Double Detour

Since the doctor said I HAVE to spin (like that’s the only reason…), over the weekend, I was trying to choose my next project. I had a little help, as I was online with my best bud, and she found “IT!” without much effort at all, after I’d been looking forever. “IT!” is the Whippoorwill Shawl, which is going to be absolutely killer in handspun yarns. 🙂 As icing on the cake, before I knew it, she’d gifted me the pattern through Ravelry, and in about 2 more seconds, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wanted to make it from this scrumptious roving she bought me for my birthday.

Now there were just two challenges remaining. First, I need two colors, and second, it would be iffy as to whether I could get enough yarn out of the 4 oz. braid I own. After hours of IM discussion, and shopping Etsy left me dissatisfied with options, we went different directions to do some legwork. I’m the one who scored in the end, as I found The Dyeing Arts is on Etsy, and though Tara didn’t have any more Viole(n)t listed, she replied to my convo that she could dye some more for me, AND she was willing eager to take on my challenge to dye a coordinating colorway. Perfect! Only problem is that it would be about a week before she could get it done, and then I’d still have to wait for the mail. I needed to spin now – for medical reasons, of course…

Detour #1 led me to picking up the gorgeous Oaks and Hickories BLF roving I bought from from Three Waters Farm a while back. I’d planned to ply it with some black merino I bought from another Etsy seller, who shall remain unnamed for reasons you will soon understand, at the same time, and this would give me about 8 oz of finished yarn – enough to do something sort of big, and in wonderful, seasonal fall colors.

Spinning the Oaks and Hickories went smoothly, and I think I even managed to make slightly thicker, and ever more even singles from it. I was absolutely drooling in anticipation of seeing this plied with the black!

Last night’s encounter with the supposedly merino pencil roving more than countered the joy of spinning the BFL, though, and before I went to bed, I was in an entirely different world! Now when I bought the black, I knew it was sold as being in pieces (Caveat emptor! This stuff is still available on Etsy in various colors!), but even that knowledge didn’t prepare me for the reality of what I found when I opened the bag. It wasn’t just pieces; some of it was shreds and some was wads and lumps, and it didn’t take much handling for me to understand why it was in this condition. Working with this fiber was like trying to spin butter that had been sitting out on the counter for several hours on a summer afternoon. It practically melted in my hands! It has the short staple one would expect of merino, and it’s oh so soft and fine, but it has absolutely no crimp! There is nothing in it to hold a pencil roving together, and it reacts accordingly by disintegrating almost on contact. Whatever this fiber’s story is, it was not an appropriate choice to turn it into pencil roving, especially served in a hank! After spending somewhere between 4 and 5 hours starting one little bit after the other, creating 2 ounces of not surprisingly lumpy, but soft and shiny singles, I was about ready to tear my hair out. How I wished my stash included more black fiber! Why don’t we think about stashing the basics when we are buying all these gorgeous hand-dyes? The entire last hour of my determined effort to succeed was haunted by, “Get a brain here and stop, would you? Patience is a virtue – and Woolgathering is this weekend!” At last my better sense won out, but what despair accompanied giving up! I have an entire pound of this “merino” or whatever it is, and I can’t spin it (at least if I want to maintain my sanity), I have no black for my delicious Oaks and Hickories – and I want to spin!

And then this little niggling thought came to mind… and I was just angry enough at the black pencil roving bits and pieces to be willing to resort to violence… My weapon of choice? Hand cards! In minutes, I’d taken detour #2, and I had a fluffy fistful of fiber that spun ever so much easier. 🙂 It won’t match my Oaks and Hickories, but it plied into a lovely, textured aran/bulky yarn with potential that made me light up with ideas! I rushed to my stash, hoping against hope that I had some sort of sprinkles, and I ended up finding two things that I had no memory of purchasing, but that were obviously meant just for this project – carded sari silk and a package of tropical angelina fiber. Oh, how delicious they looked against the coal black of my nightmare fiber! I blended the three together with my cards and spun it with more excitement than anything I’ve done yet, and all I can say is that I’m SO glad I bought a pound of that stupid black stuff!

Now I need to get things shoved around enough that I can access my drum carder. I’m desperate to spin this up, but as much as I enjoy hand carding wool, I think a pound of blending done 4 grams at a time might get on even my nerves! If I get enough yardage, I’m thinking that Seville, just might be the perfect use for this yarn…

And if anyone out there knows what’s up with this “merino pencil roving” stuff, I’d love to hear what you have to share!


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  1. […] pound of black merino (with crimp this time!) to blend with my nasty no crimp stuff detailed in my Double Detour post. When I did the math, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough yarn from the 14 ounces I […]

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