Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yarn Construction

I own The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs, which is an excellent resource for learning how to create different types of yarn. I've not delved too deeply into it, since I'm not into "art yarn", but the author details her experiments with different sock yarns (best results: cable-plied!), which of course I am absorbed by!

Anyways, from this book I learned how to make a 3-ply "cable" yarn, also known as a "crepe" yarn. A cable yarn, for those of you who don't spin, is 4 ply yarn that is unlike what you can get from the store. It is spun together in pairs: first 2 strings (or "singles") are twisted together, then another 2 are twisted, and then finally those 2 little ropes are themselves twisted together. The result is a bumpy yarn that looks like a cable:

[cable-plied yarn]

This is much stronger (abrasion resistant) than a regular, smooth 4-ply yarn (which is what most commercial sock yarn is). 

A 3-ply "crepe" yarn is a cousin to a 4-ply cable. The recipe is:
1. spin 1 single clockwise
2. spin 2 singles counterclockwise
3. ply the 2 counterclockwise singles together, clockwise, and overspin them (add 2x as much twist as normal) - I do this by plying them as per usual, and then running them through the wheel a second time.
4. ply the single and the overplied pair from step 3 together, counterclockwise.

I figured out recently that you don't divide the fiber into 3 equal portions for this type of yarn; it is more like ~36/36/27 for 100g, with the 27g used for the clockwise single.

 [3-ply crepe yarn]

I tried this recently for the first time, with nice results - a bumpy cable-like yarn. I like making this because you never have to ply more than 2 threads together - plying more than 2 is hard to do evenly. Also because this is a 3-ply, you don't have to spin singles as ridiculously thin as for 4-ply. Finally, it's stronger than a regular 3-ply yarn!

Also fun: I played with the colours and breeds. This particular one is 2 plies of brown Jacob (which is rather coarse) plied together with a single of grey Shetland (which I dyed red - gave a dark pink colour). I really like the marled result. Overdying grey wool mutes the colours and makes them more "manly". Then, mixing it up with a dark natural fiber tones it down even more, so even if this is pink, I think I can use it for the men in my family!

The other cool thing that I realized is that I can mix plies of different breeds - Shetland is softer and warmer than Jacob, but not as strong, so I'm thinking these socks will be softer and warmer than 100% jacob socks. Alternatively, you could add a single ply of mohair, which is supposedly very strong, to enhance the longevity of the socks. So, I can play with different fiber blends, without having to invest in carding equipment!

I think I will be doing more of this...

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