If you spin, you’ve seen them: those braids of fibre, hand painted in glorious blobs of colour, with names like Night Carnival, Autumn Leaves, Mille Fiori. Those braids scare the pants off of me. Now, I love colour. I’m a knitter; I design in colourwork; of course I love colour. But for some reason, faced with those riotous braids, I’m stymied. What the hell would I do with them? What if, despite the dyer’s careful application of their art, I spin them up into something ugly? Something that offends the eye and sends children screaming to their mothers? Those colourful braids hold so much potential, and others have made gasp-worthy yarn from them, yet somehow I’m convinced that in my hands, that potential would go horribly wrong.
Well, fie on that. I mean, really. I’m going to let something like this scare me?
I don’t think so. Even Chicken-Leg Al isn’t afraid of that.
In an effort to overcome this (admittedly ludicrous) fear, I have started experimenting with colour. What the hell. The worst that could happen is that I don’t like it, and if I sample, sample, sample instead of leaping in and spinning a whole braid blind, it’s not like I’ll have put a lot of time into it. Plus, I’ll probably learn something. Maybe even several things. Things I can apply next time, until I have the yarn that I want to make; until I am the boss of the colour. Even if I don’t love the result, it can always become socks or slippers. You can get away with so much more with socks. And as they say, it’s not like the sheep are going to stop growing wool any time soon. So.
I set to work with the Cormo wool top above (Crown Mountain Farms, colourway From Dusk Till Dawn). If you’re going to play, play with something you like, and oh, do I like this fibre. Cormo is a finewool (17 to 23 microns), and spins up into a soft, springy yarn that you want next to your skin. (Unless of course you get carried away with your new high-speed flyer and put waaaaay too much twist in it. Which I may or may not have done with the first sample. I admit nothing.) This experiment was rather interesting. When I spun the Cormo for roughly a 2-ply sport/dk weight, it turned out like this:
That’s some bad barberpole action there, Jim. Exactly the result I was afraid of. However, when I spun it finer, the colours melded together to make something quite different:
So much better. Alas, this top wants to be spun semi-woolen and I have 8 oz. of the stuff, so this spin is going to be a bit of a slog. Looks like it’ll be worth it, though. I’ll just tackle it in bits, with other spinning in between.
Next time on As the Cusser Spins: The Great Shetland Experiment
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