Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Not a bad start

I've still been spinning since Spinzilla ended two weeks ago.  I've done a load of yarn on my Hansen miniSpinner, which is still SO FABULOUS, but I also did another tiny skein on my new Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle.

I bought a couple bundles of very nice raw Australian merino from a farm in eastern Australia (RaniSmithDesigns on Etsy.  Highly recommended.).  For this first little trial skein I used two 1 gram bunches from Ewe #71.  The fiber thickness on this fleece was measured at 17.4 microns.  This is beautiful wool, with gorgeous luster, crimp, and softness, and hardly any vegetable matter. 

I washed the 1 gram bundles individually, in boiling water and dish soap.  Each lock lost about 0.17 gram during washing- mostly lanolin, because there was hardly any dirt.  Here's what they looked like before and after.

Australian merino locks washed vs. unwashed

I flicked them with a dog slicker to get the tips open and the shorter fibers out.  Then I spun and spun and spun, about four hours for each bundle.

0.63 gram of Australian merino on a Jenkins Bee Hummingbird spindle

This is the first spindleful done. The wool spun like a dream, it just flowed and drafted out thinner and thinner.  It was delightful.

I spun each bundle as a separate spindleful, then wound them onto storage bobbins. 

1.28 grams of Australian merino ready to ply

I didn't make a plying ball, but just plied from the bobbins.  In retrospect I'm not sure why I thought that would be a good idea, because it never has been in the past, but I guess I thought minimal handling of the singles would be better since they were so very very fine.

It was not a good idea, and made plying much more frustrating than it should have been.  The singles were fairly strong, considering, and a plying ball would have been fine. As it was, I lost 0.38 gram of singles (which equates to a fair amount of yardage!) to a massive tangle that I couldn't get undone.  Ah well, lesson learned.

Anyway, I got the rest of it safely plied.

1.28 grams of Australian merino 2-ply, 73 yards

This skein is 1.28 grams and 73 yards of 2-ply.  It's a little underplied, but I'm quite pleased with myself.

1.28 grams of Australian merino 2-ply, 73 yards

So do you want to know a secret?  One reason that I'm excited about this tiny spindle and this little test skein of ultra-cobweb weight yarn is that there's a spinning contest in New Zealand that runs every two years.  It's called the International Longest Thread Competition and is part of the Bothwell Spin In and Fibre Festival.  The goal is to spin the longest 2-ply thread you can from 10 grams of fiber.  Entries for the 2019 competition are due in October 2018, and with the postal system being what it is, I would want to mail my entry by September 2018.

This skein is a good first attempt.  My goal is to get the yarn to half this thickness and I need to work on my plying joins.  With yarn this thin there is no margin for error.

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