So, yesterday my eBay-won natural dyed silk arrived. It’s 3 ounces of natural dyed and undyed Tussah silk. One ounce of undyed Tussah, one ounce of cochineal dyed, and one ounce of madder dyed.
It’s really gorgeous, especially when spun. The undyed is softer and more slippery than the dyed stuff. The dyed stuff practically “crackles” when I shake it out, but after teasing it for a minute or two, it softens up considerably. It’s stickier than the softer silk top I was spinning on Days 1 and 2, and the dyed fiber is stickier than the undyed.
What I’ve been doing is spinning a little here and there, some solid, then mixing in some other color, or blending all 3 colors together. The result is a very “autumn” color scheme, with reddish-purples.
So, I spun more soy silk today. A lesson in extreme frustration. Every time I stopped, the single would completely fall apart. I thought maybe the tension was off, or perhaps it was just difficult to find the “sweet spot” in it, but it happened no matter what I tried to do.
Finally, I stopped, took out the worm silk, and tried that. I figured, since my challenge was to spin real silk, I should try just spinning it to see how it comes out.
I spun nice and tight, and it held together really well. I’m guessing that the soy silk was just more difficult than I’m used to.
Also, thanks to Cheryl for pointing out wormspit.com. Excellent site, and I hadn’t seen it before, even when I was learning how to tablet weave!
I started the Tour de Fleece late last night while watching The Simpsons and Men in Black. I spun some of mt old familiar wool, then took the whole flyer off and replaced it with my fast flyer (ratios 12,15,17:1). I also have a very fast flyer and head (26, 30, 36, 44:1), but chose to go with the fast one, which I’ve only used once.
I’m using the fast flyer right now because I’m aiming for a very lightweight, fine silk thread. Of course, to get there, I’m finding myself practicing at the very comfortable thickness I use for wool, which ends up being about 11 wpi plied, which is extremely thick for silk.
I am currently practicing with the less expensive soy silk. Getting the silk fiber onto the new bobbin, especially since the bobbin didn’t already have a piece of yarn attached to it, was a pain last night. See, for those new to spinning, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem when you start spinning a new project. An empty bobbin or drop spindle lacks anything to attach the fiber to. If the fiber isn’t attached to something, it will spin without turning into yarn. So, you have to attach it to something. A piece of old yarn will do for this. I tried using some of the wool I’d been spinning, but it wouldn’t hold the silk (too slippery?) The cotton thread I tried next didn’t hold until the third try. Very odd.
Anyway, I’ll post pictures when there’s anything worth posting. Right now, if you can imagine about as much silk thread as it would take to tie a shoe, then you have some idea of how my spinning is going.
Today is Day 1 of the Tour de Fleece, which I’m participating in from July 1 through 23. My challenge for this was pretty simple: spin silk for the first time. However, I’ve decided to be very deliberate about it. For instance, I recently read a slim volume published in the 1930’s about raising silkworms in California and the possibilities of a budding American silk industry. I decided I should learn more about silk in general while learning how and practicing spinning it.