With this second skein I thought I'd try doing a straight forward 3-ply construction. I divided my braid into 3 using my Digital Pocket Scale (oh I love this little gadget!) and set to spinning straight away. The braid in question was from Hilltop Cloud, and called Peacock, which was a blend made up of 50% Merino, 38% Shetland and 12% Llama.
|Photo from www.hilltopcloud.co.uk|
With the success of the last skein I spun from a Hilltop Cloud blend I was interested to see how the support spindle would change the nature of the finished yarn. This carded blend of fibre was stunning to spin. This blend was soft and light and without any kind of lumps and bumps that might interrupt the glory of spindle spinning this luscious fibre.
The only problem with this spindle is that it spins very fast. I'm not quite fast enough as a spinner yet to keep up with the speed of the spindle. This means that the fibre is very tightly spun. As an inexperienced spinner I decided to make my life easier and simply get a slower and heavier spindle to help me ply more slowly than I was spinning the singles. I hit paydirt when I found another shop in the UK that sells support spindles. They are totally different from the gorgeous hand-carved Tibetan spindle I already own and I was delighted that I found somewhere slightly cheaper than IST Crafts to try a different kind of support spindle. The shop in question is Wildcraft and it makes resin spindles, both drop and supported styles. The shaft of the support spindles are made from carbon fibre, which is a flexible and strong material, and the resin has plants and flowers embedded in it.
This lovely Medium Weight Support Spindle has rush flowers embedded in it. The spindle comes incredibly well wrapped in sturdy tube, which I'm using for storage and with a 20g bundle of "mystery fibre". This spindle cost £25, and it was worth every penny. I started playing with the mystery fibre straight away and loved how well it spun. Immediately, I knew that this heavier spindle (26g) would ply fibres spun on the IST Crafts spindle perfectly. It was only after plying the yarn that I realised that this spindle is, in fact, a couple of grams lighter than the IST Crafts spindle. It feels heavier and slower because the tip of the shaft is not as tapered. The thicker shaft slows down the speed that can be created by rolling the larger surface area through one flick between finger and thumb. It's a simple rule of physics that I didn't consider, but it achieves the same end. The spindle from Wildcraft, is slower, which allows me to ply more easily.
The resulting yarn from spinning on the IST Crafts spindle and plying on the Wildcraft Medium Weight spindle is still tightly spun and plied.
As a result the yarn is very dense and smooth, unlike the yarn spun on the rakestraw spindle, which is more lofty because fewer twists are applied while drafting because it is a much more manual process. The yarn is fingering/4ply weight and has only 115m/126yds in length because of it's density. To determine the weight of the yarn I used an app, iSpin Toolkit. One of the other things this app can tell you is the twist angle of the plied yarn. I have no idea what it means, but hopefully one day I will understand how knowing that the angle of twist is 25° is useful! I do like this yarn, but I have no idea what I could make out of it, possibly some mitts or a hat, as there is so little of it, for such a fine gauge of yarn.
I want to try spinning a blend from Hilltop Cloud again, on the slower spindle and see if I can get a similar gauge of yarn, with much less density. I have decided that I really like the look of a 3ply yarn construction. It is much more even than a 2ply yarn and it has a nice roundness to it that I like. I am so in love with spinning on support spindles, I know I'm hooked for good. I can't wait to get to the stage when I know how to create the yarn I want and then spin with a specific yarn in mind. I know it's going to take lots of practice to get there, but at least I am happy with what I am producing now, and the speed at which I can do it, it vastly reduced by using a support spindle over using the rakestraw. I'm afraid that little spinning tool has been largely abandoned of late. Maybe I should pick it up again and do a big lofty skein of yarn as a contrast to all these tightly spun yarns.