It looks like I will have to break down and actually find out how to do this long-draw thing. I tried it again last night with the grippy gray wool, and it would go along real nice for a while, but then I'd end up with this knotty pile of mess in my hands that wouldn't draft itself into anything but a big fat rope. When I was reading about this technique on the internet, everyone was saying that it's an act of faith to just let it go and assume that your spidery-thin wafts of fiber won't just drift apart. I did have that problem once or twice last night, but mostly I had the big fat rope problem. Also, you're supposed to hold the fiber in one hand and just use the other occasionally to block the twist from travelling. I definitely needed both hands to try to spread the fiber out (in attempt to prevent the rope effect). I do have two books at home about spinning, but neither one seems to cover this. (One is The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn, which is a fine book but very short. It's a handy quick reference for a broad overview, but at only 48 pages, it simply doesn't go into detail about anything. The other book is The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, which a lot of people love but which seems to dance all around the things I want to know without ever actually giving me what I seek. What do you do when your 2-ply yarn breaks while you're plying? No answer. Pages upon pages of right and wrong ways to ply, yarn-storage packages to ply from and not to ply from, the history of plying, and misconceptions about plying, not to mention a warning that your yarn may break while you're plying, but nothing about what to do about it. Similarly, does the book ever actually say how to draft? Probably, but its organization and presentation style seem to be incompatible with the structure of my brain, because I haven't seen anything on this. And let's not even discuss the chapter on firing up your forge and making your own spinning tools. Whatever!) I believe my next book purchase should be Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn by Maggie Casey. It sounds like it covers what I want to know, with lots of pictures. Every single reviewer on Amazon gave it five stars, and the author has quite a following on Ravelry--there's a special group just for people who learned to spin from her!
Anyway, I ended up with some madly uneven yarn until I gave up and intervened with the inchworm whenever things got too out of hand.
I was so absorbed, I spun up two big bobbins of singles but ran out of time before dinner to ply them. Also, I've once again made enough singles that it's unlikely to actually fit on a bobbin together as a 2-ply. Argh! I always do this to myself! Which is why I'd really like to know the proper way to join two pieces of 2-ply handspun. I guess that's what the internet is for. I have figured out why people recommend not trying long-draw with combed fiber, though: the fibers are too lined up. The twist just wants to travel down the fibers along one side of the top, leaving the rest of the width of it behind. At least, that's my theory on part of the problem I'm having.
Also, am I crazy? I just stumbled across some single-ply sock yarn called Durasport. Huh? Single-ply, the least durable, weakest yarn format...for socks? But everyone on the internet seems to love it. I agree that the colors are pretty, but what am I missing? (Socks are still on the horizon for me, but I'm getting closer: at least now I know how to decrease and bind off!)