I’m currently working on an experiment trying to find a yarn that spins up as closely as possible to match the yarn used in my yurt band. For this project I have chosen to use my Spanish Peacock Turkish spindles, specifically the small Turk I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. I’m just in love with the easy portability and spin of this spindle. I’ve taken this spindle on trips for the last two months spinning just a bit here and a bit there to test how well it travels. As long as I don’t have to run fast it’s all good:>.
I decided to try Karakul for this sample. Karakul is a breed of Central Asian sheep so it seemed a good place to start. The type of weaving done by the nomads requires a hard spun warp that will be under a lot of tension whether I use it on a ground loom, backstrap loom, hybrid, or horizontal loom. Generally the yarn that one buys in the store is soft and has been created for use in knitting or crochet. For this project I choose to use a worsted draw with wool. What I should have done was handcombed the roving myself to get a 100% true worsted but I am also satisfied with this worsted hybrid from roving that had some of the shorter fibers in it. This treatment closely resembles the results from using one’s hands to “comb” the wool and then spinning such as used by some Ladakhi spindlers. I used a fast spin and a short downward draft. After drafting I pinched the yarn and ran my fingers up it to compress the fibers further and added enough twist that the yarn was overspun and would kink back on itself when the tension was removed. This creates a hard spun yarn that should be more resistant to the abrasions of weaving on a loom using string heddles.
Once I had spun two balls of singles with a worsted draw it was time to start plying. I decided to use a nomadic technique of taking the ends of the balls and wrapping them together in a ball (but without adding twist). I then choose a heavier Spanish Peacock top whorl spindle and began plying from my ball. I found that this method was fast, easy, and made a lot of sense in terms of portability. The reason I choose to use the top whorl for plying was that in researching various nomadic spinning practices I’ve been coming across the use of one type of spindle for spinning singles and then using a top whorl for plying in various Central Asian areas. I don’t have enough info to know if this is a wide spread practice or not but I’d sure love to go ride my bike in a tour across Central Asia in an effort to find out:>:>:>.
After plying the wool in a two ply with extra twist I skeined it and setting the twist in water right now. I’m not entirely sure that that was the correct thing to do but I’ll soon know. I choose to spin a thin thread and am very happy with the result so far. The next step will be to scour, comb, and spin a bag of white Karakul to create a contrasting color. Interestingly the weft used in my yurt band appears to be single ply so I’m going to use a ball of singles that I have already spun from this Karakul for the weft.