Camel down: the stuff that dreams are made of

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of what is probably semi-woolen spinning (like short draw, but with some twist in the drafting triangle). It’s not as slow as worsted, but it still seems to take foreeeeever, especially since I’m a spinning newbie and don’t draft very quickly. This skein of New Zealand Gotland lambswool 2-ply, for instance, took over a week:

So pretty, if a bit prickly. 4.5 oz, 464 yds.

Don’t even talk to me about the BFL/Silk top. Hours and hours and days and weeks of spinning, and I’ve done about .7 oz. That’s just over half of the first single. Of three. It will make a very pretty pair of gloves, which I shall wear on outings from the old age home.

Then I saw this stuff. Clouds of baby camel down. Soft as a baby cashmere goat’s butt and less than 1/4 the price, prepped for spinning woolen. Hooray, long draw: so fast, so lofty, so much more fun. I’m not great at long draw, but I swear it is the funnest of draws, and compared to what I’ve been doing, the speed is like some kind of magical thing. (For those of you wondering what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a demonstration video, and here’s a more technical video by a decidedly non-stereotypical fibre geek.) I did some reading (mostly this article on camels and their fibre), decided I didn’t know enough to be afraid, and bought 12 oz.

Well, let me tell you, baby camel down is exactly as soft as advertised. It’s unnerving to touch something so soft you almost can’t feel it. Even BitterOldPunk was impressed, and he’s given up any pretense of being interested in fibre. Here’s what it looks like:

Can I have a pillow of this? How about a bed?

I gleefully ripped the BFL/silk bobbin from Mustang Sally, fluffed out the clouds of down, and started spinning. The staple length on this stuff is very short — less than an inch — and it’s pretty slick, so I used the smallest whorl (8.5:1) for lots of twist and set the wheel up for double drive with almost no take-up. It still wanted to drift apart at first, but eventually I got the hang of it. At 8.5:1 I had to treadle several times after drafting to get enough twist in to keep the singles together; still, it went like the wind. Within an hour or so, I had enough for a test skein. Not the most even spinning that ever was spun, but feh, it’d do.

Three DPNs and a cardboard box: this kate is the laziest of kates.

I let the singles rest overnight, and then plied them. All that twist? Yeah, still not enough. Well, there was enough in most places, but I could tell where I got bored with the holding and treadling and let the singles wind on too soon, as those bits snapped like a wet paper tightrope when I tried to ply them. (Note to self: yes, you will end up needing a high speed flyer.) I knotted them and moved on. It’s just a test skein, after all. Pre-wash, the yarn came to 62 yds in 10g. Fulled (alternating hot & cold baths with agitation), thwacked (um…thwacked. Against the sink. Beat like a rented mule. It’s a technical term.), dried, and reskeined, the finished yarn is 60 yds.

When will they invent Touch-o-Vision?

Did I mention I bought 12 oz? That’s about 340g. Even with some going to practice, I am going to have a lot of yarn. I think I can live with that. Maybe I’ll make pyjamas. And then never leave the house.

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