Last weekend when Josh and I went to meet my sis-in-law Kelly's new horse, Quantum, I spotted something as we were cruising down the dirt lane, on our way home. There were interesting-looking plants in the ditch, sprouting fuzzy stuff at their tips.
"Stop!" I yelled to Micah, who was driving. He pulled to a stop and I hopped out to examine the plant. Sure enough, as far as I could tell, these were milkweed plants, their pods already blown out and rife with delicate, silky floss-like fibers. The fibers act much like dandelion fluff...wind picks up the silk and blows it (with the seed) down the ditch a ways. The pods were big...some were as large as my hand. Since they had already burst for the season, I simply grabbed some handfuls off the tips (saying a little thanks to the plant, of course), jumped back into the car, and we were on our way.
I examined my find. The staple length was very, very short...about an inch, on par with cotton. The fiber itself was ridiculously silky. In fact, it really resembled silk in its sheen and feel. The seeds were about .5 mm in length and separated easily from the fibers. Since I'd only grabbed a couple of fistfuls, I didn't have much, which was alright since it would be difficult to spin a pure milkweed yarn anyway.
I decided to incorporate the milkweed in a yarn I was spinning for Kelly. I blended natural ecru, lime, and baby blue merino (colors she picked to match her skis) with soysilk, green flash angelina, and the milkweed with my handcards and then spun them into a chunky yarn. The yarn might be too bulky to contain the milkweed for long - it pokes out of the yarn in a couple of places - but I'd already started the project when I found the fiber, and thought the inclusion of the milkweed would be special for her. Now if only I could find a hat pattern I liked! :)