When I first started spinning, I was a bit more adventurous–mostly because I had no idea what I was actually doing! Then, I found my first few braids, purchased some raw fleece, and began to believe that everything should be 4oz, fully spun, plied, and put away. Looking back, it was a period of important learning: putting in the hours, being consistent, building stamina, producing finished products that could be evaluated.
What I didn’t know then, that I have since learned from spinners such as Rachel Smith and Sarah (of Fiber Trek) is that sampling smaller runs of fiber can be extremely helpful–and that it’s not wasteful. Indeed, sampling is the equivalent of gauge swatching: without it, you’re spinning into the void.
So, what started out as bobbin clearing via bracelet plying, turned into a mini session of trying all the things. Ok, ok, not all the things, but some of the things I have been wanting to check out or revisit, or play with. PLAY; when spinning becomes more about testing and less about the finished product. I’ve written about being a process-driven knitter and a product-driven spinner. But this latest development brings spinning into the realm of process for me. And it makes me look at my stash of fiber in a new way.
Inspired by Rachel’s podcasts and a few scrappy bobbins, I grabbed a few things that were doomed to sit in my bins of fiber forever: the bits of fiber that were “too small to spin up into anything useful” and the fleece that has been waiting a year for processing. I did some sampling. And I loved it. And I will do so much more of it before I ever spin a full braid ever again.
Tech specs (for those interested in all things fiber):
- Top two skeins: 2 ply, bracelet plyed from my combination spin
- Middle skein is a 3 ply from a tiny, but gorgeous 50/50 merino yak Hipstrings sample
- Bottom skein is a 2 ply, spun from washed, flick carded Corriedale locks