I am still really new at spinning, as far as experience and skills go. I am learning more and more with each project, but still need a lot of practice :) and one thing I am hoping to get better at is 'designing' (for lack of a better word) yarns for specific projects, and creating yarns with specific characteristics.
I decided last night to dig into the stash and card up some Angora and Merino batts, to try and make a soft lofty fluffy yarn (perhaps to use as the lining of a pair of fancy mittens?)
I haven't really worked with many commercially available Angora yarns, so I was unsure what mix to use... so I eyeballed the proportions, using about half of a 1 ounce bag of snow white angora and about 4 ounces of Merino Top - about 10 % Angora. I figure since my favorite angora sweater is 10 % that this should be just enough luxury, and besides, the Merino is super soft too! A few cranks on the Old Strauch Petite later, and pulling the batts out into a roving-like prep and voila:
Clouds in a Bowl Anyone?
The bumps of fiber are super soft and super light. I prefer to hand-pull my batts before spinning them, mostly because I find that it is easier to draft from a roving state rather than a handful-of-fiber state. I decided to spin up a small sample, just a few yards really, to see if I could achieve the characteristics I was looking for - light, soft, airy, fluffy
Because I know I wanted "airy" yarn, I used a big whorl, and really lowered the tension so that there would be the bare minimum of twist. I tried not to squish out all the air in the carded fiber before the twist entered the zone with a sort of modified long draw. (I still haven't completely figured out long draw yet despite my attempts) The singles were quite soft compared with the extra twisty sock singles I have been making lately.
I hope you don't find white fiber too boring......
I want my final yarn to be a DK or Sport weight 3 -ply, so I decided to Navajo ply the sample just for simplicity sake. My finished 3-ply sample was around 10 - 11 WPI, which is a little larger than I need. When I spin up the remainder of the yarn, I will have to try and spin a little bit thinner. My swatch, knit on 3 3/4 DPN's (My favorite set for knitting mittens) worked up to be around 5.5 stitches per inch. I am also trying to be more consistant in adding things to my Spinner's Notebook... swatches, samples, measurements so someday maybe I could reproduce the results?
The resulting knit swatch was very soft, and not too hairy or fuzzy. I like the feel of Angora, but I don't like yarn with so much Halo that it obscures the stitch definition. I think that's why I never liked "faux fur" yarns or felted items. Felting can look really awesome, but I hate that it completely wipes out any semblance of the design that existed before the Felt happened.
Very Scientific Pseudo-blocking method - pin swatch to pantleg... watch out for leg!
I was a little bit disappointed with the dingy colour of this yarn. The angora was such a pure white, and the Merino on its own looks natural, but not so beige and dirty looking, almost Oatmeal. I know it is only for the lining of mittens, but still, I might have to dye it some interesting colour, or at least give it some pizazz.