Not all Fibres are Created Equal

This was something that struck me the other night. I got a handblended fibre club subscription for Christmas (200g of handblended loveliness for 3 months – bliss!) and had decided that 200g of fibre (a primarily Merino blend) would be plenty to knit up a project which required 800-1000m. What was my thinking for this? Well, I’d spun up some other fibre I had in my stash and got 500m out of 100g so surely that seemed reasonable?

Apparently it isn’t. I got a third spun up and plied, wound it all up into a skein and got 146m. Hmm. Not quite what I was expecting. And this got me thinking – do different fibre types impact on the yardage you spin? Google didn’t help. Despite phrasing the question in different ways I couldn’t locate anything specific to this query. So I asked Ravelry – where else?

Is it just me or do you get less yardage from Merino when spinning? I’m spinning up a batch of a primarily Merino blend (over 2/3rds) in my normal fashion – aiming for a fingering/sport weight. I have a third done and plyed – it is coming out at the desired weight but my yardage compared to say, BFL, is dramatically lower. Does anyone know if this the norm? And secondly, are there any resources out there which discuss different fibres and their yield rates?

The response I got indicated that this was normal (phew – not just me!) but that they weren’t aware of resources on this either. However, the discussion focused in fibre length and thickness. The thicker the fibre, the less you need to get the desired weight; the longer the fibre, the less you need to get the desired length.

So how do Merino and BFL compare? For sake of ease I’m focusing in on the finest ~ coarsest / shortest ~ longest figures for the ranges normally found for these fibres.

 

Merino

Bluefaced Leicester (BFL)

Microns (Finest)

11.5

24

Microns (Coarsest)

26

28

Staple Length (Shortest)

2” / 5cm

3” / 7.5cm

Staple Length (Longest)

5” / 12.5cm

6” / 15cm

So if we apply these figures to real life; a batch of very fine, short stapled Merino would require significantly more to provide the same weight and yardage as the BFL. If the Merino was of similar micron / staple length to the BFL – say 24 microns and 5″ – yardage could theoretically be similar.

This is an aspect which intrigues me, so I’ve added a new section to Fibres & Spinning concerning yield rates on the fibres I’ve spun (as well as archiving a copy of this post there).

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