Thursday, August 17, 2006

Alpaca (Sky) Blues

I am in love with alpaca. Take a look at this:

That's my skein of sky-blue, glitzy alpaca, newly-washed and hanging to dry (don't worry, I didn't leave it to dry on the metal wine rack -- just long enough for a pretty photo and then back on the icky-looking but non-rustable plastic hanger). Notice anything?

No hanging weight.

That's right, my first skein of yarn that actually turned out balanced -- no wild kinks to take out with a water-filled spray bottle hung off the end of the drying skein.

I am in awe.

I'm sure someone who knows about these things can explain why this happened. Maybe it's the "lack of memory" I've heard alpaca has...? (If this is what lack of memory does, may all my yarns develop Altzheimer's.) Maybe it's something to do with crimp, or a lack thereof...?

You can see I'm pretty much tossing around bits of info and cool-sounding jargon that I don't really understand; bad spinner that I am, I've never really read the spinning books that I own cover-to-cover and absorbed the technical information about various fibers the way other spinners have. As far as I know, alpaca may be full of magic pixie dust which is responsible for its wonderful spinning properties. Basically, I pick up fiber and spin it. If it turns into yarn -- and it always has, although of what quality is often up for debate -- I'm okay with it. But this beautiful, balanced skein is really the crowning achievement of my little-over-a-year's-worth of spinning experience, and I'm perfectly happy with giving all the credit to the alpaca and none to my own skills as a spinner.

I will say, though, that my plying is getting better.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. No really un-twisted, fat-n-puffy sections; no really over-twisted, help-me-I'm-a-corkscrew sections; just a nice, fairly even ply that seems to have made a fairly nice, even yarn.

Again, I'm ready to give credit to the alpaca -- there must be something in the fiber that allowed this to happen. But I have gotten somewhat smarter about plying from both ends of a center-pull ball. I've pretty much come to grips with the fact that there will be no easy way, for me at least, of plying from both ends. Some people do it with ease. They sing the praises of the double-ended ply -- "no leftover yarn!" "easier than Navajo plying" -- but it always seemed to turn into a tangled mess for me, no matter what I did.

Once I finally accepted that I would never be able to simply pull smoothly from both ends of the ball, I tried unwinding a length of yarn from both ends of the ball and then plying that length. It slowed me down in the short run since I had to stop and unwind the next length every time I'd plied what I'd previously unwound, but it saved time and effort in the long run because I didn't have to deal with a bird's nest of tangles. All in all, I'm pretty pleased.

Now to take some close-ups of my new-to-me Country Craftsman spinning wheel. A kind Spindler contacted me and told me about the CC that she rescued -- now we're going to exchange photos and hopefully I'll get a better idea of what I've got and what I should do next with it.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Your handspun is *gorgeous* and I'me ever so jealous. :)