I think in hobbies as life we should not stick to the tried and tested but branch out and try something new.
So far with my spinning I have only used pure wool, but browsing through a web site I discovered that yarn can be made from all sorts of fibres, including Bamboo, Soybean, plastic and milk fibre. as well as hair from all sorts of other animals including Yak, Camel, and Cashmere. From childhood I have always loved the beautiful soft feel of Angora but because of the recent dreadful reports of the ill treatment of Angora rabbits, I will not go down that route. I have used Angora Goat fibres, which have been clipped to relive them of their warm coat in summer, to blend with wool to give a beautiful silky gloss to a yarn and this has been very successful adding strength and drape to the finished product. I noticed that my current favourite supplier World of Wool was offering Faux Angora, as a plain white roving. I have used this product before which I purchased from ‘Spin City’ a young designer with a wonderful eye for colour, but the bat was quite expensive and as I have my own dying studio I thought I would give it a go! I put out messages on Ravelry forums for help from people with experience of dying this fibre there was a lot of interest but not much help was forth coming.
The fibre is basically similar to Nylon being a petrochemical based product but probably best not to mention that when recommending it to anyone 😉 I think Faux Angora is probably the best name for it
So here is what I did, first it needs soaking so the dye will penetrate to all areas and as it felt soft like cotton wool I put it into a net laundry bag with just a tiny squirt of washing up liquid. I then got out my dyes to decide on the colours I am giving the finished product to a friend and she has requested Autumn colours, the chosen dyes were put into plastic beakers some with a little extra water to give different shades of the same colour. It is important to get some good contrasts in colour, if the shades are too similar it could turn to a rather dull mud colour
I laid out two sheets of cling film on the floor I then squeezed most of the excess water from the roving and snaked it along the cling film so I had 8 rows of fibre, I used syringes to apply the colour but you can just pour it on a little at a time, you have to keep squashing and squeezing to spread the colour into the fibre it is quite dense and it is easy to leave white patches, even so no matter they will all blend in when it is spun, I did find in hind site that this absorbs colour really well so if you want strong colours you need quite a strong dye mix.
I had 200g of fibre so I divided it into 2 x 100g portions wrapping each portion in the cling film. coiling it up and microwaving it on high for 2 x 2 mins for each bundle, allowed it to cool and rinsed it in warm water, when using wool this is an area where you have to be so careful not to felt it by shocking it with contrasting temperatures. The water ran clear which confirmed that the dye had taken and was fully absorbed into the fibre, the wet fibre lying in the bench looked quite deep colours, I hung it up to let any access water drain from it, before bringing it indoors to dry completely in the airing cupboard.
Because I had dyed it in 8 folds and divided it in two I then had 2 rovings’ which matched in the colour ways,
I platted them up just so they looked pretty. I spun each roving completely Making sure I started at the same end on each, then plied them together, I washed and weighted the skein but don’t really think it was necessary and it hung beautifully,
so here is the finished article from pure white roving to this, yes I still have to knit it up and I will post that at a later date, it feels so soft and no angora bunnies were harmed in the process
I have just received a parcel from World of Wool full of lovely interesting fibres, one pack is natural ‘sheep’ colours and other is a mix of pre dyed ends of runs I am going to have so much fun blending these together to make beautiful bats (just like me BATS) It is like being at playgroup all the time!! 😉