Fibre Sampling Sessions: Silk

By Grace Verhagen, spinning nut and wool nerd

This blog post is the last of a three part series depicting my escapades sampling every fibre type of that SweetGeorgia Yarns has available. If you missed the previous entries, please check out my introduction and notes on BLF here, and my experiences sampling merino blends here.

Part Three: A Twist of Luxury

Skeins: (from left to right) Bombyx Silk, Tussah Silk, Polwarth+Silk, Panda

Skeins: (from left to right) Bombyx Silk, Tussah Silk, Polwarth+Silk, Panda

Besides the merino and BFL tops I have already described, SweetGeorgia also carries four other silk and cellulose blends. 100% Bombyx Silk and 100% Tussah Silk are available in portions of 50 grams each, but a little silk goes a long, long way! Polworth+Silk is a wonderful treat if you have never experienced this exquisite wool base before, and hard-wearing Panda has been one of my favourite blends ever since I started spinning.

Fibre Base #8 – Bombyx Silk (100% cultivated bombyx silk)

Bombyx Silk in "Tapestry"

Bombyx Silk in “Tapestry”

Now we’re getting into some different territory. 100% silk can be tricky to work with, but the time and effort is well worth the results! I spun this fibre as fine as possible, using my smallest whorl and lacing the single across my flyer before it wound onto the bobbin.

Silk - Bobbin

As I was drafting, I found the silk wanted to stick to my clothing and spinning apron, so I placed my fibre supply on a large sheet of paper on my lap so it wouldn’t snag before I spun it. Silk has no crimp, but I found this fibre really wanted to grip together. It was quite compact before I spin it, but I found that a little pre-drafting helped alot.

Silk - drafting

This fibre took the longest for me to spin, but I think that is because I was able to spin it so fine that it gave me the most yardage per gram of all the fibre blends. The resulting yarn was also the shiniest of all my samples.

Fibre Base #9 – Tussah Silk (100% tussah silk)

Tussah Silk in "Tapestry"

Tussah Silk in “Tapestry”

My apartment is very warm this time of year, and it does not help that my spinning wheel is located in front of a reptile’s heat lamp. Sweaty hands meant that the tussah silk stuck to them immediately, and I could not draft the fibre smoothly into my wheel. However, I did come up with a work-around: I wore a very thin slippery plastic glove on my fibre-supply hand (this is a trick I picked up from trying to twist fibre on warm days at the studio). I could draft with ease after that!

Managing Tussah silk in a warm environment

Managing Tussah silk in a warm environment

This fibre was more wispy and delicate compared to the bombyx silk. It had to be handled carefully to avoid individual silk fibres drifting away. The staple length of this fibre seemed shorter to me, and the final yarn did not catch as intense a highlight, but it has a beautiful soft sheen and lightness the bombyx silk did not have. Both silks gave different results, but both were a pleasure to work with.

Fibre Base #10 – Polworth+Silk (85% polworth wool, 15% silk)

Polwarth+Silk in "Tapestry"

Polwarth+Silk in “Tapestry”

I have worked with this fibre blend numerous times before, and it has never failed to make me smile behind my spinning wheel. There is no need to pre-draft this top, it seems to melt from your hand onto the wheel. The colours are rich and deep, and though I cannot see the silk within the fibre, I can feel that it’s there. I spun this fibre a little thinner than the other DK weight yarns, as I know from past experience that it will plump up dramatically once it has been washed and dried.

Fibre Base #11 – Panda (60% superwash merino wool, 30% bamboo, 10% nylon)

SweetGeorgia Panda in "Tapestry"

SweetGeorgia Panda in “Tapestry”

I love the depth of shade and the softness of this fibre. It drafts extremely easily, and the resulting yarn has bounce and character. I find it very easy to spin thick, which is a task I normally find tricky to do. Another great fact about this fibre is how hardwearing and soft the final yarn is, thanks to the superwash wool and the small amount of nylon. This is a fibre base I could easily spin for socks with, or maybe even special baby clothes.

Silk is a pleasure to work with. It adds luxury and softness to any fibre you blend it with, and it can create dramatic results in the colour and texture of your yarn. Take a look at the final four swatches below; each of these yarns has its own unique character.

Swatches: Bombyx, Tussah, Polwarth+Silk, Panda

Swatches: Bombyx, Tussah, Polwarth+Silk, Panda

Well, that exercise was sure a treat for my fingers! Now I better get back to spinning for that sweater I want to have ready for the fall…

How have you found working with the SweetGeorgia Yarns collection of fibres? Have you noticed a dramatic difference in the texture and colour of your final yarns? Do you have a favorite style of spinning or special preparation you prefer? What type of yarns do to create with our different fibre types? Please share your experiences and stories with us! Thanks!

— Grace