Handspun spinning slippers, the spinning of yarn therefor

I haven’t been doing much spinning this week, because…well, I cracked my whorl and it took me a week to get around to fixing it. For those who are wondering, the whorl is the grooved bit on the end of the flyer, which the drive band goes around. It’s the bit on the right end of the flyers here. For future reference, do not drop this thing on a tile floor, because if it lands the wrong way, it will crack and make you sad. Fortunately, they have invented wood glue and sandpaper, and hopefully I have managed to return the whorl to a usable state.

I do have something to write about, though: my first knitting project from my own handspun yarn. (Look! Actual knitting content! In the next post, that is.)

Right after I got Mustang Sally, my trusty Traveller, I went on a little shopping spree. It was the Tour de Fleece, you see, and I hadn’t a thing to spin. Well, I did have some rather nice wool to spin, courtesy of my mum, but it wasn’t new and shiny and I am never one to pass up an excuse for stash enhancement. The very first thing I bought was this rather lovely gradient-dyed mixed BFL braid from Wool Therapy:

Isn't she lovely?

BFL (or, to give it its full name, Bluefaced Leicester) is a soft-ish wool that makes for some excellent socks. It would probably be perfect for mittens and sweaters, too, though I haven’t tried that yet. It’s no merino, for sure, but then it doesn’t have merino’s drawbacks, either: it wears well (as far as I can tell), tends to have some lustre to it, doesn’t felt if you look at it sideways, and though it fuzzes up a bit over time, it won’t pill the way merino does. It’s also very, very nice to spin, as I was about to find out. At 3.4 oz, the end project would have to be fairly small, so what about a pair of slippers to wear while spinning? Something like Reiko Arato’s Comfort Slippers — for Japan? Pretty, small, quick, and not only is the pattern a deal, it’s for a good cause. Plus, whenever I got discouraged while spinning, I could look down and see what all that work could become. Win.

I did some reading about spinning for socks, and decided on a 3-ply (for durability), worsted spun (also for durability, and because it was the only way I knew how to spin) heavy fingering to sport weight yarn. So for matching(ish) slippers I’d want six reasonably well-matched singles for two mini-skeins, one skein for each slipper. I split the roving in half lengthwise, then split each half into three, pre-drafting sections, coiling them up into bird’s nests, and lining them up so the colour flowed as it did in the braid. (This is where I perfected the lining-things-up technique mentioned in last week’s post, though I didn’t have a tray. It was also before I started this blog, so there are no photos of my stellar lining-things-up work, alas. You will have to use your imagination.) Then I started spinning. Here’s where the quality really showed: newbie though I was, I could easily spin this fibre into fine, even singles. It was such a pleasure to work with, I almost didn’t want it to end. That’s saying something — when it comes to spinning one fibre for any length of time, I have the attention span of a gnat on a caffeine jag. As I was spinning every day for the Tour, I had the first skein done in less than a week. Yeah, yeah, a week. Look: worsted spinning is the slowest spinning, and I was new, okay? Washing this yarn was straightforward: just a warm bath with a bit of wool wash, a couple of snaps between the hands to straighten the strands, and a night hung up to dry. Here’s the first skein:

I still cannot believe I made this.

and the second, with some green 2-ply left over that I’ll use for colourwork at some point:

Always put vinegar in the first wash for hand dyed wool, kids. This is with; the first skein is without.

Oh, the blues and greens and fine, even loveliness. The yarn softened up nicely in the bath, too. I was as proud as a very proud thing, let me tell you. Next: the slippers themselves. Actual knitting content, I swear.

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