This past weekend I went to a yarn store with a group of knitting friends. It’s what you do when there’s a break in the Cute British Guys and Costumes movie marathon you’re knitting and spinning along with, right?
Just like every winter I fell in love with Malabrigo Rasta, a super bulky (4-5 WPI) merino single. I know you’ve seen it and pet it.
Usually I convince myself to buy some, even though the spinner in me is gnashing her teeth and stomping her foot, becasue lazy and because it’s right in my hand with it’s squishy goodness. But this year the spinner in me won.
I went home and dug out some gorgeous Merino.
I set up my Lendrum with the slow, huge plying head. I poked at piece of Rasta before I spun. It’s 4-5 WPI and a fulled singles. I thought about how I might change it. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t quite so fat; I’d like to add some more thick and thinness to it – not in a specific pattern, but random. Rasta is pretty dense 90 yards in 5 ounces, I might like it a little loftier, but still fulled.
I spun for an evening, just sampling not stressing. I fluffed and attenuated the fiber just barely to be able to draft quickly. I spun with the yarn sample in my lap checking it against my singles and I got a variety of yarns.
The top yarn is a snip of Rasta. The bottom is my first free-style big and airy yarn – too big and too airy. I use ply back samples even when I spin singles. I do lose some twist in the ply back, but I have most of the twist contained and it’s easy. The dark sample in the middle is the right WPI with a little more density and the light sample is the right WPI with even more density, the closest to Rasta.
To get more density (weight, heft) to my yarn I add more fiber per drafting pinch. To get the same WPI in the denser sample as the loftier sample I added more twist.
I spun a small amount of the two samples and looked them over and thought about the fulling process. The loftier sample would shrink in size when fulled maybe even to a worsted weight yarn. I was betting on the denser singles to full to chunky/bulky size.
My yarn is not quite as chubby as Rasta , it’s 5-6 WPI, but it’s every bit as squishy and soft. Now I need to spin the rest and knit! What should I make?
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