I absolutely love learning something new. I’ve tried so many new things over the last few years that I’m past the point of caring whether I’m totally rubbish at first. I’m quite used to putting in a bit of effort to get better, although sometimes I do wonder if I tried fewer things maybe I’d be better at more?!
My tendency tends to be to go overboard in the beginning; get a bit obsessed and invest a fair bit of time in the early days. I certainly did that when I first got my spinning wheel last year. I think I spun for nearly a full day the first weekend. Maybe almost two! Fortunately I didn’t get achy and sore which is apparently a common complaint. Although I’m an avid reader and also remember lots from listening, I tend to learn the very best “on the job”. There’s nothing like getting down and dirty with something to fully understand how it works and what can go wrong.
And so it was with my first shot at Navajo plying. I told you I watched a couple of youtube videos to get me started. Just a couple mind, I was quite keen to get started. Impatient you might say …
I’m not sure that my skeins are perfectly plied. They’re not. Not even perfectly spun for that matter. But I’m thrilled with them. They are more or less the same weight, give or take a few lumpy bits, they hang straight so are probably fairly well balanced but mostly, since I absolutely loved the fibre I started with, I’m really pleased that I’ve managed to get the yarn to turn out just as beautifully muted.
I learnt a few bits and bobs along the way.
1) I didn’t stick around a video long enough to figure out what to do if the single breaks mid-ply. Mine broke quite a few times where it was a bit thin and I worked out that I could make a loop with the single and “seal” it in with the twist before carrying on as normal pulling my yarn up and through the loop. It’s a bit fiddly but pretty fast and meant I didn’t have to fluff about with tying a knot and making a loop that way. I bet it’s what everyone learns to do when they watch the videos like you should?! What do you do?
2) As I was plying it felt like I might be adding too much twist to the yarn. Navajo plying is fast and rhythmic so there’s no inclination to stop. I tended to keep keep going and pray for no interruptions. As it turns out, it’s probably ok to feel like the yarn is quite twisted. After a long soak and a really vigorous “thwacking” (isn’t that world great?) where I swung the loop of yarn and really whacked it down onto a towel on the table a whole bunch of times, the twist settled beautifully and it seems just fine.
3) The third thing I really learnt was about how the way you spin your singles affects the look of the final skein. I knew it in theory but it was interesting to see in practice. They are all very similar but see how the top two skeins in the photo above are slightly different in colour to the bottom two? They’re creamier and include pops of teal. The other two have more green and olive shades on an apricot base. It might be clearer in the middle photo – the two on the right vs the two on the left.
Well, I started with two very similar braids in the same colourway. I spun the first braid as it came. Started at one end and worked my way to the other. I did mean to spin the second braid the same but after I’d started it I realised I’d split it down the middle. I’ve no idea why. I guess that’s what happens when you take a ridiculously long time spinning the same fibre with big breaks in between spinning. You forget how you started. I’m not sure which skeins are from which braid but I’m guessing that the creamier ones with the vivid teal are from the first and that the long fat sections of cream and the longer stretches of teal affected the overall look.
Now I’ve got to decide what to knit with it. I haven’t measured it but I’ve got 200g of more-or-less fingering weight so there might be approximately 750 – 800 metres … Ideas?!
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