Next Spinning and Weaving Project

Over the last year or so, I’ve collected fiber and fleeces from a breed of sheep known as Churro (or Navajo Churro). I’ve got four different natural colors (black, white, gray and brown).

My intention all along has been to weave something with all four colors, since I understand that the number 4 is important to the Navajo people. It is my way of paying homage to them.

I’ve toyed with the idea of weaving a blanket, but I’ve made several blankets recently, and don’t really feel a burning desire for another one. Instead, I do want to weave a rug. Well, this seems like the perfect time to make a rug project with the Churro  fiber.

So today, I spent a couple of hours looking at a Boundweave Rug pattern (by Tom Knisely, available from Interweave Press). It is perfect for what I’m trying to make. I want this to be a rug that my Great Wheel will sit on.image

To end with a rug, however, I first had to de-construct the finished project into the yarn needed to weave it. From there, I deconstructed the commercial yarn into the yarn I would need to make from the fiber. This, of course, involved determining if I have enough fiber to make the number of yards needed for the project. I have a bit over 5 pounds of fiber (combining all 4 colors).

Whew! Well, I’ve never done this before, and it involved a little math that started to get away from me. You see, for those of you who are not well-versed in yarn spinning calculations: spinning a single strand of yarn is not what I need. I need either a 2-strand (2-ply) or a 3-strand (3-ply) yarn. You’d think that 2 strands would be made from a single strand 1/2 the size of the finished yarn you need and 3 strands would be 1/3 the size.

Not so. It turns out that a 2-ply is about 2/3 rather than 2 times. And a 3-ply is more than 2 but less than 3 times the size. Ouch! There’s also some funky things that happen when you wash handspun yarn. It puffs up so that the finished size is further changed from the original.

What’s a girl to do? Well, after doing some research, I think I’ve figured out that I CAN spin a 2-ply yarn about 1/2 the size or  a 3-ply about 1/3 the size of what I want it to be when washed, but then I have to wash a samples and see what happens. (I know, I said earlier that it wasn’t 1/2 or 1/3, but through the miracle of washing, things seem to end up being what you’d think, sometimes, but not always). I have to spin a little bit as samples. I have to be very careful how much sampling I do, because if my rough calculations are correct, I don’t have a lot of room to spare in the amount of fiber I have and can’t get more that would be an exact match.

Despite having over 5 pounds of fiber, I might not have that much to spare. Who knew? Well, I’m learning. I’ll post updates to the project as I go. It’s going to take quite a bit of time because I do think I have to spin about 2,000 yards of finished yarn (that’s 4,000 yards if I make a 2-ply and 6,000 yards if I make a 3-ply). This project is a good next step for me in my spinning/weaving journey. Stay tuned…

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