Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

Another great addition to Knit Pick’s colossal array of yarns, Simply Wool is spun from wool grown in a century-old sustainable way in the Highlands of Peru, it comes in six shades undyed natural fleece colors blends, in both worsted and bulky weights. Having worked with Wool Of The Andes, a Peruvian Highland wool from corriedale-merino cross breed of sheep, Simply Wool is noted on the website as  ‘eco wool’  but that is not describing how or to what extent the wool itself is different from Wool Of The Andes.  I’d say much softer than Wool Of The Andes,  what I’d expect from an un-dyed and minimally processed wool, and it comes in 100g skeins.

I am creating a fine lace-weight in this supreme all-natural yarn,  which started from a ball of worsted weight in light grey . jenjoycedesign© Simply Wool skein.JPG

With drop spindle I deconstructed the soft wool exactly as in this tutorial post , and after a couple of days unplying here and there, finally this morning I put all the single plies end-to-end on the swift and felt it to be a major accomplishment that I am very pleased with!

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I am not over-dying this big skein in a simmer dye bath, as I want it to be au natural, the whole point of buying Simply Wool, aside from the ecological consideration, so I just gave the energized single skein off of the swift a warm bath and hot rinse to carefully but slightly felt the yarn to set the twist as it will remain for the rest of its days a single ply, in a stole of a particular design in mind. So I’ll see how this yarn knits up in a day or so!

Right now I’ve got it speed drying on a baseboard heater, hoping to have it re-skeined by the end of the day so I can cast on for more insane lace knitting!

Unspun Mystery Yarn!

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In previous post I decided to do a mystery Unspun project, not saying what yarn I started with. I am rather surprised to find this whole project really only took me a few hours this time. That is from unplying the original commercial yarn, to splicing and winding on to skein, to overdying, adding the time this morning winding it off into a ball and re-skeining to photograph, and I was finished before I could blink! Not much of a long anticipated mystery was it ?

jenjoycedesign© fine lace Unspun

I did say in the last post that I was keen on writing another lace pattern for this job, but I think it would be an over-enthusiastic pursuit to try, being that I still am feeling under the weather with my sawdust cough. I think instead I will use this lovely skein of yarn toward a cowl or shawlette of Golden Fields .

Tech Stuff: 

Original Yarn: Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Sport, 137 yards, 50 grams, structure 4 plies.  Cost = $2.79 per ball.  Fiber: Peruvian Highland Wool (Corriedale + Merino) in  color Mink Heather.

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I deconstructed the plies as illustrated in the Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of Yarn post, then I overdyed with a small amount of Jacquard Acid dye in the shade “Pink”.  Being that the yarn was already a richly heathered neutral color, all I was after was a soft brush of pink, so that the heathering was really pronounced even after the dying.  I think I put too much dye in, even though a light sprinkle of dye powder, I should have done half of that, for it is really a vivid color, more so than I wanted.

I like to agitate just a tiny bit in the dye bath, being that an ever so slight fulling is desireable, but I warn that this is a very careful step, and I would not recommend this to anybody using 100% Merino or anything too fine & downy.  A very very slight fulling or felting really helps set the splices and relax the re-energized single ply after unplying.  But too much fulling would result in the yarn being very difficult to unwind.  In this skein, after a couple of times from swift to ball, the yarn has become perfect and relaxed.

Unspun Yarn: 548 yards, 50 grams, structure 1 ply.

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You can see all posts about Unspun HERE.

A Mystery Unspun

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Humble new beginnings after the shortest day of the year has come and gone, and  I can’t relax with the plague for the holidays a second longer, the antibiotics are done and I am feeling better with only a slight but perpetual sawdust cough, so  its back to wool lab for me!  Thank so many of you for your get-well wishes, I think they worked!

I have decided to do a mystery Unspun skein, which I will over-dye, write a lace pattern for and knit, sharing with you here the process of course.  I’m racing the clock but hoping I might blast through the first month of winter with it and before the end of January have something worth showing off! Its going to be categorized as a superfine lace weight single ply at 1096 yards per 100g.

But this is the dismal beginning, the hard work of unplying a lot of yards, and if you would like to see how I am going to do this, it will be exactly like my previous Unspun on a drop spindle, the post ” Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn “.

I’ll see you back here when I’ve finished unplying, spliced four single ply balls into one skein, and have over-dyed this baby!

Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn.

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From a ball of worsted weight,  I made a beautiful new skein of fine lace weight, then over-dyed into a very personal colorway.   What is the point you might ask?  The answer for me resonates in the rafters!  To make something handmade from something commercially made.   Enough reason in my thinking, and yet there are more reasons (oh, so many more).

The color selection alone is entirely worth it!   There are certain commercial yarns that are timeless & very popular, like Cascade 220, easily found in local yarn shops, and have a colossal color selection to add.  I am a lover of “heathered shades”  which  means the yarn is spun from blended colors of fleece, not yarn dyed in one color.   Heathered shades make over-dying that much more interesting for the base colors are already color textured.

If making a fingering weight , or a lace weight yarn from balls of yarn needing re-purposing sounds appealing ~~ then this post is for you.   I dare you, go into your yarn stash and look over your plied yarns, grab one, and simply deconstruct the plies. You may end up with a sport, or fingering or lace weight single ply.  But first it may be helpful to see this post.

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The techy stuff for the Cascade 220…jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 1

Start with drop spindle and untwist, separating the 4 plies into two balls of 2-ply (they will be 50g each)  This will take some time.

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From two balls of 2-ply separately divide and wind into two single ply 25g balls.

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I found that I really didn’t need to untwist the 50g balls that much, if at all,  because the initial untwisting of 4 into 2 plies did all the work, so it goes so much faster in this step.  In fact, I just took off of the spindle and just began to pull apart the plies wind into little balls,  however they will still have some twist (sometimes a little z-twist , and sometimes a little s-twist )  so it helped to put a weight (I used a pen) on the 2ply, and draw out about 8 feet, then the plies separated easily with hardly any twist.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 5

Finally I had four balls of single ply, at 25 grams each.   A feeling of strong satisfaction comes from the work!

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 6

Now join the ends ~~ spit-splicing them joins nicely and quickly!

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 7

I ended up with one full 100 gram ball of single ply.  But not finished!

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 8

The single ply needs to be wound into a skein it so that it can be simmer-dyed, or just soaked in a very hot water bath to relax & set the plies which will be energized with twist, as shown above.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 10

I dunked a couple of times in a very pale diluted dye bath of Vermilion pink, to give the yarn a tone of late summer, ‘toasted in the sun & weather’ look. In the over-dying, I wanted to capture the lovely color of late summer golden fields  of my home and made a pale bath of a purple-pink which I used to cut the brilliance of the yellow.  The dye soaks really fast having a slight blotchiness.   If you lightly over-dye your single ply yarn as I did,  re-skeining the yarn is essential to see the color variegation at its best, and it mixes up any slight blotchiness that happens in a very light non-saturated dye bath ; which is what I aim for these days, simmering a little in an acid dye to set the plies & relax them, but also exhausting dye bath quickly and with clear water left only, having used a dash of white vinegar for the fixer .

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 11

Summary:  A ball of Cascade 220 weighs 100g and is approx 220 yards , and constructed of 4 plies.  When that is split into half , there will be two  balls of 2 ply weighing 50g  = 440 yards per 100g.  When those balls are split into half , there will be four balls of 1 ply weighing 25g = 880 yards per 100g.    Another four ply worsted weight I’ve tried and love is Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes, with almost the same yardage and definitely the most impressive color selection. But seriously, try splitting plies of ANY yarn you have, if you can get a hold of a simple drop spindle, then you have all the tools you need. (A swift and ball winder are tools I used as well).

It takes some time, but untwisting yarn is something really innovative and resourceful in my thinking, and I’ve come up with a fun category under which to post the process of re-purposing yarn to finer weights ~~ Unspun !  I’m just kind of getting to be a nerd about it.

Original Yarn: Cascade 220 = 220y / 100g in “Birch”.   Made in Peru.

Repurposed Yarn: Unspun = 880 y / 100g in colorway ” Golden Fields “.  Remade by Moi!

Pattern for this yarn is forthcoming!

See all posts Unspun

Unspun

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A 100g ball of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” tweed left over from Hillwalker Cardigan.

I have for a while experimented with different methods to un-ply yarn and I think I have finally found the easiest method. Being a bit smitten lately with All Things Andean, and the drop spindle, it is no surprise that thinking like an Andean Spinner, and going back to my spinning roots I would find the method of methods…

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I slipped the ball onto spindle, hooked beneath whorl and secured with double half hitch at top. Twisted in reverse direction of plied twist.

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Then as the yarn untwisted, I wound two balls, one in each hand.  In the past I experimented doing this with a spinning wheel, a ball-winder, and a swift, juggling all of them at once and it was quite a complicated process!

I am so pleased to discover the simple way …

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Less is always more, every time.  I lost track of time but it took me less than two hours to separate the plies by reverse twisting, as I wound the singles into two 50g balls of fingering weight.  Far less time than it would have taken to spin two 50g balls, so if I consider I’m creating a yarn I want to use, from yarn that is not getting used ~~ I believe it to be a very economical process.

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No doubt the singles of the un-plied yarn will have plenty of untamed twist but I think dying them will relax them a lot.  In fact, I ordered some dyes finally, and am going back to over-dying yarn, after a long break of doubting whether I ever again would, so I will be having fun making use of a few balls left over from my most recent Hillwalker sweaters ~~ watch this space!

See all posts about Unspun !

ps. Adele, that is the spindle you sent to me, it is the only one I own presently and it works perfect for this!

Fishy

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Listening to political news on NPR a lot these days while I knit, feeling a bit unsettled as trouble swims below the surface. However, here in my wooded hermitage there is no trouble, only this blithe little ball of yarn, in shade of dusty pink, that I made myself!  Um, well,  that is … I un-plied it myself !!   I ‘made’ it from a ball of Knit Pick’s Palette which is a 2-ply fingering weight of Peruvian wool,  while mending dozens of breaks from impossibly sticky teasing twists that were a frustrating occurrence of un-plying,  washing, and hang-drying to set the tension ~~ and then I finally got the whole ball of lace-weight here ready to go. Having tossed a few grams worth of knots, I have about 45 grams & 420 yards of some seriously fine lace single ply  ( see all posts about unspun)

What is really fishy , is what is forthcoming!

fish-splash

 

Unspun

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I have been colossally distracted in a major yarn tangent in recent days. 

jenjoycedesign© unspun

I’ve been going through my ‘stash’ (that is yarn which is in one’s possession, otherwise free to use at whim), and over-dying & having a bit of fun.

But this particular little project was super fiddly and a major study in “un-spinning”, using my spinning wheel, ball-winder, swift, and dye pot.   On my spinning wheel, I literally unwound the 3 plies of a bulky-weight very soft 100% alpaca yarn I had,  while at the same time winding them into 3 separate balls. I splice-joined the 3 single balls into one skein,  and then attempted to relax the energized ‘singles’ with some simmer-dying. And relax they did!

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Even the spliced joins were completely invisible when I wound and re-wound on to the swift. Ever-so-slightly felted made a terrific halo (fuzz) when the final product was skeined.

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178 yards and 66 grams, of extremely soft alpaca single ply yarn, now ready for a delicious soft lace cowl.   I would think this would classify as sport-weight. I am frankly amazed at this result, and my eye is wandering through my stash now, with ideas to deconstruct. jenjoycedesign©013

Well, it was a huge amount of work, but its done & dusted and I’m very proud of such an alluring result.  That’s me on a beautiful day, I should be knitting socks, but sometimes distraction is good for creativity!

See all posts about Unspun !