Friday, September 02, 2016

Seduced by the Dark Side, I was!

Many times, I have stated that combed top and (pin drafted) roving from mills is more difficult to spin and I have noted that yarn, handspun from mill processed fiber is not as strong or durable as yarn handspun from traditionally processed yarn. Still, I acquired a pile of mill processed fiber and spun a lot of 5,600 ypp worsted singles.  I had a big bin of these singles and they got used for everything.  Along the way, I checked to see that the resulting yarns were stronger than mill spun yarns.  That was the wrong approach. I should have made sure that the singles/yarns spun from mill processed fibers were as strong as singles/yarns spun from fiber that i scour and comb.

Yes, mill processed fiber is fast, easy, and may actually be less expensive than raw fleece.

The dark side is that yarn from mill processed fiber is not as strong and durable.  The Darkside is that unless you are going to dip your handspun warp in steam heated sizing solution prior to warping the loom,  then you are likely going to have to skip mill processed fiber for your warp.

I knew hand scoured fiber  (including processing by folks like Morro Bay) resulted  in stronger singles.  I knew that hand carded and hand combed fiber produced better singles.

Nevertheless, I thought that mill processed fiber would be "good enough". I let the Darkside seduce me.  This is something I need to unlearn.

Today, I think one reason why we do not see hand spun, hand woven cloth is that people try to hand spin mill processed fiber into warp, and it does not work.  This was a useful thing to learn.


6 comments:

Sheri said...

Fiber should be fiber, why is mill processed inferior? Why does hand processing make stronger yarn?

Suzanne Carter said...

I have a number of questions...

1. why is handspun yarn from mill processed fibre less strong, less durable than "traditionally" processed fibre?
2. what is the measure of stronger and more durable, and is stronger separate from more durable? Or is it that they are somehow a combined value where tensile strength === abrasion resistant?
3. why does the steam-heated sizing solution (and what is that?) impact hand spun differently depending on how the source fibre was prepared? what does differently entail, and how would I observe the difference?
4. what does hand-scouring change? or is it what does mill-scouring change?
5. what does hand-carding and hand-combing change in the fibre prep? are the fibres better aligned? more random? what exactly is the difference? how would I observe this?

I see a "lot" (non-zero amount anyway) of hand-spun, hand-woven cloth, but it's wicked time intensive, so it's only for very special items. Not because it doesn't work (or at least I have not seen any reports that it doesn't work).

I totally recognize the need to challenge my preconceptions, that's a lesson that must be learned repeatedly. Possibly forever?

Anyway, if you could answer those questions, I think I could better understand what you're talking about in this post.

Aaron said...

That is a question that has been bothering the hell out of me for sometime.

I have a bunch of ideas, but they are all speculation from ignorance!

For me, right now, it is enough to know that I consistently get much stronger thread from hand scoured fiber.

Aaron said...

The measure of tensile strength is some unit of force for a given twist on a given grist. Mostly I make up 5,600 ypp at about 9 tpi threads and test their tensile strength in pounds.

To measure durability, I often make up socks of the two yarns and see which lasts longer, or if in a hurry make up swatches and touch them against the disk sander. Usually the difference is fairly obvious.

Sizing can be starch or gelatin or some kind of hair spray or some industrial chemical that must be kept very hot as the thread is passed through it. At this time, I have not had very good luck with the starch/ gelatin/ hair spray solutions, and have not given the industrial chemicals a good try as they need steam heat.

My current speculation from ignorance is that mill scouring tends to straighten the fibers under steam, and the forces in hand spinning are not enough to fully overcome that straightening. Or, mills may use more aggressive cleaning agents that damage the scales on the surface of the wool, and the scales help hold hand scoured fibers together in thread.

Since the difference in strength seems to hold for worsted and woolen, I do not think the difference is in fiber alignment.

The wool handspun/ hand woven fabrics that I see use much thicker yarns and often plied yarns, while I am seeking to weave with thinner singles. I have some very nice handspun/hand woven COTTON shirts that are rather fine. Thus, I do not think it is just a matter of inserting enough twist into the wool fiber, because the required twist similar for the same twist, and people put that much effort into cotton. Thus, there is some other factor that keeps folks from weaving fine wool cloth???

I have so

Aaron said...

Sheri,
TEST IT YOURSELF, am report back what is, not what should be!!

writethewrite said...

I think any difference in the strength of the resultant yarn is likely to be down to the spinning rather than the prep of the fibre. What I mean to say is that the mill-prepped fibre isn't inferior as such but you, personally, spin stronger yarn from fibre you prep yourself. Someone else might spin stronger yarn from mill-prepped fibre.

Mind you, breaking strain isn't everything when it comes to yarn. You are making a garment from it not catching a fish with it.