I was surprised by how many of these turned out to be mixes when I looked properly, often with man-made fibres. This is what was left when I took out the mixes.
These are wool mixed with mohair or alpaca.
The mohair makes them softer and hairier.
The alpaca (in the Purity wool on the right) was far from obvious to my fingers.
The feel of 100% cotton varies a good deal.
Some of these are very soft - specifically for babies' skin in fact,
And some harder and dryer, like string more than wool.
Man-made fibres. I don't particularly like the feel of these against my skin so I think I have rather dismissed them before I started this course.
The variety is enormous, and there are textures, stretchiness and shininess that you can't get any other way.
Paper and metal.
Reading the book on multimedia sculpture has opened my eyes to some the range of uses of paper, and I expect to use it much more from now on.
Silk has a distinctive subtle glow to it.
I have some affection for the silk embroidery thread I have in my collection because it belonged to my grandmother (including darning silk for stockings!) I haven't used any of it, perhaps for that reason.
The pink fluffy ball behind it is a mohair silk mix knitting yarn that was so soft and light I couldn't resist.
Finally, some upholstery yarn - jute and linen.
These are hard, strong and dry, with to me a no pretence feel to them.
They are not suitable for clothes but would be good for structure.
What I learned from this:
- Without doing anything else, the act of sorting through and thinking about them in this way is both educational and inspiring. I know more than I thought I did about the qualities of different yarns, just by having been interested in the way they look and feel. Doing this exercise has made this experience and knowledge more explicit to me.
- I also learned some new things, most interestingly that the way I think wool feels is actually slightly skewed by the fact that most knitting wool is either a mix or pre-treated.
- And that man-made fibres, rather than being poor reflections of the natural ones (as has sometimes been my prejudice), introduce another range of qualities and potential effects which I am now excited to be able to explore.
- Again an exercise that has broadened my horizons and opened up the possibilities of unusual materials being used in textile work.
- Thinking about what feeling these yarns might give to a piece was interesting and gave me some ideas of things to try out. It also reminded me that a particular kind of yarn could give different effects depending on how it is used. So trying it out first is important.