One of my new fibers for this year is Raime. Of course I have heard of Raime. Did I have any idea what that was? Nope. It turns out that Raime is a cellulose bast fiber. It is similar to flax. It comes from a shrub. For more information of Raime check here and here. Raime is also one of the oldest cellulose fibers we can use. It dates to 3000 BC in China.
Raime has a really long staple and has many of the same characteristics as silk.
It is slippery, wispy, super shinny and bright white. For my assignment I was required to spin a 100% Raime skein, and two blends one with wool and one with cotton. My first attempts were too short. I need 10 yard skeins for my homework. You have no idea the agony of winding off a skein only to find that you are 1/2 yard too short. Trust me it’s frustrating.
The second time I attempted the skeins I decided to do my blending first and to blend twice what I thought I would need. First up was Raime/Polworth.
The staple of Raime is twice what it is for Polworth. So in order to blend well, you have to cut the Raime to the same stape length as the Polworth. I hand carded sliver at a percentage of 70% Polworth to 30% Raime. The resulting yarn is AMAZINGLY soft. It has this beautiful sheen and a drape that is outstanding. It would make a really great knit lace scarf or shawl. I am not required to knit a gauge swatch for this exercise, but I had extra (YAY) and could not help myself.
In order to blend Raime with cotton, you really have to cut it. I used Sea Island Cotton, so I had to cut the Raime in about thirds. Because I blended it with cotton, the fibers were handcarded into Punis. Punis are tight rolags that are rolled onto a dowel. I really have had a hard time with dowels and punis. The dowels tend to catch the fiber and so you end up compressing the punis trying to get the fiber off. Luckily I have daughters, so I now have a great punis maker. A Fairy wand! It is plastic and the same diameter as the wooden dowels. Best part, the Punis slide right off. So nice. Spinning the Raime/cotton blend, which was 50/50, was much like my first attempt at straight cotton. Lots of deep breaths as the strands broke or got away from me and then came apart. Oh doggie! So was I glad that I had just enough of the blend to pass.
In fact I got 12 yards. YAY. Again, this yarn is soft! It’s amazing. I would totally knit lace with this. It should be light and airy and have the sheen of silk! Wow!
Last up was my 100% Raime skein. Just how does one decide how much is enough. I kept spinning, and spinning, and spinning.
To make it more challenging. Raime is like flax, so spinning it counter clockwise is the order of the day on the 100% skein. I kept forgetting.. Yikes! In the end I ended up with enough.