Friday, April 27, 2012

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I realized recently why I might be so taken with spinning—instant gratification. I can usually bust out a 4 oz skein of yarn in just a few days, even less when I decide to chuck my workout plan to sit at the wheel.  But that happy productive spinning went to hell recently when I decided to spin 8 ounces of 2-ply laceweight.  At the time, I thought the decision was nothing short of brilliant.  I had 8 ounces of fiber I bought without a plan, and it dawned on me that if I spun laceweight, I could probably get 900-1000 yards of yarn, enough for a lightweight sweater. Perfect!  The handspun yarn would have purpose (I love when things have purpose), and a laceweight sweater actually has potential to be worn (sadly, not one of my winter sweaters made it out of the closet during the freakishly warm winter this year).  I may have done a little happy dance when I devised this plan and pulled out the fiber.

 The fiber is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga (a 70/20/10 merino, cashmere, nylon blend) that I bought back in December as the shop was winding down operations, and this was my first fiber I purchased as a reward to myself for keeping up with my marathon training schedule (translation:  impulse purchase I justified as a marathon training reward).  My love affair with SG Bugga yarn is pretty well documented on this blog.  How could I possibly be expected to resist Bugga fiber?  Clearly if I love the yarn so much, the fiber was going to be just heavenly, right?  Um, well, not quite—at least not right out of the bag.  It was very dense, almost felt clumpy, and not easy to draft.  Nothing at all like the fluffy fiber that I’ve gotten rather accustomed to, but I've never used this blend before so my expectations were probably out of whack.  No way was I going to be able to consistently spin super-thin singles for laceweight yarn with the fiber in its current state.  The first step was to fluff out the fiber.  I would pull off a hunk of the fiber, separate it into 3 or 4 strips lengthwise, fluff out the strip widthwise loosening up the fibers, and finally I did a bit of predrafting to make sure it would draft smoothly.  It took a bit of work, but I basically turned thick dense fiber into clouds.  Seriously, once fluffed (I feel like there should be a more technical term), the fiber felt like clouds.  Or at least what clouds feel like in my imagination.

Pink and peach clouds, but still, clouds.

I had a grand time spinning at first.  Spinning so thinly was a new challenge, and I was enthralled.  That lasted for maybe 1-2 ounces of fiber.  Then it started to dawn on me that this was taking a really long time.  I could sit at the wheel for hours and barely seemed to be making any progress.  It took more than 3 weeks of pretty consistent spinning to get through the first 4 ounces.   

I took a week or so off when this was done but come April 1st, I started in on the next 4 ounces.  I’ve had less spinning time this month, and so here I am at the end of April, about 2 months after I started on this fiber, still slogging through spinning the singles.  I don’t care if I’m spinning clouds, I want it over.  My impatience has kicked in, and I'm ready to move on to other spins.  Last night I finally started to see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel when I grabbed the last chunk of fiber.  Granted, that last chunk still may take several hours, but at least an end is in sight.

And, yes, I am choosing to ignore the fact that once the singles are finished, I won't be done until I ply 1000 yards of yarn. Next Sunday at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I’m taking a spinning class with Maggie Casey on plying.  Think there’s any chance there's a trick that allows a spinner to ply 1000 yards in 30 minutes? 


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