. But I WAY overdid it with these guys. I probably should have rewound the singles onto a separate bobbin (Mike has helped me wind it onto a metal straw in fact), so they would have a chance to even out a little. Or maybe even relax a bit more. Oh well! Spin and learn!

Chunky, overspun yarn!
Chunky, overspun yarn!

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: I have no idea what I’m going to make with the finished yarn. It’s much thicker than my usual handspun – which is good, that’s what I was going for! – but also much shorter.

No photo can do justice to these colors!
No photo can do justice to these colors!

Ninety-six yards of worsted weight handspun. I’m taking suggestions if you have any ideas! A hat? Fingerless mittens? Share your thoughts below!

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