31 August 2010

The Northern Lights

I've been enjoying spinning the Louet Northern Lights roving I bought at The Mannings during Christmas. This is a standard roving, color 28 Violets. It actually has a fair amount of blue and green, including a nice shock of hot kiwi and a little punch of almost plain white or very pale blue. There were two hanks in the shop and I bought both, figuring that eight ounces would give me enough yardage to produce a substantial project. One of the problems for me with spinning is going to be projects. I don't need or wear a lot of hats or gloves. Most of the things I make for myself are shawls or sweaters which require a significant amount of yarn. So my hope for this roving was that I'd have enough yardage at the end to really make something.

As per my typical practice, I pre-drafted the roving. Because I'm still a novice, I used the second-lowest ratio on my wheel. Sometimes I attend the Monday spin nights at The Whole Nine Yarns. It is a nice group, smaller and therefore a little more intimate than on Tuesday knit night. As I'm not spinning for speed, it took me most of January to spin up all eight ounces. You can see from the bobbin at right that the spinning part went well enough.

After the roving was spun, I had more artistic decisions to make. It definitely had too much twist to be a single. (Somebody remind me to take a class on how to spin a good single.) I could chain ply it, but that would loose two-thirds of the length. I thought about plying it with a blue roving I had bought at Uncommon Threads. Instead of making an irreversible artistic decision, I worked on the blue roving.

Now, the blue roving took much longer than I expected. For one thing, I bought blue sparkles at The Mannings. But I don't have a drum carder. So I had to hand card blue sparkles into eight ounces of blue roving. This took a great deal of time. And then I spun up about four ounces of the blue roving, which took more time. At that point, I had three full bobbins (2 Louet Northern Lights, 1 blue with sparkles). I was able to finger ply the Louet to the blue and also the Louet on itself. Once I could do a side by side comparison, I decided to keep the Louet to itself.

So, I started to ply. And at some late moment, I realized I was not going to be able to get eight ounces onto a bobbin. I didn't want to cut my yarn. And in any case, I didn't have any empty bobbins, as I had two ounces of Louet on each of two bobbins, four ounces of plied Louet on a bobbin, and four ounces of blue with sparkles on a bobbin. I was thinking about ordering a spare bobbin. Then I looked on the Majacraft website and discovered the plying kit. For about $125 (depending on the exchange rate) and a couple weeks wait, my friendly local yarn shop was able to get the kit. It includes one oversized bobbin and one oversized flyer.

By this time, we were into the summer travel season. It was July, and I was headed back up to Pennsylvania. Fortunately I was driving rather than flying, because I pack like Auntie Mame with her eighteen steamer trunks. I got to my mother's house midway through the day. I let myself in. No pets. No children. No distracting adults. I was able to unwind the bobbin, with the resulting pile of yarn spread across the hardwood floor. And while I watched the evening news, I rewound the yarn onto the new bobbin. And I did all this while being careful to thread the yarn out of the old flyer and into the new flyer. It was worth the evening's labors. I was able to ply both four-ounce rovings together into one over 500-yard skein of worsted weight delight!

I hadn't brought my Strauch standing umbrella swift, so I had to wait until I got back home to Georgia to skein the yarn, steam set it, and determine the yardage. I'm still not sure what it will be when I knit it up. And I might combine it in a project with the blue sparkles, which aren't done yet. For the moment, I'm just going to enjoy it. And if you like this skein, remember that the roving is a standard roving that your local yarn shop should be able to get, rather than a specialty hand-dye that existed once five years ago. I am a beginning spinner. Even if you are also fairly inexperienced, you should be able to reproduce this yarn if it strikes your fancy.


introducing islam series said...


fleegle said...

Lovely yarn!

I'd be delighted to meet you--come up and visit! I am in leveland--near Dahlonega. You were a friend of Bruce, right? I miss him.