This week I took the plunge and began to ply my spindle spun buffalo yarn. As you know I am plying the single of buffalo fiber with a commercial wool crepe yarn, these fibers have been combined onto a Russian plying spindle. Yes it did take me about 2 hours to combine the 2 yarns together but mostly because my plying spindle is so heavy I had to give my wrist a break from holding it. A lighter weight plying spindle has been ordered so I can move through this process quicker. Once I had the fibers combined the next step was to create the plying disc. I finally found some cardboard which suited my needs and made a somewhat round circle and began the process of plying the fibers.
My current spindle does work well as a supported spindle and is aiding in the plying process rather well. Somehow I seem to have more yak yarn than wool and keep getting gaps in the drafting area as the 2 yarns are not in sync. Since this is my first time with this process I’m trying not to be to critical and treating things as a learning experience. After all I have another 1/2 ounce of buffalo fiber plus cashmere, yak and paco-vicuna fibers to work with.
This weekend a met another lace knitter who happens to be a cashmere fanatic. She has asked that I attempt to make a 2 ply cobweb weight yarn from paco-vicuna for her use in her knitting business. My only hiccup at the moment is that I don’t know where I put my paco-vicuna fiber so that I can start on this process. The last time I spun PV fiber was a few years back and on my Louet wheel and it turned out a Sports weight single. Now that I can spin a fine yarn on the Russian spindles I am hoping to each cobweb status – time will tell.
Very excited to be coming to the end of the process of making my newest buffalo yarn. The first half ounce of buffalo fiber was spun into a single on the Russian spindle. I then found a dark purple wool crepe yarn from Habu to ply with the buffalo a few weeks ago. I spent part of my Sunday combining the two yarns onto a plying spindle and just need to make a plying disc this week to ply the two yarns together. Buffalo Fiber Habu wool yarn
I have learned from this process that my “plying” spindle is very heavy and I might want to get something a bit smaller. My hand/wrist ached a bit from combining the threads onto the spindle. I found myself taking lots of breaks from the project just to give my wrist a break. Not sure of the yardage as of yet but there is quite a bit of yarn on the plying spindle. It is nice to see the pieces of the project coming together and know that I am creating something special.
In the quest to create yarn from fiber purchased years ago, I stumbled across plucked angora bunny fiber I purchased. It is a grayish white fiber with a nice length to it. The Russian Spindle would be a perfect tool to spin this luxury fiber so I fluffed out some of the fibers and began the process to spin it. Angora and I do not get along. I just couldn’t get the fibers to create a smooth consistent yarn. So my next thought was to add some cotton to fibers. I did spin a length of pure cotton from some cotton bolls purchased in 2011. A bit of thinking later, I decided to create punis/rolags with a mixture of angora and cotton. I detested this mixture more than the pure angora.
Finally I decided to just give up on the project. When one has lots of fibers in the stash that work well with spindles staying with a fiber that one doesn’t like is short lived. Below are photos of the yarn that will never be. I will be selling the angora fiber on Etsy though as there are lots of people who enjoy this fiber. Thus far in my journey I am up to two fibers I don’t like – dog hair and angora.
Once I decided to let this fiber go I was free to spin something else and the lucky fiber is Qivuit/Silk batting. It is beautiful! Below is a picture of the batting – stay tuned for my spinning progress.
While in Taos, NM last year I bought an ounce of bison/silk roving with silk noils added to the fiber. The fiber comes from the Buffalo Wool Company. Equipped with a Russian Spindle I was able to create a fingering weight single yarn. It would have been thinner but the noils stuck out so I tried to make the fibers the same width as the puffs. Then I learned about Andean plying and wrapped the fibers around one hand to create a 2 ply yarn on the same spindle. It was a great learning experience although using the Andean method is not really good with lots of fiber.
Bison fiber on the Russian Spindle
Starting to ply yarn
2 ply bison silk yarn
My second project on the spindles was with Llama roving purchased at Taos too. This fiber I believe was from the Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association. So far I had spun short fibers on the Russian spindles and wanted to see how a long fiber worked on this tool. It was absolutely fabulous and I think it made quite a pretty yarn too. I learned to predraft the roving a lot to get the fibers to thinness i wanted in the finally product. Pre-drafting allowed me to spin the fibers quicker than trying to draft as I was spinning. I am so thrilled with this yarn that it will be entered into yarn competitions this spring/summer. I only spun an ounce but as you can see from photos it created quite a bit of yarn. Still need to measure each of these but I do like the finished product.
Llama to be plied
2ply Llama Yarn
Next time we will discuss my experience with angora fiber along with cotton!
So the hat craze appears to be fading. I have made several hats including a baby one to add to my online catalog and get me through the next season. So what may you ask have I been up to – why spinning yarn of course!
The past week I purchased another beautiful Russian spindle with a metal tip. The bison/silk seed roving is being spun on it. It is thicker than I would normally spin on this tool but the silk seeds are thicker than the bison. I also went through the fiber bins to get at the supply purchased in 2011. Yes I still have fiber in good condition from then. I pulled out the white cleaned Shetland wool fibers and started to flick out the vegetable matter and align the fibers for spinning. It is actually quite good fiber and I think I was turned off originally as all of the lanolin had been removed from the fiber. I am spritzing the fibers as they are combed and have prepped 2 oz thus far. Tonight I plan on spinning up these fibers and flicking out the remainder of the fleece. The goal is to have a 2 ply yarn by this weekend.
In going through my hand spun yarns which are about 10 skeins I have realized so few have enough yardage to be sold at my LYS. The goal in February is to spin enough yarns to restock the LYS and get fresh product out in the marketplace. I can’t recoup my investment if the yarns don’t make it to the market (reminder to self).
My big quandary is what to ply the yak, quivit and cotton singles with. As the yak and quivit are very expensive fibers I am leaning towards plying with a strand or two of wool or alpaca. The other issue is the color of the 2nd or 3rd fiber. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
On the horizon is my first teaching class for profit. I have taught others for fun before but for some reason now that income is involved I’m a bit nervous. The kits for the students have been created and I have tools/equipment ready to be displayed. The only thing left is to create my handout of resources which should take about an hour or two.
Although I do not blog regularly my Twitter and FB accounts have lots of photos and updates on the world of fiber and all of its uses.Shetland Fiber