Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Using the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter to Ply a Gradient Yarn More Efficiently

I’m currently in the middle of spinning the singles for a 6-ply gradient yarn to make a sweater.  I realise that a 6ply yarn may seem a little bit extreme but there is a logical reason behind it…

...I’m spinning the fibre of this hackle gradient on my Nano 2.0 and each tiny bobbin is made up of the 50g of fibre that I can fit on my homemade hackle.  As I want the gradient to be as long as possible, and I want to knit the body helically from just two balls of yarn, spinning 2 x 6ply yarns means that I will have enough yarn to carry the gradient all the way down the front and back of the sweater without having to manage knitting helically from more than 2 balls of yarn.

6 Nano bobbins of gradient yarn

I also enjoy spinning fine and I worked out that I would have to ply singles from 6 bobbins to achieve the worsted weight (UK Aran weight) yarn that the sweater pattern I want to knit calls for.

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In this video, you can see how I use the Electric Eel Wheel yarn counter to efficiently test ply for a 6-ply worsted weight yarn.

In the past I’ve also used the yarn counter to divide a bobbin full of singles into 4 equal lengths to spin a double knit weight yarn without any wastage.  This time, however, I’ll use the yarn counter to minimise the amount of unusable gradient singles I have left over after plying.

For portability, I spun all of the singles on my Electric Eel Wheel Nano 2.0 and then plied them together on my Electric Eel Wheel 6.

As it’s virtually impossible to ensure that 6 bobbins of hackle gradient singles all run out at exactly the same time, the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter will help me to efficiently use as much of my final singles as possible.

Here are my gradient singles on my lazy Kate.  Hiding in the very middle of these bobbins is the beautiful light turquoise that I want to make up the neckline of my sweater, so it would be a shame to have to stop plying the minute my first bobbin runs out.

I plied my 6-ply yarn as usual, moving onto the second Electric Eel Wheel 6 bobbin when the fuller bobbin reached 200g, and coming to a natural end when the first of the 6 Nano bobbins ran out.

If I were to stop there, I would be wasting a few hundred metres of singles, and a lot of the beautiful turquoise colour that I want to begin my sweater neckline with…

… so I used the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter and my original Kickstarter Electric Eel Wheel Nano (that I’ve turned into a bobbin winder by removing the flyer arms) to measure the remaining singles and divide them up so that I can finish my 6-ply yarn as efficiently as possible.  

(If you don't own a bobbin winder, I find winding the singles onto ping pong balls while pulling it through the yarn counter to measure the singles works well.  Alternatively, you could make a makeshift bobbin winder using an electric drill, a drill bit, a bobbin, and some masking tape.)

I took that fuller bobbin on the end and ran it through the EEW Yarn Counter to measure it. The yarn counter gave me a yarn length reading of 78.8metres so I wound half of this length onto another bobbin using my makeshift Nano bobbin winder and carried on with my 6-ply yarn.

After a little while another bobbin ran out so I took the heaviest of the remaining bobbins, measured the total length of singles on the bobbin using the yarn counter, and then divided that by two.

This gave me two bobbins with 37 metres on.  I began my 6ply again until more of my Nano bobbins ran out.

This time the first two bobbins that I split the fuller bobbin onto ran out…

So I measured the length of singles on the heaviest remaining bobbin using the EEW yarn counter and then divided this length by 3.

I then used my homemade bobbin winder to add this length to two more empty bobbins and carried on with my plying.

Of course, I could have carried on measuring the heaviest bobbin and sharing that length amongst the empty bobbins ad infinitum but I reasoned that the effort of having to join shorter and shorter lengths of yarn together would eventually outweigh the advantage I would gain from not discarding the singles.

So this is where I stopped.  After measuring the length of yarn on the 3 Nano bobbins I learned that I managed to gain an extra 50 metres of yarn, just by using the EEW yarn counter to divide up the heaviest bobbin to allow me to continue plying.  The thing I'm most pleased about though is that I managed to salvage a significant amount of yarn at the lighter end of my gradient.

I'm really looking forward to winding these all into one big centre-pull ball and hopefully seeing that gradient appear properly for the first time.

I'll be blogging about how I hackle blended and spun this gradient yarn very soon.

If you've found this post interesting or useful, please pin this image to Pinterest.  It makes a big difference to me and helps other spinners find it too.

Similar blog posts

Using the EEW Yarn Counter to Sample Yarn
Gauges and Ply the Yarn I Want

Testing the Target Length Setting on the
EEW Yarn Counter to spin a 5 ply Yarn

At this point, I normally suggest other related blog posts, however, my list of spinning content is becoming a little unmanageable...  If you'd like to read more blog posts about spinning and fibre preparation, please take a look at this page here where you will find links to all of my spinning and fibre articles.  

Thank you for reading, and happy spinning!


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