April 17, 2009

The Unintentional Spinner

That would be me. I've been reading Judith MacKenzie McCuin's The Intentional Spinner with a fervor - reading and re-reading it in fact, which is impressive attention to give to a single book given my current lack of reading time. I would love to say that I'm going to give you a review of The Intentional Spinner, but as soon as I say that I won't get to it, so I won't say it and we can all just be pleasantly surprised if I do. Fair enough?

The Singles, feigning innocence.

Anyhoo, this book has given me some real "Ah-ha!" moments, so if you are in need of one as an intermediate-ish (beginning intermediate?) spinner, I'd highly recommend it. As far as ah-ha moments go, this book shares a space with the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and Sew U for me. A real connect-the-dotter.

It would be great to be able to say that I have been practicing all that I have learned from this wonderful book, but so far all my fervor has produced the same type of spinning that I always do, on pretty much the same fiber, with the same preparation. I do want to work on my techniques at some point, but for now the book has simply been inspiration to spin.

So now for the unintentional part. The only way in which I deviated from my normal spinning practices was in the twist I gave my singles. Somehow I managed to spin one S and one Z. I'll give you a moment to contemplate that. One S. One Z. You can't make those play nice together. For all of you non-spinners who are glazing over right now (why are you still reading?) think oil and water, square peg, round hole. I didn't even notice until I attempted to ply them and one became very tight and wiry while the other practically disintegrated before my eyes.

I could have cried. I had been so intent on spinning that I had two bobbins with two ounces of fiber on each. I considered Navajo plying them, but I didn't want long color runs. I was really aiming for barber-pole 2-ply, and the only way one gets that is to ply the singles together. Luckily, I have a great resource in the Spunky Club on Ravelry, and soon after I posted about my spinning woes there were many suggestions about what I should do.

The one that really struck me was Andean plying. Why had I not thought of that? That was a D'oh! moment. I think it didn't occur to me because I've only Andean plied on a spindle, and with each bobbin holding two ounces, that's quite a bracelet. Again, there were several suggestions as to how to tackle that problem, including this nifty idea of "book plying." I am taking the path of least resistance and Andean plying from a center-pull ball.

So far, I have only managed to wind the singles off the bobbins into skeins, and look at them skeptically. There is no reason that Andean plying would not work -- all my spindled yarn is plied this way and I have made some lovely yarn and knit it with success (more on that later - my first FO of the year was a spindle-spun hat for Griffin that I have yet to blog). Still, I feel some trepidation, having managed to forget which way to ply a singles in the space of three months. I'm not sure I can blame it all on sleep deprivation. Cross your fingers for me and hopefully I'll be back soon with tales of pretty yarn.

Posted by Julia at April 17, 2009 06:00 AM
In just plain silly | main | ruminations on knitting/yarn | shooz (the knittin' kind) | spinning | spunky fiber club | the rose


I had to laugh when I read the title of your post. Several years ago when I started spinning again after an approximate 12ish year break I asked my friends in the local guild whether or not I should be working to spin with real purpose, recording every detail and practicing for specific twists/inch and other details. They all laughed and told me that spinning was supposed to be fun! I've not looked back since...but now spin unintentially as the mood takes me! Nope, it's probably not as useful as it could be, but it is fun!

Posted by: Krist at May 2, 2009 11:09 AM

Hi Julia
Been following your blog on for a few years now and have enjoyed it immensely. I distinctly remember you knitting a guernsey layette in a lovely green. I managed to get the pattern from an old interweave knits mag and knitted it in a pink. I know you translated the pattern for 8ply yarn - have you knitted it for Griffin? It's such a lovely pattern!
Anyway, I thought I'd introduce myself after all this time!

Posted by: Hazel at April 29, 2009 04:40 AM

Hey Marnie,
I will try to write a review. I think the video must be by someone else, because there is only one passage about counting treadles that I recall and it's in the plying section. Her advice is that it is helpful but not necessary. Despite the name, the book is not into overly structured spinning. It's more of a guide to techniques that get you where you want to go. I'm personally a fan of organic as opposed to planned spinning, as I think it's more fun, too. I found this book helpful because it gives you good ideas on how to play with fiber as you go along.
xox, J

Posted by: Julia at April 22, 2009 12:38 PM

Well, I think it'll be worth the effort. The singles look lovely.

I do hope you'll end up writing a review. I haven't read that book yet. I have a video by someone...might be the same woman, actually, and I was a little turned off by it. I get what she's saying but i really don't want to carefully count treadles and measure out exact inches and micromanage every length of yarn. That would make it more like work. I want to be able to spin while interacting with other people. So I'm definitely not an intentional spinner, still my guess is that there's still probably great info to be gleaned.

Posted by: Marnie at April 22, 2009 11:03 AM

I'm no help, though you are making me miss my wheel (you have a Rose, sigh! My teacher had one and I loved it so much). The last time I sat down to spin, it took me about 30 minutes and yards of pulled apart roving to realize that the reason I couldn't make a join and continue spinning was that I was going the wrong way!! I hope it works out, spinner's fingers crossed ;)

Posted by: mel at April 20, 2009 04:32 PM

You poor thing! Sleep deprivation and breastfeeding (if you're doing that?) definitely lead to some...questionable decision making, I agree. :) Although I can't think of any at the moment because...well, I'm in the same haze myself. Hope that your yarn comes out well -- I look forward to seeing it!

Posted by: Faith at April 18, 2009 12:31 AM

Changing the orientation does not change the direction the singles were spun.

I took a look at the Rav thread and yes, I agree that the best way for you to get a barberpole 2-ply without having to respin one of the singles in the opposite directions (total PITA), would be to ply them back on themselves and end up with two separate skeins of yarn.

Just don't forget that the singles spun S must be plied Z, and the singles you accidentally spun Z must be plied S.

I wonder how differently they'll knit up, both skeins spun and plied in opposite directions.

I don't like to ply from a centre-pull ball. What I do is a make a centre-pull ball with my ball winder, then find both ends; hold together and wrap the yarn tightly around a tennis ball, keeping tension on the yarn and the kinks out. Then ply from the free end. I find this the easiest way to ply one singles yarn to itself.

Posted by: Maggie at April 17, 2009 02:26 PM

I have SO done that...I didn't like the yarn much anyway so I ended up tossing it and chalking it up to experience...hopefully you salvage yours!

Posted by: Hattie at April 17, 2009 12:10 PM

Wouldn't changing the orientation of one of the plies on the bobbin turn both into s or z spun plies?

Posted by: Gale at April 17, 2009 09:46 AM