The one-ball sweater | Combospin and embracing chaos

I've been working on a really interesting project for the past several months - a Combospin. I'm a little late to the boat on this method, but I was so excited when I found out about it, and saw the amazing results of other people on Ravelry.

handspun yarn combospin knitted swatch of orange, yellow, red and other colours of wool and other fibres
Combospinning is a way to combine individual braids of hand-dyed fibre into a cohesive yarn for a larger project. If you have a habit of stashing 100g here and there that you never know what to do with, this is an ideal way to turn them into a sweater-quantity of yarn.

The process is very simple: Take all your fibre (in braids, in batts, or any other put-up) and break them up into smaller pieces. Mix them up in a big bag or box, and just spin one piece after another.
So I shopped my stash, and I filled in the gaps with some extra purchases, and found 750g of fibre along the yellow-orange spectrum. It wasn't an exact process, and in fact, having a few braids that don't quite 'fit' added more interest to the project.
Combo spin hand dyed fibre braids in oranges and reds
This is spinning by embracing chaos. You do not plan out a sequence of stripes, you do not (need to) match up colours or fibres or even drafting styles - you can combine combed top and carded batts, and no one will arrest you. The spinning police aren't coming for you.

The resulting yarn is perfectly "conspicuously handspun". The plies blend together in some parts, toning each other down, while at other spots a stripe of bright colour will pop out when the plies align. It's a similar effect to fractal spinning, on a large scale and more random. Embrace the barber-pole.

This is a sort of polar opposite project to my just-finished handspun sweater. In that project, I was focused on consistency: all the same fibre, all the same spinning technique, all the same thickness. I was, more or less, trying to imitate a factory-produced millspun yarn. In this combospin, I am letting go of consistency and order, and creating something that you couldn't ever buy in a shop.

I spun them up, and the spinning process was addictive - just one more length of fibre, just one more bobbin...


Each one of my three plies nicely filled up my set of 5 bobbins - very satisfying. When I mixed up the bobbins and wound them off, I decided to wind each ply into one continuous ball. Why? Just to keep things organised, really.
Winding a plying ball of singles for handspun yarn combospin project
And when I finished each ply, I thought I might as well wind them all into one big plying ball...

Why? There isn't a good reason. I just felt like being extra. I wanted to see what it would look like. It was glorious!
Giant yarn ball of 700g of handspun singles
Yes, that's nearly 750g of yarn in one ball as big as my head.

Of course, I had to break the yarn into separate skeins when it came to plying. And just like the spinning, the plying process went by very quickly because it was so gratifying to see the colours combine in such interesting ways.
And then I had this yarn: yellow and orange, but also flecked with lengths of red, and brown, and green and even purple. Crunchy downs wool and silky rayon and buttery-soft merino. A fabulous buffet of colours and textures. View my stash details on Rav.

This is my third handspun sweater project. I've enjoyed them all, but I've definitely had the most fun with this one.

I've already cast on. Now, I just have to keep on knitting!


1 comment:

  1. I've started spinning a combo spin for a handspun sweater myself. It's a combo of greens and rusts with some yellows and blues and whites (and occasionally purple and burgundy) thrown in for good measure. We'll see how it progresses. I've not been working on it much lately. I had a baby about 6 months ago and she has drastically cut into my spinning/knitting time! I think I'll keep her though. She's kinda cute!!