Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 12

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.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 3

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

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 4

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