A long-term project is finally making discernible progress. I've been working on spinning the 2 kilos (2.2 lbs, approximately) of wool roving my dad brought me from new Zealand a couple years ago. The roving I have been playing around with is a very dark brown Perendale, with medium-length fibres, some grey hairs mixed into the brown, and a pleasantly earthy quality to it. The other kilo, which I haven't started on yet, is a luscious creamy white merino. (By the way, the colour in this first photo is very accurate; the others really got washed out for some reason.)
I am planning on knitting the yarn up into some sort of stranded colourwork that is still to be decided, so in the interest of being able to knit at a fine enough gauge to get plenty of detail I am spinning a fine yarn with much more twist than I usually use - both in the singles and in the plying (It's a 2-ply yarn). Of course, this takes a little longer to spin as the fibre goes a really long way when making a finer yarn, so filling up four bobbins of singles took a longer time than it should have. Having my back get cranky on me when I spin too long hasn't helped either, I must admit.
But I had a really good spell a while back and did indeed finish the 4th bobbin of singles, and commenced with the plying. Even though I have a plying head for my Lendrum folding wheel, it doesn't have small enough whorls for the amount of twist I wanted to use, and with it's very large bobbin and head it is very difficult to treadle. I really wore my back out one Bodega Bay trip a few years ago while using the plying head because I was determined to finish up a batch of yarn, and I really paid for it for a week afterwards. I didn't want to do that again!
So I have been merrily plying away on the standard bobbins, using the same whorl I used to spin the singles (I am terrible with ratios and can never remember what the ratios of any of my whorls are, so my apologies for this very unscientific and imprecise method of describing my process.) I now have three complete bobbins of 2-ply yarn. The last 2 bobbins of singles are close to half-way used up so I anticipate having another full bobbin plus a little more of finished 2-ply. I can hardly wait to see how much yardage I actually have when all is done (I'm guesstimating about 200-250 yards per bobbin, or between 800 - 1,000 yards total) as well as to see how the yarn changes once it gets wet. Given the tighter twist I don't expect a lot of bloom from the yarn, but I have been surprised before in that department.
It will be very exciting to finish this batch of yarn, and then think about starting on the white merino. I won't have used all of the brown roving by any means, but I'm hoping to play around next summer with doing some dying, and am curious to see what might happen with over-dying on the dark brown. In the meanwhile, I'm still spinnin' that wheel..........