A quick post today to show that I did, in fact, finish plying all of my sweater yarn. In fact, I finished over two weeks ago but just now got around to taking some pictures.
I'm really happy with this second batch of yarn. I call it my second batch because I spun and plied the first 24oz. almost a year ago and then did the remaining 12oz. this past month. I hadn't really done any spinning in the intervening time, but I did spend some time reading books, scrolling through forums, and watching countless videos and my approach to spinning the final 12oz. was a bit different than the first batch. I did want my new yarn to resemble the first batch as much as possible, but I think my singles were a little thinner (and definitely more even) and I took a more conscientious approach to my plying this time around. I think that's the biggest change I made. With the first 24oz., I put 2oz. of singles on each bobbin and then plied two bobbins together into a 4oz. skein. This time I began the same way - with 2oz. on each of six bobbins - but when I got to plying I made sure to continually switch bobbins throughout each skein to make as even a yarn as possible. All six bobbins of singles contributed to each skein of plied yarn which means that overall, the yarn is much more consistent. I was also more deliberate in the amount of plying twist I was putting in to prevent having some spot overspun and some underspun. All these changes reflect, I think, a more knowledgeable understanding of the qualities of fiber and yarn and how to manipulate these to get exactly the yarn that I want. This is a shift from my previous approach to spinning, which was to essentially throw the fiber at the wheel and hope for the best. I hope to continue spinning with a deliberate and thought out approach that will result not only in a yarn that I like, but in a yarn that I planned for and intentionally produced. A much better approach, I think.
On the left is a skein from the new batch of yarn. It's not as fuzzy looking, but it does look much more even and consistent, doesn't it? The skein on the right has thick spots and thin spots and spots that don't have enough twist. They're both useable, but now I have to come up with a plan that will allow me to use both yarns throughout a sweater without any jarring discrepancies that would come from changing skeins in the middle of the body. I was thinking I could use the new yarn just for the ribbing on the body and sleeves and then again for the collar, but if I ran out of the first batch in the middle of the yoke or halfway through an arm, I'd be SOL. What if I did set-in sleeves and used the first batch for the body and the second batch for the sleeves? Would that look weird? I don't think alternating skeins would be a good way to go because I would be afraid of having some strange corrugated effect happen. I'll have to think more about this. Any ideas?
I also have another experiment coming up with this yarn. I took the last of my singles and plied up a small skein of 3-ply yarn and will do some comparative swatching to see which I like better. I figure it's a good thing to know and interestingly enough, the 3-ply isn't any bulkier than the 2-ply. I'll let you know how it goes!
On an unrelated note, alpaca shearing in five days! I'll be at the big farm (did I mention that I don't just volunteer at the small, 4-alpaca farm? The big one has 77) and am so excited for shearing day! I predict I won't take any pictures, but I'll be sure to tell you guys all about it.