June 10, 2011

Handspinners and Hot Weather

After reading my last post you might be wondering why I'm thinking about wearing woolly things in hot weather.  I spin yarn and almost all of my handspun to date has been made out of wool and I expect that will continue until I find some really nice flax to spin and I get up my courage to spin flax.  I like to talk to unsuspecting people about handspun to try and get them to consider spinning yarn themselves because handspun is a pleasure to make and gets you beautiful fabric.  When I chat up handspun's fine points it's nice to have some handspun on me.  The handspun items I have been able to make so far have been accessories for winter wear and it would look more than a little demented to pull a fuzzy mitten out of my pocket in mid-summer to show it around.

I think other handspinners and knitters have the same sort of seasonal dilemma.  (Based on all the finished objects at guild show and tell displays, I think the majority of handspinners today spin yarn to knit, whereas several decades ago they were more likely to weave what they spun.  Very few handspinners spin flax, probably because flax is not as easy to manage as wool and because linen yarn is better for weaving than it is for knitting.)  They may not necessarily be out to promote handspun as much as I am but they want to wear what they've made.  I hear that the wool festival in October known as Rhinebeck has an advantage over Maryland Sheep and Wool in May in terms of being an opportunity to wear handknits and to watch a parade of handknits go by.

To try to design a handspun wool item for wear in warmer weather, I would spin as thin as possible to create a fabric that would trap the least heat.  I would spin as semi-worsted as possible for the same reason, rather than semi-woolen.  I would weave rather than knit to make the fabric as flat and thin as possible.  I would make an item that would be worn loosely around the body, such as a loose jacket or a skirt, or an item to be carried, such as a satchel.  Still, I don't think I could come up with anything for hot weather.

I have heard that alpaca and qiviut create fabrics that keep you warmer than sheeps' wool does.  I wonder if there is any difference between wools from different sheep breeds and what the general principles would be.  I expect that longwool types would give you the flattest, least lofty fabric.

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