Using up spinning scraps
Just in case you're in a spinning rut, or in case you are feeling overwhelmed with all the little scraps of fiber hanging out in your stash, I want to share a spinning technique I learned in a class with Judith MacKenzie. Like most of Judith's classes, it was brilliant in its simplicity. She gave us each a bag of little bits of fluff of all kinds: wool, camelid fiber, silk, down fibers, and various blends. She had dyed all of it herself and her wonderful color sense was much in evidence in how she had assembled the bags. She told us to pull each bit into smaller bits, and then spin them at random, working with each fiber in the way it seemed to want to be worked with. So I spun some of it long draw, some of it from the fold, some of it short forward draw. When we were finished with our singles, we plied them, and the results were just lovely. Here's mine:
I liked the yarn I made so much that when I got home I started on another one using the same technique. I assembled little bits of naturally-colored fine wools, cashmere, bison, silk, and angora that I've been hoarding. Each wanted to be spun a little bit differently, which for me is the joy of this kind of spinning. It is impossible to get bored, even when you have the attention span of a small furry animal, as I do. Here's the result:
This yarn became a wonderfully warm hat: I used the Barley pattern from Tin Can Knits. I love that pattern; it's fantastic for handspun, but really it makes just about any yarn look good.
I highly recommend giving this improvisational method of yarn-making a try. It will make you a more agile spinner, and you're make some great yarn in the process.