2-ply Eri Silk Yarn Takes Birth at Muezart
Only the creator knows what the true joy of creation is. Muezart studio experienced one such moment the day Rida mastered the art of plying yarn using hand spun Eri silk yarn. It may seem like no big deal, but IT WAS a really big deal for Rida and Miranda and for Muezart. Why? They were one step closer to putting a new range of Eri silk yarns in the hands of our customers. It was the hand plyed 2-ply yarn for knitters.
Could this be the very first time someone is offering hand spun Eri silk yarn as a 2-ply yarn which can be used for knitting? We think so.
As you know, knitters prefer yarns that are easier to knit with, at least 2-ply DK or thicker ones.
Muezart studio has an Ashford E spinner that can be used for both spinning and plying. And it was the same one Rida practiced her plying skills on, till she ‘got it’. Her thrill was pretty much like how one feels when they learn to ride a bicycle– you just get it at one point and after that it is great fun.
Hand Spun Eri Silk Yarn for Knitters – A Product Under Development
For nearly a year we had been experimenting to create, in-house, Eri silk yarn for knitters.
Eri silk yarn in our store is liked by weavers, but we wanted the knitters to experience the joy of creating with Eri silk yarn too, a sustainable eco-friendly silk yarn which is seeing an increasing fan following.
Rida spinning with Ashford machine
Yarn Weight Measures
Before I talk about Rida’s success with plying, here is a simple intro to how yarns are referred to depending on their ‘weight’. Yarn weight does not refer to their physical weight but their thickness.
These are the different categories of yarns, based on their thickness. Here we are looking at yarns other than wool, of different fibers, like silk, cotton, hemp etc.
- Thread or cobweb: These are very very thin yarns.
- Lace: A little thicker than thread. Eri silk weavers use Lace yarn to weave soft shawls.
- Fingering: Little thicker than lace, yet thin. Used for socks and shawls.
- DK: DK is a short form for double knitting, DK is a bit thicker than Fingering. It is used by knitters for garments.
- Worsted: Thicker than DK. Again, a popular yarn if you want to finish your knitting projects quickly.
- Chunky/Bulky: A much thicker yarn.
You may wonder how to know which is which – how can you make out by looking at them whether it is lace or fingering?
Well it should be on the label of the product. If not, all you have to do is wrap the yarn around a pencil to cover at east 2 inches of it. Then count the number of times the yarn was wrapped in one inch of the pencil. The number of wraps per inch (WPI) will tell you which yarn it is. To know how to do it and the wraps per Inch for each category of yarn read this blog.
DK Yarn is Popular with Knitters
The Eri silk rearers use the drop spindle and their hand spun yarn is mostly the lace type. In the middle of 2019, we introduced them to the thicker, DK yarn and Khraw trained them on it. Till then they did not know about DK.
Why did we do that?
Because we knew that DK and heavier yarns are preferred by knitters. We felt that there will be demand – that too for DK of Eri silk, which will be something exclusive.
It was a struggle for many of the Eri silk reares in our network, to create DK using drop spindle, but some, like Kong Molina and others, mastered it and we started to buy DK yarn from them. Those who did not give up and learnt to spin DK benefitted because Muezart was ready to buy all that they had to offer – it was an assured market for them. The next step for us was to find buyers for hand spun Eri silk yarn. We added DK Eri silk yarn to our Store and very soon got an important order!
Almost as though to prove we were right that DK Eri silk yarn will catch the attention of knitters –soon after we added it to our store, we got an order from a fashion designer, Mimi Prober of New York, and she used Muezart’s, hand-spun DK yarn for her fall 2020 collection! You can read about it here.
That DK yarn was single ply – single strand. Many knitters prefer at least 2 ply yarn – means two strands together. So, we started to work towards creating a hand spun 2-ply Eri silk yarn.
What Is A ‘Ply’ In The World of Yarns?
When two or more single yarns are gently twisted together, they become ply yarns. For example, a 2-ply yarn has two single strands twisted together. When you hear twisted, you may feel the strands are tightly twisted together. That does not happen. The beauty of plying technique is it fluffs up the yarns.
A 2-ply yarn has two strands twisted together
Joanna, the founder of Chillibreeze which has spawned community-based initiatives like Zizira and Muezart had an interesting observation – “plying makes the yarns more pliable!” I guess that is so true.
The Day Rida Got 2-Ply Eri Silk Yarn Right
Let me take you behind the scenes, to share with you the story of Rida and the 2-ply yarn.
Here is what Miranda said:
"Last month, when we worked on our priorities and goals, I asked Rida to get better at spinning thicker Eri silk yarn. She did a good job, and I then asked her to go to the next level and create a 2-ply.
Last week I went downstairs for a quick chat with Kevin for like 5 mins, and when I came back, I couldn't believe my eyes. Rida showed me her magical two-ply yarns which were beautiful. The yarn was soft and looked heavenly. We got so excited because that's the first time we ever created a knitter's two-ply yarn."
Rida uses Ashford E Spinner for plying too. She had been trying to master it for a while, but on that day something magical happened – she got the result she so wanted – a good 2-ply DK Eri silk yarn. While plying, one needs a soft touch and know how to control the speed. If the single strands twist together tightly, they will again look like a single and not be fluffy. This will make the end pro.
New Product-line Goes into Production
The Muezart studio is now busy making 2-ply DK with 4 different fibres:
- Eri silk Top
- Eri silk Roving
- Muga – Eri silk blend
- Eri silk and Merino wool blend that we have named Erino.
These will be exclusive hand spun Eri silk yarn, 2-ply yarn, made in small batches. We plan to offer a choice of natural-dyed colors in this range soon. You have a choice of colors? Message us and we will reach out and accommodate your preference.
How Easy Is It to Spin?
We asked Rida for her feedback on working with each of these fibres. Which ones are easy to ply and spin? Here is what she shared:
Eri silk top: Very slippery, like butter while spinning. It took me almost one hour to get familiar with spinning from pure Eri silk top. But once I got the hang of it, I could not stop spinning.
Eri silk roving: Since this is a blend of short and long fibres its quite difficult to get a hold of the fibres while spinning, that too if you’re a novice spinner. You must slowly and steadily draft the fibres when you start, to avoid breaking the fibres in between. Eventually with time you’ll get the hang of it and from there you just need to keep spinning. Even though this fibre is a hassle to spin with, I love the subtle rustic texture it creates.
Muga eri silk top: These are easier to grip and easier to keep control of, making the yarn consistent while spinning.
Erino: This is my favourite fibre to spin from. It’s soft and the fibre runs smoothly through my fingers while spinning. It's very easy to keep control of the different weight of fibres I want to spin. Easy to draft while spinning.
Rida finds plying easier than spinning and she enjoys it.
Knowledge Transferring Our Learning to Eri Silk Weavers
We want to now transfer our learning to our network of Eri silk rearers, who also spin and weave. It is only when they can create value added products can they improve their livelihood and, seeing their success, more will join them, and this heritage cottage industry (of Eri silk weaving) will be on a stronger footing.
So, Muezart is working with Eri silk weavers to create 2-ply using their drop spindles. Just as they struggled with spinning DK yarn for the first time, they are being challenged to produce 2-ply DK Eri silk yarn. We know it is possible, having seen videos of women from Ladakh – an area in the north most part of India, and a tribal community from Peru using a drop spindle to ply yarn. We also know that we have a ‘never say die’ bunch of women who will come out winners.
If you notice, we share our stories the way they happen. No frills.
We are a small team with a big dream. These stories reaching many weavers, knitters, artists and yarn lovers like you could help us join hands to bring change in the lives of the many Eri silk rearers of Meghalaya.
Reach out to Miranda if you have any questions about this new 2-ply Eri silk yarn.