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What is a balanced yarn?

What is a balanced yarn?

Weaving and all its assorted challenges were starting to get me frustrated, coupled with the instability we all have faced made me step away from any challenges.  So I went back to my spinning wheel and a delicious bag of dyed locks from my favourite indie dyer.  The breed remains a mystery, but the length of the locks, softness, crimp is fantastic.

I seldom do lock spinning with anything this long.  I know other spinners do amazing work with long wool, but I’ve never mastered the skill, so I flick card the fibers on my hand cards and use the opened locks to spin a worsted/semi-worsted yarn.

  

The locks were anywhere from 6 in. to 9 in (16 cm to 23 cm) and spun a single that was more than forty wpi, so it was extremely fine. Just as an example of what 40 wraps per inch looks like …

When I get a single this fine I do not use a centre pull ball for plying.  The tendency for tangles to form in the core of the ball and pull out in a nasty mess are constant and dealing with that just ruins the spinning experience.  I much prefer plying from two bobbins, which is what I did to get my puzzling results.

Balanced yarn, as defined by just about every book and online tutorial hangs in a nice loop.  This is done after taking the wool off the ply bobbin and soaking it in warm water to set the twist. The yarn is hung to dry, naturally without weights; it might be twirled to remove excess water but it’s left to dry on its own.  If the final product twists counter clockwise it is under spun, and can benefit from some added twist.

Technically, this rather dark image is of a balanced yarn.  It hangs in a perfect loop, just like all the books/instructors say.  Initially, I was really pleased with the results, for the first time in ages, I’d hit it bang on with the ply. But on closer inspection, not so much.  The yarn was really not usable for knitting and probably not usable for weaving either. 

There are far too many gaps in the ply, needles would get stuck and for all that it’s lovely and fluffy, it still had loads of areas that were not evened out of their excess twist.

The only choice was to run it through the wheel again to try to fix the problem.  I gave it more twist, hot water soaked it and hung it to dry as before.  The results are really great and I’m pleased as can be. Except… these results gave an over twisted yarn.

 

The over twist is really minimal but just the same it’s there.  I don’t know if it will have a negative impact for knitters or not.  I think as a weaver it will be just fine.  The colours as shown here are very misleading.  They are in fact deep heather tones, so I’ll be using black and brown to weave them into something dressy for my son’s.  They both expressed a strong dislike for the original colours but love the final yarn.

This is a very brief posting to allow all of you to get back to enjoying your New Years celebrations.  Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope it brings great things to you all.

 

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