Spinning Beaded & Tufted Yarn
Is not easy! If someone tells you it is, smile and nod and then think about me. I should say it isn't horribly hard but it's not something you can just breeze through, particularly if you haven't done it before. Of course, I attempted it first and then asked for advice. And I got a lot of lovely advice from the Spindlers list, which I will gleefully follow when I've recovered from my first attempt. In my October 16th post, I blogged about making a tufted yarn (wool/silk with dyed mohair locks trapped in the plying) but couldn't leave well enough alone. The tufted yarn would have been just fine as tufted yarn!
But, I decided to bead it too and well...let's take another photo journey : )
Here are the lovely beads I chose. I strung them on some sewing thread, and I'm not sure but I believe that stringing them all on made it damn near impossible to slide them on the thread while plying. You can see them in a tangled mess there, after I practised on some non-tufted yarn. I put the spool of beaded thread on a kate, but it wasn't wrapped around the spool itself so there was this long heavy length of beaded thread and I couldn't make them slide properly. Eventually, the thread broke on me and they got all tangled up. But I did make a practice skein which ended up like this
Not a good thing. What I was doing was plying in a regular fashion with the thread and the previously plied yarn. I don't recommend this...at least, not plying in a normal fashion where you hold both thread and yarn and the same tension like you do plying singles. What you get is loose thread.
So, I figured that I would string the beads again, this time not as many (and I'm not sure if the number of beads on the spool was the problem or if something else I was doing in holding the beaded thread was it) and I quickly ran the tufted yarn through to ply it tighter, and dug out my workshop info on spinning fancy yarns because I remembered that there's a rule when spinning a very fine thread with other stuff. Ah HA! When using this thread, it was necessary to hold it taut and let the heavier yarn wrap around it, using the beaded thread as a binder of sorts. This is a boucle technique, and normally, you'd go back and ply again with a binder to hold the boucle in place. I was not going to do this. My solution was to sometimes reverse the tension, meaning I would let the thread wrap around the heavier stuff occasionally, and this sort of "locked" the thread in place. It worked too! Here's a crappy one-handed photo of the process of the different tensions when working with a fine binder thread ... it's really the second step in spinning a ratine or boucle but I didn't push the fiber up the thread to make it bumpier.
Onward then! With less beads on the spool of thread, I was able to get the thread to feed, the beads to slide and go on without much trouble. It's a bit of a fumble at first holding some of the beads in your hand and feeding them into the spots you want them. I chose to space them between the tufts and then to put one at each tuft as well. The big drag was, of course, that I ran out of beads on the thread and had to string more then attach it, which I can't believe is the proper way to go about it. But I ended up with this on the bobbin:
Pretty! I had the usual trouble, even using the jumbo Ashford bobbin and flyer, with the locks catching occasionally on the hooks. I don't have a woolie winder but the jumbo flyer hooks aren't too bad and this is some fat yarn with the tufts!
Here's the finished yarn, which I didn't wash and I'll tell you why in a minute! It's kind of hard to see the beads, but they're there and sparkly and pretty. I loved it till I realized that in plying the already tufted plied yarn, I loosened up the plies enough to make the yarn fragile...the tufts weren't locked in as well as they were when it was originally just a tufted yarn. The thread isn't that attractive in it either, although you don't really see much of it. ACK!!
It's gorgeous. It's soft. It's sparkly and funky. It's fragile and impractical. I do not know what the heck to do with it! I'm thinking "art"...wall hanging at this point. I believe that in knitting it tightly, the locks will be more locked in and it'll be Very Very Cool. Someone suggested a scarf, of course, but I'm thinking maybe a collar that you can attach to a jacket. There's only like 66 very bulky yards here. Not enough for matching cuffs. And then, in cuffs, the locks would probably get all matted up eventually from rubbing. It would be a nice roll-up brim on a cute hat as well. I can't felt it to lock in the locks better since its 50/50 wool/silk. Then I have to find a coordinating yarn to use for the main part of the hat. I can make a fancy bag maybe but eh...that's not appealing to me. Wall art seems to be my major thing here but that seems dumb.
What will I do next time? I'll thread beads onto a fine single and ply it with another single, that's what I'll do! Then I'll use a fine binder to lock the beads in place, although a few gals said they didn't really have trouble with beads sliding (and you probably wouldn't if you spun/plied tightly). One gal told me she liked a bit of play in the beads since then you could manipulate them to the front of the knitting much better.
It's balled up into a fancy cake skein, sitting on the back of the couch at the moment. Looking at me. Smirking. Sparkling in the sunlight.
But this little guy here, he doesn't care if I suck at spinning beaded yarn. This is how he looks each day at breakfast & dinner, ready to go, happy to eat, without fail he's always cheerful and optimistic.
This is Frank, my teddy bear type guinea pig, who is now a grand old 5 years old! He's very elderly, and you can tell when you see his hairdo...just not the same as it was a couple years ago. His bright little eyes are a bit dimmer too. But he's just the same funny little thing that's been keeping me company and making me smile and laugh for 5 years now. I know he won't be with me forever, so I'm making sure I enjoy him each and every day. Out of all my critters, he's always been the best...the happiest, the easiest, the funniest. For a gp, he's quite small and really quiet. He acts goofy when you tickle his butt, licks you a lot when you hold him, and tries to bite me when I stick my hands in there to stir up his bedding with a wooden spoon. He never tries to bite when you pick him up, hand him treats, pet him, or do anything else at all in his cage. There's just something about stirring up his bedding that makes him kind of evil. I can live with that : )