Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Round, Round We Go: Core Spinning Art Yarns, Part One, Choosing Base Yarns

Core spinning provides shorter, weaker fibres with a stronger skeleton.  By wrapping a lovely fibre around a less attractive yarn, we can stretch a bit of lovely fibre a long way.  We create special effects with core spinning techniques or we can use core spun yarns as bases for more complex designer effects.  Besides, core spinning is just plain fun!

You can use just about any yarn as your core for this type of spinning, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t choose your base yarn carefully. (Let’s assume you’re using commercial yarns for cores. You can certainly core spin around hand spun yarn, but in most cases, I core spin around commercial yarns.  I don’t hide my hand spun yarns unless I have a reason to do so.) That yarn is the spine of your core spun art yarn, so pay attention to how it will behave in your new yarn.

Now is the time to study yarn twist and plying direction, especially if your base yarn is a singles.  Again, don’t assume that your yarn is Z spun/S plied (clockwise/counterclockwise).  Determine the twist direction before you begin: if you core spin around an S spun singles in a Z or clockwise direction, you’ll be subtracting twist, which can cause the core to drift apart.  Core spinning S will add twist to the core yarn.  Spend some time sampling to get the effect you want.  Once you determine twist/plying direction, label that cone of yarn!

Two cones of S spun wool singles
Fibre content will affect yarn behaviour.  I prefer fine wool cores when I can get them, because they add structure and elasticity without excess weight and I know I can full the finished yarn to the point where the core integrates with my fibres.  Cellulose, bast or synthetic fibres will not felt or full.  Cotton and linen cores can be heavy and inelastic; they are strong and add punch to core spun fibres if the core shows in the finished yarn.  I sometimes use synthetic yarns as cores.  Nylon will add strength and sheen. Glossy acrylic or polyester cores will provide glamour—and anyone who knows me, knows I’m all about the glamour--without the expense of using that gorgeous silk you have at hand.  (Save the silk for wrapping, where it will show.)  Look for yarns which have some "grip," especially when you begin core spinning.  You want those spinning fibres to hold to the core.

Consider core colour.  Although most core spinning hides the base yarn, the core can show in spots, either accidentally or as a design element.  Choose a colour that will blend with your fibres or add punch to them.

Leave the core yarns on the cone.  You can core spin around yarn winding from a ball, but the cone package adds tension and drag which will help you control your base yarns.

In Part Two, I’ll discuss choosing fibres for core spinning, set up and technique.  For now, I’ll leave you with this, a photo of a basic core spun pseudo-singles:

Wool, bamboo, mohair batt around 2 ply z spun/s plied wool core

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