Episode 110: A little bit of this, a bit of that . . .

Thank you for tuning in this week! Welcome to new & returning viewers. Welcome to our Patreon community – thank you for your ongoing support of the show. You are the ones who keep me on the air month after month! This week, we have a lot of yarn chatter about the current Breed & Colour Study. We look at some of the projects from the community. Next, we chat about a Spinning Growth that was particularly interesting to me because it is another sweater. Lastly, we answer a question that came up in that thread but I’m treating as an Ask Anything instead! It’s a full show again — let’s get into it!

Works in Progress

  1. Nest Fiber Studio ‘Noel’ yarn – SW Merino, Merino & Nylon
    1. Ashford eSpinner à Majacraft Suzie
    2. Traditional 3-ply … thinking about switching to an opposing ply for the 3rd singles
    3. Gorgeous yarn shared by Diana at our last guild meeting … wondering about switching to a crepe yarn
  2. Breed & Colour Studies – Starry Nights on Masham (MAS-ham)
    1. If you want to see just the images of the spinning that’s been done (and some of the dyeing), search images at the top of the thread here
    2. Finished spinning all colourways
  1. Louise finished spinning – made the reflection that she is trying to figure out how to integrate the black skein [ltravill]
  2. Debi started knitting socks – finding the socks are softening up with knitting; 3-ply [debiwin]

Finished Objects

  1. CraftyJaks January Club Fibre – Herdwick
    1. 2% wool neops, 11% sari silk, 87% Herdwick
    2. Coarse, guard hairs throughout the spin
  • Lovely heathering, broke batt apart in strips
  • Low twist but enough to keep it together, split to 2 bobbins and spun

Spinning Growth

  1. Sara [sjsmakes – post 45] wrote:

I have another mystery to present to the group. Why is my sweater pilling so badly? I spun this yarn during TDF last year and knit it during the fall. I wore the sweater a lot over the winter — maybe once a week. But it certainly wasn’t an excessive level of wear, and I wasn’t wearing it while I was working on a farm or anything — just errands, trips to the store, etc.

The yarn is a 2-ply combo spin of three different colorways of mixed BFL top from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It was spun worsted (short forward draft) with a pretty average level of twist in both the singles and the ply — neither underspun nor overspun. I knit it to a pretty average sweater gauge too — not too loose, not too tight.

Being a worsted yarn spun from longwool top, I would expect better durability, even though it was only a 2-ply.

I wore the sweater at Ply Away last spring. While I was there, I got the opportunity to ask Beth Smith if she had any ideas as to why the sweater wore so badly, and she guessed maybe it was the quality of the fiber — Ashland Bay or whichever other big supplier that originally processed it just isn’t getting the best-quality wool anymore. I’ve seen that BFL is getting really popular for commercial yarn, so maybe that has something to do with it? That said, I didn’t notice anything unusual about the fiber when I was spinning, and I’ve spun a lot of BFL.

Any other ideas? Or are we just going to blame it on the 2-ply? All I’m saying is, if I had used a commercial yarn and it behaved like this, I wouldn’t buy it again.

  • Gorgeous sweater! Buy a sweater shaver – welcome to the world of pilling in sweaters in general;
  • BFL tends to pill due to the longer fibres – they work their way loose over time and my BFL socks have pilled more than my shorter staple socks;
  • If you look at the sweater, it’s pilling (from my viewpoint) in the places where your arms rub against the underarm which you can except of any sweater – regardless of the fibre;
  • The 2-ply does present a unique situation b/c more of the surface area of the singles is exposed so they are going to rub more.
    • To overcome that, could made the twist angle more severe – a higher twist yarn or increase the number of singles in the yarn – ie. 3 or 4 ply (even 5-ply)
  • Great input from ElliejustEllie [Ellie – post 59]:

There is a theory to pilling. I’ll try and explain so please bear with me as I’ve not been able to find it on the web.

A pill is created when 1 or more fibres work their way out of the yarn and get curled and knotted with abrasion. If you think of the minute scales that are on each fibre, they are going to act in a similar way to a zip tie. Moving in one direction (butt to tip) they would move quite smoothly, but in the other (tip to butt) they would lock with other fibres and not move as much. You can feel the difference by running your finger along a lock of wool.

As prepared braids, top, roving are fibres that have not kept their butt to tip orientation, there will be more chance of pilling. Preparing your own roving or spinning from the lock butt first can often reduce the amount of pilling. Any fibres sticking out of the yarn would be the tips, and over time would be worked into the yarn rather than being worked out and creating pills.

I hope that makes sense.

Ask Anything

  1. Michelle [mekaerwin – post 53 of Spinning Growth] asks:

I’ve noticed many of you talk about your skeins being “heavy” and I have trouble with that as well. What do ya’ll do to determine how much twist to put in? Newbie question ;)

  • Heavy yarns are dense yarns – when we talk about heavy yarns, we really mean that they are dense
    • A few things cause density –
      • Fibre
      • Number of fibres in the singles/plied yarn
      • Twist – higher twist tends to be denser (but not necessarily b/c there are more fibres in the yarn – more b/c it has a lower grist or YPP)
    • Fine wools will be less dense, have a higher YPP (grist) than long or medium wools
      • Some miscellaneous wools are very dense
      • Masham study is a good example – the fibre is heavy; therefore, less YPP
    • As we draft, the more fibres we pull, the denser the yarn will be which is the #1 aspect that I see in new spinners – they tend to pull more fibres b/c of learning, worry that their singles will break, too much twist
    • High twist yarn creates denser yarns b/c it increases the grist
      • Example: 200yard skein of 2-ply that weighs 100 grams (4oz) is 908YPP; if tighten up the twist and end up with a 180yard skein, that skein is now 817YPP
        • Denser yarn!


  1. Having Internet problems – haven’t been able to get it working for shipping notices – will do later this week and pop everything in the mail!
  2. Please keep the photos coming in the ongoing Photo Thread for future Breed & Colour Studies! When we announce the next iteration in April, we will be announcing the colours at the same time! You can find that here.
  3. Newsletter for Wool n’ Spinning
    1. Helps to let everyone know about upcoming dates for the community all in one space
    2. Access the sign-up on the blog in the bar at the top of the page
    3. Published once per month

Until next time,


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