I just received a pound of beautiful mulberry silk top. Its lovely, however, I've never spun silk. The top looks to be prepared the same as a wool top. I'm sure that I want to spin a fine yarn with it. I just don't know if I should split the top width wise to narrow the sections of top or if thats a bad idea, or how much pre-drafting is recommended? I have read that silk needs a lot of twist, but I have found very little information on spinning silk on a wheel. Any advice would be greatly appreciated before I start. I have a Kromski Mazurka and every whorl that fits it, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12:1. I will likely make it a two ply yarn for knitting.
Hi, Splitting the top is a good idea. From there, a little pre-drafting is good, then, just play around to see how much splitting and pre-drafting you will want to do. Silk likes to be spun fine, and requires a lot of twist, so a faster speed would be good. I love silk - its drape, sheen, and color affinity! Try it with natural dyes - wow!
Thanks for the advice. I have read once that it's similiar to working with wool top, only more slippery. That was only one source, though. From your response, it sounds like I would be better off splitting the top more and predrafting less, so I will likely do that. Its so pretty to look at and has such a nice feel, it kinda makes me apprehensive to disturb it. I just want to knit it up like it is, but I know it will be luxurious spun into fine two or three ply yarns, so long as I do it right.
Where did you find a lb of silk?
Where did you find a lb of silk?
It's top, I've found it lots of places, and for wide ranges of prices. However, the place I found this particular pound of top no longer carries it.
All right thanks. I just can't find silk in bulk or for a good price.
It's probably too little too late, but I would like to make you aware of the downsides to spinning silk alone. Not unlike some of the other fibers, silk is a very heavy fiber when spun and it has no memory like a sheep wool would have. As a result you will get huge amount of "stretch" out of anything you knit it as. Example: A 36" scarf will be a 48" scarf by the end of the day unless you choose very specific pattern stitches to help control some of the stretch. You could try spinning a single strand and plying it with another fiber that has more memory, or you could blend it with something else. Just my opinion. Hope it helps. Chloe
Really? That's good to know. I was always under the impression that it had no elasticity and would not stretch, so it would have no "springy-ness", but wouldn't sag out of shape. I'll have to do some research on that. I haven't spun it yet, I still haven't found the right project for it. So I'm assuming that a project that's tight, has no stretch requirements and not at all airy would be ideal for the 100% silk.
No elasticity/no memory are essentially the same. The lack of that "fiber character" is very similar to spinning llama, alpaca and some of the other organic fibers like Flax, Hemp, Ramie, Bamboo. Think of all the above fibers like you would for naturally straight human hair that can't hold a curl no matter what you do to it. Same principal. Even if you knit it with tiny needles and very tight stitches, it is going to "lay flat and stretch" pretty much no matter what you do to it. I do spin 100% silk on occassion and but it is generally for a specific project - like wristlets or something that is very small, not "forced" into a project that will defy it's abilities to hold a stitch or shape.
That would explain why you find so many wool fibers have silk added in small proportions 10-20%. The silk adds the softness and glimmer/shine to the (wool) fiber, but does not detract from the fibers ability to hold it's shape.
My husband and I raise Llamas and we have animals with some of the finest fiber available, but it is stick straight, no elasticity and that has to be taken into consider when using it in projects. I weave trianglar shawls with it, but I add a strand of wool to give the llama yarn the "body" that it needs to hold the shape.
This has been my experience with silk. I'm sure that others could have different results, but this has been my experience and I spin lace-weight yarn about 75% of the time.
Happy Spinning. Chloe - Roads End Llamas, Olympia, WA
I guess what I don't understand is, how does it stretch if there's no elasticity and the pattern is tight and not lacy or loose?
Very good questions. I guess I never thought about it that way, just have seen it.
Ok, imagine... an ___O___ as a single stich on your needle. Then the next row has another __OO__ below it (obviously they are connected, which I can't do here. As you add O after O after O on each row - one attached to the other above. When the knitting is not under pressure (it's sitting in your lap) it look fine. But let's say you made a scarf that hangs down on either side of your neck. Those O's will start to look like 0's as they hang downward. See how the 0 has gotten narrower, thinner and (in this instance since I am limited to text) looks longer.... That what happend to the individual stitches as the pull downward.
Over time they continue to stretch to a point where they won't return to their normal shape because each of the individual fibers have been tugged downward over time.
It's the same principal as when/why you often add a k1p1, or k2p2 band at he bottom side of a sweater that has been knit in the round (stockinette stitch). It shapes the sweater.
I hope this helps. Chloe