Achoo! Or maybe “Itch you” is more correct. For those dying to spin yarn, but who are allergic to wool, here’s good news: you can spin acrylic, silk, synthetic, and other eco-friendly fibers. OR you can blend fibers for stunning yarn results.
I have little respect for people who sneer at acrylic yarn as though it and anyone who uses it is a sub-citizen. (Evidently they also have little respect for me…) While I love the idea of 100% natural, I don’t balk at the beautiful results we can achieve with synthetic stuffs.
The first time I used acrylic fiber on my blending board I was a little nervous. What if the fibers just sat there, stuck in the board? What a mess to have to clean up. So I started with a thin layer of wool, added some Tussah silk, bamboo, acrylic and more wool. It came off just as easily as other blends. Spun it on my wheel. Worked great.
Next I tried straight synthetics, but I only used about 1/3 of the board—just in case. (Technically silk is not a synthetic, but I frequently lump it into that category in this post because it’s too annoying to type out synthetic and silk every time.) This blend also came off like a dream.
I decided to spin it on a spindle because there was such a small amount. The drafted fiber broke a few times at the outset, but once I got going it was fine. (I think the breakage was due to nervousness because I haven’t had any problems spinning acrylic on a spindle since then.)
I didn’t take a picture of the acrylic yarn by itself, so here it is in a crowd with wool yarn (the yellow and red wool cakes were also mixed on the blending board).
Something I noticed from the experiment was that the acrylic yarn has a bright translucence the wool blend lacks. It’s difficult to capture in a photo. That might explain why I usually prefer to spin wool blended with silk. I definitely prefer the color variations I can create in my own blend.
After that initial experiment, I’ve used my blending board for acrylic many times and never had any synthetic-specific problems. (The only “problem” I ever have is that sometimes not all the fibers lift out of the board together. Just have to watch for that and use a long, blunt weaving needle to help them join the group.)
Google results: How to Use a Blending Board
Pearl infused rose fiber
Where I buy acrylic fiber and rayon bamboo
Probably my favorite Etsy seller
You can find many interesting types of fiber on Etsy and eBay—search for spinning fiber: acrylic, silk, tencel, rayon, bamboo, viscose, nylon, faux angora, faux cashmere…
Spinning acrylic yarn Part 1: Unplying