Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pure Speculation...

I started knitting MS3 for a short period last night and it became apparent that there is something different about this yarn:

Look at those YO's....the swatch is lying flat, not under tension. Those YO's just pop open and stand at attention. The last swatch knit from this fiber (which was spun slightly finer and w/ more twist) is rather open also, but that stitch was knitted lace with no solid purl or knit row between pattern rows.

The yarn itself has a little bit of a "crunchy" feel to it....which I attributed to the tencel. It is a balanced 2 ply yarn after wet finishing. I intentionally made it a relatively high twist yarn in order for it to be lively in the stole.

So, I decided to look into things more closely:

The photo's below are taken with my camera looking through the lens of a Radio Shack 30x pocket microscope. (Hmm...I notice they've upgraded to a 60-100x power...perhaps I need a new toy?)

Here is the wet-finished yarn magnified. I'm assuming that the rose colored fiber is the merino and the clear is tencel. Notice how the rose colored fibers tend to wrap around the shiny, clear fibers in each of the plies? That means that even though I spun the singles semi-worsted fashion, the interaction of the fibers have created a yarn that is approaching something more like a 'core spun' yarn. The tencel fibers are bending less and providing a 'core' for the merino to wrap around. (Please note: I know this isn't a true core spun yarn. But it's the best term I have to describe the interaction of the fibers.)

This fiber was purchased early in the life of tencel when not many colors were available and wool being easier to dye are the reasons for my assumption. The blend is 70% merino/30% tencel.

Above is a magnification of the unspun fiber, not held under tension. Notice that the clear, shiny fibers lie straight...almost ramrod straight. The rose fibers have a bit of a loop to them, but not as much as I'd expect for merino.

At 30x magnification, I've never been able to see the scales on the surface of wool, so can't make any assumptions from that about whether this is superwash wool. However, from experience washing this yarn, my guess is that it is superwash though the label doesn't say that. For comparison, here's a photo of some undyed merino top which I know is superwash.

This photo is taken under the same conditions, no tension applied to the fiber. Notice fibers are inherently bending and looping.

It would be interesting to play with this fiber and see if I can spin it so that it doesn't become like a core spun yarn. There will be a few ounces left over once I'm done with the MS3 yarn. Stay tuned.....


  1. I *love* these pictures of magnified yarn. I've knit, woven and spun, but have never quite seen yarn look like this before. Great pictures!

  2. This is interesting stuff. I never would have thought to try to magnify my fibers like that. They lend themselves to some useful insights, don't they?


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