Visit My Etsy Shop

Monday, January 31, 2011

Spinning With Cashmere

In 2008 I traveled to China with my daughter's college choir.   While we were touring a cashmere factory I got our translator to ask the manager of the factory if I could buy just a little unspun fiber.  I (and the translator) had to ask three times.  "No," said the manager when he finally understood.  We don't sell such a thing."  He pointed to the showroom where they sold everything from rugs to sweaters to little stuffed kittens.  He couldn't understand why any sane person would want the fluff.  I think he felt a little insulted, too.  He was real frowny.

SO since I couldn't get even a pinch of cashmere in China, I bought some here.  And guess where it came from?  Yep.  China.  Mongolia, to be exact.  The following is an account of this spinning adventure.

I bought 8 ounces of cream colored cashmere top and when it arrived I just stuck my hand in the bag and touched it.  It almost felt like touching NOTHING at all.  I fluffed the top a bit and started to spin - using the fastest ratio on my Souped up Suzie.  I wanted as many yards as possible - spinning pure gold.  To make it go even farther, I planned to ply with a fine silk thread.

I found it was difficult to keep a very even draft - lots of little slubs.  The fiber was fine but not slippery, and the top was fairly compacted.  Had I been spinning on a drop spindle I would have had more consistency, but I was in a hurry this time.

I finally settled on a long draw spinning from a hunk of the top torn off and folded in half.  I didn't fold it OVER my finger, I just folded and spun from the point of the fold.  I was able to spin fast and fairly evenly.

By the time I had two full Majacraft lace bobbins I was sick of looking at cashmere.  I still had to ply.  I figured I'd had enough.  I let it sit for a week to set the twist then plied it with silk thread.

Final counts:  4.6 ounces of silk-plied cashmere is 1693 yds.  In other words, 368 yds/oz.  You can see in the close up that the strands are not perfect - some are fluffier than others!  The overall feel of the yarn is soft, soft, soft and very cushy. 

Knitted into lace it will have a lustrous drape and will weigh next to nothing.  I haven't decided if I will knit or weave it.


  1. Gorgeous!! I wish I could feel this in person! I'm going to have to get my hands on some cashmere top to spin up. I can't wait to see what you knit/weave out of it.

  2. That is just amazing! I can't spin fine enough to get that much out of an oz. of fiber yet so I'm very impressed! Looks lustrous and soft.