Spintentional Spinalong Plans

With two weeks to go until the Spintentional Spinalong starts, I’m trying to make some actual decisions about what I’m going to spin starting February 1st. And more importantly, why. Whatever shall I make with my spinalong yarn?

My current plan is this cowl. Apparently, this kind of garment is also referred to as a “smoke ring.”

A Ravelry pattern page for the cowl I plan to knit
The Ravelry pattern page for the cowl I plan to knit

I know, I know! A cowl could be considered cheating, since it could accommodate different yardages—just knit more or less depending on how much yarn you spin. But I love the pattern’s versatility that it can be a cowl, or a hood, or a hat. And the simple lace design seems within my meager knitting abilities. Most importantly, I could actually see myself wearing the cowl.

Depending on the fiber, of course.

So far this rainbow-dyed Targhee braid from Fossil Fibers seems the most likely candidate.

Four ounces of rainbow colored Targhee
Four ounces of rainbow colored Targhee

The Targhee fiber will provide warmth and squishy softness for a handknit brushing against my face. The colors are gorgeous, although I may have to rearrange the braid. Here is the color progression as originally dyed.

Color option 1 - the braid as originally dyed
Color option 1—the braid as originally dyed

If I spun and knit the cowl like this, a LOT of yellow would lie right against my skin, no matter which configuration I chose to wear the cowl. So I divided the braid in half in the middle to see how it looked with green on the outside.

Color option 2—reversing the gradient to put the green near my face
Color option 2—reversing the gradient to put the green near my face

Much better!

Here’s my current problem. There’s only four ounces of fiber, so not a lot to spare for sampling. Do I risk it or not?

If I don’t sample, I will have all four ounces available for spinning and plying the yarn. This will give me the longest possible yardage. Plus, since the knitted item is “just” a cowl, if I spin too thick or too thin, the pattern’s gauge will hopefully be forgiving.

On the other hand, spinning samples will let me fine-tune my yarn thickness before spinning the actual project yarn. Plus, I could make two samples to compare a three-ply versus two-ply. Even though the lace pattern suggests two-ply, a three-ply may offer more warmth and coziness. And most important, sampling would let me estimate yardage. However, then I would have less yarn for the actual project, because I’d have used up some amount of fiber for the samples.

So I did what most discerning fiber artists would do if faced with the same dilemma. I chucked my personal requirement to only spin from my stash, and bought a second braid!

Now I can sample with the first braid while waiting for the second to arrive. In fact, between the two braids I should have enough fiber to make a coordinating pair of fingerless mittens. Not by May of course—I’m not getting that carried away!

But first, let’s revisit how sampling should help estimate total yardage…at least in my mind, as someone who, well, has never actually done it!

  1. If I spin a singles yarn that weighs 0.25 ounces, and that sample measures X yards long once plied…
  2. …then if I spin and ply four ounces of the same fiber the same way, then the total estimated yardage (let’s call it Y)…
  3. …should be X (yards of the sample) times 16 (0.25 ounces of fiber times 16 to equal the four ounces of the whole braid).

Is there a math teacher in the audience? Is this basically algebra? I’m solving for a variable, I think. Am I actually using algebra as an adult?

(To be clear, I’m not saying my samples will be 0.25 each; I just picked that number to simplify the math.)

To make sampling even more fun, I developed this cute spinning sample card to keep my samples organized.

Click here to download a PDF with four cards on it. Then you can use them to keep track of samples too! I recommend printing them on heavy cardstock. Note this card layout is still evolving, and this post/image/PDF will continue to be updated until the design is finalized. I just wanted everyone to have the chance to start using it sooner rather than later!

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