I've been spinning up some of this summer's Kool Aid dyed wool this weekend:
The colors are more varied and saturated than in this picture. Quite pretty, actually.
It seems that there were two different types of wool in that bag, one (most of it) rather short stapled and bouncy, the other much longer stapled and shiny/smooth. No information on breeds. The outside of the bag sported only the seller's name and the comment "Nice!"
I think only the green roving sections have the long stapled wool, but I haven't checked the other colors. Switching between the two types of wool has been an interesting challenge, having to vary how I draft the fiber depending on what roving section or batt I grab next. Batts, because the longer stapled wool felted just a bit, so out came the old drum carder.
Anyway, I ran out of bobbins. It was bound to happen. I found a bobbin that had what I think is some of the gorgeous merino roving I bought years ago at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. With only the one bobbin it was time for an experiment: plying from both ends of the ball.
I wound the ball on my ball winder from the bobbin on a tensioned lazy Kate, took the winder over to the wheel, carefully removed the ball of singles to a plastic bag, and started plying.
I haven't tried this technique before and I wasn't sure how much twist to put in while plying. Checking for a balanced yarn by pulling out a plied length from the bobbin to see if it hangs straight wouldn't help: the singles have been sitting on that bobbin for years, so the twist was quite "stale". I just went by feel. Appalling to purists, but the object was to free up a bobbin. If the yarn turns out well that's just a bonus.
(NB: I can and do more careful spinning, thanks mostly to a three day class with the wonderful Mabel Ross at the Mannings in October 1991. Just not this time.)
There were a few breaks. The first two were due to spots where the single didn't have enough twist to hold together; the others came when the ball started to collapse on itself. Each time I anchored the yarn to the wheel's T-knob:
... while I fixed the problem. When there was enough room in the center, I put the ball on my wrist and continued:
A full bobbin:
I wound it on my niddy noddy standing about 10 feet from the wheel to let the twist even out somewhat over the length of the yarn as it left the bobbin. When I took the skein off the niddy noddy it most definitely did not hang straight, but that was to be expected.
Finished skein, which is really a lovely heathered lilac and not at all blue (darn flash!):
A next-to-face soft two ply yarn, just shy of four ounces.
Not bad, and I now have that free bobbin!