Luxury of Luxuries

As y’all know, I really like to sample different blends and breeds in my spinning. The variety keeps me fresh and inspired and challenged so I try to get my hands on a bit of everything and to switch things up a lot. Last fall, I’d been reading a lot about yak + silk blends and hearing good things from spinning friends, but I wasn’t quite ready to go there. Yak can be pricey and I was really conscious of that fact. Sometimes I can use the novelty of a fiber as an excuse to spend the extra cash to try it out, but with yak I was just holding back because it was a big investment for a fiber I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like spinning.

And then right before Christmas, I found this braid in the Classy Squid Fiber Co shop

Photo courtesy of Classy Squid Fiber Co.

At just 2oz, it was a pretty safe, inexpensive trial run. Or so I thought.

I started spinning this fiber pretty shortly after receiving it…

And it was really a wow. The green was such a vibrant hue, especially at the end of December that I was totally smitten.

The fiber base itself was also a huge wow.

The yak is naturally brown, so when paired with the silk it creates this incredible mix of effervescence and earthiness. It wanted to spin super light in my hands and I wasn’t going to argue. By the time I was halfway through my 2oz, I knew that 1) that it was not going to work plied with the fiber I’d purchased it to ply with and 2) that I was going to need more because 2oz was just not going to cut it.

I contacted Amanda, the talented lady behind Classy Squid Fiber Co, and asked if it would be possible to special order another 2oz. Since this braid had been listed as limited edition, I knew her response could go either way. She got back to me promptly and let me know that she could indeed do a special order, but that she’d be dyeing from memory as this was a one of a kind and would I be OK with that? My intention was to get another 2oz and then ply the two together so I knew they didn’t have to be exact. I went with it.

When the special order was ready to go, Amanda had gone ahead and dyed 2-2oz braids instead of one and I gladly snapped both up.

Sometime shortly after our move, I managed to finish up the 6oz of super fine singles. I found the plying a little challenging. I could not for the life of me get a feel for how much twist felt right in the plied yarn. I was a little under-twisted I think early on. And then there was a section where I was kind of over-twisted. By the end I think I had it, but it was certainly a roller coaster of not knowing — the fiber was new to me, the spinning chair was still brand new, and the position I was plying in was different, too. I did my best and stayed hopeful that it would all even out in the finishing.

Oh, and it really did.

This photo shows the greens a little better, but the camera just cannot capture exactly how energetic this green is. The skein itself is 6.1oz and about 20wraps per inch landing it squarely in the lace weight category. The best part though? 650yards! I’m slightly shy on official yardage, but based on the other project notes on Ravelry I think I should be just fine making what I think will be fabulous, an Everly Shawl.

So it goes that a harmless little 2oz braid of fiber, purchased out of sheer curiosity & because it happened to be just a taste of the fiber base turned into a 6oz, 650yard luxury of luxuries. And now it’s a pretty little skein destined to be a fantastic shawl. So goes the life of a spinner and the wheel keeps on spinning toward the next inspiration, challenge, and curiosity.

 

Trying New Things, Part 1

I tend to be a creature of habit, but one of my husband’s life goals it seems is to convince me that it’s good to try new things. While I’m sure he’s thinking of things more like ‘hike with grizzlies’ or ‘canoe in alligator infested waters’ or walk through the weird murky water at Pewitt’s Nest without having a panic attack, over the last couple of weeks I have tried a couple new experiments in spinning. I’ll admit it’s totally not what he has in mind, but it’s something new nonetheless.

In any case, I started this year very much wanting to spin up a batt a friend sent to me last fall. Sadly I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe it was a drum carded batt in 3 distinct colors — lime, turquoise and a rich purple. It was small, just between 1 & 1.5oz and thus I’d let it sit for a good long while in my stash while I tried to think of a way to combine it with some stash fiber for a more substantial skein of yarn. I’m not the best when it comes to figuring out how to combine things. At all. For the longest time nothing in my stash really rang any bells declaring, “It’s me! Spin me with that batt!” So on a whim one day I ordered in this…

yak-silk
Photo courtesy of Classy Squid Fiber Co.

This is a braid of yak + silk from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I thought the green might play nicely with the colors of the batt. Having spun up the batt at the new year, when this new braid arrived I got right to spinning as I really wanted to complete the project as it felt so long overdue.

img_5585Spinning this blend was just bananas. Luxury blend doesn’t even begin to cover how wonderful this fiber was in my hands. It was like spinning butter, but, you know, not gross. In any case, I spun through this 2oz braid in no time and quickly realized that unfortunately it was definitely not going to work for its intended purpose. It was just not the right color or fiber blend.

It was back to the stash for me.

For whatever reason, it was at that point I was reminded of a braid I’d opened up and used a bit on the blending board with my daughter and I was pretty sure I had a winner in it. I pulled it out and got spinning. Since I had the 1-1.5oz batt and about 3oz of the stash braid left, I figured the easiest way to make the spin work would be a 4-ply. I don’t do much in the way of 4-ply yarns, but I have my Akerworks Lazy Kate that makes it easy so I figured, why not?

 img_5636What can I say? I think it just works. The bobbin on the right is the batt and the other three of the stash braid. Not only a better match color-wise, these fibers were also a little closer in texture and in how they spun up.

And the resulting skein…

mystery-batt-detIt’s just fun! Such a fun, fun skein! I haven’t measured exactly yet, but I think it’s a sport-ish weight and is about 225yards. I’ve got no idea yet how I’ll use it, but whatever final form it takes, I know it’ll just be bright & fun. I’m also so pleased that I was able to create such a happy skein of yarn with a gift from a dear friend.

Oh, and I should mention…

img_5585This. I have a request in with the dyer for another 2oz, so I can hopefully make a lovely and luxurious yak + silk skein. So I think it may be true what they say — nothing ventured, nothing gained. In this case,  little “venturing” is going to results in two pretty excellent skeins of yarn. This fiber artist has no complaints about that!