Devin Helmen had an interesting article in the Fall 2018 Spin Off magazine. He talked about the joy of spending days and weeks and months spinning the same consistent useful yarn. He jokingly referred to it as "chore spinning." I hadn't thought about spinning that way and it got me thinking.
Illustration by Ann Sabin Swanson from Devin Helman's article in Spin-Off, Fall 2018
Peggy is the one who can spin 4 or 5 ounces of fiber into 800 yards of fine consistent yarn. Usually I'm the one who spins one-off skeins of art yarn. It's usually thicker, like a worsted or bulky weight and has fewer yards, like maybe 75 to 150 yards. That is not enough for a large project. In fact, sometimes it's not enough for a small project but I love my art yarn. I love the multitude of color and the interesting texture. I love seeing the various fibers singly. You can pick out the bamboo from the Merino wool. You can see the sparkle of the Angelina or Firestar. You can see the individual locks of mohair or Wensleydale.
Having said that, I love a nice consistent hardy useful hand spun yarn, too. I'm just finishing up a shawl that is made of my hand spun yarns in a couple of shades of charcoal. It's all CVM x Wensleydale wool from a shepherd friend of ours out in Casper, WY. Her name is Dawn DeFreece and she is the one who crossbred the CVM sheep with the Wensleydale sheep to get this stunning wool. The cross results in a wool that either tends towards the shorter, softer and loftier CVM or the longer, smoother, lustrous Wensleydale. I have both kinds of fiber in this shawl.
But back to the chore-spinning. I spun all this wool over the last few years because I love the fiber and love the ease of spinning something I don't have to think about. It works great when you are a demonstrator and will be talking to everyone who wanders by. It's the kind of fiber I spin at the Civil War reenactment at Liendo Plantation in November or at the Katy Folk Life Festival in April. It fits perfectly into the category of chore-spinning that Devin Helmen talks about. And it produces a very nice if somewhat boring but very useful yarn.
My current chore-spinning project is very different. I love spinning art batts but had drifted away from it recently. I have been focusing on my weaving. I found Apothefaery at a show recently and fell in love with her batts. She does colors that appeal to me but mostly I love her batts because she includes some flax in the mix. I wanted to stretch this batt as far as it would go so I spun it around a core of brushed mohair. The mohair grabs onto the fibers of the batt and holds tight. It also is a very thin core so my finished yarn is thinner than I normally spin. I love it. I love it so much that I went to her website and bought 5 more art batts that contain flax.
I think I will be able to produce similar yarn in amounts that while not necessarily sweater quantities are plenty large enough for a nice scarf or shawl. That's the plan.