November 21, 2010

Sheep to Sweater Sunday n° 51 " In Search of a Lace Weight Single "

De la Toison au Tricot n° 51 " A la recherche d'un célibataire pour en faire de la dentelle "

A couple of weeks ago I spun a few skeins of fine 2-ply ouessant wool with the idea of knitting some lace shawls. Ultimately, even if these skeins are quite lovely, I think that they're a bit too thick for lace. That's not really a problem insofar as I can always use them for something else.

Il y a quelques semaines j’ai filé plusieurs écheveaux de laine ouessant à deux brins, assez fins, avec l’idée de tricoter quelques châles en dentelle. Finalement, même si ces écheveaux sont très jolis, je les trouve un peu gros pour en faire de la dentelle. Pas de problème dans le mesure où je peux toujours utiliser cette laine pour d’autres projets.

So what should I do if I want a fine lace weight yarn?
After a bit of thought, I thought to myself, "Why not spin a single?"

Mais que faire pour filer une laine bien fine pour en faire de la dentelle ?
En réfléchissant, je me suis dit “ pourquoi pas filer un célibataire ” ?

Just in case you didn't know, a single is a one-ply yarn : in other words, one single "thread" of yarn that has not been plyed with another "thread." Basically, when you spin yarn, plying is a necessary step. As Judith MacKenzie McCuin has said in her book, The Intentional Spinner (Interweave Press, 2009), plyed yarn is stronger and more balanced than a single, and as a general rule plying should be the defaut choice of the spinner, unless there is a very specific reason for not plying.

Pour ceux que ne le savent pas, un célibataire est un fil à un brin : c’est à dire, une laine qui n’a pas été retordue avec un autre fil. Normalement, quand on file, retordre la laine est une étape obligée. Comme l’explique Judith MacKenzie McCuin dans son livre The Intentional Spinner (Interweave Books, 2009), un fil retordu est plus solide et plus équilibré qu’un célibataire, et à priori retordre un fil doit rester le choix par défaut, à moins d’avoir une raison bien précise de faire autrement.

MacKenzie McCuin is quite right to stress this point : the bottom line is a single is rather problematic! Nonetheless, even if there are certain structural problems associated with singles, the most difficult thing is spinning a "balanced" single, in other words a single that doesn't twist back on itself.

MacKenzie McCuin a tout à fait raison de souligner ce point : effectivement, un célibataire pose plusieurs problèmes pour la fileuse. Pourtant, même s’il y a certains problèmes structuraux liés à un célibataire, le plus difficile à résoudre est de faire un fil équilibré qui ne se retorde pas sur lui-même.

In English, when we speak of a single, we often talk about an energized single. So what exactly is this energy? It's simply the twist that has been put into the yarn during the process of spinning. That is why a single tends to twist back on itself.

En anglais quand nous parlons d’un célibataire, nous le traitons très souvent de fil “ débordant d’énergie ”. Qu’est-ce que c’est cette énergie ? C’est tout simplement l’ensemble des torsions qui a été introduit dans le fil lors du filage. Ça c’est pourquoi un fil célibataire à tendance de se retordre sur lui-même.

A Lovely Jumbled Mess of Energized Singles
Un joli amas de célibataires entortillés et débordants d'énergie

In order to make sure that a single doesn't have too much energy, in other words that it doesn't twist back on itself, we have to spin a low twist single with just enough twist to hold the yarn together. (By the way, this is easier said than done, particularly if you're used to spinning high twist 2-ply yarn!)

Pour assurer qu’un célibataire n’a pas trop d’énergie, c’est à dire qu’il ne se retord pas sur lui-même, il faut filer une laine avec très peu de torsion, juste assez pour faire un fil.

I would love to be able to spin a yarn that would be close to a Malabrigo lace weight single.

J’aimerais bien filer un célibataire semblable à celui de la laine Malabrigo.

A Skein of Malabrigo Wool :
A very popular lace weight single
Un écheveau de la laine Malabrigo :
un célibataire bien fin et très utilisé pour dentelle

I've already made a few attempts. Here's the latest.

J’ai déjà fait quelques tentatives. Voici le dernier essai.

Close-Up : Skein of Malabrigo and my mini trial skein
Gros plan : écheveau Malabrigo et mon mini écheveau d'essai

Not too bad, if I have to say so myself! This week I'm going to try to spin a few skeins of lace weight singles. So ...check back next week to see what I come up with!

C’est pas trop mal! (À mon avis!) Cette semaine je vais essayer de filer quelques écheveaux de célibataires pour en faire de la dentelle. Alors ... rendez-vous la semaine prochaine!


Amy said...

Hi Diane! I spin many, many skeins of laceweight singles. I love the design element the twist energy gives them in a simple, simple scarf. Simply ball up the yarn straight off the bobbin (or knit right off the bobbin), then knit with size 13 needles. The results are lovely! (Especially if the yarn blooms over time!)
Amy at Wheely Wooly Farm

Diane said...

Oh!!! but it scares me Amy! I'm a 2-ply type of woman!
So what is your advise about not putting too much twist in the single?? That's the hardest part for me.
Thanks and there will be more updates to follow!

Anonymous said...

I can only spin soft yarn on a Russian or Tibetan-style support spindle, but I can get gossamer-weight singles.

With shawls you don't need to ply your yarn (the finest Shetland lace uses millspun singles) as you have to block the finished object every time you wash it anyway!

Jody said...

Diane how do you prepare your fibre? I find it is easier to spin lace if I comb the fibres. Using your finest and longer stapled fleece helps too.

Amy said...

The trick with twist is really feel. It's hard to measure twists per inch with a singles...for me. I guess I just go by feel as I treadle and allow for take up on the bobbin. For the scarves, I like to see the singles twist up on itself gently and slowly, for it creates a wonderful design element in the garment. I strive to not allow for rapid twisting or tight twisting. Someone once told me to leave the yarn on the bobbin overnight after spinning to help the twist find it's "balance". That was really good advice!

After time, you come to be familiar with the gauge you want to achieve, then visualize how fast your take up is in inches, then keep that regular with your treadle speed. It really is all feel. Mable Ross has a video that shows a lap cloth with premeasured increments on it to give her a visual in keeping twist consistent and correct for her goal. Works like a charm!
The photos of your yarn are indeed beautiful!
Hope that helps!
Amy at Wheely Wooly Farm

Diane said...

Thanks to all for your advise and encouragement. I always use combed fiber ... so that should be good. I can see how using a spindle would make things easier in terms of controlling the amount of twist that goes into the yarn ... but I have to say that I'm not really a spindler ... so I have to deal with spinning singles on a wheel.
I will be leaving the spun yarn on the bobbins for a few weeks, as this does seem to work.
I'll have the check out the Mable Ross video. That might help me out!
Thanks again ... In the next few weeks we'll see how things turn out!

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