Long draw vs. short draw: Corriedale samples

My word, I’m behind on my blogging.  Eleven days’ silence – more, over a fortnight, if you don’t count my last little pop-in to say I’m feeling quiet.

The humbug Shetland I last blogged about is now all spun up, and even washed.  It’s currently hanging about somewhere in the pile of clean laundry on my stairs; it just needs re-skeining or winding into a ball, and then I can take some beauty shots of it to show you.

Once I was done with the Shetland, I returned to the grey Corriedale.  I spun up a second 10g sample, this time long-draw from the fold, then washed and dried both samples.  Last Saturday – a gloriously sunny day – I photographed them both, side by side:

Even in the small version of this image you can see the difference; it’s really obvious if you click through for the full size version.  The first sample (left), spun from the end of the roving, has two very distinct plies, and a smooth, compact appearance; the second (right) is much fuzzier.  The plies merge into each other, and the yarn even appears darker and more uniform in colour, I think because it is less ‘shiny’.  Also: the fibre ‘wants’ to draft out to a finer single when spun from the fold.

Over my fingers, the differences are again very pronounced:

You can see the overall difference in thickness, as well as the fuzzier, less distinct nature of the long-draw yarn (top).  Neither of these are examples of *great* spinning, but I think it’s fair to say that spinning from the end produces a ‘prettier’ yarn.  Beginner spinners, in particular, seem to value that smooth, distinct-ply, almost beaded appearance.  But, as spinners, we are not creating an end product (let’s leave ‘art yarn’ out of this for now).  Instead, we are creating something that will be used in future processes – whether knit, crocheted, woven or knotted – and the yarn we produce should be suitable for that purpose.  The long draw method (especially once my technique is more refined) will clearly be well-suited to producing yarns for knitting garments, whether singles or plied, as well as some awesome weft yarns.

As for the shipwreck shawl, I might actually get enough yardage out of my two braids, spinning it this way.  I’m still struggling to reconcile my usual expectation of lace yarns (smooth, compact, un-bouncy enough to hold a good blocking) with the character of the yarn I am creating.  A fundamental problem, I think, is that I am using Corriedale, which does not *want* to be a smooth, compact, un-bouncy yarn.  There is no fix for this, except to switch my expectations.  And that may not be an unreasonable thing to do; the large outer border of the Shipwreck Shawl is not actually designed to be blocked, as such.  That’s what gives it that wonderful, ruffled effect.  So.. spin on?

One comment

  • Is the sample big enough to knit a swatch of the lace, to see how the yarn will behave?

    30th March 2011

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