I was offered the pleasure of reviewing September’s Louet Spinning Pack for Spinzilla and I have to admit, I jumped at the chance. It included a little bit of dyeing, which was a bit intimidating since dyeing is not my forte and I’m actually taking an Intro to Dyes course in November to start filling this gap in my fibre-knowledge.
Included in the pack is ::
- 1 lbs undyed Superwash Merino Top
- 1 lbs undyed Wensleydale Top
- 1 lbs Wool/Mohair blended Top
- 1 Gaywool Dyes Starter Kit (either the Originals or Bush Blend — I received the Originals)
The value of the pack, if all the items are bought separately is $184USD so the value at $85USD is a steal. The fibre included in the pack comes in 1/2 lbs bags, rather than a whole pound being stuffed in which is nice and manageable to pull fibre off and weigh it for dyeing. The three fibres included in the pack are especially suited to taking colour from dyes, which I think is why they were chosen. They are also fibres, in particular the Wensleydale and Wool/Mohair blend, that spinners might not have just lying around in their stash so this is a great opportunity to stretch one’s spinning repertoire.
Just the Wensleydale fibre alone makes this worthwhile. All of the fibre is beautifully prepared as one would expect from Louet, but the Wensleydale is really lovely.
It had a tiny amount of VM (vegetable matter) but that isn’t uncommon in the long wools since it’s so much harder to get some of that out. And it was so minor that I hesitated mentioning it. Regardless, it spun like a dream. I’ve been wanting some undyed Wensleydale for a while because I have had my eye on this amazing handspun Wensleydale Swallowtail shawl. I am foreseeing mine in a lighter grey-blue like the Graywool’s Indigo that was included in my pack.
I’ve been wanting some superwash Merino top that is undyed to try this blending technique that Bren of Snerb Studio used recently. I thought it was brilliant and I’ve been wanting some more socks for the winter, so superwash makes the most sense at this stage of my life. Remember the disaster from last week?!
I am really loving the blended quality that dyeing the fibre ahead of time, then ripping it up and combing it together has created. Yes, there’s an extra step in there for the fibre prep involved because I had to re-comb the fibre. But look at that yarn!
For 4 ounces worth of fibre to spin for socks, I think it’s worthwhile. Any more than that and I’d throw it on the drum carder but I wanted to stick with a true worsted yarn since there is no nylon in this top. I want high twist for durable socks.
I will write a whole other blog post on this process soon to share with you what I did to create this yarn since I have to make another 2 ounces to have enough for a pair of socks!
And last, but certainly not least ::
The final pound in the pack was a wool & Mohair blend, which was the fibre I was most unfamiliar with. I have spun a Polwarth, Mohair and Silk blend that resulted in quite dense yarn, so I was interested to see how this turned out. This is really lovely for blend — it’s 82% wool and only 18% Mohair, which in my humble opinion is perfect!
Again, I used the microwave method and was quite worried that the black would bleed into everything (again, my inexperience talking) but it turned out way better than I could have imagined! This top was gorgeous. It took the dye beautifully.
I used too high of a whorl ratio for this yarn so it is too high twist but it was lovely to spin. The resulting yarn has inspired me to start thinking about what I’d like to create with this fibre as I have enough to really do something with it! I’m thinking about another vest or light, open front cardigan that I can build in Custom Fit. Mohair is a really interesting fibre, and this particular blend is lovely and didn’t create really heavy, dense yarn. In The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook (Ekarius & Robson, 2011), the authors talk about Mohair at length. They include much information of the history of the goats, their lineage and classing systems, as well as what the handspinner can expect from the fibre. After reading through the chapter about Mohair, however, I immediately realised why Mohair was included in the pack: It takes dye readily and with “sparkling results” (p. 346).
With this 2 oz that I spun for the review, I’m thinking about knitting up Norah a toque with a huge pom on top — it would be super cute and there is more than enough yarn since I spun this thick at roughly 8-7 WPI. It will be warm, bright and soft for her to wear.
A quick word about Graywool Dyes. I showed the sample card to my mom, who’s an artist and painter. She’s done lots of dyeing over the years and has used many different approaches from natural to acid dyes. She literally ripped the card out of my hand, exclaiming about the quality and depth of colours. I have to admit, I completely agree. Their colours are amazing and not quite as shockingly bright as some of the acid dyes I’ve seen out there. These are just really pleasant. I loved the 6 colours they sent me: Coal, Indigo, Cornflower, Avocado, Daisy and Tomato. Basically a rainbow which was perfect to experiment with. Once I take my Intro to Dyes course, I will definitely be buying more of these dyes because the colours! Oh the colours!
Louet has created these packs (a new one each month) to give spinners as much ‘bang for their buck’ for Spinzilla spinning as possible. I think these are great packs for the spinner who doesn’t have a big stash or wants to spin something a little different to achieve their monster mile.
I’d love to hear from you guys — What is your favourite fibre to dye? What fibre takes colour (in your opinion) like no other?!