Tuesday, 2 November 2010

SPIN005: Am I ready to spin Merino?

After resting for two weeks, today I started spinning again!

This is my 5th spinning practice. Well. I guess it's not quite a complete practice as I only spun up about 22 grams.

I wanted to get a roving from Alchemy Fibre Arts for a while. Her colours are very catchy, very bold and very vibrant. Funny enough I am never into bright colours. I don't usually knit nor wear any shocking colours. But I am very curious to know how those colours blend in and how it looks after spun up. However the tops sold on Alchemy are mainly BFL, Merino, Superwash Merino and Merino/Silk blend. BFL seems to be the only beginner-friendly option. I love FL but I don't quite want to get non-superwash ones. So I waited till I felt ready to spin Merino.

No no. Honestly I don't really feel READY for merino yet. But my hands are itching to try something else. Maybe Falkland? Or some BFL blends. So I mooched around Etsy and typed in "UK Roving" as search keywords. Alchemy came up as the first search result. That's how I finally ended up placing an order yesterday morning.

One thing I love about Alchemy Fibre Arts is the rovings are priced according to its breed as well as weight. That's perfect for me as all I need was just a taster. I don't want to pay a few quid more to get a 155-gram top. Finally I picked two braids of Superwash Merino which were among the lightest in weight. This one was only about 84 grams in weight. It may not be enough for most projects. But it's just right for practice and experiment.

The colours are very shocking. Yes. You may find the colours hurt your eyes. But that's what makes Alchemy rovings very energetic and distinct.

This roving was handpainted with random colours. I couldn't find any repeating pattern. Each colour part is quite short, with an exception of green/yellow. Therefore I decided to spin straight off the roving, hoping to get bigger blocks of colours.

While the colours in roving looked very distinct, it blended in a lot and became a little bit muddied when spinning up. Have to admit it's very much related to my poor drafting skills. The staple length is shorter than most colour repeats, so I am sure better spinners should be able to get crispier colour changes. But apparently spinning straight off doesn't work for me.

Therefore I decided to stop spinning and start chain plying. I got 22 grams and about 42 metres spun before washing.

So... am I ready to spin Merino yet?

Hum.. Not quite, given the fact that the single broke dozen times while spinning. But it's a good start. Because I liked it! Spinning merino is soooooo different from other fibres I've previously spun (English Wool Blend, Shetland, Corriedale and BFL). Merino is sooooo soft and smooth. And they do have limbs because they simply drafted themselves and fled into the whorl! In order to have better grip, I changed to use a lower ratio (10:1) with an increased tension. I think it helped.

I still have about 61 grams left unspun. I plan to divide it lengthwise into 4-5 thinner stripes later. Hope it will help retain the colours.


  1. Omg, I can't believe this is just your 5th spinning project. I've been seriously meaning to get into drop spindling but learning it on my own has been pretty difficult. Good job!

  2. It's my 5th project on spinning wheel. I did use spindles to learn drafting and spinning a bit before. But honestly I never managed spindling. It was totally frustrating. I couldn't do draft, spin and park so I put my spindles aside after trying a few times.

    I don't know about others, but I found spinning on wheel is so much easier. My hands can really focus on drafting and leave treadling for feet. If you are not sure if you really wanna get a wheel, maybe you can borrow or rent a wheel from some wheel sellers or guilds. :)

    I never regret getting a wheel (though it eats up lots of my knitting and dyeing time) -- I only regret not getting it earlier! :)