It is done.
Way back in September 2010 I acquired 4 ounces of yellow-orange Polworth in a Ravelry destash. I couldn’t remember ever spinning Polworth (checking my notes might have reminded me that I’d had a Polworth sample in the January 2010 Phat Fiber box, which I did indeed spin up; my notes tell me that I had the same issues with the drafting being uneven and the fibre being too spongy for my taste, but discovering those notes came after I finished this 4oz braid, alas), and the colours were outside my usual green/blue/natural comfort zone, both good reasons to buy it, I thought. Besides, I said to myself, if I do not fall madly in love with it and need to stash it for midnight cuddling sessions, like I do with so much of my handspun yarn, I am sure there will be someone out there who can use it.
In No-Light No-Love No-Hope November I reached for it, desperate for something sunny and new. And I decided to give myself a challenge. When I spin four ounces of something I usually don’t end up with anywhere near enough yarn to do anything with, because I spin thicker singles and then chain-ply them, cutting my yardage by three. This time, I decided, I would spin as thin as I humanly could on the equipment I had, and make a two-ply laceweight yarn!
Ah hah hah hah. Hindsight, you are so informative.
It took me a month to spin the first half of the fibre. Four weeks to do two ounces. I have been a strong proponent of Louets Can Do Anything Even Laceweight since I started spinning with one, but I have very firmly learned the lesson of Just Because They Can Does Not Necessarily Mean They Should. The single I spun on it was about the thickness of sewing thread, and it took so long, long, long.
It was frustrating, partially because I was at the limit of what my equipment could do at my skill level, and partially because the fibre and I do not fully get along that that blissful, harmonious happily-ever-after way every spinner envisions their relationship being with whatever fibre they’re handling on any given day. This Polworth was cranky. It did not draft smoothly. I felt like I was fighting the crimp every step of the way.
But halfway through December I had this to show:
I decided to spin some beautifully dyed fluffy Merino afterward into singles in a Manos Clasica style, and blissed out on that as an antidote. And I decided that as I was planning to buy a Saxony wheel with twice the ratios my Louet had, I’d wait till I’d acquired that before continuing with the Polworth, so as to make the experience the least painful it could possibly be.
The Kromski Symphony wheel was purchased in late January, stained and waxed in early February, and ready to go by mid-February. I broke it in by spinning that lovey wool-bamboo blend, and then picked up the Polworth again with renewed vigour and optimism.
Well, at least it went faster. I still had the drafting issues. Polworth and I may not get along, or maybe it was this particular example of it that I didn’t get along with. (Again, those notes tucked away in my sample skein box would have told me that no, it’s just Polworth in general.) What didn’t help was that while it was very cheerful colourway and bright in the drear of winter, it wasn’t a colour I was in love with. I had no attachment to the yarn I was spinning. I wasn’t going to keep it, or use it, because I wasn’t a fan of the colours.
I finished spinning the second half into singles at the beginning of March, then went right into plying it because even though the first bobbin had sat there for two months, I wasn’t waiting any longer for the second single to rest. I plied and plied and plied for about six straight hours this past weekend. My first bobbin had two hundred more yards of singles on it (I swear that I weighed the fibre into equal halves), which meant I had to wind the remaining single off onto a ballwinder and then ply from a centre-pull ball (that newly acquired skill, huzzah and go me). And then I had to skein the damn stuff, which took two sessions because my arm was hurting from turning the skeinwinder.
Almost exactly eight hundred yards, give or take a yard or so. It’s a two-ply laceweight yarn, which means sixteen hundred yards of thread-thin singles spun. I wish I liked it more, because that’s the most impressive yardage I have ever achieved from a four-ounce braid of fibre.
I can aesthetically and objectively admire this yarn (it looks like sunlight! and marigolds! and lots of other lovely similes that my Twitter list came up with!), enthusiastically appreciate all the hours of work that went into it, and the skill required to produce it. I am very proud of my yardage, and the overall consistency of my singles and finished yarn. But I do not like it very much. I really, really wish I liked it more after investing so much in it.
My Twitter fibre-friends (spinners, knitter, and crocheters, bless them all) saw me through this whole process, sympathising with me and cheering me on as I posted pictures of the yarn in progress over the past four and a half months. Much support was had in the SpinDoctor What’s On Your Wheel? forum on Ravelry, too. Did I learn a lot? Sure. Academically, did I enjoy and appreciate the experience? Mostly. Do I like the product? Well… not very much. It’s just not my thing. I am sure someone somewhere will love knitting it up into a delicate lace shawl.
Next up: Wensleydale! It should be arriving this week. I shall spin it, then cable it, and then dye it for a particular, special project which is to be a gift. Have I ever spun Wensleydale? No! Have I ever cabled yarn? No! Is this going to stop me? Heck, no!
LATER: Just out of curiosity, I converted 1600 yards to kilometres, and got 1.46. I spun a kilometre and a half of Polworth singles. Wow.