I'm really pleased to be able to introduce my brand new fibre base...
I started testing it out back in the summer, and also gave some to a few trusty local testers. They all loved it, so here we are, a brand new fibre for Hilltop Cloud.
50% 23 micron Merino
50% Tussah Silk
Just like with all my other blends it's a combination I've had specially created. I wanted a wool-blend fibre with a high silk percentage. This fibre is ideal for next to skin purposes, so shawls, scarves, hats etc. You can spin it in to lace weight with ease, but it will also work as a thicker yarn.
The high silk content gives you the fantastic sheen you get from silk, and allows me to dye incredibly intense colours, but by adding in some wool it makes it a bit more approachable for people to spin. You also get the bounce and memory that wool offers compared to the pure drape of silk by itself.
I thought long and hard about the wool fibre I wanted to use in this blend, in an ideal world I would love to use British wool for nearly all my blends. In reality however we don't produce of the softer wools that the market requires. In part it's due to our climate, but it's also because for too long the British wool market has been in the doldrums, and as a result wool quality isn't of great importance to many farmers.
I considered using Shetland, but for many that's not soft enough to go next to skin, and the high silk content of the blend dictates that this is what I feel the fibre is best suited to. I also considered using BFL, traditionally the BFL on offer in the UK has been the ideal Merino alternative, but increasingly I'm becoming more and more unhappy with the quality of the BFL tops I can buy. The fibre is no longer as soft and long as it was 2 or 3 years ago, and the increasing demand has pushed up the price dramatically. I'm not convinced it offers good value for money any more and I'm not alone in forming that opinion.
The remaining BFL bases I offer will be sticking around, but in this situation I wanted to use a different fibre.
In the end I've plumped for a 23micron, natural grey Merino. This coloured wool adds a wonderful depth of colour to the dyes, and is lovely and soft. One of my testers can't normally were wool of any kind, but her finished skein of yarn goes around her neck quite happily. I'm not normally a pure merino fan, particularly if you buy the commercially dyed tops, they've had all the life processed out of them and feel like spinning cotton wool. This merino feels very different, it has a lovely crimp, bounce and is a delight to spin.
This is usually the point that I show off a finished sample of the fibre knitted up... my ill health over the past month put the brakes on any knitting, so you'll have to make do with an on the needles shot!
I spun the yarn in to a 2-ply sport weight yarn, and am knitting it in to a lovely cozy garter stitch fabric.
The new Merino & Silk fibre is available to buy in the shop now!