The Errant Twist
I began spinning this yarn with the intention of making a scarf for my mother. I realized that she wanted it dyed a color of grey/silver, and I had some top just the right color. I could just spin that instead, and skip the dye process. I
abandoned set aside the bobbin of yarn I had already spun in favor of spinning the grey/silver alpaca top. I finally got around to spinning another bobbin of this creme colored alpaca to ply with the one set aside, so I could make a nice two-ply yarn. I plied the two singles into a nice yarn. It looked and felt to me like I had the right amount of twist added to the ply, but I was in for a surprise when I set the twist.
I prefer to dry my yarn without tension when I set the twist, so I unwound this yarn from my bobbin right onto a skein winder. I was able to tie off the skein and throw it into some hot water with a drizzle of Eucalan wool wash. I like its light fragrance, and an added bonus is the lanolin it’s enriched with. The alpaca was nice and clean, and since I didn’t over do it with the Eucalan there was no need to rinse. I slung the yarn over a wooden clothes dryer rack and allowed it to dry with no tension. I was rather proud of this skein of yarn, and was pondering its possibilities. Once it was all dry, I was shocked by the results. The twist from the ply seemed to “pool” in places. The twist was running into pockets – creating areas with almost too much twist and areas with NO twist – Alternating, over twisted – under twisted. I had no idea what happened to it, or how to fix it.
For some reason I was sure this wouldn’t have happened had I allowed it to dry under tension. I took a long piece of yarn with an end in each hand and pulled it taut. The twist evened out and looked the way it did before I set the twist, and when relaxed the twist pooled back into the alternating pockets of too much/too little twist. This confirmed my theory, and in the back of my mind it seemed familiar. I think I may have read something about this on a Facebook group that I’m subscribe to. Someone experiencing this same thing. I know that I didn’t have this issue with the last batch of alpaca I spun. I can contribute it to three things; 1) One of the bobbins sat for a year, and with the twist sufficiently rested, I spun the other bobbin with a different amount of twist (I’m not convinced this would cause my problem), or 2) This can be a common issue when spinning pure alpaca, and it should have some tension when drying to avoid it from drawing in and creating alternating pockets of over twist and under twist. 3) I don’t ply yarn as well as I think and give myself credit for, however, the yarn didn’t look like that when I threw it in the water. I’ll take #2 this time.
Fixing this yarn wasn’t difficult. I thought about simply putting the yarn under tension and resetting the twist. I didn’t trust that it would all go right back into place. I placed it back on the skein winder and ran the yarn back onto the bobbin with my spinning wheel. I did it quickly, trying not to add a lot of twist, but just get it back onto the bobbin, and even out the twist as it wound on. I took it off the bobbin with a PVC niddy noddy and set the twist right on the niddy noddy in my bathtub, and allowed it to dry. Now that it’s done, it looks good. No pooling of twist, the yarn has slightly more ply twist than it did originally, but I don’t think it has too much. In the future when I spin pure alpaca I’ll add a little weight to the skein when it dries. I do remember hanging something light from the skein of alpaca yarn I spun before, and this is probably why it wasn’t an issue then. Now I have to think of a color to dye it and a project. I like the natural colors of sheep, alpaca and Angora rabbits so much it can be hard for me to alter it with dye.