The Stochastic Yarn

caraknits:

so I’ve been knitting for a few years, and really want to branch out further. I love yarn so starting to spin just makes sense, plus I’ve always loved dying.

so basically I’ve looked up some stuff but I want to hear from actual spinners!! I just want some advice on where to start, how challenging…

Where to start: I generally recommend beginning with a mid-weight top whorl drop spindle and some soft but not fine wool (e.g. BFL), but opinions vary on that. Some people like silk hankies as starters; some like fine fluffy wool like merino; some like coarser, grabbier wool like Corriedale. Some people swear by starting on a rented wheel. Some people prefer starting on a lighter or heavier spindle, or a bottom-whorl, or… you get the idea.

The reasons for my particular recommendation are: first, a spindle is loads cheaper and smaller than a wheel, probably even than renting one on a trial basis, so you can start in far less space and with a very small investment. Second, a mid-weight whorl gives you more flexibility in terms of spinning standard yarn weights—you can probably manage sock to light bulky. Third, top whorl drop because it’s both more readily available, and easier to keep the yarn properly attached to the spindle when you’re first starting. Fourth, I personally find BFL to be a nice midpoint in that to me it’s grabby enough to stay together, fluffy enough to draft well, and soft enough that I actively enjoy touching it.

However, if you have one available, you may want to visit a store that sells spindles and fiber and see which ones feel good to you.

Start-up costs can be as low as $5 but more realistically probably $15-30 (USD). This will buy you a cheap spindle, or the materials to build a cheap spindle, and some basic fiber. The cheap spindles aren’t bad, but they are often slower and less pretty than the expensive ones. Also, sturdier—which is a good thing, because there is like 99% probability that you will drop it. A lot. A beautiful blown glass whorl is probably not a good beginner choice.

Your first (and second, and maybe third) yarn is likely to be art yarn. Just appreciate it as such—maybe you could use it as an accent on cuffs or the brim of a hat, or the edge of a scarf. Then you are likely to progress over time into thick-and-thin yarn. It’s not a great idea to go into it expecting to instantly spin perfectly even yarn—some people do, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be one of them. It’s probably better to expect variation and appreciate your yarn for what it is. Making something knittable isn’t too hard, but controlling what is the part that takes a lot of practice! As long as you like knitting with yarn with some variety in its weight, you’ll be fine.

This is the closest to color accurate picture I have of the Aurora Borealis yarn. Dark, highly saturated, and overall very blue-purple.

This is the closest to color accurate picture I have of the Aurora Borealis yarn. Dark, highly saturated, and overall very blue-purple.

Finished plying the “Aurora Borealis” yarn, washed it, dried it, and balled it. It’s all ready to become socks!

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Colors are as close to accurate as I could manage; several are out of gamut for my camera phone, and I was trying to take the pictures near sunset when the light was yellow-y. In reality it’s a deeper blue and more saturated.

I think this braid might have accidentally escaped getting washed when it was being dyed, because damn this thing shed dye like mad, and it ran everywhere the instant I got it wet. My sink and hands are still blue. ._. At least it’s pretty.

4oz “Aurora Borealis” on Romney, dyed by Spunky Eclectic. Spun up and chain-plied on my e-spinner to mostly a worsted-ish weight. It’s a bit overspun in places, but that’s probably good for socks.

Finished plying the “Aurora Borealis” yarn, washed it, dried it, and balled it. It’s all ready to become socks!

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Finished up spinning my next round of fiber! It’s Spunky Eclectic on Romney, and I’m 95% sure it’s called “Aurora Borealis”. The “Blue Door” turned out too thin to be good for the kind of warm, fluffy socks I like, so I tried to spin this one thicker. There’s a few points where it drafted out super thin, but mostly I succeeded. I’m hoping for a nice DK or worsted after I chain-ply it.

It shed blue on my hands like crazy, but damn is it pretty. The camera does not do the deep blues justice at all. I’m super not looking forward to trying to get the dye out during washing—since SE’s stuff rarely sheds dye badly if at all, this stuff must be a pain to get to run clear! But I’m hoping it’ll be worth it when I’m done.

It’s resting while my back recovers. Then it’s plying time!

Finished up spinning my next round of fiber! It’s Spunky Eclectic on Romney, and I’m 95% sure it’s called “Aurora Borealis”. The “Blue Door” turned out too thin to be good for the kind of warm, fluffy socks I like, so I tried to spin this one thicker. There’s a few points where it drafted out super thin, but mostly I succeeded. I’m hoping for a nice DK or worsted after I chain-ply it.

It shed blue on my hands like crazy, but damn is it pretty. The camera does not do the deep blues justice at all. I’m super not looking forward to trying to get the dye out during washing—since SE’s stuff rarely sheds dye badly if at all, this stuff must be a pain to get to run clear! But I’m hoping it’ll be worth it when I’m done.

It’s resting while my back recovers. Then it’s plying time!

kalany:

My handspun, from a braid dyed by Spunky Eclectic as part of their fiber club. Probably going to be my next socks. #diy #yarn #yarnporn #handspun #handspinning #crafts #crafting #craft #spunkyeclectic #madewithstudio

And more from Instagram.

kalany:

My handspun, from a braid dyed by Spunky Eclectic as part of their fiber club. Probably going to be my next socks. #diy #yarn #yarnporn #handspun #handspinning #crafts #crafting #craft #spunkyeclectic #madewithstudio

And more from Instagram.

kalany:

#handspun #handspinning #madewithstudio #spunkyeclectic #yarn

Because Instagram won’t post to side blogs. Sigh.

kalany:

#handspun #handspinning #madewithstudio #spunkyeclectic #yarn

Because Instagram won’t post to side blogs. Sigh.

My ~very sophisticated~ yarn drying setup.

I miss my dehydrator. :-(

My ~very sophisticated~ yarn drying setup.

I miss my dehydrator. :-(

venea:

My low-impact wrist exercise this long weekend was plying my @sweetgeorgia June club fibre. Both sock weight, one skein is chan plied and the other ‘illegally’ plied so I can compare how well they wear as handknit socks! #handspun #handspinning #yarn #summerofsocks #sweetgeorgiayarns #knitting

How do you illegally ply yarn?? I am confused.

venea:

My low-impact wrist exercise this long weekend was plying my @sweetgeorgia June club fibre. Both sock weight, one skein is chan plied and the other ‘illegally’ plied so I can compare how well they wear as handknit socks! #handspun #handspinning #yarn #summerofsocks #sweetgeorgiayarns #knitting

How do you illegally ply yarn?? I am confused.

Two socks worth of yarn is an awful lot.

Two socks worth of yarn is an awful lot.

Finished yarn. Fiber is 4oz Corriedale, dyed by Spunky Eclectic in the “Acorns” colorway. No idea of the yardage.

There are a few iffy spots, like that one strand right in front, but mostly it’s a heavy sock or light DK weight, under spun and over plied for a bouncy, fluffy yarn. I separated the braid lengthwise into small strips, which I spun more or less randomly, including which end I started with. I’m pretty happy with it. Can’t wait to start knitting!

Shot outside on my porch chair with my iPhone before the clouds burnt off. I know the chair is a little dirty; sorry. I tried to clean it.

Finished yarn. Fiber is 4oz Corriedale, dyed by Spunky Eclectic in the “Acorns” colorway. No idea of the yardage.

There are a few iffy spots, like that one strand right in front, but mostly it’s a heavy sock or light DK weight, under spun and over plied for a bouncy, fluffy yarn. I separated the braid lengthwise into small strips, which I spun more or less randomly, including which end I started with. I’m pretty happy with it. Can’t wait to start knitting!

Shot outside on my porch chair with my iPhone before the clouds burnt off. I know the chair is a little dirty; sorry. I tried to clean it.