When you walk into a yarn store do you have the urge to reach out and touch everything? I do. Oh the textures! Some are soft and springy and others are tougher and stronger feeling. Others end up being so delicate. I always wondered how one gets those textures.
Mostly I’ve discovered it is in the fiber used. Wool is one of the most common fibers that is hand spun. These days it is not the most common fiber in your local yarn store (LYS) but you can still find it. Wool itself has such wonderful different textures. Some is springy, some is sooooo soft, and other wools are rough and wiry.
*Now I must put in a disclaimer here. I won’t go into all the technicalities of fibers. There are lots of other folks that have done that for us. I prefer to play with the fibers and run them through my hands. I can’t tell you the micron measurements of a wool, bamboo, or any other fiber. That being said I will try to link to people who can tell you the technical stuff for those of you who want/need that.
As I spin I’m discovering the joys of all kinds of fiber. Bamboo is so soft and long. It makes for an interesting spinning experience. Talk about a long fiber. Most wools are around 4-8 inches long and bamboo (at least the one I’ve worked with) was probably closer to 18 inches. Now silk is even longer. Silk is one continuous thread that the silk worm winds into his cocoon. It is a wonderful fiber but silk sticks to my fingers something fierce. Any little rough spot grabs the silk strands. Oh that gets frustrating. It is an amazingly strong fiber though.
I think the most fun part of the spinning the different fibers is seeing and feeling how they react in my hands. The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook describes the different fibers very well. They go into the descriptions of all the technicalities as well. They aren’t a spinning book specifically so it is a good source for anyone who enjoys yarn and works with it in some form or another.
I’m working with cotton at the moment. It is such a short fiber that my hands have to be close together and it takes more concentration than wool does. Spinning cotton, and trying to make an even yarn, makes spinning wool a breeze afterwards. I do enjoy watching the result of the spinning though. It seems that the fiber tells me how it would like to be spun. The cotton seems to want to have slubs (bumps) in it. This makes it a great yarn for dish clothes or wash clothes. They are nice and scrubby while still being soft.
In working with the cotton I’m also trying my hand with dyes a bit. I don’t want to use chemicals so I’m testing plants around my property to see what we come up with. Also, I’m not doing a hot process right now. I’m doing cold soaks so I don’t have to have stuff boiling around my kiddos. I may eventually get to that but until I decide to jump further in or if I should just spin I’m working cold. I want my products to be kid safe, both in the making of and the wearing or using. For this reason I’m only using vinegar, water, food coloring, or plants for my dying experiments.
I leave you with a couple of pictures. The first is my dye experiment. The second is silk. Before it has been spun and then the spun yarn on top. I love this color. I cannot take credit for it though. I wish.