Friday, 6 February 2009

mmm, silk

I promise it's not just spinning going on right now, but my two active projects are, respectively, a large green blob and a large brown blob. Lace doesn't photograph well! The plan is to have both done by the end of the month.

So, spinning. Last night I was too tired to focus on counting a lace pattern, so I decided to spin. A sensible person might have gone with the BFL that she'd already spun with, but no, I decided to spin tussah silk. It's very special silk. I bought it last June at a reenactment event - my very first fiber! It's been marinating in the stash ever since, waiting for the day I was ready to try my hand. The filaments are so long, it's amazing. I played around with drafting for a little while, then oiled Roy, tied on my leader and got started. This silk just wants to be laceweight! It's crazy! I've never spun a single so fine before. I divided the silk in half before I started, so I spun up 25g of it last night and this morning. Those 25g took longer than spinning and plying 90g of merino, just because it takes so little fiber to make a sturdy single. Of course, I'm now having to take a break from it, because the silk is so slippery. In order to control the twist, my left hand has to pinch extremely hard. Too much pinching, as I've learned from sewing, leaves my forearm and shoulder very painful. So, I stretched, I took breaks, I had a soak in the tub and I'm resting before I tackle the second bobbin's-worth. Judging from the plyback I made, it's going to be worth the wait!

Things I've learned about tussah silk:
  • It sheds. REALLY sheds. I had no idea fiber could shed so much. I need to get a lint roller if I'm going to take up silk spinning full-time. Also, cups of tea near the pile of roving is a bad idea if one doesn't like choking on silk filaments.
  • It likes being laceweight. With wool and alpaca, I've been starting thick and learning to spin more finely; with silk it's the other way around.
  • Silk can have a halo, and I love the way it looks. I didn't strip the roving into lengths before I started, so I've got places where the ends are fuzzy. I can correct this for future silk spinning, but I'm ok with it for now.
  • A little goes a long way. 'Nuff said.
  • I need to take breaks so I don't injure myself.
  • Spinning is easier if my hands are warm. Not hot and sweaty, but just warm enough that there's some traction between my skin and the fiber. I've always been lucky to have very smooth skin on my hands, so I think lotion would be counterproductive!
  • It's also easier if I'm not wearing my wedding rings. They are enough bigger than my finger that I can't manipulate my hand comfortably. I've not noticed this with wool, but I'm definitely noticing it now!

I can't wait to see how many yards of yarn this produces! It's undyed now - any thoughts on a colour for later?

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