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the transformation of fiber

Posted by Mr. Quimby on Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I was knitting a scarf the other day with the intention of giving it to my younger sister for Christmas.  The yarn I was using it something that I really don't care for that much.  It's pretty enough, but it just doesn't excite me.

I was thinking about it, because the yarn is something that I spun myself.  I purchased the roving online and was very excited by it when it arrived.  It's primarily a light red with blue and yellow and a little bit of green streaked through it.  But as I spun it, I became less enthusiastic the more I spun.  Most of the time when I spin I'm am more excited by the finished product that I was with the original fiber.  This particular time it didn't work that way.

But what really struck me was how the fiber changes and how what you start with can be so very different than what you end with.  In this case I started with a ball of roving.  Spinning it compressed the fibers so that the "fluffy" ball I started with became a small skien of yarn.  Now as I knit the yarn I am using larger needles and so there is a lot of space between the strands of yarn, so my small skien of yarn has become a light, fluffy scarf.

And the quality of the colors changes, too.  This particular roving I liked as roving, but spinning it changed it so that the individual colors merged and became somewhat muddy.  I suspect that had I plied it with a contrasting color, such as white, that the final product would have been less muddy.  But I have never liked the look of two different colors plied together.  It has always reminded me of a candy cane.  But as I am learning to knit, I have come to understand that the "candy cane" striping turns into tweed when it is knit, so it has a whole different look altogether.

I wonder if, in the hands of someone else, my roving would have turned into something else entirely that I would have admired rather than the disappointed feeling I currently have for it.

I have decided not to give the scarf to my sister.  I was spinning some yarn to knit a different scarf for my father and I think actually my sister will prefer this color.  It's a brown with a hint of green.  I don't know yet how it will look when it had been knitted.  For my father I have found some of my "candy cane" yarn--blues and greens plied with a solid white.  I think he will appreciate the "tweedy" look and the blue will compliment his eyes.

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