A Tale of Two Skeins

Jill P.,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Well, that’s being a little dramatic.  (FYI, I thought about doing this whole post as a Dickensian-style post with a lot of metaphors, but thought better of it)  I did a bit of spinning last weekend and got some crazy results.  I spun up two skeins from two 4 oz. bumps of fiber.  It was Corriedale from Judy’s Novelty Yarn (?) that I bought at Oregon Flock and Fiber.  I don’t have pictures of the fiber. =(  The color was the same in both, Purple Mist.  I actually thought it was called Purple Haze until writing this up. 

Okay, where’s the story?  They are totally different!  Talk about separated at birth!  Definitely a case of nature versus nuture.  Or preparation vs. spinning (??, I can’t follow that train of thought anymore!).   

I spun up the singles for skein #1 first almost a month ago.  I was trying to spin something bulkier than my usual DK weight.  It went amazingly fast.  I filled up two bobbins quickly.  I had split the roving into two parts lengthwise, making sure they weighed the same amount.  I spun it, I guess, short draw.  Time had passed between doing the two bobbins so I decided to wait until I could borrow your plying head to ply it together. 

This last weekend I decided to spin the other 4oz. of it, and ply both skeins.  I split this roving the same way, but not being careful about weight.  These singles went just as quickly.  I was using the same ratio on my wheel and the same spinning technique.  I then turned around and plied them together right away.  And they turned out, amazing!  Well, I was surprised at it and very happy.  The color repeats immediately stopped lining up, but the barber pole look was working for me.  A lot of life and bounce in the yarn.  I was so happy with this skein (#2) that I decided do the other skein right away. 

Immediately I knew something was wrong.  Well, first of all, the singles were thinner than my other skein.  I was just going by memory of how thick I had been spinning.  And because it was thinner, and my spinning had been identical, these threads had less twist in them.  Or the same amount of twist, but they needed more.  I also have to chalk it up to the fact they had been sitting around for a few weeks.  I knew they would lose energy but I had no idea.  I had limpy limp strands to ply together. 

In comparison, the other singles had been full of twist and were plying back on themselves. 

Because I had been so vigilant about splitting the roving, these color repeats were lining up like gangbusters!  I kept hoping for them to go out of sync at some point, but they didn’t except for a few short sections. 

Skein #1 came out alright, but a little lackluster.  It was much flatter, in body and in tone.  Here’s the final product:

And skein #2, you ask?  Well, here it is:

All comparisons of spinning aside, this batch of fiber had a lot more dark patches in it, which I really like.  So I can’t be held accountable for the color weakness of the first skein. 

And here’s some side-by-side comparisons:

They don’t seem that different in thickness, here’s me holding a strand from each skein:

But when I skeined them up, Skein #1 has 150m, while Skein #2 has 90m.  Yeah, big difference.  (What’s with the metric?  My stupid Ashford kniddy-knoddy has a length of 1.5m, or 5 ft.)

So, what have I learned?  I should always refer to my previous singles if I want a second skein the same weight.  I think that I, in general, don’t put enough twist in my singles.  And that you should test the twist by pulling yarn off past the orifice.  And I especially need to put more twist in my singles if they are going to sit around for weeks losing energy.  Or I should just finish up my spinning quicker. 

It is far, far better spinning that I do, than I have ever done…   (Okay, It was too much of a stretch for that last line.  I needed more Dickens in here.  I should have tried to pull in some Mme. Defarge knitting references in here, but that sounds hard.)

If anyone has any good ideas for what to use two unmatching skeins of yarn for, I’m all ears! 

Sorry to step all over your earlier post today!  I’ll miss everyone tonight at Compatto!

Jill B.



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5 responses to “A Tale of Two Skeins

  1. sulafaye

    That’s so interesting, thanks for describing your methods in detail. Are they similar enough that you could get away with alternating rows?

  2. I learned the hard way too about spinning yarn to ply, and then waiting too long to ply it. My most frustrating spinning has been trying to ply something that has lost its twist. Still, your skeins looks really nice, and if not identical, at least compatible. Definitely squooshable. 🙂

  3. don’t you loooove learning! 😉 I think you should be proud of both skeins. they’re lovely. Having seen them in person, I can attest to the distinct difference between the two, so I want to second sulafaye’s idea about alternating rows. Doing the conversion, it seems that you have about 265 yards to work with. I recently had the same dilemma about what to do with a little over 250 yards of handspun and settled on a baby sweater as a process knit. (I’ll blog about it when it’s complete…) This may not be your cup of tea though. Maybe you could do something felted, like a clutch or a slightly felted beret/hat thing. Then you wouldn’t notice the differences in the spinning consistency so much. There’s also the obvious… a kick ass scarf. Scarves made of handspun yarn are the best!

  4. Kim

    Jill, In the Twisted Sisters book, they purposely spun two or three colorways like you did. The resulting socks were beautiful! I’ll be sure to have the book with me next Monday at SnB. (That would be June 9th, tomorrow already!)

  5. Peggy

    Amazing spinning. The colours are so pretty!

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