Fiber made from milk? Well, it’s actually made from milk protein, casein to be exact. Although it’s a protein fiber, same as the animal fibers wool and silk – it’s made in a similar manner as bamboo and tencel. The raw product is broken down in a chemical bath, then extruded into fiber. And a lovely fiber it is too – smooth and silky to the point of having an almost liquid texture.
The color is an opaque white – very similar to the unique color of milk itself. It’s a slippery spin – the fibers slide against themselves even easier than silk and have a nylon sort of flyaway texture, easily picking up static and clinging to neighboring fabrics.
Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the spin and adapted to the extra twist needed to hold it together rather quickly. Interestingly enough: just a touch too much twist causes the single to break with a snap. Just for the record, in more than two years of spindling, I’ve never had a fiber break from too much twist. It was a new, but unmistakable experience.
After spinning up a length on a fast spindle, I switched to the wheel to give it a try.
Whether it speaks to my lesser skills on the wheel, or the finicky nature of milk – I had a lot more trouble spinning it that way. It drafted nice enough, but I found it needed much more twist than I was initially giving. I started treadling faster, but it wasn’t long until – snap! I was left holding the end. Grrrr. Frustrating. The tabletop became littered with the drifted apart and/or snapped pieces.
I eventually found the right rhythm and wound enough on one of my bobbins to about match my spindle full, so I could make a small amount of two-ply lace weight.
I ended up with about a 36 yard length sample to play with.
I promptly knit up some lace. Milk lace. Seems like everything would line up just right in the fibery universe were the finished object to become a baby item, doesn’t it?
I’m contemplating trimming a baby bonnet for a future Grandchild. Now there’s a plan. I’d have to get my kids to buy in on that one.