Yarn Turtles

When I was at Sock Summit this summer, I picked up a Jenkins Turkish spindle and 2 oz of a delicious blend of 50% tussah silk and 50% cashmere fiber painted by Chasing Rainbows and sold to me by Klaus at Crown Mountain Farms.  This tussah/cashmere blend is something I’ve spun before, and it’s irrestistable: soft, lustrous, and spins up like a dream.  The only color they had left in the basket when I got there was called “Sandstone” which is a blend of beige, brown, and teal.  It was not my fave (I have an unreasoning passionate dislike of beige) but since I had a brand new spindle burning a hole in my pocket, I bought it anyway.

Yarn Turtles

The day after I got back from Sock Summit, the family traveled to Montana to visit Eric’s folks.  His family gets together at least once a year and it’s always fun to see how how the neices have grown and to catch up with everyone.

I don’t do well when my hands are empty, so I took along my new-to-me drop spindle and the 2 oz of luschious fiber.  Happily, the wee little spindle was so small I could spin in the car while Eric drove.  I spun during the family visit.  This caused some comment and interest.  I think my mother-in-law was a bit worried about fluff getting everywhere at first, but she settled down after I told her the fiber. Silk and cashmere lends a bit of authority that “some fluff I plucked off my sheep” just doesn’t have.

My youngest neice, Ali, looked at the Turkish spindle and pronounced: “You’re making yarn turtles!”  I took a second look at the spindle, with its yarn-wrapped cross arms, and it did indeed look like a yarn turtle.  It’s such a charming and apt description, that I think I’ll now always think of the center-pull balls created by a Turkish spindle as “yarn turtles.”

So I made yarn turtles all the way to Montana, and through barbeques and family visiting, back home, while waiting in line, at traffic lights, at the orthodontist’s, at home in the evening while the boys watched movies, while waiting for the computer to load and install updates, etc.

singles yarn

It’s taken me five weeks, but I am finally to the end of the 2oz of fiber.  That beige grew on me, and I’m actually sad to get to the end of this colorway.  I’m not exactly sure what I can make with 2oz of this yarn.  In the past, I’ve woven directly with the singles, making a scarf that, when it was off the loom and immersed in water, immediately set into permanent pleats.  Fun!

I don’t like repeating myself, however, so I’m planning to ply this yarn.  Judith MacKenzie McCuin said in the Spinning to Weave audio interview that a 2-ply yarn is best for weaving or lace knitting.  And since I always love to weave, and I’m playing around with lace knitting again, I plan to turn these singles into 2-ply.

This being my first experience with Turkish spindles, and those “yarn turtles” looking a bit delicate once you slipped them off the spindle’s arms, I didn’t want my first experiment with prying directly from a center-pull ball to be with my precious tussah/cashmere singles.  (And truly, after 5 weeks of spinning, I was really hoping that the whole “Turkish spindles create center-pull balls that you can work with without rewinding” thing was true.)

I had some Targhee wool singles that I’d spun up.  A delightful vendor at Sock Summit gave me a sample of the Targhee to play with.  She was also a weaver.  If anyone knows who I’m talking about, could you please leave a comment?  Because I plied up the lace-weight Targhee singles (plying from the inside and outside of the ball) and not only did the Targhee wool spin up like a dream, but it made the softest, most cushy lace-weight plied yarn.  I am in love and dreaming about spinning and knitting a Faroese lace shawl and need more fiber, only…I can’t figure out which of the umpteen business cards I picked up at Sock Summit was hers.  Weaver, has Targhee sheep, sells Targhee roving.  Ring any bells?

targhee plied yarn

But back to the original project: I’ve finished the last of the nine yarn turtles.  Bouyed by my success with the Targhee, I’m going to spend today plying them on a larger spindle.  My plan is to pull from two center-pull balls (so the fiber goes into the ply in the same direction it was spun) and splice in new yarn as one center-pull ball runs out.  (That was the only downside of my wee Turkish spindle, you could take it anywhere, but then only put so much fiber on it at one time.)

Stay tuned.  This will either be glorious, or a total hairball.

Please share your thoughts: I enjoy your comments and feedback!