Doing the “Impossible”

Thought it might be easier to laugh at myself if I shared tonight’s accomplishment with you all. I managed to do something tonight that 2 hours ago, I would have claimed was impossible. I’ve noticed my knitting students tend to be good and doing that, but I’d not developed the knack – or so I thought…

In order to encourage my finished yarn toward more overall uniformity, I took the advice of the experts and didn’t just ply all my first bobbins of worsted together then start on a second round. Instead, I filled 3 bobbins and plied one big bobbin full, which left about 40-50% of my singles still single. The plan is then to spin another bobbin of singles and ply it with the smallest two remaining bobbins until one of them is empty, again leaving two half filled bobbins plus a dab on another. Using the nearly empty one, I’ll fill it and ply it with those 2 halves, continuing in a somewhat similar manner until I’m out of roving and then singles.

I filled another bobbin of woolen singles last night, so I was ready to ply again. Since I already figured out the rhythm for this yarn and love the results, it was going to be a quick, autopilot project. I stuck Abby Franquemont’s Drafting DVD in the player, sat down to the wheel, lined up my ends and tucked them through the leader, plied about 4-5 yards to make sure all looked well, then turned on the DVD to the first chapter. The 1-2-3-4-5-feed, 1-2-3-4-5-feed chant was virtually subconscious and I was zipping through my singles very quickly. I noticed at some point that they didn’t feel quite as soft as my finished yarn, but then remembered that washing and thwapping the finished yarn makes a big difference in appearance. Back to watching Abby spin magic yarn off the tip of her finger… 1-2-3-4-5-feed… not stopping even once until…

Swoosh! End of the shortest bobbin, and the DVD wasn’t even over! Wow! I broke off the other two strands and fed on the last few feet of yarn, again thinking it was acting just a bit differently than I’d remembered. I pulled up the end to admire my work and found myself looking at Shirley Temple yarn – all sorts of ringlets and curliques… Whatever? It was acting for all the world like grossly over-twisted yarn, but it looked like it was plied to match my first luscious skein. Then my household fiber fairy thunked me up the side of my head. I was looking at an unmistakable Z-twist, which was only extremely impossible, since I’d spun my singles with a Z-twist. It took another 5 minutes for me to really believe what I was seeing, then 15 more minutes to wind the lively little corkscrews back onto one of my smaller bobbins by hand. Sure enough, about 5 yards before I emptied my plying bobbin was a brief interlude of very confused, unplied yarn, followed by my double-checked perfect start up yardage.

If you had told me that it was possible to switch directions in the middle of plying without creating a major snarl of yarn, I’d have laughed – probably a bit too much. I’ve reversed direction while spinning before, and it’s never been a pretty sight. However, tonight I’ve learned how to do the impossible! Gold star for me! 😀

And for anyone who is wondering, there is currently a lovely skein of properly finished yarn destressing in a nice warm bubble bath out in the kitchen. It was actually much easier to fix than I’d expected, thanks to my having learned to ply with a rhythm at last. All I had to do was take the same length of yarn as I had been using for 1-2-3-4-5-feed and do a 1-2-3-4-5-1-2-3-4-5-feed. I did keep an eye on it to be sure that at the pronouncement of the first “5” the singles were pretty much separate, but that can be done without breaking the rhythm, so I had plenty of time to sit there shaking my head and thinking what a silly girl I’d been. One thing for sure, I know. I’ll actually look to see which way the wheel is turning in the future! This is one new skill I don’t want to practice again!

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