An introduction to: tencel

The next fibre I’d like to introduce you to is tencel!

This amazing fibre is definitely one you should try out if you haven’t already. It has the most incredible lustre and shine, and when dyed it takes on the colour incredibly well to give truly beautiful results. Yarns made from tencel fibres are also smooth, soft and strong, making them delightful to work with. The company who produce Tencel, Lenzing AG, say “(tencel is) more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen.”

Tencel is actually a brand name for a fibre also called lyocell, which is regenerated from cellulose extracted from wood pulp. The wood used for the purpose is eucalyptus, which is sustainably grown on farms in Europe, on land which is unsuitable for agriculture. It therefore does not compete for space with crops, unlike cotton. It also uses 10-20% less water to produce than cotton. The farms which grow the trees have been awarded FSC certification to show they are environmentally and socially responsible.

The fibres are then extracted from the wood pulp using non-toxic chemicals in an almost 100% closed loop system, which means almost everything used in the process is recaptured and does not leak out to pollute surrounding land and waterways. And the fibres are naturally white so no bleach is used in the process to whiten them. Over 100 patents have been awarded to the company for the fibre extraction process, showing how important technology is in the production of eco-friendly fibres! The process is so good that the company has been awarded the “European Award for the Environment” from the European Union. Quite the achievement!

So now that you feel good about choosing tencel for its environmental qualities, what’s in it for you? Well, there’s lots to love about this fibre!

As it is so incredibly absorbant it makes an excellent choice to wear next to the skin, especially in summer when it gets hot and you start to sweat *ahem* sorry, glow! We ladies glow, don’t we 😉 The fibres draw the moisture away from the skin, keeping you cool and also preventing bacterial growth. The incredibly smooth surface of the fibres are so soft they are ideal for anyone with sensitive skin. Unlike wool for example which is covered in tiny barbs, the tencel fibres are so smooth they won’t irritate the skin.

Tencel fibres respond incredibly well to natural dyes, taking on beautifully deep colours, which look incredible when paired with the incredible lustre of the fibres. See an example here of some blue yarn (dyed with black beans), which has already been spun, and some yellow (gorse) and green (gorse then black beans) fibres which I’ll be spinning soon:

Have you tried tencel yet? If you are now excited to try some for yourself, you can check out my current stock of tencel yarn here.

(TENCEL® is a trademark of Lenzing AG)

New product: fibre samplers!

I thought I’d kick off my second year in business by finally making a product I’ve been thinking about for some time now: fibre sample cards!

There have been several times people have asked me what my fibres are like, and it’s really hard to describe. How do you quantify degrees of ‘soft’ or ‘lustrous’? So this is the perfect product for those who are interested in trying plant based yarns, without the financial commitment of having to buy multiple skeins of yarn in different fibres!

They come in 2 different styles: wrapped around the card, and looped. The looped style is perfect for feeling the different texture of the yarns, comparing their drape and really having a good play with the fibres. The wrapped style are neater to look at, and perfect for anyone who wants to unwrap one fibre at a time to examine it (and, as it was pointed out to me, also perfect for anyone with cats as the loops might prove too tempting!).

You can find the sample cards listed in my Etsy shop here

An introduction to: Rose

Let me just start by saying to those who don’t already know: yes. I do mean rose as in the beautiful plants!

This has got to be my favourite fibre to work with, it is certainly in the top three!

I was amazed when I first discovered that I could buy fibre produced from rose bushes. Back when I was still a brand new spinner and before I had even bought my wheel, I started researching cellulose fibres, what was available and where to buy them. And, I’ll be honest, I was totally overwhelmed by the choice available! I had no idea that most of these incredible fibres existed as they aren’t spun commercially.

So when I saw that I could buy a bag of fibre which had been extracted from the stems of rose bushes, I was really excited. Roses are my favourite flowers and the idea of being able to make yarn from them was amazing!

The processing of rose bushes into fibres is still relatively new. Like many of the cellulose fibres available, it is considered an “eco-fibre”, as it is environmentally friendly and will biodegrade at the end of its life. Rose fibres are naturally white, and have an incredible lustre, almost like the inside of a seashell. You can see this in the above photo. They are also incredibly soft to touch and the yarn produced from the fibres has a wonderful drape. This makes it an ideal alternative to silk, and it could be used as a substitute in any knitting or crochet pattern.

It also takes botanical dyes beautifully. You can see here a trilogy of rose yarns with the natural colour on the left, grey in the centre dyed using Berberis Darwinii berries, and violet on the right dyed using red cabbage.