sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Monday, August 31, 2009

spinning mohair from attenuated locks

I recently swapped with Adrianne for 3 oz of unwashed, very fine first clip kid mohair fleece on the Spin or Dye swap board on Ravelry. I really am not interested in buying a whole mohair fleece, but it was too pretty to pass up and just enough to do a good sample with.

photo © 2009 Adrianne L. Shtop -- washed kid mohair fleece

I decided I wanted it to be VERY halo-y, and also not retain any of the curlylocks look once spun... so spun it from the lock. Instead of spinning over the fold, I attenuated the entire lock prior to spinning.

I started with an intact lock-- I scoured this partial fleece myself and maintained lock formation by washing in tuille.


Starting at the middle of the lock, I gently opened it up by teasing it open and separating the individual fibers apart but just enough, not to make the lock fall apart.


Aside from the other reasons for spinning the mohair this way, the other plus to attenuating the whole lock prior to spinning was that I was able to detect and shake out the small amounts of dandruff hidden in the fibers. It's a small amount, and not a dealbreaker for mohair, but still not something I wanted in the final yarn.

(look closely around the shorn end)

After loosening the entire lock up, I went back and separated the fibers even more. Starting from one end...


...and working to the other.


The small lock creates quite a long length of fiber. I made several of these long attenuated lengths, lined them up and started spinning.


My idea in spinning the kid mohair was to have as many ends (tip, shorn) sticking out from the single as possible. Initially I was going to do this by spinning from the fold, so that the middlemost section of the individual fibers would be the ones caught up in the twist and allowing the opposite ends to stick out... but I tend to grasp folded locks a bit tightly when spinning and wanted them to be as lofty and not-smoothed-down as possible (plus there was the scurf thing... ew ;))

So I took the lengths of attenuated locks, as if they were a commercially prepared long length of top/roving I was spinning from the tip of and feeding directly into the orifice-- but it was the middlemost part of the locks getting the bulk of twist and not the aligned ones of a top. This way both tip and butt end of the locks were free to be free... and I was able to loosen up quite a bit in my grip compared to my spinning from the fold (letting those ends halo even more).


You can get a sense of the amount of halo the single produced this way... I placed a white card on the mother of all to show you.

(still can spot a bit of scurf that shook out in plying)

As much as I wanted a halo-y yarn, I didn't want a 100% mohair one. So I dug out this precious bit of tussah silk, handpainted by String Theory Fiber Art, and spun two bobbins' worth of silk singles to ply the mohair with.

"kalapana," 2 oz tussah silk by

I spun the silk at a high twist (17.5:1) and the mohair at a lower one (9:1) to allow for more halo and a look that the silk was "holding" the mohair together, and plied with an even lower ratio (6:1) so I can knit something with drape and on big needles and not worry about it being too round for lace.

The halo is definitely there...


...and so is the yardage.

750yds, 105 grams 3 ply silk/kid mohair

Very, very soft and warm, and makes me appreciate mohair all the more. Probably not a whole fleece's worth... but maybe I'll change that tune when I knit this up into something simple for me. So many intentions...


Anonymous said...

this is absolutely stunning -- can't wait to see what you knit with it!

Infinitespirals said...


Micki said...

Very cool!

colorlessblue said...

Wow, I was waiting to see this and I'm not disappointed. I'd never be able to do that or even think of the concept!

lexa said...

It's beautiful!

Julie said...

my, that's lovely! Thank you so much for sharing your technique in such detail, I really appreciate it.

Janice in GA said...

Oh, well done! Great concept, lovely execution. :)

Jody said...

Luv that yarn...I have a pound of grey adult mohair and it's really lovely but not as soft as yours must be. Still haven't decided what I will blend it with.

Kristine said...

that turned out beautifully.

Jessica said...

Thanks for the mini-tutorial! I have the same issue with spinning locks over the fold, so I might have to try this with some of my regular wool. The yarn turned out beautifully, too!

Kathryn said...

Ha! That attenuation thing is exactly what I did when I spun my first (half) fleece. I wondered why the resulting yarn was so hairy. It was unexpected, but not in a bad way, since I intend to make a Bohus-style yoke cardi out of it, and the fluff will help blend the colors.

Toby said...

I'll add my thanks as well! I have half a dozen tiny bags of mohair locks that I've been wondering what to do with. Your photos and description of the process are very helpful.

Abby said...

That's absolutely gorgeous. =)

GURO said...

Wow! Just wow...
And though I'm not the biggest fan of mohair, because of the itch factor, I bet that silk makes that yarn softer than soft.

Jofran said...


It is just beautiful yarn.

What is scurf?

Thanks in advance


adrienne said...

Wow, that's gorgeous! What ever you knit with it will be amazing.

(and I must say, I loooove the tussah silk - what a fantastic colourway)

Reesa said...

That's beautiful work, and I'm so pleased to see the silk accent the gorgeous mohair so well!

I drool for this yarn!

Clare said...

Becky just told me that you're up for an S award!(!!!) Stunning. I sincerely hope you get it. Hugs and kisses.

Einna said...

That's beautiful! I'm thinking of making myself sort of an imitation Kidsilk Haze for a specific project which calls for two strands held toghether, so I was gonna do exactly what you have, with three slightly different shades of fleece to give it the depth of colour required for the pattern.

This is incredibly helpful and beautiful, thank you so much!

Helen Jacobs-Grant said...

thank you so much for this very helpful clear and concise information post, brilliantly done and I can not wait to try it now. Was feeling nervous about tackling some mohair that was sent to me today as a sample from a fibre supplier, I have some silk in my stash so can try this out tomorrow. Thanks again, Helen

Anonymous said...

Loverly yarn and the pictures help me with my first go at spinning mohair.

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