Spinning Tuesdays: The Problem with Spinning a Sweater’s Worth of Yarn

There’s a problem with knitting a sweater’s worth of yarn. No, it’s not knitting the sweater.

Now I only want to buy sweater quantities of fiber. For me, that’s around 2 pounds.

I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past weekend with my fiber gang.

And I bought a sweater’s worth of fiber (I wasn’t the only one!) at Fiberstory.

I bought a pound each of these two colors, thinking to combine them.

Fiberstory fiber. Earthy tones = Terrain (100% Merino) Blue and earthy tones = Milo (75% BFL, 25% Tussah silk)

How do I chose colorways to combine. For me it’s a little instinct and I try to have one color similar between the colorways. Sometimes I twist the fibers together to get an idea.

Fibers stripped and twisted.

Yes, I stripped the fibers. This is another time that I monkey with my fibers. To see what colors look like together.

I will also strip or divide my fibers into at least quarters, or more ,to do combination/tandem/marl drafting. I get close to pencil roving/pointer finger in size.

Fiber stripped and ready to spin.

Let the spinning commence!

Fiber and yarn plied like with like.

Fiber and yarns, plied and combined.

In the yarns above, the top yarn is a single of each color plied together, the bottom yarn is both colors drafted together and plied together.

They look pretty similar, so I knit swatches.

Just plain they are lovely, but not quite what I want.

Yarns plied like with like and swatched. Milo left, Terrain right.

Combined in two different ways, I like the color play better.

Left: singles of each color plied together. Right: colors drafted together and plied together.

They look similar,but I think I like the speckles better in the combo drafting version better than the subtle striping in the plied sample.

Plied and combined.

I like the hand of the swatch when the fibers are more deeply combined, too. But because the the fibers behave differently when drafting, the marl drafted yarn is more uneven than I’d like it.

Uneven yarn, but I can fix it.

To fix it I would stack the two fibers (the yarn here I spun with the fibers side by side) and fluff the fibers just slightly horizontally, to help them grab each other.

Now to start spinning!


How much fiber do you buy when you’re shopping for dyed fiber? Socks (4oz), Shawl (8oz) or Sweater (poundage)?

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14 thoughts on “Spinning Tuesdays: The Problem with Spinning a Sweater’s Worth of Yarn

  1. Miss Bunt

    My vote is for the plied version it looks crisper to me. Haven’t done a sweater spin yet but I’ve bought two sweater quantities so far – one pound of each. Need a bit more practice first then I’ll dive into the deep end of the spinning pool!

  2. Meg

    I had no idea there was anyone else from the GTA going – I was in A2 last weekend, too.

    I have not been confident enough in my spinning abilities yet to buy myself fiber with the intention of doing anything except for spinning it. There was so much pretty fiber this weekend, it was hard to say no!

  3. stitchpunk

    I like the plied version but I can understand you might not want vague stripes! I’m doing my first spin-for-a-sweater too, but I’m using raw Stansborough Grey fleece which I have to wash, flick card and comb first. The locks range from silver to dark pewter and I’m blending them together & spinning fine worsted singles to retain shine and make a gorgeous marl. I’m planning a 3-ply yarn which will be around sport weight I think.

  4. Becky

    I usually buy at least 5 oz. of fiber to spin for socks and I’ve learned that, since I like warm shawls, 8 oz. isn’t enough for the kind of shawls I like. I’ve come to the conclusion that all the 8 oz. skeins of handspun in my stash just aren’t going to cut it in the shawl knitting department and I need to start buying at least 12 oz. of fiber.

  5. Flossie

    I have no idea what you’re doing because I’m not a spinner, but I love seeing the different results. It’s fascinating. For what it’s worth, I love the lefthand picture in the “plied and combined” set.

  6. Karen Shannon

    Thanks for this post. I’m just starting to learn spinning and this gives me a little more insight. Also the colours are great!

  7. Juliann

    I,too, buy two hanks or bumps or roving that I combine. My latest I decided to try something differently. Instead of stripping and combining, I grabbed a handful with both hands and started pulling. I kept doing this until I had it mixed the way I wanted. I really, really like the randomness of the colors and how it is spinning. One of the rovings is Coopworth and is solid color pink. The other is a blend of merino, mohair, and bamboo with pink, purple and yellow. We will see what the final result will be in knitting, but I liked my sample skein.

  8. Tara

    I’ve only spun for smallish projects like shawls, mittens, or cowls so far. You’re inspiring me to try spinning for a sweater! I’m intrigued by all of the different techniques you’ve shown for combining different rovings – I can see some playtime on the horizon. 🙂

  9. Sharon

    I always go to sweaters first in my mind and want sweater quantities of everything. But I have no time these days to spin or knit large projects. So I’m trying to go in the other direction right now and buy small quantities of fiber to make manageable things like hats!

    Beautiful fiber, by the way! Your sweater is going to be awesome.

  10. brandi

    I actually like the subtle striping on the plied and combined. However I admit the pattern I’m considering making next has a subtle stripe 🙂

  11. Diane

    It depends…lately I’ve been on a small project kick with a few exceptions. Like the Mr. Greenjeans sweater I started last month from handspun and loving every bit of it so far!

  12. Louise

    It’s all lovely if you ask me. When I buy for a sweater for myself, I buy 1 kg at a time. It’s usually enough with leftovers for a couple of socks/mitts/hatts/cowls for the kids. I’m a really big woman and I need that much, especially if I’m doing something fancy. I thought I’d have enough with one pound of my most recent space-dyed purchase. Dead wrong. Had to order another pound “to match”. It won’t matter in the finished product if the match isn’t perfect, but lesson learned. Again.

  13. Sultana

    Yes, I am also addicted to buying sweater quantities of fiber. If I buy commercially processed fiber I usually get 2lbs. That gives me enought to sample and spin for the sweater.

  14. Susan Brockett

    Thanks for this post! I’m starting my first combo spin this week. It’s a little scary, but I feel more ready after reading this.

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