Silk Splurge

Many, many moons ago, at Wonderwool 2016, I ended up with a lovely gradiented silk brick from Hilltop Cloud that has been in a partially spun state for far too long.

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The brick was only about 60 g of fibre total, which, as it wasn’t a huge amount, I had thought about spinning it as a fine single. However, I absolutely love plying (I remember one spinning teacher describing it as a ‘reward for all your hard work’ and I couldn’t agree more) and spinning a fine single felt a little risky so I opted for the good old trustworthy two-ply. There is an interesting fulling method detailed over at Fibery Goodness here if you find the ‘beat it to death’ method tends to give you sticky yarn lumps.

 

I think I’d been a bit stuck on spinning this fibre as I wanted to make something super fine and regular… but as I was only going to be reunited with my wheel for a short period of time I just had to get on with spinning it, come hell or high water, which turned out to be just the antidote I needed to get things finished.

Every time I come back to working with silk, be it spinning or embroidery, there’s always this relieved sigh that I’m back with my favourite fibre. I just love the stuff, love the finish, love the handle and I really love how it’s just like a black hole for twist. I enjoy treadling a bit too much so this is an excellent combination.

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The brick I was working from didn’t need too much work to get spinning. I split it in two as evenly as I could and weighed the two pieces, and predrafted sections to work on. I find it’s a lot easier to control what colours end up in the drafting section, if you’re trying to be strict about the colour ordering, if you just get the fibres organised beforehand.

I don’t think much can really ruin how nice mulberry silk is to work with and, while the brick was a little tight in a few places, this was easy to sort out with the predrafting. I did have a bit of a grumble about some areas that were completely undyed that I had no way of noticing until I’d started pulling a lot of it apart. I get that variations in hand dyed stuff are to be expected, and brick is a bit thicker than top, but the black section in particular had a lot of completely undyed fibre in the centre. I left it in for spinning, because variety is the fun of handspun, but I regretted this slightly at the end as the black part of the gradient looks almost prefaded in places. The white accents in the rest of the yarn though are quite nice.

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The colours are awesome and the whole thing ended up plying up perfectly too. The next challenge was trying to get it wound into a skein as I seem to have misplaced my niddy noddy somewhere… Spinners are intelligent people and you will remember just how helpful the majority of spinning tools are when you are stuck in a situation where you don’t have them…

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My improvisational niddy noddy was an incredibly bland office chair that does look much more exciting with about 250 m of silk wrapped around it. This made it very hard to count as I was unwinding and I did find myself getting a bit dizzy once or twice running around but the slight squishiness helped make it possible to get the skein off at the end. I was somewhat tempted to leave it as a new ‘design feature’.

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A bit of obsessive spinning was a lot of fun and the gradiented colour scheme was very nice to work with. The final yarn isn’t too crazy but there are some nice sections where the colours in each ply haven’t quite ‘lined up’ for a bit of variety and I just love the way plied handspun looks. Even when it’s really well-balanced it always has a bit more life than the ‘flatness’ of mill-spun. I think I’ll keep this one around for a while for petting purposes before I turn it into a scarf or something.

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8 thoughts on “Silk Splurge

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