My Very Own Barber Poll!

I’ve been eying all that barber-poll-yarn-eye-candy that you all produce over on Etsy. Beautiful stuff! I have also been thinking a lot about Tanis Lavalleer’s recent post about spinning enough yarn for a sweater (whoa!) I’ll admit, I am at the more experimental phase (not the production phase) of this spinning adventure . . . and just thinking this out loud allowed me the freedom to experiment a bit more–even and including barber poll yarn. If I can produce one-off skeins right now, that’s enough to make me very, very happy.

So, the barber poll: it began as an experiment with color blending on the drum carder. I’m terrified of color. I have read the theories, talked to my lovely artist friends, listened to lessons online. I just don’t get it (yet?), but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. After all, my Corriedale Blues turned out OK (IMHO)–sorry, that was too many acronyms!

So, I blended up some white Corriedale (about 1 oz) and then started adding some of my already dyed (not by me) Corriedale roving–this time in red and gold and blue. See what I mean: most people would know that combo was a potentially bad idea. Yep, it came out muddy with some stripes of color.

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But I was not phased; in fact, I decided that I would see what would happen if I dizzed the roving off the carder with an improvised piece of plastic that looked like the number ‘0’ . . . this produced strange strips of purplish roving with some red and gold mixed in. Still undeterred, I fed these strips back into the drum carder and added a hell-a lot more red and gold. Ah ha! This was better. I made a massive 1.75 oz batt and took it straight to the spinning wheel.

Working with a multi-colored batt was new to me, but I had watched Jacey Boggs do this in her Craftsy class and decided I could just let go and have fun. Worked like a charm . . . almost. The areas most saturated with red and gold were great; there was some of that muddy purple mixed in, but it actually looked OK: they all related in a kind of gradient.

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Once I had a 2/3 bobbin and had exhausted the batt, I looked down at my Lazy Kate, which had a 2/3 bobbin of South African top (from what I can tell, this is a mix of breeds and feels close to a merino)–this bobbin had been slow going. And while I had planned to simply spin up two full bobbins and 2-ply this top to see what it looked like, I decided that I had a better idea: wouldn’t this combo create a Barber Poll? I was way out of my element, but I picked up the two singles and plied them (just a little); I liked what I saw.

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The rest, as they say, is history. And I have a yarn that is way more funky than me–more funky than anything I would have created in a more rational frame of mind. And I love it.

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