Milk Fibre and Bamboo

I am wanting to introduce different yarn blends in to my shop. To do this I need to firstly source different blends. I am aiming to use primarily Australian and New Zealand milled and grown yarns. To do this I have been researching the limited number of mills in Australia and finding out what un-dyed products they have in their range. Next step is to order small quantities of potential bases, dye them and knit with them to find out if I like them enough to be comfortable selling them as part of my range.

This past week I purchased three new to me blends, two are bamboo & wool blends (with different percentages of each) and the other is a milk fibre and wool blend.
First a little about these different fibres:
Milk Fibre
As the name suggests milk fibre comes from milk. It is created as a by-product of processing skim milk. A chemical process is used to extract, dry and then turn a powdered protein in to a fiber. It was first used during the 1930s and 40s to make wool and cotton go further. It is said to have anti-bacterial qualities and take colour very well (the protein in milk fibre was also known to be used in early outdoor paint).
Bamboo
Yes, the grass that Panda’s eat! The insides of the stems are processed down and made into a fibre, it has a shiny finish similar to silk. It gives strength when combined with wool, while keeping a drape and breath ability.
My Experiment
In order to test out the new blends I put all three in to the same dye bath (labelled with brightly coloured yarn that would not change colour) and did two different dyeing methods.
Batch 1
First batch I dyed up in Strawberry Shortcake (a repeatable colour that I already have in the shop). This was so that I could compare how the colour takes between my current sock yarn (Gumboot Sock) and the three new bases. Look how differently it comes out across the yarns!
LtoR: Gumboot Sock, 16% milk fibre/85% wool, 50% bamboo/50% wool, 60% bamboo /40% wool
Batch 2
Next I chose to have a play. I tried some shallow immersion dyeing and squirted some dye onto different sections of the yarn, to see how the dyes would absorb and blend on each fibre. Again, some extremely varied results.
LtoR: 16% milk fibre/85% wool, 50% bamboo/50% wool, 60% bamboo/40% wool
The milk fibre yarn took up the dye a lot more than the bamboo, it is quite vibrant and dark. Of the other two, the one with the lower bamboo content seemed to take the colour better, but the one with more bamboo is a lot shinier and has more drape (this could also be due to the spinning method of the yarn as well, the 50/50 blend is a crepe style yarn, which is a bit more dense). The sheen and drape of the bamboo yarn is really lovely. I am looking forward to knitting with each of these blends to see how they work up.
Will any of these blends end up in the shop? Will have to wait and see how I like the finished projects.

Anyone who as worked with these fibres before I would be interested to get your feedback and thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *