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30 December 2008 @ 12:47 am
Not *exactly* spinning related...  
I'm new to this group. I've spun for a while, but mostly I'm an embroiderer.

Thanks to my trip to Puerto Rico and meeting other crafters, I ended up with some maguey fiber. They were hoping I could use it for my embroidery, which I would then send to their bobbin lace museum (I do needle lace). I saw some examples of bobbin lace done with maguey, so I was optimistic.

I'd love to be able to use this, but I pulled it out to work with it and it's very stiff. I don't know if it's possible to soften it in any way to make it more pliable, but I figured spinners who are used to working with strange fibers might have some good ideas. I really don't want to ruin this fiber. I don't have much. It's very difficult to get ahold of even IN Puerto Rico, and it was a gift. I'm not used to working with such raw plant fibers.

Maguey is an agave plant (like the century plant). The strands are long, thin, and flat. It is used in some forms of embroidery, though typically not for fine work like I do. I did see some done in PR, but language barriers made it difficult to ask technical questions.

I don't know if it'd be possible to spin it with something to keep the strands from bending at sharp angles. I'd have to spin it up very thin for the work I'm doing (think size 8-12 perle cotton thin) but the fibers aren't in one continuous piece. They're in lengths about 36" long. I'd want the fiber to show because it's important to their culture, but I'm not adverse to plying it with something else to make it more manageable if that can be done. I'd love to have the ability to coil it around itself.

I'm including a picture in case that helps.

I hope someone has some good ideas.

cayswann: brunchcayswann on December 30th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Since this is a limited quantity, and you're hoping to use a finely spun thin thread in an unusual fiber eventually, I would HIGHLY recommend you start with a comparable/similar fiber for practice first.

Flax is also a plant fiber, and flax strick is the 18-24" uncut fiber and might be a wonderful practice fiber for your spinning technique (whether on a wheel or on a drop spindle). You'll want to learn to spin wet and spin from a distaff, in addition to spinning thinner than the samples I saw on your Flickr stream.

There are *tons* of suppliers and how-to's out there on the internet for keywords "flax" and "linen" and "flax strick" ... so that should get you started. I would pack the Maguey fibers in some tissue paper (to keep it dry and neat) and work through some fax to get started.

This will also you give you some time to continue working with other plant fibers in your embroidery or bobbin lace or whatever you might want to the Maguey on in the future.
Jen/Habibehabibekindheart on December 30th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC)
You know, I've been seeing more info about spinning wet and flax recently, and I was thinking about trying it...

Yes, the samples on my flickr are fat. Most of those are my beginner yarns. First on a drop spindle, and then on a wheel. I spin thinner now, but not as thin as I want to. I learned to spin to get custom threads :)

Do you know any trustworthy suppliers for real flax? The one time I was given flax, it looked just like the wool and silk rovings I get. It was just stiffer.
cayswann: brunchcayswann on January 5th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
I got mine from Village Spinning and Weaving, in Solvang, CA. LOVE it (both strick and sliver)