Monday, July 16, 2007

Shetland Update - Sass

Washed silver Shetland staples.Although most of my energy and effort have been directed toward learning and weaving on my new countermarche loom, spinning and knitting have been going on too. For spinning progress, I am pleased to report that I am continuing to work on the Shetland samples Cathy sent me.

The lovely silver sample on the left is from Sass. It is absolutely the softest sample so far. It is a lovely light grey with white tips. Length ranges from 3.5 to 4 inches with 7 crimps per inch. As you can see, the tips are wavy at about 4 per inch. The staples in the scan on the left have already been washed. They are sound, open, and very soft. It is a single coated fleece.

As with the other samples, I drumcarded it to blend the color thoroughly. I seem to have misplaced my sample card at the moment, so I don't recall the measurement of the singles, but the 2-ply yarn is 16 wraps per inch (WPI).Handspun silver Shetland yarn.

As I take a close look at the yarn, it seems to me that it is the most inconsistent of all the Shetland samples I've spun so far. However, I have found that knitting will hide most of the imperfections. I use to worry about the slubs and inconsistencies in my yarn, and how they would effect a knitted fabric. While I (as spinner and knitter) always find my eye drawn to them, it was quite an eye opener when I once deliberately spun a slubby yarn for knitting. I was dismayed when most of the slubs pretty much disappeared into the final fabric. I realized that to feature the slubs, I needed to make them more pronounced. The little slubs and in consistencies in this yarn will at best, lend a homey, handspun quality to the final garment, considered quite desirable by some.

As spinners, we work hard to produce beautifully consistent yarns. We admire the consistency of other spinners' yarns and apologize for our beginnerish looking attempts. Oddly, a perfectly consistent yarn is often rejected by the nonspinner as being "too perfect." In the eyes of some, it is that handcrafted quality which make the yarn desirable in the first place. How ironic is that!

Thanks to Mabel Ross, I finally realized that my goal as a spinner all boils down to who is in control; me or the fiber? Am I able to achieve the yarn I want, or does the fiber alone dictate the end result. What an eye opener it was to try and spin a thick slubby yarn after working long and hard toward perfecting a consistent fine yarn. I think some of you would agree with me that it is more difficult to spin a consistent thick yarn than a consistent fine one. And to control the size and placement of slubs is a quite the challenge.

I can't say that I am always in charge. It is the goal I work toward, but each new fiber or breed presents its own set of challenges. And this is what keeps me interested in spinning. Hopefully there will always be something new to learn and experiment with. At least that's what I'm counting on.


  1. The spinning looks great from here, but I do realize photos don't always show off the inconsistencies either. I love the color of this one though! Gorgeous!

  2. When I first started spinning, I read somewhere that you should always keep those first uneven, slubby first attempts. The author said that you'd never be able to repeat that. How true! I'm still a fairly inconsistent spinner, but I can't do a deliberate "artistic" kind of yarn if I try!

    Lovely shetland, there. It will knit up beautifully! My love for the Shetland grows...

  3. Your yarn looks great and the color is lovely. I seem to spin my Shetland about the same, though I don't think I've ever taken a picture like you do - I should.

  4. Leigh, I totally cannot find your email address. It's buried in comments somewhere. I want to ask you about your use of lease sticks. Can you email me at institches at rtci dot net? I thought I had saved it in my address book, but not.

  5. You made my day - Sass has been calling to me and I just can't get to her yet.

  6. Leigh, as a non-spinner (or perhaps I should say spinner-wannabe!) I have to agree with you that a perfectly consistent yarn isn't what I think of when I think of handspun, not to say I can't appreciate both! Your yarn as usual is gorgeous and once again I'm amazed at the depth of your knowledge. When I someday do get the time to try spinning, I hope I'll still be able to refer to your wonderful blog!

  7. I wove a scarf with my first skeins and loved it so much that I am now spinning inconsistent slubby yarns most of the time. It IS hard to do, but, as I have found, not undoable. And every now and then, I sit down and spin something fine and relatively consistent, just for a change.

  8. Thank you so much for this post, Leigh. I am really enjoying these spinning reports ~ they are so informative and reflective.

    I have never worked with Shetland, but may soon have the chance. It looks lovely, you are an inspiration!


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