Handspun Yarn for Weaving: Silver-Gray Alpaca & Silk

These are the first two bobbins spun from a new-to me Silver-Gray Alpaca and Silk blend from Ashland Bay.

Photo of Lazy Kate with 2 full bobbins, starting fiber and sample card
Silver-Gray Alpaca/Silk Blend fiber, spun singles and sample card

Made into a 2-ply yarn.

photo of 2-ply yarn, gray alpaca/silk blend, on "jumbo" bobbin
2-ply Silver-Gray Alpaca/Silk yarn on "Jumbo" bobbin.

And wound-off into a 6.45 oz. skein measuring 694 yards (after washing and setting the twist).

photo of a skein of weaving yarn, handspun from gray alpaca and silk blend fibers
Handspun Yarn for Weaving, Silver-Gray Alpaca/Silk Blend, by Joanne Littler

My plan is to weave a shawl.  I want at least 1200 yards of yarn.  Based on an earlier piece, I weighed out 10 ounces of fiber.

But the yardage in this first skein came up short – even though the diameter is fairly consistent.  (The folded index card in the first photo holds the sample I use for comparison as I spin.)

So now, – with an actual number of yards per ounce in this first skein, –  I know I need to weigh out more than that original 10 ounces of fiber.

This is not a surprise – it’s one of those ‘truths’ my left-brained spouse challenges when I say these things out loud:  silk weighs more than alpaca. 

And yes, I know that a pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of lead.

But – the addition of silk to a fiber blend adds more weight to the finished yarn, making it heavier than a similar yarn spun from 100% alpaca or 100% wool or 100% cashmere.

Which means – when comparing yarns of the same diameter, twist, etc. – the silk blend will have fewer yards per ounce.

And my estimate of how much fiber to spin came from a similar project, but different fiber.

I include these numbers on my Weaving Record Sheet in big, bold, colorful ink – (along with a note next to the sample card in my Spinning Notebook).

So the next time I decide to spin this or a similar Alpaca/Silk blend for weaving,  I’ll have a more accurate estimate of how much fiber I’ll need – (provided I intend to make a similar yarn – and – bother to look over previous record sheets).

Does this sounds like too much information?
Maybe it is.
But it satisfies my need to know.

Do you have a notebook of your past spinning, weaving and dyeing projects – or pages full of ideas for future projects?  How much and what do you keep track of?   Is it a help or a hindrance?

I welcome your input.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio


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