Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WCMercantile - Phat Fiber Sample

Wensleydale. All I can say is "WOW". I pulled out this Phat Fiber sample and was both curious and pleased with the really interesting fuchsia coloring, and was even happier as I rolled it out. The batt blends from bright pink to purple as if it were space-dyed. It's not a color I'd use a lot, but it is bright and happy and just rather fun. It is a little wiry to the touch and that gives the hint right off that this is a more sturdy fiber. It probably wouldn't be the most comfortable thing in the world to wear right next to the skin.

The next thing I did was pull a little sample out of the end of the batt. I've begun to do this to save a small pinch of fiber tied to the information card so I have an idea of what it was like before it was spun. In this case, the wool shocked me. I've never spun Wensleydale before and I was not prepared for the length of the staple. "My goodness!" I thought, "This stuff must be at least nine inches long!" I am accustomed to Merino wool which has a staple around 3 inches. And even now I must report I was mistaken in my initial estimate. I took my sample bit to a ruler and it is TWELVE inches long! Considering that is four times as long as my usual spinning it becomes extremely difficult to do a long-draw on this fiber. I would have to hold my hands over two feet apart!

So I spun the Wensleydale short-draw (ha--a short draw still twice as long as my usual long-draw, which should tell you it's all relative to the fiber you're spinning) with worsted techniques and got a gorgeous, mostly smooth single. There are still some uneven ends poking out in odd places that makes me wonder if it might halo a bit when worked. More than that it was fun to spin. When I pulled out a few filaments with my drafting, they just kept coming and coming and coming, rather than drafting apart.

Doubled back on itself I made about 20 yards of fingering weight yarn. It was harder to gauge exactly how much fiber to draw out to get a thinner single, but I'd like to try. I'd also like to work with a combed preparation, rather than carded, to see if would come out even smoother with worsted techniques. Lucky me, someone else packed in Wensleydale as a sample, too, so I'll get to try again.

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