Batts and attempts at long-draw

I have been at the drum carder again…  Last week I read this blog post by Vampy which describes how to create batts with colour shading (basically layer the colours, split the layered batt into strips, fluff the fibre strips out sideways and feed them through again).  The photos showed lots of sparkle being added – how could I resist 🙂 ?

This was my attempt number one:

It worked, but I think the fibres were a bit too close in colour to show the colour changes clearly.   I used three different colours, pale blue, teal and green but it looks more like two colours.  I tore the finished batt into about 5 strips and spun them in order, then navajo plied them so the yarn would fade from dark to light:

Now, it’s not perfect, but could you just note that most of the yarn is pretty smooth and even.  I’m currently knitting it into some iPod cases using 1.5 mm needles and it’s looking fine.  I’d like to mention that now, because some of the later pictures are not so pretty…

I tried another batt, with a wider colour variation:

This colour combination seemed to come to me from nowhere.  Whilst congratulating myself on my amazing creativity, I realised it wasn’t my creation at all!  I had been looking at artwork online by Lorrie Whittington, a local artist, who has used this pallette of blues and purples in some of her work and it had obviously imprinted itself on my mind!   Do go and take a look at her work, it is swirly and whirly and beautiful!

This time, I split the batt into a dozen or so strips to try and get a more gradual change in colours:

Again, I spun singles.  Then, half way through the bobbin something in my head said ‘try long-draw’…  I’ve been meaning to, having watched Ruth at the spinning group whizz through yarn effortlessly.  The sensible thing would have been to try it out on some fibre that was hanging around waiting to be spun, something ordinary or in a colour I didn’t like particularly – goodness knows that there’s plenty around!  But no, something took over and I started playing around half way through using the batt I had so carefully laboured over. 

I could not quite bring myself to remove my left hand from pinching the yarn and stopping the twist, but my right hand was happily moving backwards with the fibre stretching out in a trail as my hand went back.  I even managed to get rid of my vice-like grip on the fibre, remembering what I had been told at the Weald and Downland when I tried the Great Wheel – ‘imagine it is a butterfly in your hand, you don’t want to crush it’.  So, my attempt was probably nothing like long-draw at all.  I’d call it coward’s long-draw at best!

This was the result – a small skein of yarn which starts off purple and even and smooth and then deteriorates into lumpy bumpyness as it turns blue.  It didn’t help that I plied it whilst my daughter was watching Mary Poppins – there’s something about Dick van Dyke doing a Cockney accent that reduces me to tears of laughter…

I’m pleased I had a go, but it served as a reminder as to how much there still is to learn about fibre and spinning.

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5 responses to “Batts and attempts at long-draw

  1. Both skeins are beautifully spread with colour fading from dark to light, really pleased you tried long draw too, when I do it I use my right hand to pull the fibre backwards and my left hand to smooth out the length as the twist is taking it on to the bobbin. No pinching of the twist, just let it happen and smooth out the bumps as the fibre twists and is drawn forwards. The ending yarn after soaking for twenty minutes or so does feel a lot more puffy doing it that way than with the inch worm technique done in between your two hands where you draft a bit out left the twist enter, do a little bit more and so on.

    I also think the fibre used to experiment with long draw is important, I have tried it with Shropshire, BFL and Merino and out of those three the Shropshire worked best because it is a naturally a springy bouncy fibre already so you are half way there before you even start 🙂 BFL kept breaking and the merino whilst soft as butter just had bumps no matter what I tried.

    I think corriedale would work well because it is quite “grippy” or “hairy” so will pull backwards fairly easy for the long draw with one hand. Must try that 🙂

    Anyway, waffling on as usual, sorry! Love your blog and your spinning journey, its a fab read 🙂

    Helen xx

    • ‘No pinching of the twist’?! But I am a control freak, I will never be able to achieve such freedom!! I had a little go (again in the middle of a bobbin, don’t know why I can’t wait..) using some Jacob and that was a bit more open and forgiving. I did see a video of someone doing long draw from the fold, I must give that a try too 🙂

      • aha but by not pinching the twist and smoothing whilst drawing back, you are actually in more control as its rather impossible to control the twist with this technique anyway 🙂

        You do all the controlling with your hand you are drawing backwards with the other hand is just for smoothing and keeping free ‘just in case’ you need to suddenly pinch the fibre to stop the twist momentarily 🙂

  2. Your yarn looks absolutely gorgeous, so clever of you. Thank you so much for the mention, I am very flattered indeed. 🙂

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