Thursday, June 11, 2009

Big, bigger ... big enough

Tussah Silk
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Lately there has been some talk on the Ravelry Spindler's group about how heavy your spindle needs to be, how weight on the spindle changes its profile, and just how much fiber can you pack on a spindle. The acknowledged master of this, Abby Franquemont, posted a thread and picture of an amazingly packed spindle with a massive amount of fiber on it.

I'm not quite that talented (yet).

But this is still a fair amount of fiber. This cop uses Abby's technique of cross-winding the single for stability, as well as circular-winding to compact it. Packed on this 23 gram spindle are 50 grams of spun silk. I could get more on there, but it's about half of my total, and so it's time to stop.

Tussah silk is the slightly lesser cousin to bombyx silk which comes from the fabled silkworm fed only mulberry leaves. While the wild moth that gives us tussah silk is less picky about its food and enjoys munching on oak leaves, it is still no slacker in its spinning and the combed top is lustrous and beautiful.

A Bunch of Lilacs
This particular batch was dyed by the Etsy seller HandOverTheWool. The colors are lovely white, pink and violet and titled "A Bunch of Lilacs". I'm rather amused by the differences in light between my picture and the seller's photo shown here. I was certainly expecting rose much more than pink, and nothing as deep as the purple I received. I love it anyway.

Silk is slippery and it wants a lot of twist. I want laceweight and I want it to be tightly plied. Since lace is traditionally 2-ply, and I like 3-ply, I'm putting not just a lot of twist in this single, but a WHOLE LOT of twist. I'm getting somewhere around 47 WPI in the single, which will hopefully get me around 20 WPI in the 2-ply (maybe 25). That's firmly in lace-weight. This is consistent with what I learned from my test cards.

Amusingly enough I picked up this silk mainly for practice. I have another four ounces of tussah silk in another color, and a coordinating merino roving for a future planned project. I wanted to see what would happen if I spun my "default" single with silk, even with a heavier spindle. My planned project is going to be a lot bigger, and it's going to be for an elaborate shawl, so I want it to be as consistent as possible.

I'm really looking forward to the finished 2-ply yarn but it took quite a while to spin this much. It's going to be quite a while longer to finish the second half.

I'm really looking forward to it.

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