After some illness and company over the holidays, I have the chance to spin a larger sample of the Cheviot top into yarn. I’ve decided to make this yarn just a tad thinner than the second sample. I really liked the second sample and will aim for the same amount of softness, only in a thinner diameter. This Cheviot top is on the soft side to begin with, so as long as there isn’t too much twist, the yarn should retain a lot of its softness. The spinning ratio I used for the second sample was a 9:1. I’m spinning thinner singles, so I increased the ratio to 11:1 to have enough twist to prevent the singles from drafting apart when they’re removed from the bobbins.
I start this yarn as I started the others – by pulling off equal portions of the top for each bobbin. I’ve measured out one yard of top for each bobbin. I think a yard should make enough yarn to work on a project, as the last yarn sample used only 18″ per single and it made 144 yards. Since this yarn will be a little thinner and contain twice as much fiber, it should be plenty. I realize that these bobbins will hold an enormous amount of fiber when it’s spun this fine. I may still change the regular spinning maiden to the bulky/plying maiden and bobbin when I ply this yarn – it gives me a good excuse to try it out if nothing else. When I made the control card for this yarn, the 3 ply ply-back samples feel soft, just what I’m looking for.
It takes a little more effort to maintain an even single when I’m spinning a single this fine. It’s very easy to allow the single to get “sewing thread thin” or thicken to my personal default thickness which is the thickness of my second sample – thin, but not thread thin. I have the first single completed and I transferred it to another bobbin. I’m about 2/3 finished with the second single – this will be a three-ply yarn, so one more single after this one. I’ll collect ply-back samples from each bobbin and count the twists per inch for the ply and aim for the median number when I ply. As a side note – I cannibalized parts from an old Babe spinning wheel, and used a sewing machine motor to make an electronic wheel. I find that I prefer to treadle more than I realized, but have found a great use for the motor. I’ve been using it to wind the singles onto spare bobbins. I’ve found a product called “Bobbins Up” that are available from the Woolery for $5 U.S. each, they come with a plastic bobbin with a whorl for using with a tensioned lazy Kate, and a bit that can attach to a drill or power screwdriver. I may have to buy a few of these, it would be easier than pulling the motor out and using a drive band around the motor and bobbin whorl.
I have the wheel adjusted so the take up is very light. Although my other wheel is also set up for double drive, I had a lot of difficulty adjusting the take up this low. I don’t recall ever achieving the take up this low in my old wheel and still having the yarn wind on. To spin this fine, I would have difficulties with the wheel pulling too hard on my single. When I’m not spinning, I’ve been reviewing some nålbinding stitches that I learned a few years ago. Nålbinding is nice in that all I need is yarn, a needle, a thumb, and some creativity. No patterns, just stitch until it fits. No multiple needles, just one short blunt wooden, bone, or metal needle less than 3″ long. I think my favorite nålbinding stitch is still the Mammen stitch, but I have a new-found appreciation for the Oslo stitch and the Finnish stitch. The Oslo stitch moves along quickly and is less dense, kind of perfect for Florida winter items. The Mammen Stitch is just like the Oslo stitch with an additional loop picked up in the back, creating a thicker, more dense fabric – a bit more sturdy too. The Finnish stitch requires two loops on the thumb which I originally found a tad fiddly, and two loops behind the thumb, making this fabric both more dense and it gives a completely different surface texture and look. I may work with more nålbinding samples to help me decide which one to use in a project. It’s nice to have some samples lying around for reference, and fun to make too.