Bison Fiber Part 2

I bought a bag of bison fiber blended with wool and alpaca last fall in South Dakota, at the same time as the 100% bison fiber I wrote about in a recent blog post. It was only one ounce but was more expensive due to being blended with the other fibers, and already prepared for spinning. Since it was taking some time to card the 100% bison fiber, I decided to go ahead and spin the blended fiber.

One ounce of alpaca, wool and bison fiber blended together for spinning

This combination of 50% alpaca, 25% wool and 25% bison was nice and soft, as opposed to the 100% bison fiber. It was easy to spin. Everyone asks me how long it takes to spin some yarn. I have no idea. I work on it here and there when I have a few minutes, or sometimes when I have a longer stretch of time. I have tried to keep a log, but then I have to remember to note the times and it becomes a chore instead of a relaxing break from other tasks.

Normally I make two ply yarn since it is more durable and stays twisted better. I could have split the fiber blend in two equal pieces and spun them each on a different bobbin, and then plied those two together for an ounce skein of yarn. Instead, I decided to spin the entire one ounce on one bobbin, and then find another ounce of something else to spin and then ply with it. I had a bag of really nice 100% alpaca that I measured out and started to spin, but I decided it was too dark brown compared to the bison blend, which is more gray brown. After digging around in my closet of fiber, I selected instead some grayish wool that came from a fleece my daughter received from our sheep farmer friends when she worked for them during a school break. The following photo shows the bobbin with the bison/wool/alpaca fiber, next to the sheep wool to be spun and plied with it.

Weighing out one ounce of some grayish 100% wool fiber

I did not take a photo of the 100% wool fiber in the process of being spun, but below is the result on the bobbin.

The bison blend fiber on the right is a little more brown than the 100% wool on the left.
Set up for plying

Plying together the two fibers involves spinning them together from the two bobbins back on to the spinning wheel in the opposite direction.

Plying together yarn from the two bobbins to another bobbin on the spinning wheel

Once the yarn was plied together, I wound it on to my niddy noddy. Yes, that is what it is called. See photo below. This keeps the yarn from getting all tangled up and provides a way to measure it. One round on the niddy noddy is two yards, so the total number of yards can be determined by counting the number of rounds.

Wrapped onto the niddy noddy after plying

The final two ply skein of yarn is 136 yards, and 2.3 ounces or 64 grams. Since I measured out one ounce of my own wool on a kitchen scale, the bag of bison blend must have been 1.3 ounces instead of one ounce. The resulting plied yarn is 58% wool, 14% bison, and 28% alpaca.

Completed skein of yarn before washing

It is always best to wash yarn after being spun in order to “set the twist”, so the fibers “remember” their new twisted condition. This involves filling a tub with lukewarm water, adding a squirt of dish soap, and gently pushing the yarn into the water until it is completely wet. After soaking for about 10 minutes, another bowl or tub of clean water is prepared and the yarn transferred to that. After two or three rinses in this fashion the yarn is squeezed in a clean towel and hung to dry. The key is not to use water that is too hot and not to agitate the yarn, or it will start to felt.

The yarn soaking in water with a squirt of dish soap
Drying quickly in the hot afternoon sun

Washing the yarn makes it “bloom”, or get more fluffy than when you started. This always throws me every time, even though I have spun many skeins of yarn. I think I am making a thin yarn, but by the time it is plied and washed I end up with bulky.

After washing the yarn “blooms”, looking more fluffy

I found out afterwards that hanging the damp yarn in the sun can cause fading, shrinking or felting. Oops. There is always something new to learn. This project did not involve any dye, and if there was any shrinking or felting I am not aware of it and it would be OK.

Done!

I am pleased with how this yarn turned out. Not sure what I will do with it.

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

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