Friday, September 25, 2009
I have to say that more than anything else, the color drew me to this sample. Vibrant yellows reach out to grab your attention, and the hank had a gorgeous sheen. But while first glance might suggest it, this isn't silk top. Instead, Hampton Artistic Yarns has contributed a sample of 100% milk fiber dyed to invoke the spun gold of Rumplestiltskin.
I'm not enamored with milk fiber for a number of reasons. Milk fiber is actually processed milk protein, so it dyes just like wool or silk would. It is chemically created and extruded as a fiber and then processed into top, or reeled off for weaving. Many manufacturers tout how "Green" milk fiber is, and it may be. Without sitting down with someone inside the industry I have no way of knowing for sure and part of me has doubts. It is also touted for many other beneficial properties like making your skin softer, and being somewhat anti-bacterial.
Milk acts a lot like silk. It's even more slippery than the tussah top that I have spun. But it is not as strong as silk and will snap a lot sooner from over-twisting, and being quite so slick it is difficult to join again. I didn't have much trouble with snapping while spinning, but I did break my single several times while winding it off to ply. This was a lot more annoying since it's much harder to splice yarn once everything is all off the spindle and tangled up on itself. The fiber I had came with a tiny and regular crimp and I'm curious to see if that will make it more lofty than silk would be.
All said, milk fiber is really interesting. I can see why people would like it and it could make a really stunning addition to a blended batt. I wouldn't pick it over silk to spin solo again, but that doesn't mean it isn't a lovely and useful fiber.
If anyone knows anything more about the creation of milk fiber and its environmental impacts, I'd love to read more!