This month paralysed me in spinning. I actually sampled this month, which was a first for spinning the club to show everyone. I’m not sure why I was so paralysed — usually, I just look at Felicia’s spinning recommendations and spin! No more complicated than that!
On Superwash Targhee, I thought it was really suited to socks (which we spun for in September 2015) and didn’t want to take a leap to spin singles. The fear of spinning singles started when I was a new spinner back in 2007-2008, before I really was able to ‘get started’ on my wheel. I had a fascination with singles and would spin them, then shed a tear as I wound them off in twisted messes or falling apart. Something clicked for me when I was learning to spin the second time from a friend of mine, Diana. There was a moment when I realised that drafting, twist and aiming for a singles yarn could all come together with practice. And yet, since then, I have only spun one successful singles yarn and had great success in a knitted shawl.
So why the stall? Why the crisis in my confidence to be able to spin this fibre as a singles? To be honest, I think the superwash label was holding me back. I was worried about the fibres slipping apart once washed and my yarn disintegrating. That’s the wonderful thing about 100 gram braid though: They contain enough fibre to be able to sample and form a realistic idea of how the fibre will act. I did just that and spun a singles yarn, which I talk about on a recent episode found here. And you know what? The finished yarn was sproingy and strong. It had character and bounce. The softness of the Targhee was preserved in the low twist – I used a 5:1 ratio on my Lendrum Jumbo flyer – and bounce of the high crimp fibre.
So, I took a big, deep breath and started spinning. I stripped the fibre length-wise three times and spun end-to-end. In the end, I have a sport weight and 280 yards (113 grams) to knit up a lovely shawl or toque. And I couldn’t be more pleased! Trust your hands when spinning — sometimes they really do know what they are doing. For many spinners, there is a learning curve around spinning singles yarns. I certainly have had my fair share of disasters as I have learned how to spin singles. Sometimes, though, there are some tips that are invaluable to getting started on a new technique.
The most important aspect of learning to spin singles (in my very humble opinion) is to sloooooow down. Slow your feet down, slow your wheel down with a larger pulley or whorl and slow your hands down. Building up lots of twist in the yarn creates high twist singles that will never ‘calm’ down because the twist will never be counter-balanced by ply twist. Instead, think about drafting slightly thicker than you maybe would normally. Reach into your fibre supply and draft more fibre than you think is necessary. Keep your treadling almost so slow that your drive wheel wants to stop. I sometimes have to give my drive wheel a bit of a push to keep it going – that’s how slow I’m treadling. For these singles, I used a short forward draw and kept my distance of draft* about 1.5 inches.
*Distance of draft is how far forward you are drafting from your fibre supply. Keep this consistent and our yarns will be more consistent when they are finished!
Share your results and thoughts around spinning singles in the Ravelry group — what has worked for you in the past? How do you spin singles?
Until next month, Happy Spinning,