Handspinning some of these new cellulose yarns takes a bit of practice and the use of different spinning techniques. The cellulose fibres are very smooth and slippery, much like spinning silk. Cellulose fibres do not have the crimp that wool has to enable it to hold together. The fibres do not felt very well on their own. For felting, it is best to blend them with wool. When you spin wool as a single ply, you can felt or full it slightly to help the yarn hold together. With Seacell, Tencel, Rose and other such fibres you can’t. The finished single ply yarn will tend to slip and stretch.
As an example, my daughter knitted her own wedding dress last year – she is a very talented and beautiful knitter. The dress was full length and lacey. She chose to knit with a commercially spun bamboo yarn, very lovely – but spun as a singles. The samples that she knitted looked great, so she continued on and knit the dress. About 2 weeks before the wedding, she tried it on, and it stretched – A LOT! The weight of the full length dress immediately caused it to lengthen about 6 inches. Guess who got a frantic phone call asking for help to take it all apart and shorten it?
In my opinion, for spinning these types of fibres, it is better to spin and ply the yarn to give it some hold and balance. Yes, plying takes a bit longer to do, but in the long run, it can create a better yarn that is more fit for purpose.
To spin a fine weight singles, reduce the tension on your bobbin to allow you more time to draft a smaller amount of yarn. When you reduce the speed of the takeup less friction is placed on the fibre so you are able to draft less fibre during spinning, creating a finer yarn.
Spin the yarn with a high twist, so use the smallest whorl on your bobbin. On my Kromski wheel, this is a ratio of 14:1.
Then ply the 2 bobbins of singles yarn in the opposite direction to what you spun the singles, using the middle whorl of the bobbin.
If you would like to try spinning some Seacell, you may purchase some from my Webshop.
For more information about spinning some of these cellulose fibres, please visit my Allfiberarts website.
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