Spinning Tuesdays: Dissecting Yarn with Amy King

Last Saturday I took a class with Amy King of Spunky Eclectic and Spin Control fame.

The class was called Reading Your Yarn and it was about learning to dissect millspun yarns and reproduce them. I have to admit this really had never occurred to me. Sometimes I pick a yarn apart to look at plys, but never anything beyond that.

We looked at prep, twist, spinning technique and ply.

We all brought a yarn or two we really like to take apart and try to make. I brought Osprey by Quince & Co., because I just bought it am in deep love. It’s a springy 3-ply with more loft than any 3-ply that I’ve ever worked with.

Osprey from Quince & Co

Untwisted I could see that it’s a 3-ply with a lot of woolen characteristics. Because it’s a millspun yarn, the finished yarn is a lot smoother than a handspun woolen. It was spun from a woolen prep, there is lots of air in each ply. It’s slightly over twisted from a balance yarn.

Osprey untwisted

Without doing exact measurements. I spun  Pear Tree merino roving woolen and plied it 3-ply.

Pear Tree merino spun woolen

I didn’t ply twisted enough to get the springy feeling throughout my skein, but I can see a few spots where I got it just right.

Needs a little more twist, but it's close

I love this yarn. It’s soft with loft, but would have much better stitch definition than any handspun woolen yarn that I’ve knit with. I’m dreaming about a slouchy cabled hat.

Of course, since this class I’ve been picking apart every commercial yarn I come across in my house.

Does everyone else already pick commercial yarns apart and try to replicate them in handspun? Am I late to yet another spinning party?

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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com

12 thoughts on “Spinning Tuesdays: Dissecting Yarn with Amy King

  1. Jess

    LOL, not me! I think it’s neat to know how they’re constructed but when I spin I’m trying NOT to make it look like commercial yarn, I think. 🙂

  2. colorlessblue

    I’ve done it before, when I was starting to spin. I’ve read articles about famous, well regarded sock yarns and stared at pictures for ages, if I didn’t have them to look in person, to find my own ideal handspun sock yarn. Nowadays, I like to use yarn with plenty twist both on singles and plying, so there aren’t many millspun yarns out there that I’d want to replicate.
    Also, I’m not sure I agree with “Because it’s a millspun yarn, the finished yarn is a lot smoother than a handspun woolen.”
    I guess I’d say that depends on what prep you’re starting with, and the level of experience of the spinner, but I’m sure there’s spinners out there who can spin smooth woolen yarns as well, or better, than any machinery.

  3. Meg

    Very cool, and no! I didn’t think of that before. But what a “Duh!”. An ex of mine used to say that your finished job is only as good as the prep. He was talking about paint. I see it’s true with spinnign. Thanks for the insight

  4. Kelli

    I’m new to spinning. I just started last week and am using a drop spindle. I am jealous looking at your yarn, I will hopefully be consistent like that – right now it is all over the place.

  5. Lotsofhermies on Rav

    No I have never tried this. What a fantastic idea. I think I have to try this. Thanks for another great idea!

  6. Candace

    I learned to do this several years ago in a class taught by Carol Rhodes. Carol dissects several yarns, discusses the characteristics, and then we all worked on duplicating them to get the type of yarn wanted. It was a great class, and I use the info/skill often nowadays (but not always)!

  7. Spinfoolish

    Yes, this is part of the Master Spinner class I am taking from Old’s college. Third year I think. It’s fun to be able to replicate because it teaches you to improve your control, but I can’t say I have ever done it outside of a class assignment. I try and produce the yarn the fiber is trying to become. That sounds very silly when I read it, all artsy-Farrah, which I am not, but that is what it feels like hen I spin!

  8. corrie

    I have looked at how they are prepped, but haven’t ever made the leap from looking to trying – half because like many who mentioned, I’m not looking to recreate millspun (oh, ok, except for Malibrigo); half because I’m not sure I’m up to it yet. 😉

    Your result is LOOOOVELY though.

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