A few people have asked me for some tips on spining a single-ply yarn. So I thought I’d share my method..
For this example I started with another of these grey merino braids which part-felted (colourway ‘Meadowbank’)
I drumcarded gently once to create 3 batts. You can see from the photo that the batt isn’t particularly well blended. You don’t need to spin from a batt, this can also be done with dyed or natural top (roving).
I then tore off a chunk of the batt.
And pre-drafted it out.
I always spin these singles with a worsted draw, smoothing the fibres down as I spin. I’m not sure it would work with a woolen draw (but happy to be corrected). Your wheel should be on a low ratio – probably as low as it can go. I have to treadle quite slowly on my Suzie, and I’m going to get a slow whorl to make it easier to spin singles.
The picture below shows the correct amount of twist – enough to hold it together without making it too ‘energised’. Energised singles will bias, particularly when knit in stockinette.
If you have a commercialy spun single in your stash you can compare against that.
This is how I check there’s enough twist. When I stop spinning and let the yarn relax by moving my hand closer to the wheel it should look like the photo below. A couple of little kinks should form and be spaced out along the length of the yarn. But the yarn should not ply back on itself.
The yarn in the picture below has too much twist for singles. It is loosely plying back on iteslf near the flyer.
I don’t worry too much about getting it completely even – I don’t mind if it’s a bit thick and thin.
When you’ve spun all your fibre, skein it up on a niddy noddy, tie in a few places and then prepare to full the yarn. You will need a container of very hot soapy tap water (as hot or hotter than your hand can stand) and one of cold.
Plunge the yarn in to the hot water. I squeeze gently to help get the fulling going. Not that this merino needs much help!
Then squeeze out as much water as possible.
Then in to the cold water. Squeeze out and then back in to the hot and then cold. The yarn may shrink a little and the surface will probably dull a bit too. Tough to felt fibres may need a third dunking and you might find you need to add a bit more hot to your hot water.
Squeeze the skein to get most of the water out. Then put your hands through the loop at each end and tug/snap several times to straighten everything out. Hang to dry. As you can see, I’ve put a weight on the left-hand blue skein (slightly underspun shetland) but the merino on the right isn’t weighted. I sqeezed out the water which collected at the base of the skein after a few hours and turned it to help it dry evenly.
And voilla the finished skein of singles.