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2010 TdF – Second half: plying and knitting my handspun linen yarn

August 31, 2010

The next step in my TdF project was plying Serena’s singles. Serena had trouble with the 2 ply snagging on her tiny hooks, so I called in Suzanne, an antique Quebec saxony, for the assist. Serena’s Little Sister wound the finished skeins.

Suzanne is wearing her red Team TRU driveband and a jaunty Quebec blue tassel. Little Sister sports herTeam TRU red tassel, and a white novice tasse because this is the first time I have reeled yarn on her.

To prepare Suzanne’s 2-ply linen yarn for knitting I skeined it, washed it, boiled it for two hours, dried it and wound it into the final balls. The ball in front is the main batch of linen that Serena spun. It is 108 yd. at 2199 YPP. The yarn on the tp tube was spun from the same strick, but using a different style of dressing the distaff. It is 19 yd. at 1394 YPP.

On the very last day of the TdF I met my final goal, knitting with the linen yarn. After considerable swatching for both pattern and needle size, it went on the needles, committed to becoming a neckscarf in New Shell Shetland lace. That day I wore a yellow t-shirt and a big, happy smile.
We did it! I am mighty proud of our flax Team TRU: Serena, Little Sister, and Suzanne.

After the TdF the next step was to finish the neckscarf by the traditional method of cold mangling. After a gentle wash in tepid water, it spent the night rolled in a towel. The next morning I spread the barely damp scarf on an antique linen mangling cloth. Using a rocking motion I pressed down on it HARD with an antique oak roller. I worked along the scarf in short sections, rocking and pressing as hard as I could. Under the pressure the fabric began to smooth out and take on a sheen impossible to attain with a heated iron. The lace became unbelievably thin, with a texture that was at once crisp and flowing. Reflecting the morning sunlight, the linen seemed to be lit from within.

Spun silver–Serena’s linen scarf:

What a lovely souvenir of the 2010 Tour de Fleece.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn in Tucson permalink
    August 31, 2010 11:25 pm

    Lovely, and impossibly clever. Congratulations on a Tour well-spun!

  2. September 1, 2010 8:26 am

    Beautiful job! That’s such a narrow little treadle on her.

  3. Mel permalink
    September 1, 2010 11:53 pm

    You’re always an inspiration, Jan. I love the scarf, and I love hearing about the process that produced such a lovely piece.

  4. Sam permalink
    September 2, 2010 1:48 am

    Oh, Jan, that’s simply, astonishingly lovely! You have so much to be proud of with this beautiful project! Congratulations to the entire TdF team!

  5. Angela permalink
    September 2, 2010 10:44 am

    Beautiful, inspiring, and educational. I’d never heard of cold mangling and I’m stunned by the beautiful sheen that develops.

  6. September 2, 2010 12:19 pm

    Wow, I’m glad to see the result. I never knew the details of how one handles strick as it becomes yarn. What a process! It turned out beautiful.

  7. Jan permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:30 pm

    Thank you from me and the whole team TRU for the kind words! I had heard of cold mangling, but was as surprised as you at the transformation. If you search the web for ‘cold mangling’ you will see some interesting accounts of other peoples’ strategies and experiences.
    Now I am off on a week’s vacation at a quiet lake in the woods. Wonderul change of pace!

  8. September 2, 2010 3:08 pm

    Wow. I had never seen mangling done before in this way–thanks for the explanation. Now I know how to make my flax shine after spinning…I’d only ever seen a mangling thing used like one uses for laundry. Thank you for this post!

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