Two pounds of Cheviot wool top came with my new wheel. This gives me a lot of fiber to work with and acclimate to this wonderful new wheel. I’ve decided to start with some sampling to knock the dust off my spinning skills and break the wheel in. After the first yarn sample I spun from the Cheviot wool top, I’m ready for another sample. Normally I don’t care for sampling, I prefer to sit down and make something useful whether I’m spinning, weaving, or knitting. The first sample felt more crisp than I like for a knitting/crochet yarn, but it has a good feel for tapestry weaving. This second sample was a pleasure to spin and much closer to what I look for in a knitting/crochet yarn. I think I’ve learned a lot, both about my wheel and my spinning style from these two samples. I’ll need to figure out what to do with these finished samples. I’m sure I’ll dye them, one definitely with black walnut hulls, and maybe for the other I’ll use some coreopsis flowers that I picked, dried, and saved. I may use sample one for a small nålbinding project and sample two in some mittens.
The first sample was spun with a ratio of 11:1. The yarn had more twist than I wanted. Since I spin in a worsted style, my yarn tends to be on the firm and strong side to begin with, so I set my wheel to a lower ratio, 9:1. As long as I draft the yarn to a similar thickness at the same speed, and my treadle cadence is consistent with my first sample, I’ll have less twist in my singles. I began the second sample much as I did the first – by pulling off three equal portions of the Cheviot top, one for each bobbin, a bobbin for each ply. Since I’m fairly certain I’ll be happier with this sample than the first, I take larger portions for a more useable length of yarn. The singles spun nicely, I had to take a break in spinning as life tends to happen in spurts. I made a control card for this sample as I did with the last. I saved a sample of the single from the first two bobbins, a 2-ply ply-back sample from the first bobbin, and a 3-ply ply-back sample from all three bobbins. The yarn on the control card had a softer feel. I thought I may want a yarn that was softer even than this second sample, but I have to keep in mind the micron count of the Cheviot – it’s soft, but not that soft, so I’ll be happy with what I achieve. I transferred each single to a spare bobbin, with them separated about 8 feet to help even out twist. I allowed the yarn to rest on the bobbins and the twist to become somewhat dormant to keep it more manageable when I begin to ply.
Using a strong light, magnification, and my control card, I counted the twists per inch in each of the three samples. Each sample is at least 4 inches long, so I was able to take counts from several different places on each. There’s a range of twists per inch, so I chose the median number (12) as my target “ply twists per inch”. Once I have a treadle count to properly ply, I can carry on and enjoy it. The finished yarn nearly fills a bobbin, and I transferred my plied yarn to another bobbin, keeping these separated at a distance to help even out twist. I ran my yarn through a yarn meter when I wound it into a skein to find my yardage. I noticed that my yarn pulled in a clockwise direction, but not tightly. I gave it a good hot soak until the water was cool to set the twist. I used a light weight (7 oz.) hung from my yarn until it was dry. The pre-soak measurements are 434′ or 144.666 yds/132.28 meters and weighs 1.35 oz./39 gr. I wish I had more of this yarn. Maybe I’ll spin a lot more of it, dye it, and make some mittens since “Winter is Coming”. I have some EPIC yarn that is useful both for band-weaving and tapestry weaving. It’s a 2-ply yarn and while I haven’t used it in a project yet, I think it has all the characteristics that I want for those two weaving disciplines. Curious about how my yarn compares, I’ll use my control cards. The 2-ply ply-back samples in my control cards are indispensable. The first sample looks almost exactly like the EPIC yarn, I believe the only difference is the sample on the control card hasn’t had a soak which would allow the fiber to relax and fluff slightly. While the first sample yarn is 3-ply, if I want to make a yarn that’s compatible with the EPIC yarn, I should be able to recreate the yarn in the first sample with only 2 plys. This would be nice when I want to make special dye lots or colorways to work with the EPIC without buying a lot of white.