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ISO: The Perfect Sock Yarn

July 10, 2011 - 7:25 pm

I’m enjoying my carder a great deal.  This is an experiment in making a better sock yarn.  40% Romney, 40% Clun Forest, 20% silk.  I intend to spin it semi-worsted and then cable it into a 2×2 cabled 4 ply.  In my brain it’s AWESOME!

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My new (to me) Strauch Petite carder is pretty comfortable making 1 oz. batts, which is a good sample size and a nice round number.  I weighed out .4 oz of each of the Romney and Clun, and .2 oz of some Bombyx silk top I have in stash.

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Next I lashed the locks on hand cards on 112 tpi Schacht hand cards (thanks for the loan, Heather!)

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From what I’ve been able to tell so far in my month of drum carding, every wool seems to have a different best way to prep and load it into the drum carder for the first pass.  The Romney and Clun seem to work best if I lap them fairly thickly in shingle-like layers, and turn the drum very slowly.

stacking up the locks to card

The stack of fluff on and behind the carder is the Clun and Romney, while the stuff in front of the carder is the silk.  Slowly I fed all the wool through and packed the drum.  The black brush helps pack the wool down into the teeth of the drum so it all will fit.

wool on the drum carder

Once the wool has all been run through the carder onto the drum once, the combined batt needs to be removed.

removing the batt

There’s a special tool for this!  I pull up little sections of the batt until the whole thing has been split, and can be unwrapped from the carder.  I have two brushes I can use to lift stray fibers off the drum.  This brush has soft plastic bristles:

brushing stray fiber into the batt

This is a flicker brush, and it has long metal teeth:

flicking stray fiber into the batt

I flip back and forth between them trying to figure out which seems to be working best.  Again, every fiber seems to have its own temperament.  Finally the batt is free from the carder:

first pass batt 50/50 Romney/Clun Forest

In the next pass I’ll sandwich the silk between layers of wool.  The idea is the wool is easier for the carder to grab onto, so if the silk is the filling of a wool sandwich it will card more smoothly.  It seems to work.  First step is to pull off a strip of the bat, lengthwise:

splitting batt for second pass

Then spread it out and feed it onto the drum:

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Then add silk by dragging it over the teeth on the main drum, spreading it out in a thin layer:

adding silk

Once a layer of silk is on, I smooth it down with the black brush:

smoothing silk onto the drum

then add another layer of wool:

silk sandwiched between wool layers

Then more silk and more wool until everything’s on the drum.  Then the silk and wool batt gets removed:

removing silk/wool batt

It has big chunks of silk, so needs to make another few passes to get smoothed out.  They are run through the same way, splitting the batt lengthwise and feeding strips into the drum carder.  The second pass is a little better:

second pass - a little better

After four or five passes, it’s nicely uniform:

after 4-5 passes, the blend is nice and uniform

I chose to make hand pulled roving out of this batt.  This meant i first fed a little of the batt through a hole in a diz, and slid the diz down onto the batt:

pulling roving from the batt

Then pulled the diz forward about one staple length:

next I gently pull the dizz and roving away from the rest of the batt.

Then slid the diz down again:

then pull the dizz back onto the roving

And keep on like that til the whole batt has been pulled through the diz:

repeat til done!

And I have coils of roving!

finished roving coiled into .5 oz portions

I have only had a chance to spin a small sample of this, but it was very nice.  Sheen and strength from the silk and Romney, with some bounce from the Clun.  My first little sample was overspun in the single, so it was too compacted to make a tight gauge knit.  I can’t wait to try some more!

 

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