combination drafting.

This was one of those funny spins that I started on a whim because I wanted to try something new. Oddly enough, I started it just prior to another project that ended up using a similar technique! Weird … but more on that project at another time … I bought this braid of fibre at Knit City in October 2014 with Chrissy – I think she bought one too, but I can’t remember. I know we both spent a bit of money at the Smith & Ewe booth while we were there. I was really pleased to see that they will be returning to Knit City this year, according to the vendor list.


I thought of trying some combination drafting while I was sleeping, woke up and started as soon as it was even remotely near 6am. Crazy, right?! I know. I’ve been trying to carve out a little bit of ‘me-time’ in the mornings without completely sacrificing sleep since I’m often tired from shift work (I think shift workers live in a perpetual sleep-deprived state). This coincided with something else that I was working on and was taking a break from, as well as an urgent need to cast on handspun socks. I felt really excited to work on this because it was the perfect ‘in-between projects’ spin and it was fast fast fast.


I started this on a Saturday morning and finished the Monday afternoon. Like I said, fast.


Because the colours of this fibre are completely analogous, I wanted to see what combination drafting would do for this fibre instead of fiddling around with a traditional 3-ply to get the amount of blending that I was hoping for in the resulting yarn. I took the original braid and pulled it into a big pile to un-braid it, then found the middle by lining up the two ends. This gave me two equal piles of 62 grams (I used my scale to ensure accuracy). From there, I started striping down the fibre into two separate Ziploc bags for each hank of yarn – I wanted two hanks of finished yarn so that I would have one centre-pull ball for each sock when I finished.


From there, I took my first Ziploc bag of fibre ‘nests’ and pulled randomly 3 to begin with. I held them in my fibre supply hand and drafted from them equally to cause a heathering of the singles as you can see above – particularly in the bottom bobbin at the left side. Basically what having the three fibre nests in my fibre supply hand caused was for the colours to draft all at once. Felicia talks about this in her Craftsy class, Spinning Dyed Fibres. It’s a wonderful technique for creating heathered, rustic yarns – they have a ‘confetti’ or tweed-like quality when you use fibre that isn’t this analogous but has slightly more interest; therefore, it is a great technique for combining braids of fibre and creating new colourways.


Fibre :: Smith and Ewe Superwash BFL, 125gm in unknown colourway

Yarn :: 2ply, combination drafted singles, soaked & thwacked, ~370 yards, fingering weight

Technical Specs :: singles spun 12:1 ratio (fast flyer) on Lendrum, plied at 2 o’clock speed knob on Hansen WW



I plied this by making two centre-pull balls with each bobbin and creating two 2-ply hanks. One for each sock when I’m ready to start knitting.


Each hank is roughly 185 yards, 62 grams.

As you can see from the closer photos below, the combination drafting created the look of a blended 3-ply without having to spin 3 singles! This is a superwash BFL so I actually put quite a bit of twist into the singles for strength in the socks once they are knit up. I’m not particularly hard on my hand knit socks, even though I wear them almost daily during our winter, so I’m not worried about not having more singles for the wear areas of the socks.


Closer photo of the heathering in the yarn. This is a particularly analogous colourway so the heathering is subtle but effective. I really like the effect and was well worth the time to strip down the fibre and spin it with multiple nests at once.


The final yarn is quite airy and light. It isn’t super dense which I had feared from the amount of twist I put into the singles. Instead, the yarn is just really lovely for lack of a better description! I’m looking forward to getting these onto the needles and if I’m lucky, before this is published, I’ll add a photo here to show you progress. If there isn’t a photo, it means I got distracted by other fibre-y things!

Happy Spinning :)

Join the Conversation

  1. Gorgeous yarn! I love the tweedy look. I’ve never heard of combination drafting — there’s always something new to try!

  2. Really pretty!

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