Blending Fibers

DSCN0114Blending fibers is a wonderful way to get a uniform color/feel from multiple fleeces or to stretch out a luxury fiber and, best of all, to get the benefits of multiple fiber characteristics.

This blend floating out of my coffee cup was a blend of wool, alpaca and silk in caramel, chocolate and white colors.  By creating blends you can take advantage of the different properties that different fibers have, such as:

  • Wool is elastic, has memory and wants to to become yarn.  Wool comes in a variety of textures/fineness depending on the breed characteristics.  You can get wool suitable for baby clothes (super-fine) to great rug material.
  • Alpaca is very warm, light and soft.  It, too, comes in different grades and all have their uses. It drapes beautifully, but is not resilient/elastic like wool.
  • Llama is much like alpaca, but has an even greater range of softness; often has a longer staple length than alpaca.
  • Camel is even shorter than alpaca, very soft.
  • Angora (from rabbits) is another warm, light and soft fiber.  It’s claim to fame is that is also “blooms”:  the ends of the fibers will escape from your yarn and create a halo.
  • Dog Hair, also called chiengora, can be a really nice addition and fun for a dog owner.  It tends to be on the shorter side as you want to use the soft undercoat, rather than the outer guard hairs.
  • Mohair is from goats and comes, again, in a variety of grades.  Kid mohair can be quite soft, while that coming from older goats can get coarse.  Either way, it is shiny, slippery and a very strong fiber.
  • Pygora, Cashgora and Cashmere also come from goats and are much softer and more luxurious.
  • Silk is a very strong, long fiber that offers features that can range from shine to texture, depending on it’s preparation before being blended.

For example, a blend of a medium-fine to fine wool with any of the other fibers known for their softness (alpaca, angora, etc.) results in a yarn that is stronger than the luxury fiber, stretchy from the wool, yet shows off the softness of the luxury fiber…the best of both worlds!