Taking It Out For a Spin - Combo Spin Pt. Two


As promised, we're back this week for part two of our combo spin tutorial. If you remember, we ended the first post with our five braids separated and remixed into spinning bundles of about one ounce each. We've had so much great feedback on this series, and we're excited to walk you through the process to complete this yarn. As we prepared for what we expected to be the rest of the story, however, it became clear that there was just too much to fit in one post. (Really, there's around three dozen photos!) So, this blog will cover the spin, and we'll come back and do a third and final installment where we show you the process that LeAndra went through to knit the finished project. So, get comfy, and let's get down to spinning, plying and twisting!




Because this isn't a spinning tutorial, per se, we're going to assume that you know the basics for the sake of brevity. We haven't done an Elsie B blog yet on spinning basics, but there are a plethora of resources on YouTube if you need to brush up on technique. For new spinners, this drop spindle tutorial is very thorough. For those with spinning wheels, check out this video. I spun this project on a Firefly wheel as shown here. Spinolution wheels are super user friendly and easy to load. If you need a refresher, I did a quick video on Instagram showing how I start my leader string.








This is my single spin in progress. Because I'm doing a traditional three-ply yarn, the single should be both fine and consistent. This takes practice, time and care, so be patient with yourself if you aren't super experienced. Having great tools like our Spinolution wheels definitely makes this process easier, however!





My fiber bundles are now all spun into singles. I utilized both the 16-ounce and the 8-ounce bobbins, with two-thirds of the fiber on the 16-ounce and one-third on the 8-ounce. If you recall from our prior post, that translates into 13 spinning bundles on the 16-ounce bobbin and seven on the 8-ounce. I love this shot that shows the raw braids alongside the single spin with all the colors mixed and blended.






I wound off these bobbins onto a ball winder, keeping each bobbin separated so that the completed cakes are still sorted with two-thirds of the fiber and one-third of the fiber in individual cakes.






I'm now ready to start plying. To create a three-ply yarn, I will be pulling from both the inside and outside ends of the larger bobbin and from just the outside of the smaller bobbin. This allows me to keep things balanced and even without having to keep track of too many items.




It was super fun to see the ply in progress. When I started blending everything, I wasn't quite sure about how it was going to come together and wasn't loving the black in particular. However, it surprised me a bit, and I liked it a lot more than I anticipated!





While I blended things as consistently as I could, plying isn't an exact art, and it's likely that you'll have extra as you get toward the end like I did. I did a chain ply with my extra bits so that I didn't waste any of my hard work. The chain plied section is to the left on this bobbin. And yes, chain plied yarn has a different look than traditionally plied, which you can see here. I really like utilizing this part of the yarn for things like collars or cuffs in a finished project - an area where distinction adds rather than detracts.




I love winding my finished yarn off onto a skein winder. This should be tied in at least four different places. I wove my ties through the skein in an over-under-over pattern which works really well for a large skein like this. (I ended up with a whopping one pound, 4.4 ounces of finished yarn from the original five braids!)






My yarn has been removed from the skein winder here. It has not been wet set and still has an active twist. I couldn't resist comparing it to the five braids I started with again. There are definitely a lot of colors going on, but I love how cohesive it came out despite my initial skepticism!





My yarn was wet set in a water bath and hung to dry. I prefer to spin my yarn out in a spin dryer after I wet it and thwack it to fluff the fibers and even out the twist. There are several different methods to finish, and most spinners have their favorites. This is just what works for me.




I wound the plyed, set and dried yarn onto my ball winder until it was full. My ball winder holds approximately eight ounces, so I just wound until it was maxed out, snipped it and continued with the second cake until I ran out of yarn. While the cake on the right is slightly larger, it didn't really matter because it all went into the same project.



Our yarn is now ready for knitting! We'll be back shortly with part 3 where I knit this beauty into a gorgeous finished project, taking our combo spin from raw fiber all the way to wearable handcrafted art. I loved the results, and I think you will, too!

What are your favorite spinning and finishing techniques? Is there something that you have never tried before?

Rosa Zerkle

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