Spinner's Treat, www.skyloomweavers.com

Spinner's Treat

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This is a collection of spinning fibers any spinner would love!  It's a fiber tasting!  We include a generous ounce of each of eight fibers to play with.

Here is what is included in the Treat:

BFL Wool/ Silk Blend - This blend is 85% Blue-Faced Leicester, or BFL, and 15% Silk. BFL is a long wool breed of sheep from the British Isles.  The skin of the face is dark blue/black and shows through the facial hair making the face look blue.  The wool is very soft for a long wool breed and has some luster.  The fleece forms fine curly locks that are soft and silky.  (Staple length 3 to 6”).

Polwarth/Silk Blend - This blend is 85% Polwarth wool and 15% Silk.  The Polwarth sheep was developed in Australia in the late 1800's.  The wool is slightly coarser than the Merino but of longer staple length.  It is still next-to-the-skin soft and is often blended with silk.  Spun worsted it will give a strong durable yarn and when spun woolen makes a lofty knitting yarn.  (Staple length 4 to 5.5”).

Panda - This is a blend of fibers consisting of 60% super wash Merino wool, 30% rayon of bamboo and 10% nylon.  It is the perfect blend for spinning into sock yarn as the nylon adds strength, the rayon of bamboo is allegedly anti-bacterial and helps wick away moisture, and the Merino is soft.

Shetland Wool - This is a small, hardy breed from the Shetland Islands located between Scotland and Norway.  This breed produces the finest fleeces in the UK.  The animals are small with the rams commonly weighing only 140 pounds.  The wool is very open without a defined lock structure but has strong crimp.  Traditionally the softest part of the fleece is hand spun into very fine yarn for Shetland lace.  (Staple length 2 to 5 inches.)

Silk - Silk is created by a silk worm when it builds its cocoon.  Each cocoon is made up of one single strand of silk and is over 5000 feet long.  If the silk is to be reeled, the cocoons are boiled to release the sericin or glue that holds the cocoon together.  The ends of several silk filaments are then reeled together onto a frame.  This process kills the worm inside the cocoon.  If the worm is allowed to mature inside the cocoon and emerge (Peace Silk), it creates a hole in the cocoon thereby breaking the single filament into fragments.  This makes reeling more difficult but still allows for all other ways of processing the silk.  Silk is the strongest of the natural fibers, is absorbent, and has a natural shine that makes it popular for use in clothing.  (Staple length 5000 feet.)

Rayon of Bamboo -- Most of the bamboo fiber available to spinners is more accurately called Rayon of Bamboo.  The bamboo is harvested; the leaves and tender centers of the stalk are steamed, extracted and pulverized.  The resulting compounds are forced through a spinneret creating very long semi-synthetic fibers.  In this form the bamboo is easily blended with other synthetic and natural fibers. 

Raw Cotton - This particular cotton was grown here at Sky Loom Weavers.  We used llama poo from my llamas as fertilizer.  No pesticides were used on the plants.  The cotton bolls were hand picked so there is a limited amount of leaf debris in the fiber.  This is raw so it still contains the seeds.

Water Retted Line Flax - This flax was grown in Belgium and was water retted rather than dew retted.  The color is a slightly darker brown as a result.  The natural fiber length is nearly 36".  This can be wet or dry spun.  Wet spinning will produce a smoother yarn.

For the beginning spinner, I would suggest starting with the Shetland wool.  The fibers grip each other nicely and are the easiest to spin.  At the other end of the spectrum are the slippery fibers - Panda, Silk and Rayon of Bamboo. If you are unfamiliar with spinning very slippery fibers, you might want to start with spinning from the fold. Of the cellulose or plant fibers, cotton has the shortest fiber length while flax has the longest.  Each requires a different approach to spinning.  Check out YouTube for some great spinning videos if you need help getting started.