Thursday, March 06, 2008

Testing the Waters
Thank you to everyone who participated in my "new sock yarn" poll! I received 139 responses, as well as many comments and e-mails. Very helpful to know what you are all thinking and I really appreciate the time you took to give your input.

I'm still not 100% firm on my decision for the new sock yarn, but I'm marching forward at the moment on dye experimentation, test knitting, and wash and wear testing on the Merino/Tencel blend. This is the yarn that most interests me and was also the one you voted for most. It got 43% of the votes. The wool/nylon blend was second with 31% and the midweight 100% merino was last with 25%.

Other yarns in my line are mostly ones that I had worked with quite extensively long before I ever started up Fearless Fibers, so I had most of the knowledge I needed to make a decision about adding those yarns to my line before I began. The Merino/Tencel is new for me (in terms of dyeing, that is), so this selection process is a bit different.

I purchased several pounds of the undyed Merino/Tencel so I have plenty to play with and test. Dyeing this yarn is a bit different because the merino is a protein fiber, but tencel is technically cellulose (although it doesn't behave entirely like many other cellulose fibers such as cotton). The process and chemicals used to dye and set protein fibers differ from celloluse and so there are some interesting challenges in finding a process that works well with this blend. That's about all I'll say about the dye process. If I go any further into how I'm approaching this issue, I might have to silence all of you (protecting "trade secrets" and all of that ... haha!).

Here is my first fully dry sample skein. The picture is pretty awful, but I don't much want to wait on this post for the lighting to cooperate better. I can see that it's going to be a bit of a chore to get decent photos. The yarn has a lovely sheen, but in the photo the sheen seems to be catching the light and showing up as though the yarn is speckled with white spots, which it is not.

Next step is for me to knit a pair of socks with this. I don't want to go the simple route and just use a swatch for wash testing, because I think wear testing is really important too. I'll knit a pair of socks and wear them and wash them over and over and over to get a good sense of how they hold up both in terms of the durability as well as the color.

Don't anybody get too excited yet about the new yarn. It will be quite some time before I'm ready to proceed with this (or another yarn if I choose to go in another direction). Although I'm having great fun experimenting with this new yarn and would love to drop everything else and motor forward with it, I have plenty of other things that must get done and so the process will move forward slowly. I'll keep you posted.

Everyone have a great day!

1 comment:

EGunn said...

Those colors are beautiful! It's interesting to hear about the experimentation process, too. My husband bought me my first dye kit a week ago, and I simply must try it out soon! I'm really looking forward to playing with ways of dyeing fiber; it's fun (and frustrating, I imagine) that the dyeing process changes so much from fiber to fiber.