Re-Spin: Lily Sugar ‘n Cream

Alternative Title: Context for my 2018 TdF Challenge Projects

For the challenge days this Tour de Fleece I’m going to be trying to spin the fiber from different scraps of yarn to see if I can turn them into something new/more useful. I’ll share more about those projects after the Tour is done, but I thought it would be good to start at the very beginning with my first “re-spin” projects, which involve cotton yarn of course.

While not the titular yarn of this post, my first re-spin experiment occurred last summer with some ends of Patons Grace yarn left over from a baby sweater I had knit. Around the same time as I was finishing up the baby sweater I was also processing cotton so I had my cotton cards out. Seeing the ends and the cards combined with my curiosity and desire to reduce the amount of waste I produce, I had an idea. What would happen if I took and carded the ends into a puni? Would I be able to spin them into usable yarn again and give the scraps new life?

What followed was a series of trial and error before settling on the process that I’ll talk about in a moment, and eventually a small skein of very real, very usable yarn. Of course, the success of the initial experiment lead me to start questioning all my yarn waste.

Pink handspun yarn on tan background
Patons Grace Re-Spin Skein

Enter Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. It’s a fairly inexpensive cotton yarn easily found in your run of the mill craft store. It’s also a yarn that I’ve woven many, many things out of, which means I have a lot of loom waste of this yarn. A lot. And me being me, I of course saved it in a bag for who knows what reason.

Bag of multi-colored yarn waste on tan background

This ended up being a good thing for my re-spin experiments because it meant I had a lot of yarn to play with.

To get it ready for spinning, first I separated the singles from each other, ending up with four singles per yarn tail.

Piles of red and cream yarn waste

Then I started to load the fiber on my hand cards. To do this required some untwisting of the single, which was time consuming, but hey, curiosity is a powerful motivator.

Cream single being loaded on to hand cardRed and cream singles loaded on to hand card.

After I had loaded about 2 yarn tails’ worth of fiber on the cards, then I began carding. It took about double the passes that raw cotton takes to get the fiber into some sort of coherent mat for rolling.

Batt of carded singles on hand card

Then I used my trusty bamboo skewer to roll the fiber into punis.

Red and cream cotton puni on bamboo stick in front of hand card.

Next came spinning. I’m much more comfortable spinning punis supported, so that’s what it did. The fiber didn’t draft as smoothly as normal cotton punis do, and I had to allow a lot more twist into the fiber (because the cotton fibers themselves were on the fairly short side). There were also a decent amount of slubs, but I was okay with this.

Support spindle with red and cream spun single.

After spinning up about 6 punis I N-plyed them together to get about 5 yards of 3-ply yarn!

Piles of cream and red yarn, singles, punis, and finished re-spun skein on tan background
Yarn ends, separated singles, punis, and finished re-spun yarn (All steps contain equal amounts of fiber)

The yarn itself is soft and completely usable. That said, the process of loading the carders with fiber took so long I’m not sure it’s entirely feasible to do this with all my ends. It does make me wonder how a drum carder would handle the job. I briefly considered processing and spinning a gradient, but to get the amount of yarn for the project I wanted to use it for I would have to make something like 1200 punis, and I ain’t got time for that.

Yarns that can be “re-spun”

1. Patons Grace

2. Lily Sugar ‘n Cream

Anyways, that’s the previous experiments that laid the groundwork for my challenge spins this TdF.

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