There really is not a St. Distaff. I know, I was sad too. If you wish to know more about this day on Jan 7th know as St. Distaff’s day, here is the link. If you want to know the patron saint of spinners, it is St. Catherine of Alexandria…. I will let you read her gory end. Not sure I am happy with that one. The other patron to wool workers is St. Blaise (like the combs). Which apparently he was tortured with before he was beheaded! Meh!!!!
So on St. Distaff’s day, which now having researched actual saints I am glad is not really a saint because I am sure the spindle would have been used in some really horrid way…. ok sorry, back to the point.
On St. Distaff’s day, I finished my final technical skein! I made boucle (there is supposed to be a neat accent over that e, but I don’t know how to get it there, so you get to imagine it ok…) I have to tell you that this is another of those specialty yarns that EVERYONE LOVES…. I mean they wax poetic about them. In Judith Mackenzie’s book “The Intentional Spinner.” She says they are her favorite yarn to make and her bread and butter. She gives a “recipe” for making them. As does Sarah Anderson. Basically you spin one single for your core (you could use commercial yarn for this, but MSP student so I had to spin it) this core single is spun “S” or counter clockwise. Then you spin another single “Z”. It is noted again by EVERYONE that Mohair is FANTASTIC as the fiber choice for this single. Then, you ply these two singles together in the “S” direction. While holding the core yarn taut, you allow the loopy yarn to wrap around it. It is supposed to be magic. The Mohair just JUMPS into nice little loops.
Hopefully my sarcasm comes through. First, I had to go to a 3rd book to FINALLY get the one piece of the puzzle that eluded me. Which is the amount of twist to place in the core and loopy yarns. Because you see, as you are plying those first two yarns together in the direction of the core yarn, that core yarn gets MORE twist added! So if you start with a higher twist yarn, it becomes really un manageable. REALY. So I found this key info in Amy King’s book “Spin Control”.
So First I spun a lower twist single (not super low, I just moved up one speed whorl on my matchless. I got an 8 TPI on the single) this was out of a BFL top spun worsted. This was spun counter clockwise or “S”. This is the core.
Then I spun my “Loopy” single in the clockwsie “Z” direction out of kid mohair locks. I dropped down one ratio and got a TPI of 11 on the singles.
I then plied these two yarns together in the counter clockwise “S” direction very slowly. I held my core yarn taut and straight and my loopy yarn at a 90 degree angle to the core. I allowed the loopy yarn to wrap the core and pushed it up every so often.
This pushing up of the wraps is really what forms the loops. I did not find that the “loopy” single magically made loops like I was lead to believe. It took some conscious effort. Note, you need a LOT more yarn to make this than you think. I kept telling myself when I was spinning for the singles to keep going, then I would have extra…. Ha I ended up with exactly the 10 yards I needed and not an inch more.
Back to the Boucle. There is one more step. You need to bind this together or your loops will not stay locked in place. You need a third ply this one is also spun counter clockwise “S”, but at a higher twist than the core. I used mohair top and aimed for the 11 tpi of the loopy yarn. This binder was then plied with the above yarn in the clockwise “Z” direction.
When I took it off the wheel, I had Boucle! I can tell you I was just as shocked as you! I did it… It’s kind of cool I have to say. I don’t think this is the yarn I would want to make all the time, but as specialty, art yarns go, I could use this. It has a practicality to it. Apparently people get gushy over it. It is also useful for longwools and not just mohair. Since I am not a fan of either mohair or longwools in general, I could see that this would give me a reason to use their long glossy locks. I also have to say the kid mohair I used for this was so nice I can understand why people love it too. For my final skein, I am super happy. So happy St. Distaff’s day to all.