Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Spinning Batts for Your Hooves?

Oh, yeah, April Fool’s – you thought I’d announce the Great Giveaway on time (for once). I beg your pardon but offer little excuse other than the past week of celebrating, defrosting from the Winter-of-No-End and that I’ve been taken, again, with the spinning of sock yarn.

The first Happy Hooves batts are out and, if you haven’t gotten yours and you still want to be surprised – turn away from this post. I’m going to walk (or spin, rather) through my own process of spinning yarn from a batt. I use the word ‘process’ lightly, here. Those who know me will attest to the fact that mine is a ‘continuing education’ approach to all things in life which often means I never do anything the same way twice. There are many ways to spin from a batt and all are good. For a super blended colorway (like our raven, black magic woman, queen mermaid, sari, etc.), spinning from the batt is oober easy. I just start in a corner and (yes, gasp, with no pre-drafting – remember a batt well carded is very drafty anyway) take off like a mad woman until the whole thing is spun. This month’s colorway is a little more strategic in its color placement so I like a little separation and pre-drafting to make a consistent but shifting array of colors come alive in the skein. This both ensures that the colors will pool in a fairly consistent manner and that they will carry over into both pairs of socks within the skein. Ready? Here’s how I get batty (well, there are other ways, too – but they are less flattering to report):

blog 001Never seen this batt before? You’re right. I wanted to do something ‘special’ for the Happy Hooves Spinners so we made these ‘Wood Elves’ batts exclusive to the club for the first month – affording us the time to spin our yarns before I start offering them in the store. As you know, ‘Wood Elves’ is one of our most coveted colorways. When it all first began, the dye pots, me throwing wet wool around like a maniac whilst the sheep looked on in terror – it was ‘Wood Elves’, ‘Queen Mermaid’ and ‘Chasing Rainbows’. That marked the beginning of my days of seeing everything differently. Finally, I understood all that weird stuff my mother used to talk about when she taught her painting classes. Only, I was a dork so I didn’t listen very well. Fortunately, I’ve always been wild so it wasn’t too frightening to just take what I did hear and jumble it with a bit of instinct, eyes wide open, and a page or two from the palette of color that surrounds us on the homestead. Still, ‘Wood Elves’ is like a sacred relic from the days the dyeing began. Sounds so dramatic, doesn’t it?
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So, since this batt has longer stretches of color and is carded to produce a yarn with variegated color with depth and definition, I begin by splitting the batt in half down the middle and then splitting the two halves again. blog 011 I lay them on a table or the floor so that I can sort of keep them in order while I’m prepping them. For the purpose of making sure some of each color is included in each pair of socks, I want to split each of the four ‘noodles in half again. Here, I use a clock face to organize them. For the far left noodle (of the original four), I tear it gently in half and then stretch out the halves.

blog 012You can see that by pre-drafting them (gently, so they don’t break) the length of each noodle is just about tripled. These new, longer noodles will spin up like a dream! The resulting pre-drafted rovings that we’ve just created from the far left noodle go in two places, the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock position. blog 017 Now, I do the same with each of the original four noodles, placing the next pair at 7 o’clock and 1 o’clock and so on. This way, the balls of roving are laid out in order, pre-drafted for ease in spinning, and I can set about my sock spinning dementia with ease and still handle any distraction that may come my way.

The resulting yarn, with each batt spun on a separate bobbin and then plied together, will be a variegated yarn with some self-patterning in the way of a background color for the socks. On the second batt, I follow the same pattern but, as I started from the left side of the batt on this one, I start from the right side on the second to mix up the colors a bit more. blog 029This isn’t exact science, mind you – so you may have a gold background to green/blue/brown ply around the ankle on one sock and around the heel and foot on another – but the colors will match well and your yarn will have plenty of excitement in it as well. What started out to be just an attempt at getting something on the bobbin to photograph and post in this blog, became a fevered session of spinning wherein I just ended up being frustrated that the clock kept turning even after bedtime and I was forced to stop and sleep or risk spinning my hair (again) as I drifted off at the whirring purr of the wheel. So, I’m back at it this afternoon because, you know, my name is Farm-Witch and I am addicted to spinning sock yarns.

gypsyI didn’t forget about the Great Giveaway. Okay, that’s not true. I did forget…sort of. It was really in my mind all of last week and perhaps so much so that I deluded myself into thinking I’d already taken care of it. For April, the Great Giveaway will focus on (ahem, see aforementioned ‘issue’) sock yarn. Except, the Giveaway will actually be the hand-dyed sock yarn that I carry in the shop. ‘Gypsy’, anyone? All you have to do to be entered into the random drawing is leave a comment here, except for the folks who wished Thing 1 a happy birthday last week. Ya’ll are ‘grandfathered’ into the drawing already! I’ll draw on April 16th to add an extra day as compensation for my stellar organization and later than ever post about it and also because I’m superstitious and previous experience has led me to believe that insanity + angst are rampant the day before so I’m sure not going to the Post Office that day! I mean, grandma didn’t call me a ‘freak magnet’ for nothing!