First time with silk

In order to give my Caprice yarn a little sheen and strength, I've tried blending some silk with the white alpaca.

Silk comes in several different forms - 'hankies', 'caps', even coocoons, degummed or not.

A cap consists of several layers, each layer being a whole coocoon stretched over a former. To use it, you can separate a layer, poke your fingers through the top and pull it out into a long circular roving. I enjoyed doing this, and I love its properties; its strength and sheen.

There are some things that I found very annoying though. The first is that unless your hands are baby-soft, your nails and skin will constantly catch the silk fibres. And those fibres are so long that putting the silk down and letting go of it is almost an impossible task - there's always an invisible thread attached to you somewhere - it starts to follow you around. The 'olive oil and sugar' trick did help, but it's not a total cure. (It leaves your hands feeling lovely though - I'll probably do that even when I'm not working with silk.)

I'd read that you shouldn't card silk too much because it can form bobbles. I found initially that I wasn't separating the silk fibres enough and, being stronger and longer than the alpaca fibres, during spinning it would all pull out of the rolag together, so I found myself spinning pure silk for a while, and ending up with a rolag of pure alpaca in my hand. Making a few more passes with the carders seemed to cure this problem, separating and blending the fibres together better.

Using commercial thread to make my Caprice yarn has certainly given a result closer to the 'music notation' effect I was aiming for; a much finer line of black with shiny black beads against a pure white background.

I'm still not 100% happy with the result. It's very uneven - the commercial thread has no bulk, so I've had to try and spin the white alpaca quite chunky, and I still can't get that very even.

It's interesting to ply with a commercial thread, because it has no twist and therefore can't help to balance the spun single.

Lacy Shawl

I have finished a lacy shawl I knitted for my mother. The yarn and pattern were a gift from my sisters to my mother, but with her ailing eye sight, she was afraid she wouldn't be able to work on the project. So, she asked me to knit it for her.

At first it seemed daunting because the bulk of it is a 24-row pattern, but once you understand how the rows work together, it becomes easy to memorize, and there are no overly difficult stitches. The "ties" in the front were complicated, though. One of them has a pocket that the other slides into so the shawl will stay on your shoulders, and you won't have to fiddle with it to keep it on.

I think I'd like a narrower scarf without the ties made with this pattern, so my next project is to figure that out.