Spinning Yarns with a Purpose
I began handspinning as an extension of my love for knitting. However, I have a confession: I often spin without a project in mind. Regularly, I sit at my wheel with a lovely 4 oz. braid of handpainted top or roving and spin my default two-ply yarn. I might split my top, or not. I may vary my drafting technique to suit the preparation of the fibers. Once in a blue moon, I will chain-ply. This precious 250–400 yard skein then joins the others in a plastic tub of misfit skeins. They have no particular purpose in life other than to be a record of my time spent at the wheel—and I am pretty sure that I am not alone!
Kate Larson, in her new video How to Spin Yarn to Knit, beckons spinners to make yarn with purpose. Rousing us out of our spinning rut, Kate calls on spinners to create yarns with strength and structure, built-in functionality for their intended use. She explains how breed choice, fiber preparation, finishing, and knitting technique all combine to form a practical well-designed garment. Her years of expertise as a spinner, knitter, and teacher haven’t changed Kate’s friendly, down-to-earth manner–it’s a pleasure to spend an hour with her on one of her favorite subjects.
Beginning with the basics, Kate teaches how fiber preparation and drafting method combine to craft sound singles, the basis for any good knitting yarn. Next, she reveals how two-ply, three-ply, and four-ply yarns transform your singles into yarns that will drape, hold their shape, and withstand repeated use and wear. Her terms are clear and her manner is accessible. She wraps up her lesson with finishing. From a straightforward wash to fulling, Kate demonstrates how finishing can dramatically alter your yarns. In one of the video’s most surprising moments, she shows the dramatic difference between an unwashed and finished skein, the former visibly longer than the latter.
Kate shows us how a little thought and planning can help us to create yarns with a purpose, yarns that we will want to knit and wear for years to come.