Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Way Outside My Comfort Zone

I like wool yarn, smooth, soft and bouncy, woollen, worsted, a little unevenly spun, it doesn't matter, as long as it's wool.  I like to spin wool, I like to knit with wool and I like to weave with wool.  I'll use wool/nylon blends for socks and I don't mind using commercial cotton for tea towels and such..  While I like soft, cushy wools, I also like medium and some coarser wools.  I'm not horribly biased when it comes to sheep fibres.   I'm pretty sure it's a very tactile thing.  

Silk noils for instance, just feel wrong.  They are dry, feel coarse and harsh to my hands.  I made a dress once, from silk noil that I could only wear with a full underslip.  Luckily it was an Italian Ren, style so I needed to wear a full camecia, which masked the feel of the noil.  I made a generic Saxonish style tunic from it as well, which was never worn due to the icky feel factor. 

So, I decided to work way outside my comfort zone and do some practice blending, making enough yarn to actually do a project with.   I didn't even decide to weave with it because I felt that would be cheating a little bit, so I planned a pair of mittens..   I had to push through the project.  The carding was probably the best part of the deal because though it took a long time, it was fairly mindless. I used a blend of Llama, Coromo and Silk Noils.   I watched an awful lot of Star Trek TNG videos ( thank you Santa) while carding.  The spinning was okay except that the fibre kept hanging up on the noils and drafting was a bit of a pain.   The knitting of the mitts though was horrendous.  My hands felt not only cramped and sore the whole time, but it was as if the noils sanded down my hands and dried them out so much so that I needed to use hand cream every few rows.  However, after way more hours of knitting that I expected - mittens are a fast project right?  These ones took me nearly 30 hours to knit.. egad..
They are nubbly, spotty and don't feel like soft, springy wool.  They are almost done.. except for the thumbs.  The thumbs can wait until I can deal with having to knit with the noils again.  Why is there such a huge difference between silk noils and say reeled silk, silk rovings or hankies which can be a joy to work with?


Michael said...

I like silk noil fabric, as long as it's high quality; the lower grades often have bits of bug in them, and I find them itchy. It makes sense, though - noil spinning is basically a last-ditch effort to save silk waste from being discarded; it has all the parts that nobody wants. I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy wool nearly as much if all you could ever get was bad second cuts, lots of dung tags, yolk, and scurf! Of course, I'm very biased in favor of reeled silk.... :)

Woolly Bits said...

I agree, the silk noil has loads of scrappy shelly bits in, probably this is what makes it feel itchy? I didn't blend my first batch, dyed it and made rolags and even though the spinning was a bit on the rougher side, I like the terry like yarn that came out of it. the next batch was blended into some wool and gave a nice tweed effect - maybe it depends on the amounts used?
I hope your mittens become softer after washing, it's no fun to go through all that work to end up with unwearables:((

Leigh said...

Good for you! Some times working outside our comfort zone can have wonderfully unexpected benefits. The mittens do look lovely.

Sharon said...

I think there's a reason silk noil is a waste product. They've just found a way to market it as a fiber enhancement to boost their bottom line. I don't like it either. But the mittens look great.