Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TIL: How to spin!

Back in late March, I spent a fantastic long weekend at the P3 (Plug & Play Pembrokeshire) retreat, learning all manner of interesting things about knitting design and so on. The Sunday morning of the retreat, there was surprise programming, in which the fantastic Amy Singer taught us about the wonders of silk hankies, courtesy of our fantastic sponsors at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. If you're wondering what on earth a handkerchief has to do with yarn, check out this fantastic article by Amy that will give you all the vital info. Being so inspired by this gorgeous material, I took it upon myself to order my first drop spindle so that I could turn these gorgeously colored, strangely cobwebby fibers (and I do mean cobwebby: very fine, rather sticky, vaguely what you would expect spinning cotton candy to feel like) into something resembling yarn.

 Having found various videos on YouTube on how to spin using a drop spindle, including this one which had the dual advantage of a) using a spindle identical to mine and b) being delivered in the most charming Scottish accent I've ever heard, I managed to spin all of my silk roving! It was rather a lot of effort for not a lot of yarn, but when I was done, I nevertheless felt about ten feet tall! At that point, I was left with a nagging feeling of "Um... now what do I do with it?" Ever since Knitty started featuring the KnittySpin-related columns, I've been skipping them since I didn't spin, but thankfully they were all there waiting for me! This article had a very nice summary of how to finish your yarn, which was exactly what I was looking for. Since I don't have a niddy-noddy and my swift is a bit fiddly, I just wound it around my left arm, and very deftly managed to tie stabilizing pieces largely one-handedly!

 Here it is soaking, to set the twist:
 Here it is, hanging up to dry:


 I love, love, love the candy-cane striping where the different colors come together in the overlaps. Given how much I love thick-and-thin yarns with dazzling variegated colorways, I'm extremely tempted to start playing around with dyeing my own stacks of silk hankies and spinning more yarn! I've been wanting to design a series of colorways based on the characters in the Merry Gentry books by Laurell K. Hamilton, and this would be a good excuse to do it.