Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Handspun Purple Llama Yarn

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival has been a fall tradition in Ketchum, Idaho, for the past 20 years. It’s five days of lamb cuisine, sheep dog trials, a folklife fair, a sheepherders’ ball, and a fiber festival. There are classes and presentations on related history, cooking and fiber arts. The event culminates in the Trailing of the Sheep Parade on the final day; the streets are filled with sheep as they’re moved down from the mountains to warmer pastures for the winter. Our family had a wonderful weekend when we attended the festival in 2011.

The 2011 Trailing of the Sheep Parade

As you might guess, I was most excited about the fiber festival. Although there was plenty of fabulous wool to be had, at the time I was looking to expand my spinning experience to other types of fiber. One of the purchases I made that weekend was 5.75 ounces (163 grams) of llama roving from Kimknits Fibers.

I was challenged to determine how I wanted to spin the llama. It has a long curly staple length with very little luster. It feels a little too prickly to be something I want to wear against my skin. The color is a medium beige with very little tonal variation.

I worried that any project made from the spun llama would look like a mass of dull brown hair, but I didn’t think dyeing the fiber would bring enough life to it. I did some research on what other types of fiber blend well with llama, then went shopping online.

I chose four ounces (113 grams) of top from MissBabs that is made up of 50% merino, 30% bamboo, and 20% Tussah silk. The colorway is called Timberline and is primarily purple with a bit of white and brown. I liked that it would bring subtle color to the llama while adding luster and softness.

As far as the spinning itself, I made a point of alternating the purple blend with the beige llama because I didn’t want the colors to muddy. I spun the colors into each single in the same order so they would be more likely to match up when plied.

The colors align more in some areas than in others.

I started spinning this yarn in February 2015. It’s the first time I’ve spun so much of a single type of yarn in a consistent enough weight to potentially make a garment. I have about 1,022 yards (934 meters) of fingering weight yarn and I’m so excited to knit with it!

All but two skeins of my Purple Llama handspun yarn.

This yarn doesn’t have a lot of elasticity and, as I already mentioned, it isn’t something I want to wear against my skin. There will be striping between the beige and the purple, with some areas more pronounced than others. And although the amount of yarn seems like a lot, it’s not enough for most top-layer garments in my size. I’ve been combing through patterns and I think I’ve found a good fit. I’ll have more on that next week.

In the meantime, what are your favorite festivals for fibers and fabrics?