24 Jun 2013

What Went Into That Batt - Two Art Yarns

Bulky Two-Ply Yarn HERE
Corespun Yarn HERE on Etsy

 So I've been a bit less than productive recently for various reasons, and thus have fallen a bit behind in both spinning and blogging. Life can get complicated, as we all know.  I'm always appreciative of the calming influence spinning lends to my mental knots.

These two yarns have been sitting in my ready box for awhile.  You can tell they  came from the same family, can't you?  But a different feel, a different heft, different use, and all in the way they were spun.  The fellow up above was plied and one to the right corespun.  One day soon I'll do a little entry on corespinning but this blog is all about putting together the batts they came from.

I was dreaming about some purple yarn, and wanted to use these lovely fleeces, being as they were colours I couldn't resist.  My idea was not to card them, or hardly at all, just run them through the carder along with a bunch of other wool and hopefully keep some of the curl and lock integrity.

Border Leicester/
Bluefaced Leicester Cross
Border Leicester/
Bluefaced Leicester Cross


So for me, designing a batt for yarn involves my starting colour idea (in this case purple) and unloading all my bits of this and that in purple that I've dyed and put away, digging through it all and seeing what I like and what will work and what I feel like using.  Sometimes my idea changes as I find fleeces I'd forgot I had that overpower my initial impulse.  One bag of lovely I found in this exercise had some lovely purple dyed locks that had done me the wonderful favour of fracturing (I do believe that's what happened), which is when the dye kind of splits up into its composite colours. Aren't they great?

These locks were dyed in the same pot, but because I don't stir almost at all during the dying process, they came out very differently from different corners of the pot.  As for the fracturing, that's from the amount of citric acid I used, or the heat, or some chemical issue or other ... dyeing is still a brave new world of adventure for me - I love it! Taking some of the lighter and some of the darker and combing it all together produced the combed top up above.

After I collecting some purples, I cast about for some other colours I felt like adding, and came across some lovely Cotswold I got from Wooly Wool of the West and dyed this fabulous golden yellow.  And there's no coming across something like that in your stash and putting it back again, so into the pile it went.

It's combed into top on the left, and in its curly glory on the right

And then all of a sudden I was hit by grey fever, and absolutely needed some grey - natural grey, the kind sheep grow all by themselves, instead of those rendered grey by me through the magic of Jacquard acid dyes.  In fact, my grey fever was such that I'm going to have to make some grey yarns pretty soon -- all grey with this and that here and there.  But in this particular purple creation, grey will be a condiment.   

Shorter stapled (the staple is the length of each
individual strand of wool), super kinky (that's the crimp)
and oh so soft

Longer staple, more lustrous, soft but not as soft
as the darker fleece

These are both BFL (Bluefaced Leicester)--Shetland cross fleeces from Jody's Little Smoky Blues.  So for those of my friends who are kind enough to read this and don't understand what I'm talking about when I say things like that, a crossed fleece is the result of different breeds of sheep having offspring.  Their wool can have aspects of one or both of the parents to varying degrees.  Look at these very artistic comparisons:
Uncombed locks - quite a difference, even though they're both BFLxShetland
Woolen Fiddleheads - you can tell which combed top
came from which fleece - they're both soft and wonderful to spin,
but the left is more lustrous, and the right is softer

But oh my, because now your eyes have seen so much grey it's hard to remember what we're aiming for.  Maybe it will come back if you see all the combed and carded fibre ready to be put together into a lovely batt -- and a batt is made when you card (kind of like brushing) together wool so it more or less is kind of all running in the same sort of direction.  Not perfectly, but more or less.  You can do these with locks of wool to help open them up and make them easier to spin (like brushing your hair makes it easier to get a job, maybe) or with wool that's already carded or combed to mix together colours and amalgamate it all together.

Lovely purples nestled in amongst my golden Cotswold, some red Romney lamb locks and golden-orange Border Leicester x BFL (and now you know what the X means), my purple locks that started it all, and my grey-fever greys, which also includes some uncarded locks there on the left

This went only once through the carder
to maintain texture and colour integrity
to a certain extent

Now for carding fun - I wish batts were easier to see in photographs -- you can never see very much of a batt in one shot PLUS for me, I just have to touch everything so just looking can be very frustrating... At any rate, I got a lovely mix of purples for depth and subtle shifts in purpleness, plus kapows of other colours all throughout.

Now it's time to spin.  For my plied yarn, I spun one ply -- a thicker one -- from the batts I made here:

This is a strip from the batt (I just pulled away a strip of wool straight through the 
thickness of the batt) alongside my yarn still being spun on the spindle

The second batt, and the wools that went into it - I carded this twice, to blend the colours more.  The dark burgundy in the middle is actually a blend of BFL and silk - the only mill-carded wool I used

Then I needed a second strand of yarn to ply (twist together with) the first.  I wanted it thinner and less poppingly colourful, so I carded together the wools on the right to get the batt here on the left, and here it is below on my wheel being spun:

 Plied (or twisted) (or spun) together:

Fibres include Romney x Merino, Corriedale, Cotswold, Romney lamb, Border Leicester x Bluefaced Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester, Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland, Silk

And here below is the corespun yarn, a blog entry about this method of spinning is in my future.  Very quickly, in spinning this kind of yarn, the wool is wrapped around a central yarn (or core) of some type, so the angle of wrapped fibres is different than the twist of regular yarn, the colours show up differently and the yarn hangs and works differently.  

Now that you've seen where they came from, here are my yarns again, washed and dried and ready to go:

Plied Yarn available from my Etsy shop - a 47-yard skein, super bulky at 3-4 wpi

Super bulky, as you can see!

And here's the corespun with bright zinging colours - also in my Etsy shop
this one is  60 yards long, and chunky weight (5-6 wpi)