Orange Sherbet

Just in case people were getting to think that all I ever do is spin super-twisty yarn, and always ridiculously fine, I thought I’d better thicken things up a tiny bit, and go low-to-medium twist for variety’s sake.

Just off the plying bobbin we have…

Orange Sherbet.

This was on the small side for my 2 ounce lots of 50/50 merino/tussah a few weeks back, weighing in at 52 grams. There was, of course, no recourse but for me to spin it myself. It’s… well, it’s somewhere in this pile here, I think middle bottom:

To make a long story short, I snagged it to spin, broke it in half at the midpoint, and spun up two bobbins which I then plied together in turn. Most of the spinning and plying was done while talking on the phone, drinking beer, and having one cat after another jump in my lap.

Now, bear in mind those photos above are before finishing. I thought this would be a great opportunity to take a few finishing photos and talk about what changes when you wash your yarn and finish it. For instance, it measured 15 wraps per inch with the half-assed quick and dirty method shown here (this involves sticking a ruler in a skein).

But that was before the rigorous hot-then-cold-then-hot-then-cold, all-soapy wash. With agitation.

I picked this up and wrung it; I slapped it against the sink; I shocked it with hot and cold water, oh yes I did. And then when all was said and done, it was really, really sticking to itself, so I reskeined it while damp, and this is how that turned out.

Yes, in all its damp, fulled glory, ready to hang outside on the deck to dry in the breeze. Mind you, the breeze picked up and turned into a full-blown wind (groan, did I really just say full-blown?) and, well, the spots where I’d tied it loosely were kinda close together, and when the wind blew it off the deck railing and out into the yard…

…I had to stop reading the morning paper and retrieve it and deal with the tangle. Will you just look at that smarmy model in the background there, as if she’s stealing that bit of headline asking me what I think I’m going to do now? I mean, it’s like she thinks I’m some sort of chump who can’t handle elementary yarn management. Puh-leeez!

First of all, I gave it a good shake, found the secured part, and spread things out on the counter to look at the situation. With the ties intact, rationally and all, you know that there’s no actual knots. There is no tangling here beyond what wind can cause, and with at least part of the skein secure, the truth is that’s not going to be too bad. As long as you know what you’re doing.

It’s really not as bad as it looks. I just have to open up these tangles a little bit. It’s almost like brushing your hair on a macro level (let’s not talk about the flash going off for that shot, either).

See? Just gently move your fingers through feeling for snags and snarls, smoothing as you go.

Pick them up gently and work them open.

The yarn doesn’t really want to be tangled. If you give it a chance, it’ll work with you to come undone.

See? The knots just shake right out. THat’s how they went in, to tell the truth — it was just a little wind turbulence, no big deal.

No fancy tricks. Just patience and a bit of gentle handling.

Well will you look at that? Before, it was 15 wpi; and now it’s 12. And look how puffy it is, and how the plies are so integrated — that’s what the abusive fulling wash gets you!

I’m pretty pleased with this one overall. 52 grams, was it? 265 yards, 12 wpi, very airy, very soft, and it just glows. It’s begging to be a scarf (because, clearly, I need so many of those).

A couple of things to point out here, though, I guess. First, did you notice how the skein curled up on itself and twisted just a tiny bit when it was fresh off the bobbin, but after finishing, it doesn’t do that at all? And can you see how much better integrated the two plies are with each other now too? And then there’s the matter of those 3 wraps per inch…

You can be pretty confident the yarn is going to stay like this for its entire life. There will be no surprises for you in your finished object. And besides… it just looks so much prettier after finishing!

Oh, you know, I actually did spin a big chunky yarn, using up some odds and ends left over from various things. It’s mostly wool/nylon/alpaca (all the purple), but the third bobbin was going to run short because I didn’t bother to measure, so then I threw some white domestic wool in the mix to even things out. I hate it. I think maybe i’ll overdye it. And then still never use it because it’s honkin’ huge. 205 yards, 96 grams. Really soft, really fuzzy. I just hate it.

This one is a real sow’s ear, but I like the colours. It was the three test bits for Jenny’s custom blend. Now it’s this yarn, which also has weirdnesses in the plying because I was doing something else while I wound a giant pirn with 3 strands of it. I realize I’m the only one who will likely be able to spot the weirdnesses once it’s done drying after its abusive wash.

There’s a chance I might like this when all is said and done, but I really won’t know till it’s dry.

12 thoughts on “Orange Sherbet

  1. Remember the “you’re more than welcome to send anything you don’t like to me!” post? Still holds!

    Really, Abby, that orange is delicious, and I don’t like orange! The purple is fabu, and it’s welcome to come stay with me, rather than live with a mom who doesn’t love it…:)

  2. That’s a great lesson, how the WPI changes after finishing. I must learn how to do this finishing thing … The hot, cold, hot, cold … that’s only on a superwash or non-felting yarn?

  3. ohhh, orange…very nice work, there. Your ‘Jenny-colored’ experiment looks interesting; I’d like to see how that comes out when all is said and done. I need to post pics of my results, too! I got two nearly-equal skeins with similar color changes, though I wasn’t too scientific about it when I split them up. Pics to come.

    And I REALLY like the finishing & plying tutorials. Finishing makes such a huge difference in the whole skein, it’s so worth it.

  4. How does the finishing-by-fulling work with fibers other than merino-silk? What about merino tencel or just merino or even one of the long wools, like romney?

    I guess my real question is whether you finish different fiber blends differently!

  5. I am so thankful for that little post. I’ve never beat up my yarn and always wondred what was the point. I think I’ll be trying that myself next!

  6. innnteresting 🙂 I knew it ‘fluffs’ a bit, but never would have guessed you’d lose 3wpi from it. That’s a pretty good difference!

    and I LOVE that blue/green yarn. and I see no weirdness 🙂

    Gorgeous yarn, all three!

  7. I don’t know what to say. Wow. I think I am most DEFINITELY going to do this. Makes PERFECT sense. Do you knit sweaters with fulled yarn? Is it soft? Questions, questions, questions. Hmmmm. Must experiment. Thanks, cate

  8. I did that technique with 100% merino and loved the results. The biggest surprise was how much it shrunk lengthwise. Made the nicest hats and scarves – and they won’t shrink in the future.

  9. Would you do this to Oh say Bamboo silk. *looks at her spindle full of blush wine goodness* Rather inporten questoin to me.

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