Got Milk? No, not that great cookie-dunking drink, but milk protein fiber! New to hand spinners is a manufactured fiber made from milk. It is a lovely, soft fiber that takes color beautifully. I love dyeing this fiber because the colors turn out like jewels. I call my line of hand painted milk protein fibers, Milk Silk. Here are a few pictures of the colorways I have dyed so far. You may click on an image for more information.
Spinning Milk Silk
For my first 100% Milk Silk project, I chose to spin the "Calypso" colorway. I needed to make something special for my guild's exchange and I thought a lace shawl made from brightly painted Milk Silk would be fun to make.
I began by spinning from the end of the dyed top, but found that the fiber clumped up in my hands. I then tried spinning from the fold and found that this spinning technique worked well. Not only did the fibers cling together better while being spun, but I was able to more fully control the color changes of the painted top.
Milk Silk is a somewhat slippery fiber to spin. I found that if I loosened my spinning wheel's tension so that the draw-in was as light as possible, it kept the fibers from slipping out of my hands before they were spun.
I wanted the colors to stay clear and bright, just like the painted top. I also wanted this yarn to be a laceweight two-ply. So, I divided my top lengthwise and spun each length separately. When plying, I made sure to line up the colors so that turquoise plied with turquoise, copper with copper, etc. Occasionally, the colors overlapped each other for a short distance when one color changed to another, but for the most part the colors lined up well.
I learned that Milk Silk needs quite a bit of twist in order to hold the slippery fibers together, but, if it has too much twist, the yarn will snap. It took a little practice to determine the optimum twist for this yarn, but once established, spinning went quickly and smoothly--Very smoothly!
The yarn turned out beautifully. It had an unbelievably soft hand and also a nice weight that I hoped would create a shawl with good drape. Click here to see pictures of the completed shawl. I recommend Milk Silk to those who are comfortable spinning wool and who are ready for the challenge of more exotic fibers. I found this easier to spin than silk, yet trickier than most other protein fibers. I would say a spinner with moderate ability will enjoy spinning Milk Silk.