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Category Archives: Spin

Silk Caps

I have been learning a lot about spinning fiber! There’s a whole lot of different fibers out there, and you can get them in various levels of pre-preparation. Most you can get approximately raw, like you can buy unwashed wool, or cotton bolls, etc. You can get anything from that to a “top”, which is fiber that’s been combed or carded and processed so all the fibers go in the same direction and pulled into a kind of tube, so it’s very easy to work with. Mostly fiber is undyed but you can get lots of dyed fiber.

So I needed a small amount of stuff to make up the discount level in my spinning order, (from the Woolery) and they sell “silk caps”. These are single cocoons that have been cleaned (degummed) and, in this case, dyed interesting colors. They haven’t been otherwise pulled apart, though, to make a top or anything. I didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that they’re well-named! They’re about the size and shape of a shower cap, thinner in the middle, thicker on the edges where the cocoon was cut. They’re many thin layers of silk, one on top of another.

Aside from the source probably not being fancy awesome worms (which apparently make golden silk, I guess, that was reserved for royalty in India and I am not good at spinning silk so I haven’t ordered any of *that* yet), these particular cocoons were probably cut, so that the caps involve lots of individual strands of fiber. I guess if you buy a good cocoon complete with dead bug, or if it’s been extracted from the end of the cocoon, then it will be all a single strand. The silk industry is interesting.

I am not up for dealing with dead bugs, myself. Ew.

Also, since I am at the “experiment with everything!!!” phase of this hobby, I ordered the cotton sampler, which came with a neat tiny supported spindle. It includes an actual cotton boll, like it comes off the plant. It also has some fluff that has some bits of plant matter in it. I see why the cotton gin made such a difference, because wow.

Later samplers will include silk samplers, and so I expect to get cocoons that are possibly intact. I’m hoping they will be de-bugged. Some look dyed, and I really had no idea you could dye silk in a cocoon (it looks like easter eggs) so I’m pretty interested about that. If it’s bugged I’ll have to have my best friend help me out.

In the meantime, I have given up the bamboo rayon for the shawl and turned to a mix of merino and silk. It spins up like a dream and I like the feel of it!

More On Yarn

So, I finished the yarn I was spinning! Yay! It’s a little funny, because I spun two bags of orange and one bag of white, and spun two threads of orange with one thread of white… and I have a whole lot of white left over. Just goes to show, consistency is not a feature of n00b work!

I also think I overtwisted both yarns. Especially the three-ply. I put it on my umbrella skeinwinder… and it collapsed it. So I wound it around a wooden chair and left it for a while. When I get some time I’ll pull it from the chair and wash and dry it. Then I’ll get pictures! This process left the skeinwinder available for my white yarn, so that’s good.

Next, of course, is the yarn for the scarf. After examining my colors, I decided to use the intense teal color for experimentation. It didn’t really go with the other colors as well. It’s going… interestingly. I mean, bamboo is a whole lot different to spin! I keep getting tufts left over on the couch or on my shirt, and it’s pretty hard to get the thickness where I want it. I think I have it now, though.

I did two test yarns and knitted them up. The first was way too thin, even for my #5 needles. The second is a good thickness, I think. But… well, the swatches are stockinette. My swatch didn’t stay rectangular, it turned into a parallelogram. The edges are at about a 45 degree angle to the top and bottom.

Sooooo….. that’s a very interesting effect. Not really what I was going for! I didn’t wash the bamboo yarn before swatching with it, though. I’m hoping that will make a difference. I am currently spinning up a bunch of it so I can do a pattern repeat and find out how much yarn it takes, so I can spin up the right amount. But if it keeps coming out angled, I don’t even know. It’s so strange. Maybe I over twist it, but I’m not sure I can successfully make bamboo yarn without twisting it this much?

I’m worried that the answer is “You’re trying to spin the bamboo too thick. It doesn’t like that. You have to spin thinner thread and then just ply it up.” I don’t want to make six or nine ply yarn, do people even do that, WTF?

Hopefully the washing will fix the problem and I will stop making Stockinette Askew. If it keeps going, I’ll have to find some other yarn to spin up for this scarf, and that will be annoying!

Fiber Plan!

I read the blog of an avid knitter and pattern maker. I found her friends and, while I haven’t done any of her patterns yet, I like getting a little bit of knitting goodness in my mailbox a couple of times a week.

And then this happened. Pattern: Eye of the storm

I have never had a three-pronged scarf before! The work is gorgeous; the pattern trick with the two cables is totally cool. I love it. Except I can’t wear wool against my neck for very long. Also, that particular yarn she uses is a bit on the pricy side. That’s not normally a big problem for me, and it’s only one ball, but still….

So I decided I would spin the yarn. I went to DBNY to get my roving on. They have some spectacular bamboo rayon right now in wonderful colors.

That is my plan. I will:

  • Figure out how to spin bamboo rayon
  • Figure out what diameter the yarn should be and how to approximate it
  • Figure out how to introduce color changes into my spun yarn
  • Produce the right amount of yarn
  • Figure out how to wrangle two circular needles at the same time
  • Figure out how to make the lace (eek!)
  • Produce the scarf in all its lumpy and imperfect goodness!

I’m intimidated and excited. Also, I am looking forward to having a project in mind when people ask me what I’m making the yarn for. So far it’s been “Because spinning is awesome” which, sadly, confuses people.