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Saturday, June 24, 2006

kitty: spinners quest to copy yarn type

Alright, lets face it, who hasn't gone into there local yarn and fondled tilli tomas yarns. I know when ever I go into a store and they have a few skeins I gravitate to there display and lust after the yarn. It is beautiful, plain and simple.

I was so jealous I couldn't stand it when I saw that Grumperina was starting a project with tilli tomas yarns for the Egyptian dress she is doing for Annie Modesitt. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out it truly is beautiful knit up.

Here are a few of my favoirtes:
Mariel's Crystals - 100% silk with Swarovski crystals $117 to $140 a skein for 120 yards
Disco Lights with the sequence every 6-8 inches $35.10 for 225yds
Pure & Simple - Beautiful 100% Spun Silk $25.20 for 260yds
Rock Star - 100% Silk with Round glass beads $35.00 for 150yds
Salt & Pepper - 100% Silk with Seed beads $40.00 for 240yds
And probably the most beautiful of all:
Exotica - Himilaya silk twisted around noil silk with Madeira metallic studded with European beads - no idea the price

So what is a spinner to do, but to try to figure out how to spin the yarn yourself. So I started on a secrete project and I think I have come pretty close to duplicating the yarn in soy silk.

I did it in secrete mainly because I was sure I was going to fail. How could I come up with anything close. (yes yes no self confidence at all) I mean this is the yarn I was dreaming of and wishing I was a tiny soul so I could knit a project with it. Economically though the amount of yarn for me to knit just isn't a rational use of my yarn dollars.

Tilli Tomas
Salt& Pepper - natural yarn with black beads

225 yards a skein so 8 skeins at & 40.00 = $320

My Yarn - Lady Bug - Dark Pink/Black beads

Around 1674 yards So about 8 bobbins varrying fullness = $39.67

Soy Silk & Viscose = 1.68lbs for $28.00 won on Ebay. (Had been originally bought from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers Mill and then Round May Farms then blended it with Viscous)
Black Glass beads = $4.25
Quilting Thread = $7.42
Time = Probably about 40 hours total, there was a steep learning curve. Also threading the beads every 4 inches.

Spinning Soy Silk - nothing like spinning tofu

The Good

1) It is made from the dredges of soybean oil. Normally the waste product would have become fertilizer or waste, but now it is used to create a fine silk like fiber.
2) Nothing was killed to produce the product.
3) Staple length is between three and four inches
4) Fine fiber diameter and the surface allows the fibers to slide on each other
5) Keeping a consistant thickness is pretty easy
6) It spins strong, glossy, and a beautiful end product
, you just have to get there.

The Bad

1) The roving that I had the fibers seemed to float in the air a lot. I felt ickie after spinning and felt I breathed in a lot of fibers. The fiber gets everywhere when you spin it. I unfortunately can say I have tasted this fiber.
2) The roving is stickie, even with very dry hands I found the roving sticking to my hands while drafting. This required frequent hand washing during the spinning process.
3) The skeins are alarmingly poopie looking after you wash and set the fibers. They just look bad when wet. The fibers become matted and somewhat hard. They require heavy shacking out to refluff the yarn.
4) A hank of yarn required 1 week for drying.

Tips for spinning this yarn:

Beading the quilting thread
1) I personally have never been a big fan of beading boards or trays. What works best for me is actualy a bead board or crown molding with lots of line detail. Hard wood floors if you don't have cats also works well. To speed the beading process Iine up as many lines as possible of beads and then thread your string.
Mistake: The first two hanks I actually tied all the beads in at 4 inch intervals. Not only is this more time consuming, the biggest problem when you knit you have no ability to adjust the beads to the front of your swatch.
2) You should keep the thread as long as possible. Since the yarn you are going to be spinning is going to have a low amount of twist you don't have the forgiving element of the fact stray threads will be hidden in the twist.
Mistake: I really didn't think about this. I just did beading knots when I needed to do a logical thread break. I am very sorry I did this since you can occasionaly see the threads in the knitted fabric now.
3) I wrapped the beaded thread around a spinning bobbin and used my lazy kate to keep the tension while I worked on the next length.
4) Buy high quality beads and check there core condition to make sure they are smooth.
Mistake: I had a bag of cheap glass beads in my stash. I really didn't think about the added stress that the beads would be under when you added twist when plying. Some of the cores on the beads were rought and cut the fiber during plying.

Spinning the Soy Silk
1) I had to do a lot of research on how to spin the lowest possible twist yarn and still have it pass the pull test. (Pull test is holding 1 yard of the yarn and pulling it from both ends to see if it pulls apart)
Holly Shaltz posted a great tutorial about low twist and also making an invaluable twist card. (Purlwise also posted that Spin-Off had printed a twist gauge they printed in the Winter 1993 magazine on page 68. Luckily she included an inlarge picture of the gauge)

Yarn Purpose Twist Angle
Knitting Yarns 14-20
Weft (S Twist - Counter) 20-25
Warp (Z Twist - Clockwise) 25-30
Hard Yarns above 30
Well my yarn ended up being around 5 degrees. Thanks to the long staple fibers the yarn for the most part passes the pull test. As I have been knitting I randomly check, and I have had to cut out several sections. The bad thing is I now have tons and tons of ends to weave in, but better than a hole in my sweater
2) Next was trying to learn the best type of draw technique to use. I normally predraft all my fibers and then do worsted or long draw technique. The problem is that this fiber flys and sticks. So predrafting was out of the question So the only options that I knew how to do were; Long Draw, Short Draw, Inch Worm, over the fold, and worsted.
I ended up doing over the fold since litterly it was the only way I could control the fiber.

Odds & Ends
Textile terms and Definition link
Amount of twist - From a handout from Peter and Jaque Teal from SOAR'95



  1. I cannot believe that is the same roving I sold you. Lovely

    This is our busy period, well until September. So if you want more roving or no anyone who wants more roving please drop me an email in the fall. roundmayfarms@yahoo.com

    Thanks so much for sharing, I always wonder what the end products look like.

  2. Holy crap! I'm so impressed with your version of the TT yarn. It looks wonderful!