Spinning With: Merino-Silk, Flax, and Corn Silk

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Hello everyone today is the second installment of fibres used for spinning yarn. As I mentioned in the first installment the store where I was buying my fibres is closing and were having a sale, so I took advantage of it and bought many different experimental fibres just to see how each behaved, felt (texture wise not felting wise), and what quality of yarn they produced. This post I am taking a closer look at some cellulose fibres, which were missing from the first post, as well as one blended fibre. I experimented spinning with flax/linen, corn silk (one of the more experimental ones that I decided to try), and a merino-silk blend.

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First on the list is the flax fibre. This is very easy to spin because the individual fibres have a long length, roughly 4-6 inches on average (at least for the flax fibre I was using). If you want to spin a normal diameter of linen it is very easy to do, however I tried to make mine as fine as possible, I was inspired by the Egyptians you could say because they would spin very very fine linen. The thinness made the spinning take a little longer, but I wouldn’t say it made it harder. The linen was also very good at holding a twist even without seeing the twist. Because of this I questioned if i did have to set it and in my short research stint I read that you can chose to either set it the way you normally would or you can choose not to and just wind the yarn off of the spindle and into a ball. Because I was unsure what to do I opted for the setting since I was seeing two other skeins at the same time anyways.

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Ultimately I am unsure if the setting of the linen benefitted it or not. The effects may be neutral but I don’t know for sure. But onto the softness of the linen! Firstly it is a sturdy fibre and meant to do hard jobs so it isn’t meant to be light, delicate, soft and luxurious. So don’t expect it to be. This fibre is strong and sort of scratchy, though certain points are softer than others. The finer the yarn you spin the softer the yarn seems to be my experience. It also seems like the more you handle the yarn the softer it will get (when I say soft it will never get truly soft but it will loose its brittleness) and give a bit more.

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For the price of the linen I got was half a pound for around $20. Not a bad price I think.   Linen is quite sturdy even when it is finely spun. I’m not sure if I would personally knit anything out of it. My mind turns more towards weaving. But maybe that is because I have a dream vision of making a length of linen from plant to length of fabric and maybe even to garment. Ah the idea sounds lovely to me…

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Next up is the merino-silk wool blend! I would say that this wool was quite luxurious and meant for making something leaning towards the more delicate side. I would say this is a fibre that moderately experienced spinners can use this but new spinners would have some difficulty. The blend was very slippery because of the silk despite the fibres being somewhere between 3-4+ inches long. Also despite the yarn having a twist in it there were times where it appeared to have no twist in it, but there obviously was some twist because it held and formed yarn… But the yarn formed resembled thin roving. To fix this problem if it bothers you and makes you worry about your yarn breaking I would recommend just adding an extra twist if you are using a drop spindle like myself (I can’t say if this same problem exists when spinning the fibre with a spinning wheel).

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As far as softness goes it make a very soft yarn, which I will say is on par with the alpaca yarn that I spun. Though it is different, it isn’t quite as wooly as the alpaca. There aren’t a lot of tiny hairs sticking up off of the final yarn whereas the alpaca wool has a lot of it. The merino-silk isn’t as slippery of a yarn as the alpaca; the merino gives a bit more of a grip to the fibre. I like this fibre and I am glad that I bought a couple of bags of it!

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This was pricier because of the silk. It came roughly to around $40 for half a pound of fibre. I really like this yarn despite the price and what do you truly expect when silk is in the mix? Nothing cheap that is for sure. And I love the quality of the final yarn and you can make a lot of yarn out of the half pound. Despite the volume of yarn produced I still would take the time and patience to make something beautiful out of the yarn. I may even have a knitting pattern in mind…

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And lastly we come to the experimental corn silk wool. I am taking a guess by saying that the “wool” is made from processed corn silk threads. It created sticky cellulose wool, which tended to form its own small clumps within the wool. Sections of it would stick to each other in bits that would be the same diameter as what you would pull it to to form the yarn. It is an odd fibre that is scented of corn syrup (not that surprising considering its source) and measures about 3 inches long. The spinning of the yarn isn’t as difficult as the pulling apart of the fibre, which can be difficult at times.

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I take it that this isn’t a popular yarn and I can see why. I can’t think of a single thing I would want to make out of this yarn. The yarn itself is not luxurious, it seems more like a “just get the job done” type of fibre. It has a grip and stick to it. Maybe I’ll have to make something practical like dishcloths out of it because I certainly don’t want to wear it. It seems like a yarn that would hold the temperature and moisture in a very undesirable way. I can’t say that for certain though but I do think there must be a reason that it had a higher percentage off than the rest of the wools I bought.

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But disregarding the sale the price was about the same as the linen. A bit cheaper and definitely one of the cheaper wools that I have bought but I think it is a decent price for what you get. I think this is also because it is a cellulose fibre. However I don’t think I would purchase this again simply because I don’t know what I am going to do with the yarn that I have spun from it. I think it is another sturdy can do the tough job yarns, not a luxury yarn.

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That takes us to the end of my spinning wool experiments for now, until next time!

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Adieu

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