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 what do you do with 4 oz of wool?
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sarahsthreads
Chatty Knitter

USA
178 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2004 :  6:08:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit sarahsthreads's Homepage Send sarahsthreads a Private Message
Help! I just started spinning (my parents bought me a spinning wheel for Christmas!) and I got a little bored with the natural-colored roving that came with it... I've just purchased several batches of colorful roving, some at the spinning guild meeting I went to last weekend, and some off ebay. (Oh yes, ebay has the potential to be very, very dangerous.)

But here's my question. I don't have the slightest concept of how to estimate amounts of fiber to make things with. What does one do with 4 oz of fiber? 8 oz? Can I assume that if I manage to spin a similar weight yarn to say, Lamb's Pride, I can substitute it ounce for ounce? Obviously, these small amounts aren't enough to make sweaters...and even in Western NY one only needs so many pairs of mittens...

Of course, I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself here. I do have a pretty consistent single, but plying...well, let's just say I need a little more practice with that!

Anyway, any suggestions for future projects with small amounts of fiber would be helpful!

Sarah :)

http://sarahsthreads.com/journal/

Susan T-O
Permanent Resident

USA
2481 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2004 :  7:12:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit Susan T-O's Homepage Send Susan T-O a Private Message
Hi Sarah, welcome! What you can do with it depends a lot on how thick or thin you make the yarn, and whether or not you ply it, as well as needle size and your own personal knitting idiosyncracies, which I think I've misspelled. It also depends on the fiber you are spinning. For example, out of 10 ounces of wool/possum blend (yes, possum; very warm and fuzzy!) I got one pair of gloves for me, and a fairly narrow fringed scarf for my husband before I ran out. On the other hand, 8 ounces of alpaca/silk blend was enough for two pairs of gloves and a matching pair of socks for my husband, plus a two-inch high band in the cat blanket I made out of leftover yarns. In any case, 4 ounces should be plenty for a pair of short-cuff socks or gloves, again depending on thickness and ply.

What works best for me is to use patterns that call for hand-spun yarn, because it usually will tell you how many ounces and what thickness to spin. If you don't already subscribe, I highly recommend getting "Spin-Off" magazine (Interweave Press; I think the website is www.interweave.com , but if that's not it you can do a search for it). It's really helped me improve my spinning, and there is always at least one knit or crochet pattern per issue. They have also put out a booklet of sock patterns, and a wonderful hat pattern book called "Tops with a Twist."

Just out of curiosity, what is the problem you are having with plying?

--Susan T-O

If I want to fabricate a fantasy world completely void of anything resembling reality, it's my right! That reminds me. I have to do my tax return.
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sarahsthreads
Chatty Knitter

USA
178 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2004 :  7:39:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit sarahsthreads's Homepage Send sarahsthreads a Private Message
Thanks Susan! Socks would be a great idea - even if the wool isn't next-to-the-skin soft, I could make a pair of house socks to wear as slippers. And I think I have a couple of issues of Spin-Off that I bought last year on a whim (guess I must be psychic). I should go look for them, I think one of them had socks on the cover - which is why I bought it in the first place!

My plying woes are probably directly related to the fact that I've only gotten up the courage to try doing it once. ;) I thought I could ply from the bobbins sitting on the bobbin holders attached to the front of the wheel (I have a Kromski Minstrel), but I'm starting to think I really need a lazy kate to do this right.

What I tried was this: the bobbins were in front of me (attached to the front of the wheel). I held the strands between the fingers of my right hand, and guided the twist with my left hand. But since the bobbins were in front of me, I had to also use my right hand to pull the singles off the bobbins, which resulted in too much yarn coming off the bobbins (once those things start turning they just keep on going!) and then the singles would twist up on themselves. I'm guessing that even a lazy kate that isn't tensioned would work, if it were positioned behind or next to me and the singles could be pulled smoothly off the bobbins by the wheel itself while my hands just kept the tension on the strands even. Does that make sense? I was contemplating how to make my own temporary lazy kate - a shoebox and a couple of straight knitting needles - to test out my theory.

Sarah :)

http://sarahsthreads.com/journal/
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Susan T-O
Permanent Resident

USA
2481 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2004 :  8:08:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit Susan T-O's Homepage Send Susan T-O a Private Message
A lazy kate is a must!! You do need at least a bit of tension, or you get the bobbins spinning out of control again, but it doesn't take a lot. My home-made lazy kate is open on the top; you slip the bobbin onto a dowel which fits into short slots on the sides of the LK. I then insert a second dowel into the slots, on top of the bobbin. That's usually enough to do the trick. I keep it to my left, holding the strands in my left hand and guiding the twist with my right.

However, until you get a lazy kate, you may want to do the "park and draft" method: With the wheel motionless, gently pull out a short length of singles. Treadle your wheel once or twice until you have a balanced yarn (see below), let it feed in, then stop the wheel. Pull out a bit more and repeat. It's slow, but better than having out of control bobbins :-)

When I first start to ply, I will keep track of how many times I treadle before allowing the yarn to feed in. (For me it's generally two treadles.) After plying a few feet, I will stop the wheel just at the point where I would normally allow the yarn to feed in. Next, I move the hand holding the yarn (right hand in my case) towards the wheel letting the yarn loop down. If it twists up in the same direction I'm spinning, I know I need to add more twist. If it twists up in the other direction, I know I've put in too much. If it doesn't twist at all, I know I'm doing it just right! This way I know how much twist to put in for a balanced yarn.

Oh, and don't forget--you ALWAYS ply in the OPPOSITE direction from what you spun your singles.

Happy spinning!

--Susan T-O

If I want to fabricate a fantasy world completely void of anything resembling reality, it's my right! That reminds me. I have to do my tax return.
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kokopelmana
Chatty Knitter

USA
268 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2004 :  10:45:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit kokopelmana's Homepage  Send kokopelmana a Yahoo! Message Send kokopelmana a Private Message
Great info Susan! Thank you!

I just finished my VERY first balls of singles several days ago. http://kokoknits.com/graphics/dropspindle.jpg

Now I am working on some alpaca that I will ply with the first stuff.

I was wondering the same thing as Sarah about yardage estimates and such. I'm really glad there is this forum to ask questions.

Thanks again and happy spinning you two!

Kelly

"Be here now." - Ram Dass
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Cayli1
Seriously Hooked

USA
635 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2004 :  3:01:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit Cayli1's Homepage Send Cayli1 a Private Message
Susan's explaination was great. She is right a lazy kate does make it easier. I got one for Christmas and I love it much more than my built in one.

Also don't forget you can always dye your own if the plain roving gets too boring. I do that all the time quite fun to see how it looks after it is spun up if you spot dye.

With small amounts you can do hats. I did a couple cute beanies out of a couple oz of corriedale. Socks like she said are always good. I also like to felt with mine. I am using about 2oz of cormo that I spun to do your bag for the felt along. Also if you like an on going project doing squares and sewing them into an afghan is also and idea. That way you can mess with new stitch patterns too.

Just some ideas.

Cayli
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sarahsthreads
Chatty Knitter

USA
178 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2004 :  8:23:07 PM  Show Profile  Visit sarahsthreads's Homepage Send sarahsthreads a Private Message
Hey, thanks for all of the great tips and suggestions! I did manage to ply something reasonably yarn-like last night:
http://sarahsthreads.com/journal/archives/000537.shtml

Cayli, I've thought about getting into the whole dying bit, but I think I'll wait. There are far too many projects going on in this house as it is! Although...there's always the Kool-Aid in the microwave route...that doesn't require too much of an investment, now does it?

So, here's another question: the books and online sources I've read all say that using longer-length fibers is easier for beginners, but I've found that the roving I have that's got really long fibers is almost impossible for me to draft (most of the stuff I have isn't labeled beyond the oh-so-helpful word "wool", so I don't have the slightest clue what types of fiber I'm using). The wool that isn't combed as well, and that has shorter fibers, seems to be much easier for me to draft. Is that normal? (Oh, and is the really well-combed wool what you'd make worsted yarn from?)

I realized today that I have so much to learn about my wheel still, and about spinning in general...it's a little overwhelming to think about it all at once, so I'm just going to ask one question at a time!

Sarah :)

http://sarahsthreads.com/journal/
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Da Stitcher
Chatty Knitter

USA
216 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2004 :  06:34:40 AM  Show Profile Send Da Stitcher a Private Message
My spinning teacher says the plying is not a necessity.... She says that plying came about because knitting manufacture spinning machines only make one thickness of yarn, so it needed to be plyed in order to make saleable yarns of different thicknesses. According to her, plying doesn't enhance the yarn in any way at all as far as usage or durability.

Her recommendation is to learn to spin the thickenss you want and save much time.

Something to consider.


Becky
da_stitcher@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tucson_socknitters
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megknits
Sustaining Member

USA
729 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2004 :  08:38:26 AM  Show Profile Send megknits a Private Message
Hi Becky,

From what I've read, while you can knit with singles yarn (i.e. unplied), it will cause the finished knitting project to bias (twist around) because the yarn isn't "balanced". Spin Off magazine had an interesting article about a year ago featuring knitting that was pursposely done with singles yarn and the biasing was a design feature. For weaving, plying isn't needed because the structure of the cloth is different than in knitting.

Also, yarn that isn't balanced tends to kink up while you are working with it, which can be annoying. You can set the twist on singles yarn by steaming it or washing it and drying it under tension, which will make it lie flatter and not kink up. But the problem is that after you knit an item with it, once you wet it again to wash it, it will bias because the twistiness of the yarn is kind of reactivated.

(A kind of cool experiment with reactivating twist -- take a length of singles yarn that have been sitting on a bobbin for a while and don't seem to have much energy to them. Tie the ends together and drop it into warm water. Within a few minutes, the twist in the yarn will have reactivated and the yarn will ply itself together.)

Meg
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Susan T-O
Permanent Resident

USA
2481 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2004 :  08:43:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit Susan T-O's Homepage Send Susan T-O a Private Message
Sarah, congrats on the plying! Since it's not consistently spun, I highly recommend that you "set the twist." It'll be much easier to use (if you decide to use it, that is!), and it's an astoundingly simple thing to do: Fill a large bowl with clean, tepid water (think of a baby's bath). Put your skein in the water, pressing it *gently* against the bottom to get most of the air bubbles out. Let it soak about 15-30 minutes, then *gently* squeeze out the excess water. Hang it to dry (I use aluminum carabiners I got in the camping gear section of I think it was a Target store, but prior to that I would loop it over the hook part of a plastic hanger and use that. The important thing is that you use something that doesn't rust). I like to "switch ends" halfway through the drying process, that seems to speed things up. If it's taking a *very* long time to dry (more than 12 hours), I will untwist the hank and leave it as a loop for the rest of the drying time. Setting the twist really makes a big difference when you go to knit, and will help prevent the dreaded Slanted Knitting.

Also, Kool-Ade dying is neat, you should give it a go! Plus it makes your wool smell nice, kinda fruity :-) Hmmm, that sounds like a fun project to do today, much better than washing the dishes. . . .

Becky, I don't know if your spinning teacher is right or wrong. I've always heard that plying makes your yarn stronger, but then again just because "everyone knows" something doesn't mean it's right!! One advantage of plying, though, is it helps "even out" singles that are spun thick-thin-thick-thin; very handy when you are a beginner!

Hey, Becky again--I just noticed your website line says "Tucson." How far is that from Prescott? There is a *FABULOUS* yarn & fiber shop in Prescott called Studio Three Gallery. Great selection; friendly, helpful staff; reasonable prices; and--get this--everything is neatly displayed with prices clearly marked. I bought tons of stuff there last April on our way home from vacationing at the Grand Canyon ($260 worth of fiber including a gorgeous alpaca/silk blend). I wish it were closer to me, but unfortunately it's a bit of a distance from here (Long Beach, CA) to there :-(

--Susan T-O

If I want to fabricate a fantasy world completely void of anything resembling reality, it's my right! That reminds me. I have to do my tax return.
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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2004 :  2:32:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message
Sarah, great skein! You're doing well! It is amazing how spun yarn looks better when it is plied. The plying hides a lot of imperfections and knitting hides a whole lot more! Keep up the good work. As they say, practice makes perfect - although I say, why strive for perfection? I like my yarn being "imperfect". If I wanted perfection I would buy commercially spun yarn.

KathyR
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Susan T-O
Permanent Resident

USA
2481 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2004 :  6:02:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit Susan T-O's Homepage Send Susan T-O a Private Message
Thanks to this topic, I've been thinking a lot about plying today. I've come up with some reasons why I like to do it, and why I think every spinner should learn how: 1) You can ply two (or three) different color strands for "barberpole" yarn. 2) Plying gives yarn a different look & texture than spinning a thicker singles. 3) Speaking of texture, plying singles that are each made of a different fiber can give you a new feel and/or look (e.g., plying a mohair singles with a merino singles). 4) There are some yarns you can't make without plying, such as boucle and beaded yarns. 5) It's easier to end up with a balanced yarn by plying than it is by spinning a singles. 6) Certain methods of plying--particularly Navaho--just plain look cool and impressive while you do it, which pleases the exhibitionist in me 7) As has been mentioned before, it evens out the yarn & hides thick/thin spots. 8) It has been my experience that plied yarn is softer and has more loft than a singles of the same thickness.

Hmm. This seems to be turning into The Plying Channel, maybe we should start a new topic

--Susan T-O

If I want to fabricate a fantasy world completely void of anything resembling reality, it's my right! That reminds me. I have to do my tax return.
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Da Stitcher
Chatty Knitter

USA
216 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  07:01:05 AM  Show Profile Send Da Stitcher a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by megknits

From what I've read, while you can knit with singles yarn (i.e. unplied), it will cause the finished knitting project to bias (twist around) because the yarn isn't "balanced".


Okay, well, Lamb's Pride is all single ply. I've made mucho items out of it and never noticed anything "off balance." Unless I'm such a novice to knitting that I wouldn't notice if it didn't look right.

quote:
But the problem is that after you knit an item with it, once you wet it again to wash it, it will bias because the twistiness of the yarn is kind of reactivated.


Again, I've washed my socks several times and haven't had any problems. They look just like they did when I made them. I'm making a scarf right now out of scraps and I'll see what it looks like after it's first washing.

So, I guess I'm too much of a novice at all this because I don't notice any of what you are saying with professionally spun single ply yarn. I'll print this out and take it to my spinning teacher for her comments just so I know what to expect for my own single ply spinning.


Becky
da_stitcher@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tucson_socknitters
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Da Stitcher
Chatty Knitter

USA
216 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  07:07:40 AM  Show Profile Send Da Stitcher a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Susan T-O

Becky, I don't know if your spinning teacher is right or wrong. I've always heard that plying makes your yarn stronger, but then again just because "everyone knows" something doesn't mean it's right!!


Very true...we've been telling people for years not to use Woolite for wool cuz it had chlorine bleach in it, which in fact it doesn't!

quote:
Hey, Becky again--I just noticed your website line says "Tucson." How far is that from Prescott?


Quite a ways! We have five yarns stores in Tucson. Four are "regular stores with novelty yarns, etc. The other is a spinning/weaving/yarn store with wonderful hand spun yarns, looms set up, spinning wheels to use, and all the supplies and wisdom two 70 year old women can supply. Even though my daughter works at one of the main stream yarn stores, I buy much more from the rustic store.


Becky
da_stitcher@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tucson_socknitters
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kokopelmana
Chatty Knitter

USA
268 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  09:30:15 AM  Show Profile  Visit kokopelmana's Homepage  Send kokopelmana a Yahoo! Message Send kokopelmana a Private Message
Becky, I also had asked my spinning teacher about the single ply Lamb's Pride and she said it is very difficult - esp. as a beginner, like *I* am! - to make a balanced single ply yarn like that. So I guess it's possible, not just easy for beginners.

Sarah: BEAUTIFUL skein!!! Congrats. I'm so impressed!! I just finished my first singles of alpaca last night. When I am done with it I am going to ply it with the the merino I first spun (see above posting). I'll post a photo when I am done. Very exciting.

Susan: Thanks for the info on setting the twist. My instructor is big on the necessity of that but my singles are pretty uneven, not only in thickness but in twist I suspect. I think I will take your advice and try setting the twist on my first skein to see how it goes.

I really want to knit something with it when it is done. Felting it after seems like it might be cool but then I lose the look of the yarn and plying. Hmmm... decisions, decisions.


Kelly

"Be here now." - Ram Dass
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Boogie
Permanent Resident

USA
3073 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  3:20:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit Boogie's Homepage Send Boogie a Private Message
I just got the twisted Sisters book of socks from dying roving, to spinning, to knitting the socks. Its a great book. The reason I am mentioning it is there is a section with patterns for knitting socks with singles. It might help some that don't want to ply or that want to do seomthing different. Me, I'm hooked on my 2 ply yarn.
Amy
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sarahsthreads
Chatty Knitter

USA
178 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  5:54:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit sarahsthreads's Homepage Send sarahsthreads a Private Message
This is becoming a problem - all I want to do now is spin, not knit.

Is it silly to not want to make anything with my first skein? I'll probably block it anyway, but I think I need to admire it for a bit longer before I do anything else with it!

Sarah :)

http://sarahsthreads.com/journal/
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Susan T-O
Permanent Resident

USA
2481 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2004 :  7:22:51 PM  Show Profile  Visit Susan T-O's Homepage Send Susan T-O a Private Message
Sarah, I find that I go in cycles between spinning and knitting. Usually I will end up either with several balls of yarn, and no idea what to do with it; or am so busy knitting that I don't spin enough to finish the project!

And it's not silly to want to save your skein. While my first spun-on-a-wheel skein is long gone, last April I was finally able to spin a small skein on my drop spindle. I still have it safely stored away :-)

--Susan T-O

If I want to fabricate a fantasy world completely void of anything resembling reality, it's my right! That reminds me. I have to do my tax return.
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BessH
Permanent Resident

3095 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2004 :  03:52:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit BessH's Homepage Send BessH a Private Message
4 oz of fiber will make a hat, or a pair of mittens, or socks if you can spin fine enough to please you.

If you are having trouble drafting long wool fibers, you may be holding on too tightly with the hand forming the drafting triangle. Loosen up your tension so the take-up is softer and you may find you enjoy those long fibers. Also, they may be spun with less twist and you might find they torque less when knitted as singles.

I have yet to find a spinning tecnhique I didn't enjoy nor have I found any I didn't use. I have found wheels with which I didn't get along - isn't that odd?

Bess
http://likethequeen.blogspot.com
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Da Stitcher
Chatty Knitter

USA
216 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2004 :  05:39:44 AM  Show Profile Send Da Stitcher a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by kokopelmana

Becky, I also had asked my spinning teacher about the single ply Lamb's Pride and she said it is very difficult - esp. as a beginner, like *I* am! - to make a balanced single ply yarn like that. So I guess it's possible, not just easy for beginners.


Heck, it's not easy for a beginner to spin! However, everything is easy to do once one learns how!


Becky
da_stitcher@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tucson_socknitters
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bmayrose@hotmail.com
New Pal

5 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2004 :  01:04:15 AM  Show Profile Send bmayrose@hotmail.com a Private Message
Returning to the issue of longer fibers - be sure to hold your hands farther apart than the length of the fibers. If you are used to holding your hands 5" apart and the fibers are 5" long, you could be accidentally trying to pull on both ends of the same fibers.

Another thing that helps is pre-drafting - just gently fluff and pull that fiber until it's "looser" - get some air into it.
You mentioned, I think, that the shorter fibers were also in a fluffier preparation. That fluffiness helps you in your drafting.

In addition to the replies you are getting here, there's a Yahoo group called Spindlers that I belong to - they sponsor the ICANSPIN site and members are happy to answer any questions.

(Stop here if your eyes are glazing over.)
The fluffier preparations are probably roving or batts. The very compressed preparation where all the fibers are aligned parallel is top - and yes, it can be used for worsted yarns, which are more dense than woolen-spun ... which takes us back to the question of weight ... and why that 4oz could have a large range of yardage!

I myself belong to the "spin it and see what happens" group....not very precise at all.

Sorry I got long. This is my first post.
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