Next up on the Tour de Fleece Fear Factor Fibre challenge is working with pure silk roving. As it happens I already had 2 pure silk rovings in my stash. Since they're both sort of in the same colour range, I decided to spin them separately and ply them together.
'Ice Queen' Space Romantic
100% Mulberry Silk
I bought this Space Romantic mulberry silk this year shortly after buying my wheel, when I was sampling from various indie-dyer types. It's very pretty, soft, silky (of course) and was pretty straightforward to spin.
I spun directly from the top, no pre-drafting. Once I figured out the optimal drafting zone size (large), things went quite smoothly.
'Mermaid Darling' Ozark Handspun (my name for the colourway)
This silk has been living in my stash for a few years and for some reason was super difficult to draft properly. Early in my career as a spinner, I did work with another bump of Ozark silk roving and remember finding it pretty tricky. But as I was a new spinner, I figured it was me and not the fibre. I'm not sure if the issue was that it's been sitting in a bundle for 2 years, or that it's just tricky to work with. Whatever the reason, there was a LOT of swearing while spinning this up.
Randomly, there was a large piece of blue/aqua silk and this smaller piece of green/brown. Totally strange. I alternated a green piece with an aqua piece when spinning. For some reason, the aqua was more cooperative than the green/brown.
I tried a few things to try and get the silk to draft nicely.
I tried teasing open the roving before spinning, which didn't always help things. While spinning, if I got a largish lump, I stopped, teased it open and was able to draft out the extra fibre.
What I found helped the green/brown be somewhat cooperative was lightly pre-drafting the piece before taking it to the wheel. Really, just breaking things open a bit here and there so that it would actually draft. Still it was not nearly as nice to spin and the Space Romantic.
Look! Pretty singles:
Plying was pretty straight forward. The skein has a largish section with the Ice Queen plied back on itself near the end—I used an Andean plying bracelet for this which was kind of a bitch in places.
The finished yarn is very nice. The green has mostly disappeared making the blue more turquoise in places. The areas of brown seemed to have softened to a tannish. Overall the skein is very pretty.
'Ice Mermaid Darling Queen'='Ice Queen' Space Romantic + 'Mermaid Darling' Ozark Handspun
approx. 385.3 yards
I'm now partway through spinning the milk fibre and its a dream to work with. Drafts like nobody's business which is REALLY nice after all the swearing-inducing Ozark silk.