Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wensleydale Experiment

I am the first to admit that I'm not a very proficient spinner.  I bought a wheel off of Craigslist, and had to drive 200 miles to pick it up.  I didn't know the first thing about it.  I wasn't even sure how big the wheel was going to be and hoped it would fit into my car.

I had nothing to worry about.  When I first laid eyes on my "baby"  I was slightly shocked at how small it was.  

And how cute it was!  The lady I purchased it from told me it was handmade by a Mennonite man who made one for each of his daughters.  He didn't want the art of spinning to die out so did his bit to encourage it. 

I love my wheel!  We had about a year of getting acquainted and with me learning her little quirks and nuances, but she and I are really pretty good friends now.  A big thanks goes to my niece who has been spinning much longer than I, for showing me a thing or 2 about the whole process. (Thanks SpinninAGoodYarn!)

Back to my Wensleydale......

Wensleydale wool has a pretty long staple (length of the fiber) and is kind of wiry and coarse.  When I attended a fiber fair I was entranced with all the billowing clouds of fluffy fiber.  I was drawn to a table that had this wool, all combed and carded and ready to spin. I really had no clue what kind of wool it was, but  I loved the beautiful grey color and the spongy soft feeling of it. I bought a bagful of the stuff. 

That was back while I was still getting to know my wheel, so the bag lay mostly undisturbed for over a year. 

A couple of months back I decided it was time to spin the beautiful grey cloud of fluff. 

It was a joy to work with.  I think the perfect wool for a beginner spinner like me.  It seemed to hang on to the other fiber as I was drafting it out, and didn't let me pull it apart like some of the other slicker wools.  As I started spinning I decided to add a little element to my yarn. 

I had previously dyed some Alpaca fiber, using Kool Aid, and wanted to introduce some of that.  I would spin some wool for a while and then switch to colored Alpaca for a while, then back to the grey wool, and back and forth. 

I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to ply this with another strand and have the colors match up, but soon solved my problem by determining to ply with a solid strand of grey. 

I really loved how it turned out!  Kind of heathery and muted.

With the plying done, I set the twist by washing the wool gently (as I could tell it would felt if I was vigorous), and hung it to dry.

After drying I used a bit to knit up a swatch.  I love how it knits, how it feels and how it looks.  It will make a great pair of socks.