The knitted swatches are the fun part! But first...

Below you can see the skeins in their relaxed, un-set state. You can see there is a little twist in the short draw skein and about twice as much in the from the fold skein:

silk singles - twist
left: short draw; right: from the fold

I think you can also see that the short draw skein is pretty darned fuzzy. Cheryl observed that the halo on the short draw skein diminishes the luster/shine. I think she's right. It's quite a bit fuzzier and a little more "matte" looking.

Super closeup:

silk singles - twist comparison

I wanted to compare twist angles here with the "control" skein, purty blue ArtYarns Regal Silk gifted to me by Maria (hi Maria!). Unfortunately, the super sunshine made that pretty tough. I did notice the Regal Silk didn't have much of a halo at all. How did they do that??

The next day I steam set the twist under just a little bit of tension. It worked nicely:

silk singles - steam set
left: short draw; right, from the fold

I think it helped a bit with the halo, but it's hard to tell:

silk singles - twist comparison
left: short draw; right, from the fold

(I did try to compare twist again but I started going blind.)

Knit swatches

Woohoo! The fun part! Look at this gorgeousness:

silk singles - swatches
left: short draw; right, from the fold

2 swatches, stockinette and lace, for each method. Unfortunately, I wasn't clever enough to do them in the same sequence, so we need a few photos to compare them sufficiently.

Color comparison

First off, you can see the color gradually shifts from bottom to top. Nice stuff. Of course, a sweater will never be this narrow, so the stripes would be a lot narrower. This particular dyed top is dyed in a loop, however, so instead of using one loop at a time, you could use 2 loops at the same time to make each stripe twice as wide. Or 3. Or n. Or mix them up. Oh, the possibilities.

Looking more closely (and strictly looking at color):

silk singles - color comparison
left: short draw; right, from the fold

The color shifts in the short draw swatch is subtle and gradual. You can see it below as well. The from the fold swatch, on the other hand, jumps between colors erratically to achieve a more mottled, complex look. Both are beautiful, just depends on the look you're going for. Honestly, the color blending in the bottom right swatch is one of the things I love about spinning. 

If you're using the short draw drafting method I demonstrated yesterday, you can control some of the color shifts by choosing how many tufts you pull, which colors you allow in your bunch, etc.

The short draw swatches look a little muted, as noted earlier with the yarn. (The color difference in the gold/peach below I have to attribute to dyeing differences.)

silk singles - color comparison
left: short draw; right, from the fold

Stitch comparison

Now let's look at the stitches themselves. I shoulda zoomed in more.

The from the fold swatches have better stitch definition for both the stockinette and lace pattern:

silk singles - stitch comparison
left: short draw; right, from the fold

It's a bit harder to see in the lace pattern, since:

  • they're not blocked
  • the colors of the from the fold swatch and the carpet work against the stitch pattern
  • the short draw swatch happens to use the portion where I spun thicker so this lace pattern really needed to be on the next size up needle

20/20 hindsight. My opinion, since you ask: when I stretch the two swatches out, and allowing for some of the above factors, the lace pattern shows up crisper on the from the fold swatch. Also, as before, the fuzziness obscures the short draw stitches a little bit.

silk singles - stitch comparison
left: short draw; right, from the fold

What you can't see

All four swatches are verrry soft. I just want to squish them all day. Naturally, the short draw swatches are softer than their counterpart because the yarn has less twist.

When it comes to handle, short draw is pure drape while from the fold has more structure. It still drapes nicely, but short draw verges on limp. Again, which one works for you depends on what you're going for.

Also, I just noticed that from the fold stockinette has a very slight tendency to bias to the left. You would either need to account for this in your design, or spin with less twist.

Knitting with the grain

If you're spinning then knitting singles, it's smoother sailings to knit starting from the beginning end, the first bit you spun. Why? Well, as you spin, you smooth the fibers down. If you knit from the beginning of the yarn, the yarn is going through your fingers "with the grain", smoothing down in the same direction as when it was spun. If you start with the other end, you'll rub the yarn "against the grain". You can test by rubbing your singles; one direction will cause the fibers to get all jumbled up. You want the smooth direction to be towards you, from the ball to you.


Spinning singles with handdyed silk is fun and the color possibilities are endless. The luster, softness, drape and incredible color all make it wonderful to spin and knit. Singles also preserve the color sequence better than plied yarns (with the exception of navajo-plying). I played with spinning short draw and from the fold, sequentially followed the dyed color, and compared only 2 stitch patterns. There are plenty of ways you can vary the spinning (and knitting!) to get different results. The longer staple length and faster drafting do take getting used to, but as with all spinning, practice will get you far. I hope I've encouraged you to try it out for yourself!