2 ply

The most basic of plying. In my video for today I went over plying. Just the basics of plying a 2 ply on a wheel. You are taking 2 singles that you’ve spun (let’s say spun in Z direction) and you’re going to attach them back to the wheel and spin them in the other direction (so in this case S direction) .

Your wheel is move in which direction?
Z twist = Clockwise
S Twist = Counterclockwise

In the video I talk about how a general simple 2 ply is made and in some specific ways but if your way is different but works for you, keep going with your way. If your way doesn’t work or you want to try something different, then try this way.

Lazy Kate:
You can make a simple one with a basket and knitting needle but you might also have a manufactured one.

Either one works. The important thing is to have the lazy kate set behind and to the side of you. The movement I show in the video gives you the idea of why. If it’s an on board lazy kate like this, then you are pulling the yarn off the bobbins towards you then feeding it back to the wheel. If you can keep the lazy kate behind and to the size of you then you are just creating a straight line into the wheel. It helps the yarn to behave better.

So I attach the yarn to a fresh bobbin.
I start the wheel traveling in the direction I want and away I go! I keep the 2 threads separate in one and the other hand directs the twist for me. Spin Spin spin. One of the helpful things to many is once you find the twist amount you need, is to count the treadles. 1..2…3….4 treadles and I let the yarn go into the orifice. Over and over, check my twist, find my rhythm and then I can settle in to keep spinning away.

How do I know its the right twist? Well. Some of it is based on the yarn I’m making and my personal preferences. For me and the yarn I’m making here, I do a little plyback testing and look:

Too Little:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUST RIGHT:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember some of the twist settles out in wash and finish of your yarn. So for me, this is the exact way I want my yarn to look. It will still be balanced once it’s finished even if it doesn’t look so right now.

ok. y’all. Happy Spinning!

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Choose your Rigid Heddle Loom….

Notice this isn’t “Choosing a Loom”. I think if you want a big loom, you should get one and you should call a reputable dealer or a weaver and get some help. We all have opinions but it can help to talk to someone about what you want. Getting a big loom is different then a rigid heddle.

I also think rigid heddles aren’t necessarily a “starter loom”. They can be just that but they don’t need to be and you don’t need to start with a rigid heddle. You can start your weaving journey with a big loom if that’s what you want. You can start with a rigid heddle if that’s what you want.

I have all kinds of looms and I use them all. I really like my rigid heddles and I’ll do some other posts/videos to help you choose other looms but right now I wanted to start with Rigid Heddles. Partially because I’ve written this so many times and had it posted in a couple of different places. It might as well get posted once again.

When Twist Collective closed it’s doors, I made sure to have the download from their publication. I really like this version so I’m reposting it now, here:

Twist – Looming Decisions

That’s my article on choosing a rigid heddle loom but because this is what I do now… I’ve made a video to go with it as well. So below is my companion video to the article I wrote for Twist Collective and hopefully it will help you choose a loom.

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Getting some loft.

This blog post goes directly with the video. It’s not a direct transcript but it’s pretty close. Sometimes in video I do go on and on a bit more then I do in written word.

Let’s talk a little bit about getting a little more loft in our yarn. Now, a really lofty yarn can be made from roving but we can also use our lovely handpainted combed tops and get a little more loft in it. Meaning instead of spinning right from the tip and having a more dense yarn, I’m showing you a few tricks to get a little bit lighter yarn with your combed top.

Now, this isn’t about long draw. I’ll do that another time. This is about still using our short draw that I worked on this video. This about a few different tricks to make a little more loft.

Spinning from the fold. 
I’m breaking off a piece* and I’m going to do a special hold where I”m folding it over my index finger and gently holding it with my other 3 fingers and thumb.  I tease a bit off the tip of my finger and get it it going. I spin right from that. Now don’t give it a death grip. You want it to be a light hold.

Now, this jumbles up the fibers… that fold there. It gives you a bit of air and loft, simply by jumbling it up a bit. That fold is the trick. If you don’t find it comfortable to have your finger in there, that fold by itself and spinning from the side will help you get more loft.

Note that the loft doesn’t always show up just from the first yarn as you’re making it. So don’t expect to see magic on your bobbin. Sometimes it takes skeining it off and washing it to see that you have indeed added some loft to your yarn.

FauxLag – Fake Rolag
Break a piece of your fiber off – Open it up and fluff it out. Then roll it up and you’re going to spin from the end. Tease a bit off the end and that’s where we will spin from. You can see immediately that the fibers are more jumbled and that’s immediate loftiness right there!

You should note that this can change the color of what you are working on. You can see how I split it, that has 2 colors in the pieces, those colors will blend. It’s a great technique for blending. You can use this technique and keep separate colors but you will need to be careful and work at it.  I just wanted to throw that in there so no one was disappointed when they realized that this does do some crazy color blending.

*how big of a piece do you want? Well. Many will say that you only want one staples worth of fiber. But if you’re working with really short stapled fibers, that’s too little. So I generally go with what is comfortable in my hand. It’s still going to jumble things up even if you have 2-3 staples worth. Work with what works well for you.

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Weaving with handspun

There are a lot of variables in weaving with any particular yarn. And some of those start with the loom you’re using. There are tricks to make almost all yarns work for you but so that this isn’t a full feature giant length class, I’m going to stick with Rigid Heddle looms for this video.

With the average Rigid Heddle loom there is a beater which is also the heddle and some companies have heddles that might be more abrasive then others. The good part of these looms though is that you are working on a short area that’s getting the abrading and you are the “weight” in the beater. You can work it more softly if you need to.

So let’s just jump right into using the handspun on your loom and finding the right yarn and the right heddle.  First take your yarn and gather your WPI information.  Yes. WPI again! That’s why this series began with a WPI guide.

Let’s say your WPI for a yarn was 20. Divide that in half and that’s 10. For a balanced weave you would want a 10 dent.

Let’s say your WPI was 22. That gives you 11 when divided in half and that’s in between the 10 and the 12 dent heddle. Ok. It doesn’t need to be exact. So what are you going for? Do you want a loose more drapey fabric? Or tighter? For looser, go with the 10. For tighter, go with 12.

I’d like to note that even with this information you can go with a heddle that isn’t balanced. If you want airy holes in your fabric, you want to go with a fatter heddle. If you want a really solid (maybe even stiff) fabric then you want the smaller heddle. If I’m weaving for a bag or a tote, I use the smaller heddles for a stiffer fabric and conversely if I want an airy flowy scarf, I use the fatter one.

But is the yarn good enough?
Will it fall apart?
Give it a little tug, not a hard one like you would to break yarn when you’re done with a project, just a little tug. Does it just melt away in your hands? If it does. Stop right there. It’s not suitable for a warp and maybe you can add more twist to it or just use it for the weft. If it survived a little tug, feed it through the dent of your heddle and rub it back and forth a few 10-20 times. Does it fall apart or does it hold up. You’re probably putting a little more stress on it doing this then your loom will so if it survived that, then it’s good to go.

Finally you can just calculate yardages and what you need and get your project started like a wild person throwing caution to the wind. Or, you can swatch. Yes, you can swatch on the looms and I have another post and video planned for that because it’s long. Most of these short lessons/videos/blogposts are longer classes that I’m chopping up. It is how I make a living but I want to spread the information a little wider. So I started doing videos and asking for Patrons who are finding the work helpful to help keep me going supplying this information to you all. I am working on a weaving project that isn’t up on Patreon yet. It’s coming, so stay tuned.

The companion video:

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Crocheting with handspun

Look back at the knitting episode and pretty much, its’ the same as that. I hate to have to tell crocheters to go read yet another thing written for knitters but I happened to do that one first and it’s almost all the same information.

YES YOU CAN CROCHET WITH HANDSPUN!!
But you might have already known that. It may be my perception but I see fewer crochet folks asking if they can use handspun where it seems to be a common knitters and weavers question.

I know there are a lot of hooker handspinners that will ply in the opposite direction of knitters. But it’s not necessary. Most of the commercial yarn is spun in the same direction and it works…. right?

Let’s back up and talk about why first. When you crochet vs knitting, you are adding or removing twist in a different direction. Yes, there is some knitting that will behave like crochet but the majority of knitting does not. So for most people we can assume that with knitting and crochet, you will add and remove twist differently. Now this is one of the beauties of making your own yarn, if you find it a hindrance to have twist added or removed, you can adjust and make the yarn that makes your heart sing. It’s not a requirement but isn’t it excellent that we can do so?

If you’re buying handspun, then assume that it’s no different then working with commercial yarn that you buy off the shelf. The only difference is that you don’t have all that information on the ball band that commercial yarn has.

I find myself usually making crocheted accessories but not so much the large projects. I tend to knit sweaters and make crocheted scarves. While there is more leverage in knitting a scarf (if gauge is off then gauge is off and I’m not usually worse for wear) but in a sweater you need to know what you’re up against.

It’s the same as in the knitting. Start by getting your WPI.
Here’s the lesson on checking WPI. 

Then take a gander at the chart that corresponds to the WPI and hooks:
Hook_guide_wpi

Just like the chart for knitting last week, this one references all the common information and then gives you a blank chart so you can fine tune the information as you need it. Not all information is the same across breed types or blends. If you have a couple of fibers that you use frequently only you notice they behave outside the norm, make your own chart so you have this information.

I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it a million more times…. I advocate doing a lot of prep work and swatching but if you play historian and save this information thoroughly, you might not have to do it again.

I couldn’t find my hook gauge. I know. It’s a little disappointing but it’s likely in a bag that I didn’t check. We also lost a  stole that I made out of handspun. Things disappear and then turn up when I no longer need them. So I decided to charge on with this post and video anyway. I’m going to fake the needle gauge thing right now….

This is how it looked for the knitting and it’s the same for the crochet. Fold your strand of yarn in half and see which gauge hole it fits through best. Not too tight, not too loose. You want the Goldilocks fit.  That’s the hook I’d start with to see if I had gauge.

Make a swatch. Make your notes. Away you go!
If you want this all video style:

Happy hooking y’all.

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Knitting with Handspun

Let’s talk a little bit about knitting with handspun. Now, there are some specialty handspun yarns, novelty yarns. And just like commercial novelty yarns, there is a bit of special consideration for them and as I talk about how they’re made, I’ll also talk about how to use them. I’m going to talk about general run of the mill handspun here.

Well. Run of the mill sounds mundane but I’m talking about the handspun that many spinners make as a general default:

Many spinners consider a standard “general”  handspun is just a simple 2 ply. We make many things but we’ll consider a stander, not novelty, handspun for this task.  It comes in different weights but it can be a little difficult to gauge what you have so let’s tackle that and talk about how to figure out what we have and what we can do with it.

Here’s a Chart to start with and then I’ll discuss how we use it.

Needle_guide_WPI

First let’s check the WPI. There’s a guide HERE on how to use WPI. And once you have that you can look on the chart above and see what it all equates to.

Needle gauge.


I double up my yarn and start poking it through holes to see which one I like how it fits. Yes, this is a bit subjective. I don’t want it so tight that I have to try to really work it in and I don’t want it so loose that it’s all airy. Think, that’s about how it will be in your knitting. I want it about spot on so that gives me the needle I should start trying to reach a gauge with.

Next step. Make a swatch. From there I can figure out what my gauge is and I can start hunting for a pattern.  Voila.

Now I made a chart for you all and I just wanted to note that there is a section at the bottom that’s blank so you can fill in your notes. I’m a big proponent of do the work only once. Once you do this, note your info and you won’t have to do it again, you can get to actual knitting faster.  I mean, you may have to have a separate chart for Longwools and fine wools and silks or whatever but it’s helpful to start making notes so you can refer back to it.

There’s more explaining in my video:

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WPI Guides – how to

 

This is a short (short for me) how to on wrapping and finding your Wraps Per Inch. For some it might seem intuitive but for others there are questions. Believe it or not there is a right and a wrong way to wrap. First let’s look at the WPI guides.

There’s a ton of them out there and you can simply use a ruler or you can measure out one inch on a book or a marker. Something. Anything that seems reasonable to you.

I know there’s some of you out there that might want to wrap something insanely large and if you want to measure out an inch on your dog and go that route, you can if you can get her to sit still and you can get an even measurement. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be fun for you or the dog but you might be able to manage to do it. It’s the inch that matters not girth of the thing you’re wrapping. Case in point:

These both equal 13 wraps. What matters is how many times that yarn goes around. See? Girth doesn’t matter.

You can do this with thick and thin yarn too. You just want the total of wraps and in a thick and thin, that evens out and gives you the median. There is a bit more I want to talk about using thick and thin yarns but that’s a whole blog post or two (maybe three) of it’s own.

Anyway. I told you that girth of your wraps per inch guide/ruler didn’t matter but something else does. It matters how you wrap it. If you’re stretching your yarn tight, it thins out and you can cram more wraps on there. If you’re loosey goosey with your yarn it might be all over the place and not give you an accurate measurement. You need to wrap your yarn side by side without over stretching it and without being messy or loose with it. Just an average tightness.

Hopefully my video explains it pretty well:

This is where it gets subjective and can be difficult to gauge what you actually have. I’ve included the chart I use to tell you what yarn weight you have based on WPI. But, there are a bunch out there. This is one I’ve used and based on ones I’ve published all over the place. I added a blank note space just for you to make your own notes based on your own experience.

WPI chart

Here’s what I can tell you about all of this and you will have to use our own objectivity to decide some of this. The yarn I wrapped (the grey rainbow stuff “Let Love In“) is a commercially made worsted yarn that I dye. I’ve made a ton of things in this yarn and always use it as a worsted yarn. It came out as 13 WPI for me and that on my chart is a worsted. When I looked up other charts, one said that 13 WPI is between a sport and Fingering weight.

Sometimes it’s hard to gauge where these things fall but I’m going to continue these lessons on WPI in more videos and more blog posts. Stay tuned in. More is coming! We’ll work through all the nuances of this stuff together.

Posted in crochet, Knitting, spinning, tutorial, weaving | 5 Comments