Thursday, June 02, 2005

Changes to projects…

My darling daughter made an announcement over the holiday weekend. She will be getting married around this time next year, although a definite date hasn’t yet been set. After the usual congratulations and best wishes and cautions, we talked about the shawl she had requested me to spin and knit for her (“no deadline, Mom – I won’t be getting married for a few years, at least”) a few months ago.

I started spinning the Shetland fleece in late April and May, and have about a third of it done. But it will be awhile before I get back to it. With an East Tennessee summer wedding, preferably held outdoors, any form of wool, even in a gossamer weight, will be too oppressive. If you don’t know anything about the climate here, let me clue you in. June average temperatures are around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity levels that match. July is worse, with a 5-10 degree hike in temperature and an equal rise in humidity. 100-degree days with 100 percent humidity are not uncommon in July and August. It’s true that those episodes don’t last more than a few days as a rule, but there’s no predicting them a year in advance!

After lots of agonizing, I’ve decided to ditch the wool in favor of reeled silk. Why reeled silk instead of spinning up enough of my stash of silk roving to do the job? Because spun silk always develops a halo with wear. The fibers are so slick, and no matter how much twist you insert, ends will escape. I’ve spun a LOT of silk through the years, fine and thick and plyed, ‘just enough twist to hold together’ to ‘treadle two more times after the single is kinking’, and the finished yarns always fuzz eventually. Now for a lot of things, that isn’t a problem, and for some it’s even a plus. But a veil needs to be smooth and fluid, and this one needs to stay that way for at least several generations. That calls for the longest, strongest fibers available, which means reeled silk.

So now I’m in the shopping stage. I’ve checked out several online sources, and finally have decided in favor of the first place I thought of – Treenway Silks in Canada, or the last place I looked – Webs. I think that Treenway’s 2P might do the job, and I emailed them asking if they agree. They answered the next morning! I do enjoy dealing with folks who answer questions so quickly!

Their answer was that the reeled 2P is tightly spun, and may not give the drape I would like in a shawl or veil, even though it will work for the project. Their suggestion is to use the 20/2 spun silk at 5000 yds/pound. The consensus was that the fuzziness wouldn’t be a problem with something like a shawl or veil that won’t see a great deal of wear. I can’t help but wonder if the knitting itself won’t cause a certain amount of wear?

Obviously I need to try a bit of each yarn and see what is going to work best. I’ll order on Friday, sample next weekend, and post the results. I have a bit of the Webs 30/2 on hand, and will probably sample that as well - I think it's spun silk, too.

As an update on another project, I’m on the final row of the alpaca Feather and Fan shawl by Buegler. I’ve been working on this for awhile, but haven’t written much about it. I bought some lovely Alpaca Cloud from KnitPicks about three months back with this particular shawl in mind. I wasn’t in a spinning mood at the time, and this yarn called to me. I’ve been working on it between other projects (the rowing socks and the lace sweaters), and am finally almost finished. Just the crochet bind-off to complete. With any luck I can finish it up tonight, block it over tomorrow, and wear it this weekend. Hopefully it won’t be too hot to do so! I’ll post a picture when it’s all finished.

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