Leslie’s Sweater Yarn, DONE!

Leslie’s sweater yarn is now complete, and shipped off to her! I’m left with three partly-full bobbins of single-ply yarn, which I’ll finish up and keep for myself, and two batts that I expect I’ll spin very fine, again, for myself.

Leslie's Sweater Yarn By completion, about 45 hours total were spent on the yarn, from dyeing and blending through test spinning, swatching, iteration, on to production spinning, production plying, skeining and measuring, finishing, and final put-up in 6 center-pull balls, 5 of them at 250 yards and one at 350 yards of higher-twist, just slightly finer yarn intended for cuffs and collars.

Roughly a third of that time could be considered prototyping; producing a similar amount of very similar yarn in the future would probably take around 30 hours.

So, some would ask, is it really worth it to produce a yarn like this, which at first blush looks very much like a millspun yarn, given that it takes that sort of time even for an experienced spinner like me?

I say it is (and hopefully, Leslie will agree when she has the yarn in hand). I certainly put that sort of time into spinning for my own projects, but I will grant you that not all yarn consumers would immediately believe it to be worth the cost. But ask yourself: have you ever worked your tail off knitting or crocheting a project, worn it a few times, and then found it was far more delicate than you expected, and just didn’t hold up? Or washed it and found it completely changed? Heaven knows I have, and it’s a major reason why I don’t often use commercial yarns for serious projects anymore (but stay tuned, you’ll soon see my commercial yarn projects, and those will probably surprise you). In any case, it’s heartbreaking to put a lot of work into a handmade garment you love, only to find you have to relegate it to the “very occasional wear” category or treat it with extreme kid gloves.

Leslie's Sweater YarnIf I’ve done my job right (and I have), that won’t be the fate of Leslie’s sweater. She can rest assured her sweater will fit her lifestyle and last her for many years. This is a type of longevity that most of us no longer expect from anything in our lives, let alone from our clothing — but it wasn’t always so. I myself, as a child, wore sweaters that were made by my great-grandmother, worn by my grandmother, and then by mother, before I wore them. We’re talking about children’s clothes, and household objects, that were made when Babe Ruth still played for the Red Sox. Heck, I own a quilt and an afghan that were made before women had the right to vote in the United States.

There are many factors involved in textile longevity, and I’m not going to promise Leslie that her great-granddaughter’ll be taking that sweater with her to colonize Mars or something. But I absolutely can promise her she can treat her hand-knit sweater like a regular wearable wardrobe item, and expect it to outlast her blue jeans. Her biggest worry should be if it’s going to go out of style, not whether she dares to put it on for fear of it wearing out.

So, yes, I say, it’s worth it to put that kind of time into spinning a well-constructed traditional yarn. Sure, it’s a custom colour, a custom blend of fiber, a one-of-a-kind yarn nobody else has and you can be certain you’ll never run into anyone else with the same sweater; and sure, those are great things. They’re just not the single biggest reason to spend an entire work week (or sometimes more) of an expert spinner’s time on a true designer yarn.

2 thoughts on “Leslie’s Sweater Yarn, DONE!

  1. Dear Abby, I totally agree with what you have written! Being back to spinning after a 13 yr absence i see how much work is involved in the process and how much time is involved! I think you have created and exquisite yarn! I would LOVE to have the funds to have a special yarn created for me.. one day, pretty broke right now. I think when you spin something this gorgeous, your creative self is poured into your work and that has a legacy. I hope you will post the finished piece when she completes it. I honor you as a spinner, what care you give your clients!
    When i am rich… one day, will have to do the same ! What a tremendous thoughtful piece of work.
    blessings, grace
    http://picasaweb.google.com/halalsilks.com

  2. Leslie here. The yarn is unbelieveable. I’ve been showing it and my sweater-in-progress to everyone who can even pronounce the word yarn (and that includes an awful lot of preschoolers, since I have little kids, too). It knits up exactly like Abby said it would and depending on the light, ranges from purple to blue and all the hues in between. It’s a slow project, a large sweater on size 4 needles, but Abby and I will both be so proud when I’m done. 🙂 Keep up your magic Abby!
    Signed — forever devoted in fiber — Leslie

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