19 July 2008

Rat scarf

I finally finished my sister's horrible scarf.
Some months ago, chatting at the phone with my sister I told her about all the incredible fibres you can get from Wingham Wool Work (www.winghamwoolwork.co.uk). To a non spinner/knitter bamboo and tencel and nettle sound quite exotic.
When I got to the animal fibres, at the end of the page, there it was -among al the other lovely beasts- possum, I can't remember how it happened but I said I'll make her a rat scarf.

Unfortunately (for me) I already had a list of items I intended to order from Wingham Wool Work and so there I was a couple of days later, ordering (among the other things) 100g of possum. This possum come from
New Zealand where is a pest and is not the cute rat from North America
but a quite larger marsupial. Possums are killed and the hair sold to finance the culling of this invasive specie.
So, there you go, these are the humble beginnings of the "rat scarf" (as it was christened by my sister).

One might think that it is insensitive to give her something I defined horrible few row above. In my defence I can say that she has been forewarned (although she might not be prepared for the full extent of the horribleness).

I received my tightly packed bag of possum, I pulled a bit of it out and I saw that it was going to be tough: the fibres are no longer than 2 cm (and I think they are in average shorter) and slippery. I tried to spin it on its own but clearly it did not work.
I spent a morning blending it with some white merino and managed to spin it. I could not spin much of it at one time. I had to stop when I reached a certain level of curse yelling... I am not a great spinner but I split my singles very rarely (say once a bobbin or less)

My possum mix breaks continuously. The logical choice would have been to mix the
bloody beast with some more merino but at that stage I already hated it and I could not bear to use any of my lovely merino to improve it and besides I did not want a huge amount of yarn that I could never use... Although I could use the leftovers if I need to give a present to the cow who used to share the flat with me ha ha ha (evil laugh)
What's more is that the fibres are so short and thin that blending means a lot of sneezing an a thin coat of fur everywhere: not nice.

Anyhow I managed to spin 2 bobbins of singles and I plied
it with a lot of twist. I knitted it and I can't wait to get rid of it.
I had t choose a fast pattern, that did not curl at the edges, that accommodates thick and thin yarn and that didn't make me die of boredom. I tried the Morning Surf Scarf but it made it look like loads of dirty mouths opening in the texture of the scarf. So I decided to keep the "dropped yarnovers" and use them along the whole row. I made it totally random: when I felt like it I would break the garter stitch with a row of looong stitches.

Do not get me wrong
about possum: I am not saying that it is a fibre to forget, it is very very soft and probably very warm. If somebody could mechanically blend a 60% merino 40% possum mix I think it could be great especially with a black or dark brown merino (the possum has a funny and sad shade of brown otherwise).

As it is I don't want to have nothing to do with possum for a very very very long time.

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