In spinning I have become a connoisseur of fiber, their names a litany of possibilities.
Gulf Coast Native
: just a few of the sheep.
Then bombyx and tussah,
one a silk taken before emergence of the moth,
the other taken after.
the fibers born through a chemical broth, broken and remade;
the fibers squeak between the press of my fingers.
[bast and fruit]
It's an ever expanding list.
An induction to the fiber world is not unlike being taken under the wing of any other epicure. There are steps to take. Look first. Does it gather light in softness or shine like silk. One tastes fiber with a squeeze and a small roll between the thumb and forefinger. Is it soft like merino? Slick? Sproingy? Does it squeak? Is it stiff or lighter than air? Raise it to the soft underbelly of your chin and decide if belongs there for long. Is there a whiff of the warm breath of a grazing animal or the bite of vinegar in a dyebath?
side note: My local yarn store, Hanks has been fostering such activity.