In celebration of women's gymnastics finals, I did some really deep stash-diving and found this glitzy handspun yarn. (I love shiny gymnastics costumes.) My sister spun this yarn probably about 10 years ago. It's a cabled yarn. In this case, that means that she spun four different threads of singles, plied them into 2-ply yarns, then plied the 2-ply yarns together.
This method creates a tough, round, bouncy yarn that is easy to create with minimal tools. To make a regular 4-ply yarn, the spinner would usually need at least 5 bobbins. Even if Lisa did use a wheel to make this yarn (and it could have all been on a spindle), this is probably from before she had that many bobbins. This yarn could be made by a patient spinner with only 3 bobbins.
The only problem with cabled yarns is, if they aren't plied a little tightly, they tend to split. This one isn't super-splitty, but it isn't hanging together quite as tightly as the commercially-spun yarns I've been using. I think this is less of a problem for crocheters, but I don't know.
To sum up, switching to metal needles allowed me to speed up to about 35 stitches per minute, which is great. However, when I started using this lovely, fun, unique, handspun yarn, I had to slow down again to about 24 - 26 stitches per minute, to prevent splitting.
I'm totally enjoying it and I have two balls of this yarn. I think I will use up the first ball, switch back to some commercial yarn, and add in the second ball later.
The technique is becoming more comfortable for me. Also, my partner watched me do it for a few minutes and declared that it "looks really cool," which is fine with me!