Dec 31 – Jan 5: Z-spun, S-plied

I can finally join back in… life and the challenge got away from me!
Here is a photo of some lovely little skeins of 60% romney, 20% ‘wool’ and 20% silk. I’ve been spinning these on a tiny spindle I bought at a fibre fest last summer. So far, I’ve just done 5 g at a time, though I think the spindle will hold more easily. I’m spinning some of the finest yarns I’ve ever done, with 5 g producing about 25 m (about 2400 ypp). When I did the first little skein, I spun S and plied Z. I thought it would be a challenge to switch from my ‘normal’, but I managed the spinning just fine. I wasn’t even paying THAT much attention as I did the spinning while visiting folks at a guild meeting. Remembering to switch from my dominant spin direction for the plying was much more difficult! Since that first skein, I’ve been doing the spinning my ‘normal’ way of Z-spun and S-plied. Interestingly, I think the first (top) skein is the best. I figure that I was paying a bit more attention and so controlled things better. They are all nice, but the first is the nicest so far! I’m interested to try knitting them up to see if I can detect any difference.




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Nov 26 – Dec 2: Double coated breed: inner coat

Posted on Ravelry on Dec 2:

I’m away from wheel again this weekend, so I reached for a light spindle to try spinning the inner coat of an Icelandic fleece – the inner coat left behind from the outer coat challenge earlier this summer. Whoever washed this fleece did end up felting the butt ends of the locks a bit, so I tried my hand cards to open the wool up. I made a big fluffy cloud, not rolags, and the tried to spin it. It didn’t go that well, so I will try again on the wheel on Mon or Tues. I did make a few meters of light fluffy two-ply, though!






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Nov 19 – 25: Gradient


Well… It’s January 22 and I’ve finally finished this challenge.

Took 4 different colours of dyed local Suffolk fibre and carded some of each colour together to make a gradient. Then I spun the fibre fairly fine and chain plied to keep the colours together.


I made two skeins, each ~116 m and 57 g. (2050 m/kg). Now for some toe-up socks from the “Sock” issue of PLY Magazine.


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Nov 12 – 18: Teaching somebody to spin

I’m back and happy to be rejoining the challenge. I took a break while moving – changing cities and jobs left little energy for anything else. But just before moving, I taught my last spindle class in that town, and my students took some photos for me. This picture is from our second night, when we work on plying the singles made during the first session and during their homework week.

I started teaching beginning spindle spinning a couple of years ago. I teach through my guild and take a maximum of three students at a time. I love teaching on spindles rather than a wheel as I find it easier when the students can separate all the motions – build up twist, then stop the spindle, then draft, then wind on.




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Oct 15 – 21: S-spun, Z-plied

I was interested to see how this would go… how ingrained the motions were in my head! Would I keep flicking my spindle the wrong way? I did this at guild meeting, so while wandering around and chatting with people.
In fact, the spinning was easy. But the plying, interestingly, was where I had more problems remembering what to do! Otherwise, not much different than normal. I’ve set aside another 5g of the same fiber and will use it for the inverse challenge, then see how they knit up together.


5 g, 23m, spindle spun 40% IGOR, 20% IGOR lamb, 20% wool, 20%silk  (IGOR = Island-grown organic Romney)


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Oct 8 – 14: Down wool

Well, I’m behind again this week and away from my spinning wheel for the weekend again. I’ve only just started my down breed project. I won a bunch of Suffolk Southdown 1 oz parcels all dyed in different colours. I’ve taken 4 of them – light green, green, blue, and purple and prepared them for a gradient spin (yes… I’m preparing for a future 51yarns challenge at the same time!). I divided them all in half and then blended some of each adjoining colour together with my hand cards. I’m planning to spin two semi-matching gradients quite finely, and then chain ply to keep the colours, and hopefully get enough for a pair of socks.


So far, I can report that the fibre is ‘sproingy’ – I think it will make a good bouncy sock yarn that is resistant to felting.



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Oct 1 – 7: Cotton

I have some colour-grown cotton to spin and have been reading up at – the cotton thread at A Spinners Study on Ravelry.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried 100% cotton before. Last time I tried cotton, it was a 50/50 wool blend… and probably about 11 years ago!

Here’s a photo of my first attempts… the left is short forward draft, the right is long draw. Both are two-ply.


Cotton fibre is the Pakucho Spinning Fibre from Vegan Yarn out of New Westminster, BC.

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Sep 24 – 30: Medium Wool

Medium Wool… what is that? Not fine, not coarse. Is it solely a measure of fiber thickness? Interestingly, just last week I was reading Beth Smith’s The Spinners Book of Fleece and she discusses just this question! In fact, on p. 3 she has a side bar devoted to “The Problem with Medium” in which she shares that she doesn’t like using ‘medium’ as a category as she finds it isn’t descriptive enough and “doesn’t give any clues about how to handle it.” Not all fleeces with the same micron count will behave the same way.

That said… for this week’s challenge, I did a little playing with my newest fleece aquisition. I’m on a slippery slope. For years I have been strong, not buying or accepting gifts of any raw fleece. Fibre prep is time-consuming and I’ve saved my time for spinning and knitting instead. However, I started teaching spinning a couple years ago, and after the first couple of sessions, I felt that it just wasn’t right to skip over fleece altogether in teaching. When I took my first spinning class, we started with greasy fleece and handcards. While I still teach with roving, I do like my students to at least experience the feel of raw locks. But… my stash didn’t have ANY raw locks! So… I bought some washed Romney from a friend. And then another bag of washed Romney at a destash… And then, this summer, I bought a large local Romney (SSI Wool Co.). And then, while watching the shearing demo at the Metchosin Day fair, I couldn’t resist a lambs fleece (or two!). Holly and I agreed to split two fleeces: a black East Friesian Cross and a white Texel Cross. I’ve been wanting to experiment with the fleeces from Parry Bay Farm. And I guess I’ve started that experimentation! Slippery slope, this fleece buying habit.

The Texel Cross is beautifully white. Not as soft as the East Friesian, but still lovely and fluffy. Wikipedia says that Texel fleece is about 32 microns, which seems to me to fit into the medium category. I’m not sure what Parry Bay has crossed with the Texel – they are a meat sheep farm, though also produce gorgeous fleeces.

I made one quick rolag on hand cards, spun it up quickly on a medium weight spindle, then plied it on itself. And here’s a little knitted swatch on 3.75mm needles:


Lovely, fluffy, puffy stuff. The original hope was for a non-felting sock yarn… I don’t think that this fleece will be the winner, but I’ll test soon. But if not socks… a sweater would be lovely!


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Sept 17 – 23: Chain ply

I started spinning this back in June but put it aside during the Sheep to Shawl events.

This is an Exmoor Blueface top from Etsy dyer Velvet Sixpence. Exmoor Blueface is a cross of the Exmoor Horn and Bluefaced Leicester sheep, and apparently the wool makes great socks. So, that’s what I’m going to try for!



Chain-plied half of the singles this morning. About half of the singles were removed from a bobbin when I needed empty bobbins for the sheep to shawl events. I decided to ply that one second, as I’m sure it will be trickier than the singles on the bobbin (I suppose I could wind them back on to a bobbin?)

I have chain-plied before, but this morning didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I have a hard time keeping the singles behaving as 3 separate piles, rather than having the ‘loop’ acting as one and the other thread wrapping around the loop. I tried for less ply twist than I normally do, so put the drive-band on the largest whorl.  In fact, I probably went with too little ply twist in the end, as the skein still twists clockwise after washing.20180923_114625

Ah well, let’s see how the other half of the singles goes.


Exmoor Blueface from Velvet Sixpence, chain-plied, 55 g, 66 m

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Sept 10-16: Spinning in the grease

Funny – I hadn’t seen the prompt in the book before I decided that I was allowed to soak my fleece in cold water. I’ve been working with a VERY DIRTY fleece. It was sold that way! The shepherd warned me that the sheep had been in the mud and cedar… It was also inexpensive, and a beautiful colour, so I decided it was worth the work. I’ve washed it all now, except for this last section, which I soaked in cold water for 2 days and then rinsed, then let dry. Of course, the weather has just turned to rain, so I’ve had it drying in my living room! I would have much rather had scoured fleece drying! This one is definitely still rather sheepy-smelling.

I plan to comb about 50g and then try to match my “True Worsted” singles. Then I’ll have white and grey singles for a striped shawl! Well… I’ll probably need to comb more than that of both the white and the grey. So many projects!

Romney X fleece from SSI Wool Co.
Soaked in cold water 2 days, then dried. Weighed out ~53g.
Combed on Forsyth mini combs.
Result 39g of nests, 13 g combing waste.


A little sticky to comb, but I think my technique is getting a bit better. Lashing on carefully does make a big difference. I’m not thrilled with the colour right now – a very dull, mousy brown. I hope that washing brings out some shine!

Spun on medium whorl with short forward draft, trying to match ‘true worsted’ week. Spinning this was lovely! I see why people like combed fibres… so slow to prepare but so easy to spin a very consistent single. Greasy, but not very evident. Didn’t really notice a difference spinning – could be because the top was so well prepared!


Wound onto 1.5m niddy noddy and tied securely in 5 places. Very sproingy once the tension was removed!


Washed in hot soapy water, dried hanging under some tension.


110 m before washing, 39 g (2.8m/g, 1416ypp)