Spinzilla Part 2

At the beginning of Spinzilla, I was busy preparing some fibre for actually getting on with some spinning. By the end of Spinzilla, I had one finished skein to admire!

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This is the 50/50 silk/merino that you can see some of the preparation for here. It’s a little uneven and bulkier than I had originally intended but I absolutely love the colour. It’s a really lofty, shiny yarn with some good snuggle factor as well.

Sod’s Law says that when you have two singles that run a little fat in one section, when it comes to plying time, the fat sections will of course line up perfectly to make a super bulky mess. Not ideal but thankfully I find the blues entrancing enough to not care that much. Plus, there is the age old excuse of ‘it’s handspun’. I’m a little disappointed with the meterage of it (90 m for 100 g of fibre) but that’s my own fault for underestimating the bulk in the singles.

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I apologies for the incredibly lurid ties but I like using ones that are really easy to spot for removal. I always make sure I have one near the beginning and end of the skein too so it’s easy to find when I need to wind it into a more useable form. While I can understand that perhaps lime green isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing colour, it’s a lot better than fumbling around trying to find the ends.

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With one skein down, it was back to the drawing board for the next spinning project. Dare I blend up something new or find an inventive way to spin and ply some of the mountain of dyed silk I have?

I opted to use up some mulberry silk brick that I picked up from Hilltop Cloud at Wonderwool. I assume it has been very lovingly fulled because it is the most divinely soft silk but has been sat around as a ‘not sure I have the skill to do the fibre justice yet’ project. As I only had 60 g, I was going to need to spin it fine to get some decent meterage out of it so I split the braid in half, intending to make a gradient 2-ply yarn as fine as I could go.

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I did a little test spinning on some Shetland to see if I could manage a consistent 60 wpi single that would retain any sort of structural integrity. If you’re new to spinning wool or stuck with the belief that wool is a byword for itchy and scratchy, I really do recommend experimenting with some different breeds. It is amazing how differently something like Corridale spins up in comparison to longer staple fibres like Shetland and how different the finished wool can be as well.

You’ll hear a lot of spinners suggesting some ‘warming up’ spinning before getting on to your project of choice. Warming up before exercising in an ingrained mantra for most people and a good way of improving performance and reducing the risk of injury. It’s amazing how effective it can be when applied to spinning as well. It gives you chance to tweak the tension and set-up of your wheel before you make any mistakes on your more precious fibre and helps bring your focus to the wheel and wake your fingers up. There’s a lot to be said for test spinning and making samples!

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Once I was satisfied I was spinning consistently enough and could tear myself away from the Shetland, I switched over to the silk. It’s a very black-heavy gradient but there’s also quite a lot of underdyed sections that add a little bit of interest.

While the great thing about working with bulky yarns is a lot gets done quickly, going back to spinning pure silk relatively fine did come as a bit of a relief to my fingers. For me, silk is definitely my ‘comfy pair of slippers’ fibre. I don’t have to think or work too hard to get it to do what I want, probably just as well because it’s going to take rather a lot of spinning to get through all the fibre!

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I’m going to blame the head cold for my sudden inability to stick to any sort of plan or make decisions this week but I decided, rather than making a two ply and fussing about the colours matching up, I’d just spin this as a black to purple to black again single. A good excuse for lots of twist and an excellent way to get good meterage for the weight. The downside is my spinning will have to be extra consistent as plying can hide a multitude of sins!

I’m a long way from the coveted mile, but it’s always fun to turn around an entire project in the week and I’m loving spinning the silk. I think spinning some yak/silk blend has been added to the ‘to do’ list as I’ve been eyeing up other people’s Spinzilla projects done in these fibres with quite a bit of envy at all that sheen. Congratulations to everyone who made the coveted mile and thank you for sharing all your lovely spun fibre!

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