I am new to Spinning, and have so far spun with only one type of fiber at a time. I often see blends of different types of fiber 80/20, or 50/50. Blends like wool and alpaca, or silk and the such. I am wondering if I were to blend fibers myself would I be looking to blend in increments of weight or volume? These would seem to vary a great deal by the type of fiber. I am just not sure what standards of measurement are typically used for this.
You can do it either way. Certain fibers will go further than other fibers. A small amount of silk will go a long way. You can play around with hand carders until you get the look of the blend for the yarn you want. Just remember to keep track of the ratio. I keep a pad of paper, pencil, and drop spindle for sampling nearby. When I'm happy, then I go into large scale. Think of the usage - where do you think it might be useful or where might it be used?
Sometimes I know what feel I want. Right now, I'm blending alpaca and Rambouillet. I grab an ounce of alpaca and wool each to blend up on the drum carder.
Try to get the fibers to be roughly the same length. You may need to (gasp) cut fibers to be close to the same. Blending cotton and wool for example; you'll either find a pair of shears or a soft, shorter staple wool breed. Both are possible.
We have total control of our yarn when we spin. It's a bit daunting. However, when you are ready (by your questions, I believe you are) you'll know it.
Thanks so much, this does help.
Wow... I searched "blending" and this post came up. Thanks, Denise, this was exactly what I was looking for. I, too, am ready to experiment with blending two different fibers together (in my case, romney and alpaca... hoping to make the romney a little softer). The idea of using my spindle to "sample" a yarn before I commit 2 lbs of fiber to the project is a stroke of genius! I never considered the staple length issue. I have SO much to learn....
Excellent! That is what cites like this are for - asking and answering.
Good! Then I have one more question before I go ahead with this. My alpaca is all different lengths... ranging from a little over 1" to almost 3". Unfortunately, I've already picked it, so there's no seperating it now. I was hoping that handcarding would kind of blend everything and it wouldn't matter, but now you've got me worried! Will the different staple lengths (especially combined with the longer romney) adversely affect the yarn, or just make drafting more difficult? I'll be making fine singles, spun from rolags, for a 3 ply yarn.
With rolags, it shouldn't be a problem. That's what they are made for is different fiber lengths. You should be using a long-draw or modified long-draw method.
Be sure to get enough twist in so the yarn is yarn and not a too fluffy. Pull out a section and let it 3-ply upon itself to test. If it needs more twist, then you can put it in. Keep a mental count of how much twist (treadles) you put in for your "perfect" yarn after it is at its ideal diameter so you don't have to keep testing. Have your fingers get a feel for the yarn and lock that into your tactile brain.
When you go to ply, wait a day or so for the twist will settle on the singles. This way they won't drift apart while plying. A few reminders: keep no tension on the bobbins, put them back a-ways for the twist to even out, and try to keep the gentle back hand movement to prevent spiraling.
Oh, thank you! That was my feeling about the rolags, but I'm not at all confident about what I'm doing.
As for the rest, what valuable advice. I hope you don't mind if I print it out and put it in my notebook... especially the part about the tension. I have a new tensioned kate and was so looking forward to that (vs the ball-in-the-coffee-can method), I probably would have overdone the tension, just for the thrill of it. I think I'm ready to give it a try. Thanks, Denise!
I'm learning so much from this website!
Regarding staple lengths for blending: Any suggestions on the best way to spin up/prep blends with very short fibers (i.e. camel or yak down)? So far my I haven't found the right ratio in my experimental blends, so looking for new insights into the matter.
This will be helpful, I think! I'm going to try blending Rommey Wool, alpaca,a nd maybe a little angora with those. I especially like the suggestions of keeping a 'notebook' with the ratios and drop spending samples first. I'll let you know how it goes since I'm totally a newbie, but I love to experiment!
Oh help!! Do I need to cut the 7" mulberry silk fibers to blend with my 3" Tunis fibers? I read in spinoff where the lady blended her Portland fleece (nearly identical to Tunis) with Tussah silk to make granny squares. Mine is not working at all. I card the wool first and it looks dandy (of course it is not in top form like other types of wool) then I add the silk to the carders and card ever so gently. The more I card to get it blended the more noils I get that I did not have before then it's a huge mess. I'm at a loss and very discouraged. Will cutting the fibers eliminate this or does this need a carding machine of some sort?
Good and practical question. The answer is yes. To blend well, you need fibers of equivalent lengths. Careful not to over-process, because you may get the neps and noils. You will find that the length issue will solve many of your problems.
Can you use carders to blend non animal fibres? If for instance I wanted to blend soy, ramen, linen or corn fibres can I or will the carders ruin the fibres. Sorry about my ignorance. :)
Thank you Denise................. you helped me figure out what to do with my alpaca. It's so soft and kind of pulling apart on me, I think with blending and making rolags I'll have a much better result. Thank you!!