Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chunky Yarn - Repurposing Waste Yarn by Plying

My mother dabbled at weaving for a brief period of time, as many often do. The term "Handwoven" conjures images of a quieter, more peaceful time when quality ruled the day. That imagery is not a fiction. Hand weaving is an art and hand woven textiles are precious. But weaving is a slow art and one that takes a good deal of planning and a lot of tedious work before you ever sit at your loom to actually weave. My mother skipped most of those early steps and because of her back problems I was called upon to warp her loom, a process that I found much more enjoyable than weaving. 

My mother has been gone for almost 9 years and hadn't done any weaving since 1995, when my father died and she moved into an apartment. So imagine my surprise and delight when I opened this tub of yarn and found hanks of wool right off the warping board but never woven. Why, I wondered. Well, like I said, weaving takes a lot of planning and my mother was not very good at envisioning the process from raw material to finished product. She chose yarn that was simply not strong enough to use as a warp. So there it sat.

The yarn she purchased is wool and the colors are beautiful. Such a shame it was never used. I have been a spinner for about 25 years, a process that to my mind is as meditative as it is productive. I decided to join the 16 yard lengths and then ply them into a chunky yarn for my sister who is just starting on her knitting journey (and loving it!). 

I began by separating the strands and tying them together and winding them into balls. There were warm and cools in the tub. I began with the cools - the blues and greys because I just like blue and grey more than pink and orange.

This process took a couple of days, working when my little grey tiger Saskia was sleeping to avoid excessive tangles from her irrepressible need to play. 

Then to dust off my Schacht wheel. I honestly had not spun anything since I spun paper for the collaborative paper wearable project with Julie McLaughlin that I mentioned HERE

I packed the balls of wound yarn into a small enough box to keep the tension tight as I pulled the strands. In hindsight I might have been wiser to have wound the strands directly onto spools but I was going to be plying 2 each of the blue and 3 of the grey and only have one spool holder with tension adjustment for 3 spools. So this box would have to do.

After the plying was complete I wound the yarn onto a niddy noddy, an amazing little tool that winds your yarn into a hank in one yard lengths. 

The hanks are secured with string woven between the strands and removed from the niddy noddy. The hanks are washed and hung to dry with weights to straighten out the crimping, a result of the twisting while plying.

The result was 10 full pull skeins of my mothers yarn being used to make Christmas hats and scarves for her grandchildren. I think she would be pleased.