Tuesday morning, our task was to spin up two bobbins of medium (18 to 19 micron) merino and in the afternoon, Margaret showed us how to ply the two together. With our plied yarn, the goal was to knit up the yarn into either a small lace square for a greeting card or a bookmark. It sounds pretty simple — spin two singles and ply together, and really, it’s not difficult… it just requires a lot of motivation and perseverance.
I managed to finish knitting on Tuesday evening, but didn’t have any pins to block my work, so I ended up dismantling one of the small picture frames in the hotel room and roughly whipstitching the lace to the frame, stretching it out as best I could. The next morning, Margaret suggested that normally it might be best to run either knitting pins or crochet cotton around the edges of the lace before attempting to stretch it out on a frame… so I knit a second piece so that I could get a better final blocked piece. I’m just a nerd that way.
We spent much of Wednesday finishing off with sampling the different fine, medium and strong fibres, trying to go back and spin “thick” using this drafting method to maintain the elasticity in the yarn. And also plucked through Margaret’s collections of shawls and knitted things — some from her personal collection of gifted Orenburg and heirloom shawls as well as shawl designs from her brand new book “Wrapped in Lace”.
Beyond simply learning the techniques for washing merino fleece, the minute hand movements required for drafting such a fine thread, or knitting with such delicate yarn, I think this class left me with such a great feeling of confidence that this whole area of fine yarn is not impossible to explore. I’m excited to go home and try Margaret’s method of spinning a single of each of merino and silk and rather than straight plying them together, try “wrapping’ the silk around the merino core lightly so that the final yarn is still stretchy and the silk is still sparkly.
But after spending all that time with super fine gossamer yarns, it’s hard for my eyes to adjust back to “regular laceweight”… but I’m taking Judith’s class on spinning to different diameters on Friday morning, so that will definitely round out my week.