Long draw vs. short draw: Corriedale samples

My word, I’m behind on my blogging.  Eleven days’ silence – more, over a fortnight, if you don’t count my last little pop-in to say I’m feeling quiet.

The humbug Shetland I last blogged about is now all spun up, and even washed.  It’s currently hanging about somewhere in the pile of clean laundry on my stairs; it just needs re-skeining or winding into a ball, and then I can take some beauty shots of it to show you.

Once I was done with the Shetland, I returned to the grey Corriedale.  I spun up a second 10g sample, this time long-draw from the fold, then washed and dried both samples.  Last Saturday – a gloriously sunny day – I photographed them both, side by side:

Even in the small version of this image you can see the difference; it’s really obvious if you click through for the full size version.  The first sample (left), spun from the end of the roving, has two very distinct plies, and a smooth, compact appearance; the second (right) is much fuzzier.  The plies merge into each other, and the yarn even appears darker and more uniform in colour, I think because it is less ‘shiny’.  Also: the fibre ‘wants’ to draft out to a finer single when spun from the fold.

Over my fingers, the differences are again very pronounced:

You can see the overall difference in thickness, as well as the fuzzier, less distinct nature of the long-draw yarn (top).  Neither of these are examples of *great* spinning, but I think it’s fair to say that spinning from the end produces a ‘prettier’ yarn.  Beginner spinners, in particular, seem to value that smooth, distinct-ply, almost beaded appearance.  But, as spinners, we are not creating an end product (let’s leave ‘art yarn’ out of this for now).  Instead, we are creating something that will be used in future processes – whether knit, crocheted, woven or knotted – and the yarn we produce should be suitable for that purpose.  The long draw method (especially once my technique is more refined) will clearly be well-suited to producing yarns for knitting garments, whether singles or plied, as well as some awesome weft yarns.

As for the shipwreck shawl, I might actually get enough yardage out of my two braids, spinning it this way.  I’m still struggling to reconcile my usual expectation of lace yarns (smooth, compact, un-bouncy enough to hold a good blocking) with the character of the yarn I am creating.  A fundamental problem, I think, is that I am using Corriedale, which does not *want* to be a smooth, compact, un-bouncy yarn.  There is no fix for this, except to switch my expectations.  And that may not be an unreasonable thing to do; the large outer border of the Shipwreck Shawl is not actually designed to be blocked, as such.  That’s what gives it that wonderful, ruffled effect.  So.. spin on?

More thoughts on Shipwreck

In my earlier post, I was grumbling that the Corriedale roving was too bouncy and springy to spin into a laceweight yarn – and yes, it’s definitely not ‘right’ for the yarn I had in mind.

But now… I’m thinking that the yarn I had in mind isn’t necessarily ‘right’ for Shipwreck.  Shipwreck calls for a fingering weight yarn, and lots of it; it’s a big, snuggly shawl.  I’m thinking I can spin a snuggly fingering-weight.

In fact, I did.  This is spun from the end of the roving, so semi-worsted, in about the thickness that the fibre seems to ‘want’.  I washed it fairly roughly to get it to bloom, and I love the end result (though this is one colour only, not the marl I had planned):

Only trouble is, at 30m/10g, I’d have about half the required yardage for the shawl.  (Well, not the only trouble, as a matter of fact.  The other trouble is that Woody wanted some attention too; he seems to have hurt his back or hip on yesterday’s walk, and he’s a bit sorry for himself, and extra-snuggly.  So his nose was in All The Shots this morning, poor boy).  Anyway, I might not manage to make a Shipwreck with this fibre, but I have an idea for an alternative design, drawing on some of the elements from Shipwreck, that I could use instead.

Whilst waiting for the mini-skein to dry, I started playing with some of the Shetland humbug, spinning long-draw from the fold.  Whooooo!  I’ve not done this before, at least on a wheel.   It’s a bit like spinning from rolags, except with less carding.  It’s producing light, lofty woollen singles, , and I think it might work awesomely well for the Corriedale, too.  So I’m going to do another Corriedale sample, and see what weight it comes out at and if I like the fabric.  I’ll probably even swatch.

But only once the Shetland is done.  I only have so many bobbins, after all.

Something new on the wheel

Since finishing the alpaca/BFL back in February, my spinning wheel has been shamefully naked (and probably a bit chilly, to boot).  The reason, of course, being Textiles In Focus.  (Is there anything I can’t blame on that show??)

Now it’s over, I want to get back to my habit of spinning for 15 minutes in the morning, so last night I dug out these two braids of Corriedale roving:

The blue one was a thank you gift; the grey one was dyed by me.  The idea was to ply the two colours together, to get a stormy blue/grey laceweight for the Shipwreck Shawl (Ravelry link; the original pattern is available for free here, from Knitty).

The only trouble is, I don’t think Corriedale is the right wool for the yarn I want.  I have more of the grey than the blue, so I used the grey for a bit of a sample this morning.

Looks lovely, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, if I give this yarn enough twist to look ‘right’ for lace, it becomes quite springy and almost stiff.  Corriedale fibre is quite crimpy, and although it’s relatively fine, it has quite a lot of body.  I think this shawl demands a flow-y yarn with good drape and much less of that woolly bounce and resilience.

My second sample is a bit thicker and more loosely spun:

It might not look quite so pristine as the first, but I think it plays to the natural characteristics of the wool far better.  Although I’ve spun both of these samples from roving, from the end (so at least semi-worsted), this second sample has an almost woollen feel – lofty, open, lots of air.

I think my Corriedale would very much like to be spun woollen.  I have plenty remaining to sample with, so I could try carding some and spinning long-draw from the rolags. (It would make a great addition to the Fair Isle stash, I have to admit).  I could also spin larger quantities of each sample, and wash them, since we know that can significantly change the quality of a yarn.  (Wow, that would be very mature of me).  But either way, I don’t think that these braids are going to become the Shipwreck Shawl.

Dammit, spinning, why do you keep making me think?!  And double dammit, I really thought that the colours would be excellent for the project I have in mind, so it’s such a pain that the texture is wrong.