Making a heather, tweed blend

Making a heather, tweed blend

The saga of our group silk purchase continues.  I was part of the purchase along with Ann and Jan.  I am a silk junkie so had to be very, very careful this time.  I only purchased some really new-to-me silk called peduncle.  As described by the vendors – “This is one of the most unusual spinning fibres we’ve ever encountered. It looks like pewter in fibre form. It has a stunning luster, and the brownish-grey colour is breathtaking. Peduncle tussah is fibre from the pedunculus (foot) of the cocoon, which is the little stalk the silkworm makes to attach itself to a tree branch.”  “Like all tussah spinning fibre, this one has “tooth” that makes it easy to spin. It’s a rare and spectacular spinning fibre.” I’ve been clearing out my stash and found a wonderful bag of grey with globs of coloured wool and thought it would be a perfect time to give tweed a chance.

I needed to do a test spin of the silk on its own to see how it feels, to be sure it would work with the wool.  I wanted the colour, but I wanted the lustre and strength too, so two small samples were done.  One is pure silk and one is a mix of silk and some wool.

Peduncle silk with a little skein of two ply silk
Close up of peduncle silk two ply
Close up of the silk/wool blend


Because I tend towards very, very bright colours working with heather tones is going to be a real challenge for me.  But I have been asked by a couple of people to at least give it a try to find some sort of earth tones that are complex to make into a yarn.  So this is my first shot. I dug through my stash and found a large bag of gorgeous wool, unknown breed and origin, but washed and ready to go.  It even had interesting colours added to the wool.

The best part for me was that the wool was washed.  This was a major time saver for me, especially at this time of year.  The colours in with the wool are some of my favourites, little bits of teal, brick red, olive green and the occasional dab of yellow or hot pink.  I was certain the silk would really work well with this mix.  The wool was teased apart into gorgeous clouds of wool. And then run through the drum carder for a preliminary mix.  This mix was weighed into 250 gm lots, that were split into 16 units, mixed and recombined into a final group of 16 batts.  This would give an even colour blend, but not a total mix.  The batts were only put through the carder four times.

I decided to keep things as simple as possible and weighed 250 gm of the wool blend to which I added 25gm of silk.  I’m saying this is 10% silk.  I suspect the percentages are not accurate, but so be it.

It’s really easy at this point when you need to add a weird weight to just divide the roving into equal lengths to suit your purposes.  In this case, I was going to do half of the 16 batts with the silk and the other half without, so I divided the silk into eight equal lengths.

I started the blending process on the drum carder and was surprised at what a difference adding the silk didn’t make.  I really thought there would be much more lustre, more glow.  I was certainly expecting more bang for the amount of work going into this.

These are examples of the two final products.  The top batt is 10% silk.  It is slightly more brown, and that’s about the best that can be said for it.  The batt at the bottom of the picture is the original before adding the silk and it has a slightly more blue tint, which I like.  I am not giving up on this silk.  While stash diving I found some other earth tone wool.  The strong pewter-tone of peduncle really is great and I want to find the right wool to pair it with.  I’m sure it’s out there. Experiments are always a way to learn something, so they are never a waste of time.  I never knew that making a really dynamic heather/tweed could be so challenging or so interesting.

7 thoughts on “Making a heather, tweed blend

  1. The origin of peduncle silk is fascinating – thank you for sharing.

    It’s always challenging when the results of experiments are way off what was expected! But then without experimentation how will we ever learn anything?

    The difference between the two batts, in the final photo, is a real surprise.

    Good luck with finding the right wool to pair with the peduncle silk!

    1. Couldn’t agree more about experimentation. I never consider an experiment a failure, there is always something to be learned. Sometimes the ‘something’ is never, ever do that again, but it still is beneficial, just ask my children. So sweetheart, was that a good idea? “Nope”

  2. I had never heard of peduncle silk so I learnt a lot from your post. It is a beautiful colour. Best of luck with your quest to find its perfect woolly partner!

    1. I hadn’t heard of it either which is why I jumped on the opportunity to get my hands on some. The price was extremely reasonable so experimentation was a very comfortable undertaking. I will find the right mix sooner than later, or not, it’s all good fun.

  3. It is very cool stuff Bernadette. I may have to brake a stem off one of the cocoons and soak it to see how on earth it becomes the lovely stuff you have. I am looking forward to seeing more mixes.

  4. Interesting post Bernadette. I would think that you need to have a color that is not so similar to the silk to give a bigger contrast. What if you tried it with a white wool? Or a darker, almost black wool. Then you would see the difference in the silk color and it would show up more. Or add more silk to the mix? I’m sure that you will come up with something that works for you.

    1. That’s a solid point Ruth and it is one of the blends I plan on doing. I know if I take some really bright colours and mix it with the brown silk the bright colours will soften and become more organic. I think the silk will add luster to the mix. I’m still working on the ratio of silk to wool. I need to up the quantity of silk.

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