Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Sunday, June 29, 2003  

So about that boucle.

It all began with the book Handpaint Country - put out by XRX - and the chapter on Rosalie Truong and her Exquisitely Angora yarns. And that jacket. I have lusted for that thing since the book came out. Since before I knew how to spin. Nearly simultaneously with the savings account I knew I’d have to start in order to afford that much hand spun hand dyed mohair boucle. I think I have seen kits for it for under $400. That’s about all I can say and for such a beautiful thing it is worth it. Only not in my lifetime will I ever own a piece of clothing that costs $400. I am not even sure I would want an article of clothing that costs $400. I would probably spill India ink on it, or rip it on a counter corner or something. This is the girl who can only ever wear a dry cleaned garment once before it needs to be returned to the chemical people.

But when I learned how to make my own boucle yarn last summer things changed. Then I realized what those baskets full of dyed mohair locks I saw at Md. Sheep & Wool could be used for! oh be still my heart. Of course, crashing through the fiber jungle unguided, as I often do, my first mistake was to purchase mohair locks that were “dyed in the grease” and also in the chaff, seeds, twigs and leaves. As I’ve said here before - Do not purchase trash filled fiber - EVER! But I have some clean dyed locks now - one hopes, enough - though some is kid mohair and some is older goat - but the colors are pretty much the same.

Friday night I began working with the locks. They are very curly, a little matted, but not difficult to tease apart. I had planned to comb them open with the dog comb (for my birthday this year I want real combs!!) And I realized I was in trouble. The locks didn’t want to open for me. It was tedious beyond belief using that little comb. 30 minutes and I’d combed and spun only 2 locks!! (5 yards? 10?) But I am now locked onto the track of boucle! What to do!?!

So out came the space dyed Wensleydale I bought off e-bay last winter. It’s a similar fiber, long, no crimp, resistance to bends so it makes pretty loops - but it’s not the color I really wanted. It’s a wonderful rich rusty brown and a warm gold, but the 3rd color is navy blue - it’s a good combination but not quite right for me. It works beautifully, though, because the fibers are soooo long and straight. Spun a little of the Wensleydale, maybe 30 yards and
made a sample yarn. It’s pretty but ... that blue is so powerful. If the spaces of blue were tiny it would suit me okay, but it’s so strong it makes the yarn a blue yarn with rust and gold accents.

Woke up Saturday morning with a dream about spinning the mohair and suddenly I thought I might try carding the locks open but not rolling them into a rolag - just opening everything up nice and loose. I enjoy carding anyway. I’d made a core spun boucle with carded mohair last fall. So. Down I went to card up some locks. They opened quickly, beautifully, dropping the few bits of trash easily, and I spun up a sample length of boucle yarn on a base of chocolate colored quilting thread. As I wound it off the bobbin I decided to knit up the sample to see if I liked thin or thick singles puffed around the thread. Using the largest needles I own. (yikes! #10 us . I really must buy some 11’s and knit that hat)

On size 10 needles in garter stitch it looks like I’ll get pretty much 3 st. to the inch. Maybe over a larger swatch I’d get 2.5 but I’ll spin as if I were going to knit at 3 st. to the inch. And the swatch is lovely. It’s loopy and puffy and soft and snuggly. It doesn’t look like exactly the loopy mohair that EA sells, but it is close enough to create the fabric I want for a short jacket - a sort of Chanel style thing - to wear with my wool trousers and skirts next winter. Or maybe something a little looser with deep cuffs. Depends on how much I end up spinning.

The jacket in Handpaint Country is a swing style with a snuggly shawl collar . It is knit with one strand of loopy mohair and one strand of sport weight wool in a matching color on size 13 and 15 needles at a gauge of 14 stitches to 13 inches!! Fast knitting indeed. Well. I’m still in the designing stage. I’ve only just got that little sample to go by right now. I’ll have a bobbin full by the end of today and can knit up a 2 yarn sample that’s a little larger and then decide.

So happy happy me. And today, L comes to spend the day spinning. Who knows what will cover the dining room table (what LittleDarling calls the textile mill) by tonight. But whatever we create, I’ll scan my samples tomorrow and post them.

posted by Bess | 7:42 AM