Thursday, May 23, 2013

The woes of wool.

Okay. I give up. Spinners and fiber fanatics, I call upon you for help.

I want to add "interesting" things to my batts (those sheets of fluff that my drum carder produces for spinning - for you nonspinners). Where in the world do I start? What are fair prices for these things? Where in the world do I find them?

I wanted to try sari (saree?) silk. Here's the thing, it's supposedly a waste product. Tell me then, why does it cost so much? I don't want it already carded so that I can separate the colors some - all I'm finding is Paradise Fibers. So.. is this silk really that different from buying silk thread at a craft store? Or using silk roving in teeny bits?

What about all those locks? Cotswold, mohair, etc. I have a fairly fine toothed carder - is it worth the $6+ an ounce for this stuff?

I see all of these lovely batts on Etsy and I feel overwhelmed. I want to be able to combine colors as well as they do. I want the variety of texture that I can only imagine these batts contain. Which leave me with: where in the world do I start?

And because I can't leave you without any pictures (also this will help explain some of the crazy going on in my head). Here's the loot from my first ever Phat Fiber box.

So much squishy goodness in this box! The theme was "super heroes" and I can't wait for next month: villains!


  1. I can get fire flash and angel fire for about $3 an oz here, that used sparingly is enough for two 4oz skeins - unless I get crazy with the glitter. Cotswold curls can be used in place of mohair and are cheaper (especially if you wash it yourself.) Simply adding mohair creates a nice texture change and is also cheaper than the pretty curls. I have spun batts with silk in them, but did not make them, so no help there. Although I want to say that the difference in spinning a sudden clump of silk in a mostly wool batt is weird. I am looking to blend dog and alpaca next and going to try spinning horse (winter coat, for rug or jacket yarn.) Have fun! (oh try the sheep shed, great prices and service - shipping is a bit high)

    1. I agree about the weird clumps of fiber. I'm not sure that's for me, either.

      Alright. Mohair is my next step, I guess. (:

      Do you buy from a brick and mortar store? We don't have any spinning stores nearby at all. The LYS has some fiber but it's all dyed and crazy expensive.

      The Sheep Shed is Brown Sheep, right?

  2. if you are interested in sari silk or some other different fibres such as mohair I am making my personal wholesale purchase soon, maybe I can get some with you in mind... I should remember to do a post on sari silk too. :)

  3. I wanna know what phat fibre is...I'm spinning every shred of old wool/roving I've collected for years and want COLOUR! Can't help you with the other stuff, as I'm a total beginner!

  4. Try here for sari silk:
    and here for locks:
    Buying in bulk helps and buying raw fleece and washing and dyeing yourself will save you a lot of money. All that fiber I bought at the festival was about $75 and will last me quite a while.
    I think what you have to do is just jump in there and try something, anything, and then try a little more. You learn by doing. Since you have a fine tooth carder, you can "paint" the locks onto the larger drum or add them to the batt afterwards. A little bit of sparkle goes a long way. Silk noil and wool thread are great add-ins for texture too. I got my wool thread here:
    Watch youtube videos! I've learned a lot that way. Just type in art batt or drum carder. You can learn how to dye that way too. This is an easy way to dye: That's a good place to start, but apparently there are lots of ways to dye. I'm just starting on that myself.
    You can get a good price on undyed merino top here:
    I think it takes time to build up a good stash. I really have to get just a little bit of fiber at a time since I try to keep my hobby self-contained, meaning if I want to spend money, I first have to sell something. For birthdays and Christmas, everyone knows that all I want is fiber.

    Don't be afraid to try something. Be brave! What I have found is that if I make something I don't like, somebody likes it and will buy it.

    1. Thank you so much for all the information and links! I've had the worst time researching some of this stuff - clearly Google and I have different ideas of what I'm talking about.

      I bought some sari silk and firestar from Alma Park late last night. It felt right to support one of the Phat Fiber contributors.

      So silk noil. That's just really short fibers? I have alpaca that I got locally. It was a haircut more than a shearing since the animal is a pet, I guess. The fibers stick out wildly even when I blend it with a longer staple. Does the noil do that, too?

      Dyeing! I love dyeing! I've dyed in bags, with koolaid, with easter egg dye, food coloring, acid dyes, natural dyes. Lovelovelovelovelove! Space dying, kettle dying, painting. Yes!

      I have a local fleece, too. It's been a pain to clean but I've been working through it. Why did it not occur to me before to dye it before carding it? Now I feel dumb.

      I save my fiber buying for when I've sold something, too. Sadly it doesn't happen very often. So I get a little picky/crazy when I finally do get the chance to buy something. I normally buy top and roving from - they have really reasonable prices.

      Again, thank you so much for all of your information. I really appreciate it. (:

  5. One more thing. Somebody recently told me she gets her whole fleeces off of ebay. And look for a farmer near you. I'm getting alpaca fleeces for $10 each at a farm a friend told me about. The guy keeps the alpacas just to keep the fields cleaned up, so he doesn't care about the fleece.

  6. I can't help but I hope you find your solutions!!

    1. Thanks. (:
      There so much out there!