Yes, indeedy, practice makes perfect, or nearly so. Look at this!
This could actually be some really rather nice sock yarn! That I made all by myself (and with the help, advice, and instruction of friends!)
I realized after blocking the two hanks of the grey Hampshire/mohair, with which I learned to draft, that I was plying much too loosely. I was trying to ply the way Galina taught us, but (a) I was doing it with much thicker singles and overloading the plying spindle and (b) the cool Orenburg way of plying requires rather more coordination and control than I presently have. So this next time around I instead left the singles in two wound balls, then plied them onto the turnip spindle slowly, checking how twisted each arm-length was before winding it onto the spindle (checking it by holding it loosely and seeing what it did when left to its own devices - nothing so anal as counting twists per inch or anything). Having noticed with the two grey hanks that I had spun and finished first that my overspun singles seemed alright in the finished yarn and that those hanks had seemed much more loosely plied after finishing than before, I deliberately continued to overspin a bit and this time also slightly over-plied these new hanks (of red alpaca/mixed wool - when hanging loosely, they twisted back on themselves just a wee little bit). Then I panicked and ran to Beth to see if I was crazy and whether this had been a bad idea - she reassured me that indeed you lose about 30% of the twist from the singles when you ply, and a bit of the twist from the plying when you finish the yarn. Yay! You always know you're getting somewhere when learning a new skill when you can accurately identify what's going on. This made me feel about 10 times more confident than I'd been moments before reading Beth's email. Phew.
And so the yarn is lovely, and I'm so, so psyched! Now to try the last and final chunk of mixed grab bag roving, and then tackle the merino top Beth gave me. If I can make the latter into a semi-respectable and knittable yarn, I'm going to declare myself Much More Coordinated Than I Thought. And maybe even A Spinner in the Making.
Someday, I want to spin and knit a whole gansey like the Yarn Harlot (thank god Hubbster is not nearly so huge as her Joe, though).
Meanwhile, I had to draw ya'll's attention to a fascinating discussion from the comments on my previous post. I mentioned that it's totally weird of the English language to call flax flax, then change its name to linen after it's spun, while in Russian they sensibly call it the same thing no matter what form it's in - "lyon." Specs, expert in Old English and Norse literature, stepped in on the etymology of "linen":
"I know it shows up in Old English and is probably from an old German(ic) word, but beyond that I'm stuck. Although it is curious -- to me, anyway, it's probably completely wrong-- that the word for "rope, cable, or line" is "line" (pronounced lin-ay). Could be that "linen" comes from that?
Anyway, I couldn't help looking up some other OE words about linen and found some really cool sounding ones:
linenhraegl: linen cloth
linland: "land in flax" (what the heck does that mean?)
(1) I'm TOTALLY using the word "linwyrt" instead of flax from now on: sensible, and entertaining! That's how language should be.
(2) Is "linland" a field full of
(3) Erika, aka historicstitcher, aka an expert on historical textiles, added this note:
old ropes, cables, and lines, at least those used on sailing vessels, were all made from tow, the shorter, rougher flax fibers not used for clothing. Could be that the words derived congruently, coming from the same source, but used differently?
So, it seems, the word linen may have come from some Germanic root and be associated with ropes, lines, hence thread, yarn and cloth. Perhaps it just meant rope/line, but because this was made from flax, the words became associated. Interestingly, the Russian word lyon sounds close enough to maybe derive from the same root, or possibly be a later borrowing from a German(ic) word (Russian has significant borrowings from German, Dutch, French as well as Central Asian languages). So the real question seems to be...where the heck does the word "flax" come from?
You know how English has different words for an animal (e.g., cow) and the food that comes from that animal (beef)? And how usually the coarser word is Germanic(ku, kuh - or is that Norwegian?), while the almost euphemistic word we use when we don't want to think about the animal we're eating is Franco-Latin ("boeuf")? I was always taught that this was because of the waves of influence from different languages, with German(ic) coming first, and therefore being retained in the simpler words. So what if the linen/flax thing is analagous? Except wouldn't it make more sense for flax to be the German word and linen a Franco/Latin thing?
I dunno, but if Specs were to do some more playing with the OED and wherever else she's looking these things up, that'd be cool. (hint, hint)
And I'll leave you with a pic of this beauteous beach towel made from linenhraegl that I bought in Moscow - it's perfect for lying on the beach because it wicks away moisture and stays cool in the sun!
PS - Beth - I need to see that book!!! Greet - thanks for mentioning it!!