Flick Carding

I wasn’t entirely correct about that callous on my finger from flick carding. There’s still a blister under there. Which is disappointing because I really wanted to go whole hog on the last fleece to be flick carded in my secret stash.

But, I did take Thursday off to be with Miss Butterfly, and despite the fact that we were mostly working on her stuff and her room, I did find time for flick carding. Between that day off and doing an hour or so of flick carding last evening, I feel like I am making steady progress.

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The black bin is the locks still needing to be carded. The full bag is flick carded locks and they’ve been squished down so often that I can’t fit anymore into that bag without wool spilling out the top. The mostly empty bag was yesterday evening’s progress. There’s still a fair amount to go, but progress is made. I hope to spend a little more time with it this evening. But, flick carding is an awfully dusty job requiring a shower after the fact, so I am saving it for the evening.

This is a nice light colored fleece with some additional grey running through here and there. It’s good, but it’s not stunning. The last fleece was far more interesting to flick card and to spin. I purchased this already washed, and the person washing it certainly washed it far harder than I would have. It’s kind of a pain to pick the locks out from the balls of wool that were washed, and this is leaving me quite a lot of waste. My own washing technique became a technique in which I take a lot of time before washing to preserve the structure of the locks to make flick carding so much easier. And there’s a lot less waste. This fleece also has a lot of second cuts floating around in the washed wool, where my own technique would have all of that removed before the washing happened. Does my way save time? Not necessarily, the time is either taken on the front end or the back end. But, for me, it tends to keep me more motivated about the processing after washing the fleece.

I haven’t been spinning at all since I am hoping to get some knitting projects done again to even out those yearly totals. But it’s hard to have flick carded fleece around and not spin it just to see how it’s going to spin up! I am giving myself the goal of finishing one knitting project first. I’ve got three active projects on the needles.

As a nail polish update, I ended up changing out my nail color on Thursday. So, I went from Sunday evening to Thursday evening, totally a record for me. And, the honest truth is I could have gotten at least one more day out of that manicure, it was starting to crumble at the very edges, but not enough to have to remove. I just had the time and wanted to change it out. I have a hot pink on now, which is a color I love, but I think I’ll change it out again on Sunday evening. It’s a nice Sunday evening routine when I have the time for it, and going into the week with a fresh manicure is pleasant.

Let’s see, what else? Work. It’s going surprisingly well right now. I mean, there are all the little emergencies of a week of work going on, but despite the fact we are short staffed, everyone is chipping in nicely and things are rolling along. I don’t know if I mentioned it or not, but I was able to get rid of one overwhelming project that takes up a large portion of my time. I didn’t have to give it to someone on my team or even someone in my department, or even someone at my university! I gave it to another university entirely. She and I communicate about it regularly still, she still has questions, but the daily work of it isn’t on me anymore and that leaves me a lot more time to actually train and manage my team. It’s an amazing feeling! Prior to this, I was so overburdened that I couldn’t get through my days getting everything done. I just had to prioritize my projects and hope for the best. And let other things drop, and see where they landed. This upcoming week I believe we’ll be conducting interviews for a new person for my team, and that’ll be exciting as well.

Miss Butterfly begins high school on Monday. She’s a teenager with all the teenage angst and irritations, but she also has a fairly positive attitude that I think will serve her well. She’s nervous, just as I would be, but I feel confident that once she gets settled in, she’ll be fine.

This morning I am enjoying a very quiet morning. Miss Butterfly is hanging out with her father, and Mr. Ink is at work. This leaves me and the dog, and there’s nothing Lizzie likes more than a quiet Saturday morning with Mom. I am convinced of this, as she gets grumpy if it doesn’t work out for me. She had a vet check this week, and besides an infected eyelid, which she now has drops for, she’s a pretty healthy old lady.

That’s it from here! Tomorrow will be a makeup post, and then I don’t know what else will get posted this week since I am still plugging away at a shawl that is growing bigger but not getting finished awfully fast. Have a great weekend!

 

For Days

I’ve got red singles for days.

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Two more bobbins full of singles to be plied, as well as two partial bobbins hanging out for the next plying session. It’s not so interesting, but it is productive. And I am really loving the fact that I am getting this done.

But today? Today is not really for spinning. Or not wool spinning. I am sipping on coffee and about to get read for a gravel bike ride. Yep, despite last week’s disaster, I am at it again. (My friend is MUCH better though, and able to go on her week-long bike trip which leaves today, much to my amazement and happiness.) I had planned for today’s ride to just be a solo ride, I figured I’d take my favorite route at my pace, and then when I’d had too much I’d just turn around and come back. But then I saw that another friend of mine is trying to get back on the bike after a long absence. She used to ride gravel as well, so I figured I’d ask, entirely expecting she’d not want to do that yet. She wanted to! So, I have a partner for my solo gravel ride. 🙂 It may not be a long or fast ride, but it will be satisfying.

And this is a good thing, because I’ve got a 40 miler planned next weekend, and can’t quit riding gravel between now and then, or it’ll all just be way harder than expected.

Miss Butterfly comes home this week and I’ve got two days off at the end of the week as well as the next Monday to spend with her and to run errands and get her prepared for high school which starts VERY soon now. It’ll be welcome time off, much needed, and I can’t wait to see Miss Butterfly. I bet I am even able to finish this red wool spin during the week!

That’s all the news from here today, have a wonderful weekend!

Declutter Update 7

The final update for a bit, I do believe.

After another night of heavy rains, another 2 inches, and a day full of unrelenting rain until the afternoon, it finally cleared up yesterday. Miss Butterfly and I were out in the rainy part doing a bit of shopping. The plumber arrived early and replaced our toilet, so we were able to get out and about fairly quickly.

Then I had time for rolag creating, which was yesterday’s true goal. I managed to get through more than a pound of wool in my creations. I created two sets, the first being a green set that has 7 ounces, and then a blue/grey set that has over 6 ounces.

I know it sounds odd, but I am actually running rather thin on wool for rolags now. I’ve got enough for one more set without going to great lengths to flick card and dye the fleeces I have in stash. And that’ll be a lighter set at that.

The biggest challenge I have right now is simply not starting spinning the stuff I’ve just created! The whole point was to get it to a point where I can spin, not necessarily to start spinning immediately.

That being said, I have put things away for now. I head back to work today, and because of that, I wanted to see where I was with all this. I wanted to be done enough to see if I really did reduce the stash in the craft room. And I did! Instead of two cabinets full of wool, I now can fit everything in one cabinet. And it’s the smaller of the two cabinets. So I was able to put away some other items, not wool related, in the larger cabinet. Rather than a laundry bin full of wool plus a plastic bin, I got my dyed stash and add-ins down to just the laundry bin, INCLUDING the very large amounts of red mohair I own. I repurposed the plastic bin for one of the fleeces needing to be flick carded, reclaiming a proper bag for my own use again. I still have the brown merino on the prelude, but I have to admit I am not overly eager to spin it right now, after marathoning the grey CVM/Romeldale. I prefer to do a bit of knitting instead.

In any case, as of right now, I have pretty much cut my “hidden” stash right in half. And my to spin fiber cabinet is full to the point of bursting, both with fiber AND potential. It’s very exciting! This weekend may bring us back to a bit more dyeing, I’ve got another project in mind. But, I do believe my progress thus far is satisfactory, and I won’t keep posting declutter updates daily.

It has really only recently occurred to me that I just have two days of work and then I get another weekend! That’s nutty. And wonderful.

Declutter Update 5

Oh my good goodness, did I ever work through some hidden stash yesterday!

I got started at that drum carder, and 8 hours later I had made my way through almost 2 pounds of wool. 2 pounds! That’s nutty. Here’s what I made.

In these two, I used the same blue base for both sets and toned one blue and light, and the other I toned black and dark.

Despite the fact that it looks like both these sets are orange, they aren’t. The set on the left I began with a yellow base, adding pink and hot pink to the orange looking ones, and blue tones to the green looking ones. That’ll be a combo spin. Then the set on the right is an actual orange color combo with reds and rusts.

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I loved this set quite a lot. I took a coral color base and then added a whole mess of pink to it, with some rich teal green as well. I think these will be a blast to spin.

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And then for my last trick, I took an emerald green dyed over a grey natural wool, added a whole mess of different color greens toning toward olive, added a pop of brown bamboo, and called it good.

Each set is over 4 ounces, some more than others. Each set has various amounts of silk, bamboo, and other various add-ins so they’ll be totally interesting to spin.

So, now I have almost 2 more pounds of wool in my stash to work with, in batt form. Add to that the 10 ounces that made it in there yesterday after dyeing and drying. Previous to this, I had a big pink laundry like bin full of wool as well as a plastic storage bin. The storage bin is completely empty, and the laundry bin is somewhat light. Not packed full.

I decided to stop and put the drum carder away because I really would also like to create some rolags out of this. I do still have tons of base wool and tons of add-ins. But, I can’t really easily control the color on my drum carder, so I am looking forward to working on some rolags and creating something that’s a bit more gradient.

I really didn’t do any spinning yesterday, there really wasn’t time, and when I did sit down for a second, I decided I could knit a few rows.

Today is for the plumber and perhaps the zoo. We’ve been having some funny freak storms with a major downpour, but we are hoping that we can still enjoy the zoo all together anyhow. So, far less time to work on the destash. I think I can still get some done though.

 

Declutter Update 3

Yesterday was dye day. I admit, while I did get some things done, I should have worked at it a little harder. But, I’ve got the dye pot running again this morning.

The first thing I dyed was some merino locks. They weren’t yet flick carded, and I decided to try a technique I’d tried twice a long time ago which created some of my favorite dyed locks. The technique was called cram pot dyeing. The idea is to layer in the locks, and dye them various colors all in the same pot. So here’s what I came up with:

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Ok, clearly my phone didn’t love the bright colors. But, as you can see each individual lock even has different colors in it. I am not sure if I’ll flick card and spin these, or make rolags and spin them. But either way, the wool is super soft and will absolutely make a lovely finished yarn.

I then quickly dyed up some corriedale locks that were already flick carded, these just go in my bin of colors for drum carding.

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Then I divided up 8 ounces of undyed corriedale wool top into 2 ounce sections and got 3 of them dyed.

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The yellow will head right into the bin of dyed wool for batts and rolags. The blue and the blue/green were intended for the same, but now that I look at them more carefully, I’ve decided instead to dye up another blue/green section then combo spin those three sections together.

I had another early start this morning. As per usual, the moment you try something new that Lizzie likes, she’ll hold you to it. So she held me to the 6 am walk. To be fair, I wanted that motivation as well, I just had a little harder time getting out of bed this morning.

That being said, I did get so much of what I had hoped done yesterday. Did you know that ALL the grey CVM/Romeldale locks are carded now? Which means now I just have to spin spin spin. And keep dyeing.

Declutter Update #2

We are under a heat advisory here, and I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited to get to doing all the things I have planned for today. Mr. Ink, despite being on vacation, has to work today. This is what always happens when we plan a vacation. I started the morning with a dog walk, because there’s no way I am walking her any later.

This morning is for pulling out dyes and getting fiber dyed, the next step in decluttering the craft room and making some of my wool into something that can go in the fiber cabinet.

But, while I wait for coffee to brew, I figured I’d show you where I am now. First up, here is the dark merino that I didn’t grab a photo of yesterday:

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The batt has a ton of vegetable matter in it, and I am kind of ignoring it. Whatever falls out while I am spinning falls out. More will fall out when plying, and whatever is left I can deal with while knitting. Trying to pick out each individual piece now just slows me down way too much. I worked on this for awhile last evening while Mr. Ink and I watched the new Murder on the Orient Express. Well, he kind of slept through most of it, but I enjoyed it!

I now have 4 spindles of CVM Romeldale now.

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This is quite an accomplishment really since I am spinning the singles pretty thin, and, you have to remember that every bit of fiber I have spun also had to be flick carded first. That being said, this is the project I am enjoying immensely. I really don’t want to work on anything else right now. So, this particular fleece absolutely held it’s charm over a number of years.

Tomorrow….fiber! Dyed fiber. I feel certain I’ll have some to show off. And while that fiber won’t be ready to spin any time soon, it’ll be one step closer to where it needs to be.

 

Acknowledging a Problem

During my declutter of my craft room, it became clear that I’ve got to do something about all the various undyed natural fibers I’ve got in my fiber stash. At one time I was quite obsessed with prepping my own fleece, and that was great for me. However, I am not at that stage in my crafting anymore. In other times, many times really, I have been into making my own batts and rolags. My craft room is absolutely FULL of “hidden” undyed fleece and dyed fiber and add ins for interesting batts and rolags.

This is basically hidden not because I am deliberately hiding it in any way, but because it doesn’t actually reside with the rest of my yarn and fiber stash. In Mr. Ink’s den I have an area where I keep both yarn and dyed prepared fiber. I am so accustomed to walking into that room and choosing something from that cabinet that I never get around to choosing something undyed, and I rarely get around to making new batts or rolags.

So I was able to declutter that craft room to a large extent, but then had a total stall out once I started opening cabinet doors and realizing I had a serious problem with being unable to use up my hidden stash.

I am going to haul it out and present it to you. Not for the purpose of decluttering it, I’ll be keeping most of it. But for the purpose of identifying what I have. And then, once I spin a bump of regular prepared fiber, I need to find a way to move what I have into handspun yarn or into fiber that is prepped/dyed in such a way that it makes it into my regular fiber stash.

Now, I’ve already moved away from dyeing my own fiber. I still have dyes, so I can still dye some of it, but I am done with purchasing new dyes so those colors will be limited. I also only have a crock pot to dye with now, I decluttered the remainder of my dyeing supplies a few years back. It’s just not a passion of mine, and I know I won’t be taking it up with any expertise or intention toward that. But, if I get some of these things dyed, I’ll be able to use them in batts and rolags.

New summer goal for this year, move undyed fiber stash and colorful add ins into my regular fiber stash by making batts or rolags, or make it yarn. Plus, it should make for interesting blogging, right? Anyhow, let’s see what I’ve got going on in my “hidden” stash. (For the record, I’ve been saying for years “it’s not that much.” And it isn’t, for someone who is processing fleece regularly. But when I haven’t touched it in 3 years, it’s suddenly a whole lot!)

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Here are two CVM Romeldale fleeces. The one on top is much larger than that on the bottom. They are both washed, as I made sure to wash everything before I moved 3 years ago. It was a wise goal, but it would have been nice to have touched some of this since. Anyhow, these are both pretty full of vegetable matter, they aren’t the best. But they are worth working through I think. There’s a lot of flick carding to be done here! The bottom one isn’t washed in a way that preserved lock structure, I didn’t have that ability at the time I washed it. So there will be a large amount of waste associated with it. The top one less so, As I had created my fleece washing box when I washed that one, and it was in use. The fleece washing box is now long gone, it went to Mr. Ink who took it apart to make a device to sift dirt with. I guess in the end it served its purpose more than once.

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This is a Romney fleece, or part of one. It’s one of those situations where one learns to maybe not purchase fleece on the internet unless you really trust the seller. And, maybe to wash a test bit immediately and then see how it goes. I think this fleece is full of scurf. I need to flick card a bit to find out. If it is, this’ll be going in the trash. I have no interest in working through that, despite the fact it is otherwise a gorgeous fleece.

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Here’s a whole load of various fibers in various dyed states. More to be dyed, tons to work through and create yarn, or batts, or rolags. This looks pretty overwhelming to me. All that red? It was given to me by one of my international conference attendees. I have decided that I would like to spin some up and give it back to her in October. So, I’ll yank some of that out and spin it up pretty quickly I think. I just have to keep that at the forefront of my brain.

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This photo is of a basket of samples. This is super cute because I can see that at some point way back when, I was trying to keep Miss Butterfly occupied by having her make post it notes with the names of the wool on them. This is my project number 1. I will flick card and sample spin some, and the rest I’ll flick card and dye for add ins. Here’s a secret, there’s some in there that are already flick carded! Bonus.

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*sigh*

On the left top is the remains of a CVM Romeldale fleece that I purchased and processed. It’s a truly lovely fleece, Much of this fleece was spun into yarn that was used for the edging of my huge lizard ridge blanket:

Other parts of it made it into a dye pot, then into batts that were spun along the way. But I still have quite a lot left because one fleece goes a LONG way. Seriously though, this was one of my favorite fleeces to work with. It was a great investment, even if there’s still some hanging around.

Below that there’s this STUNNING black wool and unfortunately I don’t even remember what it is anymore. It’s definitely a longwool. The white batts are leftovers from a jacob fleece, I processed awhile back, I don’t even know what to do with them anymore. These I tend to hand out pretty freely when someone is learning to spin. All around that are more various samples of things to try and spin.

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Guess what? MORE SAMPLES!

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This one is from a Corriedale fleece that I spun and knit into a featherweight cardigan. I still have more 2 ply laceweight from this. It’s a beautiful fleece with hints of grey. It’s washed, it’s flick carded, and it would be easy to dye for add ins, but it’s also so pretty that I am not sure I want to. I bet this is one of the last things I work with.

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And finally, Border Leicester dyed locks on the left, and angora I cannot use on the right. (I am allergic to angora, not that there’s something wrong with the angora.)

You know, now that I’ve hauled it all out, I think there is quite a lot I’d be ok with parting with. I think tomorrow I should get some weights and post what I’d be willing to part with in case anyone is interested.

In any case, Mr. Ink took a look at all I’d hauled out and raised an eyebrow. I said “I am working on admitting I have a problem.” And he just laughed. That being said, this is mostly a problem I created before he and I moved to the new home, it’s not a problem that has been building over 3 years. So, I don’t think this is a bad habit I have to break. It’s just time to declutter, use, and acknowledge the sunk cost fallacy going on here.

Now Orange

I finished Find Your Fade last night! Of course, with the blocking of it, I have no photos. But, I am wearing it today, and I am thrilled with it. If it’s not raining when I get home, you’ll get to see a pretty fabulous finished object.

In the meantime, here are more batts I created over the weekend.

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I’ve got over 8 ounces of this color. I started with two fibers in “aztec gold” my absolute favorite dye color. 2 ounces of bfl/silk and 2 ounces of grey romney. Then I put all my add ins together, keeping within the orange/grey/brown theme. Once the first batt went through, I looked at my dyed fiber stash, decided the color on the batt wasn’t yet complex enough, and grabbed a bright orange to divide up and add in to the batts. And with that, I  was happy.

Miss Butterfly and I headed out on our fourth bike ride of our 30 day challenge. That kid, she has no respect for hills. And while I am aware I am going to bike hills when biking from out my back door, I still try to manage finding the easier route. When biking with Miss Butterfly, I mostly let her choose the route. This finds us going down very steep hills, which is fun, only to have her turn around and want to go right back up that hill. That being said, one of the reasons I haven’t taken her down to the trail is that I am never sure she’s going to be happy handling the very large and long hill back up to the house. I mean, I LIKE hills and it makes me a little grumpy every time I see it. We did it yesterday and she powered up that hill like nobody’s business. So, her desire to take the trail to a local park on Thursday should be completely doable. I think that’s a route we’ll take as a family. Again, it wasn’t a long ride yesterday, but it was hilly.

So, when I had the opportunity to go rollerskating, which I took, my legs were already exhausted! As soon as I got on my skates I could feel all the hills I’ve been doing daily. Nevertheless, we had a nice time skating, and I also love it because it’s good exercise, still manages to count as steps, albeit a lot more slowly, and certainly seems to work muscles I don’t typically work. Plus, since we’ve done it pretty regularly over the past year or so, I feel pretty confident and am not constantly worried I will fall and break something.

Now that I am finished with Find Your Fade, I am struggling to find my interest in the two shawls I have on the needles. I think it may be because Find Your Fade was a lovely knit, but an easy knit. Endless garter stitch punctuated by easy but uninteresting lace detail. Don’t get me wrong, this type of knitting absolutely has its place. However, I pulled out the Big Waffle shawl and put in a few rows on that and found myself completely disinterested. Probably because it’s endless basket weave. So, I am feeling a case of startitis, but am hoping to head it off at the pass with some quality time spent on the more complicated Lighter than Perfume lacework. Or spinning. I guess I could do some spinning. But, it’s going to be tough to keep my eye off my queue right now!

Happy Wednesday friends, halfway through the work week now, and I am looking forward to a nice weekend!

 

 

Weekend Wrap Up

Well, it’s official, I FINALLY got a very relaxing weekend. It was just lovely.

I made a bunch of rolags:

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7 ounces in fact! I used 4 ounces of fiber (2 different but similar colors) that I dyed and paired it with all sorts of stuff. Add ins of sari silk, silk noil, bamboo top, silk top, cashmere, and different colors of merino. They are good and crazy, which is just what I want.

I am about halfway through this spin as well, silky cashmerino from frabjous fibers:

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This photo does not show the halfway point, I reached that this morning when it was dark. But you can at least see the colors! They are rich and lovely.

I also did a ton of planting of spring bulbs. I planted bulbs for hours. And, the biggest issue was that I kept digging up bulbs I planted earlier this year! Apparently every place I look at as a great spot to see spring color is also a spot I’ve also planted in. That’s not entirely true, I’ve got Coco’s memorial tree to plant around, and another garden bed I haven’t even remotely touched yet. It’s just that Mr. Ink was watering, and he got to those beds before I did, and I didn’t want to dig in the mud.

On the list of the things I planted were tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, allium, star of nature, double snowdrops, a new daylily and a new regular lily. Oh, and some hardy cyclamen coum, and hardy gladiolus just to see what happens. The spring should be quite lovely and exciting in my garden.

The other task of the weekend was moving more flowers out of the veggie garden. I was able to give away some more mums, that was good. The rest will probably go in the yard waste bin at this point. I’ve done what I could to spread the love! Then, Mr. Ink took on the major task of moving the massive peony in the veggie garden to a new spot. This is a 60 year old peony, and Mr. Ink says that if I ever ask him to deal with another peony, he’ll be dealing with it with round up. Take a look at the size of those roots he’s holding!

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It really did try to break the shovel, we could hear it cracking as he tried to dig it out. But, it did get done, and he cut it down to a manageable size and then put it in another spot. This is absolutely the last peony needing to be moved, so no round up necessary.

Unfortunately, that leaves the task for me of continuing to dig up other flowers. I’d kind of been waiting on digging some stuff out since the peony was so huge and those flowers were growing under it. Now I’ve got a lovely open space, and I need to get in there with a shovel and keep after it. Especially the orange daylilies that never go away!

In any case, a pretty good weekend full of things I love to do around here, and I hope yours was equally lovely!

A Tuesday Evening

After my Pas de Valse sweater knitting overload this weekend, by Monday evening my hands were shot. I kept trying to knit, but my hands would just fall asleep every time I’d attempt it.

I was not terribly inspired by weaving, so instead I decided I should dig through my fiber stash and choose something to spin on my wheel. I had anticipated spinning a Loop cloud, but then I looked to the side, and there sat some batts I’d made awhile back, along with some matching locks I’d dyed and flick carded, but hadn’t yet made into batts.

The fiber was from this fleece I processed 3 years ago. So much has been done with this fiber, the largest project being spinning it from locks for the border of my Lizard Ridge blanket. I’ve sold some of the locks, given away dyed locks made into batts, sampled, created, and I STILL have clean undyed locks to play with! This fleece was a fantastic investment!

Anyhow, point being, I had this batt, heathered, combining dyed locks with undyed locks. I also had a bunch of dyed locks. I decided that rather than keep looking at them, I’d spin them. I’d just combine the batt with the dyed locks and call it a day.

Then I started spinning the batt. And it was spinning up so nice and fine, and easily. I loved it! I decided those locks wanted to be matching batts. So I devoted Tuesday evening to making 3 more heathered batts.

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Pretty stuff!

And here’s why I insisted on more batts.

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It’s just spinning up so nicely! The colors are amazing, and gentle, and I think this will make a lovely bouncy thin 3 ply yarn. I can’t wait to complete it!

Just Keep Spinnin

Spinning heavy weekend on this blog! I kept spinning on my 3 feet of sheep. I just wanted to get done!

I woke up quite early on Saturday morning in order to spend some time with my wheel and to enjoy the quiet of the house alone.

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I started about here, you can see blue paired with yellow, then when the yellow ran out, paired with hot pink.

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In the end I ran out of blue and the hot pink ended up being the final color as a solid. But, it doesn’t look that solid since it also had some great tones, and the silk looks very different than the wool.

It’s my intention to chain ply this, but I am going to give it a day to rest I think. It’s a very full bobbin, and I just don’t want to be fighting with the singles.

I have a lot of knitting planned for the upcoming weeks. I keep postponing sweaters and so on for smaller projects, but there’s a new sweater in particular I am eager to get going on!

Weekend Recap

It’s been another busy weekend at Shells’. As you know, I blocked Lizard Ridge, but that really was just the beginning.

We’ve been working on settling into the house, of course. We have blue walls in the kitchen and dining room. I had originally really disliked that, but then I managed to find a matching tablecloth within my own linens stash, and suddenly the entire color scheme quit bothering me.

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We’d spent a lot of time trying to rearrange the room to our liking, and have finally settled on something we prefer. So it was time to put away the china. But, once I started unwrapping it all, I realized that I really wanted everything clean, so 3 dishwasher loads later…..

We’ve had lovely sunny breakfasts, where I shot these photos of the old dog:

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He rather likes it here.

We spent half of Saturday and all day Sunday cleaning out Mr. Ink’s family home, but Sunday evening we took a break to grill.

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It was so nice to grill in our own back yard.

I got the remainder of the furniture for my craft room and set about organizing that space. It’s not done yet, but it’s getting there. It’s so close that I can actually sit in there now and do some spinning. Or plying, in this case:

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That’s a 2 ply on the wheel, out of a fleece my friend Mary had processed at a mill, and I got a few ounces of.

I hope no one was as busy as we were this weekend, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, if you were, I hope it was a satisfying type of busy, like ours.

Progression

Awhile back I started on my 3 feet of sheep fiber, spinning it into energized singles in anticipation of creating a collapse weave at some point in the future.

I got sidetracked with other spins, and then knew I’d be putting away my loom for a bit. Now that I am close to having a dedicated craft space, I decided to work on some more of the singles.

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I love the rich colors of these small colored bumps.

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Some of the wool is of a grey variety, and there’s silk mixed in, so despite the wool being mostly one color, there’s always beautiful variations on that color running through my hands.

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Which makes it a very pleasing spin!

This is where I stop for now, I’ll start the project in the upcoming weeks, then spin more if necessary.

Themyscira

Dyeabolical used to have my absolute favorite colorway regularly in her shop.  Themyscira is such a rich and beautiful color, and on superwash merino, all the more rich. Even though getting it these days is a bit more difficult, I still really wanted to spin this.

I spun entirely on spindles, but plied on the wheel. I tried to get colors to line up once in awhile, even though I hadn’t properly planned that out ahead of time. It worked pretty well, I’ve got a good mix of solids and combos.

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575 yards of 2 ply, mostly laceweight yarn. In very rich and stunning colors. I am going to treasure this skein!

The weekend in crafting.

I was happily knitting along on my trillian shawl until my elbow started to give me sharp stabbing pains. This is something that happens to me these days when trying to knit too much with small needles. Hence the lack of socks now. So, I decided to temper that stress on my body by casting on something new that required larger needles.

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This will become a cape, the type which I have tried on, loved the look of, but not yet knit.

The yarn has its own interesting story. It’s handspun, spun by Marja. There were two loop bumps and she thought it would be interesting to ply together, so they became a very large amount of 2 ply yarn. Unfortunately, once finished, the yarn was not satisfactory to her. So, I suggested she take that two ply and cable it. This would mix up the colors more. She ended up with 660 yards of worsted weight yarn, and this is yarn I absolutely fell in love with. It was soft and squishy and muted and interesting. I Had To Have It. I was promptly indulged, and I’ve had the great pleasure of knitting it up.

I can also show off the trillian shawl, it has come a long way even though I had to stop knitting on it this weekend.

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I still love the colors, they are fantastic together. And, the resulting shawl is going to be stunning. But, for now, the going will be slower.

And finally, I began spinning the batt the little girls made on Saturday morning. Before doing so, I added some additional color in the way of silk. More orange, some blue, and more yellow. The resulting batt is rather….bright. But, it’s also interesting and fun to spin. I started it on my hipstrings mistral, just in time for a new hipstrings mistral to arrive.

You see, I had purchased a zephyr, and it was just too heavy for my spinning style. I knew I was eventually going to destash it, but figured I’d try to get used to it first. However, I saw a mistral go up for destash, and the person destashing it mentioned that she was going to purchase a heavier hipstrings. So I offered mine up in trade. It worked out, I got a new spindle, got rid of the one that was too heavy, and, the person destashing the mistral threw in some rolags from her shop, which was a complete surprise to me. I’ll show you them later. But, you should check out her shop, since she’s got some lovely yarn and fiber, and she’s a lovely and considerate person.

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It really was a wonderfully relaxing weekend. I managed to get stuff done around the house that I’ve been putting off for ages, and that was wonderful. I hope you had an equally lovely weekend.

Hiking, day #4

After handing in our bikes, we headed to Zion National Park for camping and hiking. We got our spot, and I was surprised to realize quite suddenly that if the option is primitive camping involving very few people, or camping that has the comfort of real bathrooms, but surrounded by people, I am choosing the primitive camping.

Mr. Ink, somewhat annoyed that our head seemed lower than our feet on the mesa, made sure we didn’t make that mistake again.

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We were soon set up, though a bit squished in a tiny camp site.

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There were so many people, and a couple campsites over, a number of very young children. (I might add that there is a rule that you are not to have more than 6 people per site, an there were more than 6 children alone at that site.) This may have been one of the reasons I struggled with this type of camping. It was extremely loud.

There were also other visitors.

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These mule deer were very friendly and had no trouble grazing among the sites.

The rough night was tempered though, by the first view from the tent in the morning. I opened the door to this:

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Really spectacular.

I made the joke that the park was the Las Vegas of nature, as we headed up on a shuttle to do some hiking. Because of our thunder mountain experience, we decided we didn’t need anymore extreme hiking, so we chose moderate hikes instead. I did not feel in danger on these hikes, and the views were spectacular. I took pictures, but it seems like all of mine just don’t capture what it was actually like. However, when we were through with hiking and wandering around the gift shop before heading back to Las Vegas, I told Mr. Ink that I REALLY must come back.  I absolutely did not get enough of hiking and I hoped for more someday in the future.

And I finally leave you with one picture of spinning. Spinning I’d been working on a bit during the vacation. Pictured with a spindle bowl I picked up in Zion National Park.

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The fiber is crown mountain farms superwash wool. I have a totaly of 8 oz, and have been working on it pretty consistently since my return. It seems I might actually have yarn to show off at some point, if we’d quite traveling!

I’ll have a vacation wrap up post tomorrow. And then we can get on to that which I’ve been doing since then.

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing the Trend

This is the last of the undyed BFL wool, so I don’t know when you’ll see more dyeing from me. I do have another pound of merino/silk, but I’ve also got a sick kid, and I use her to help separate and then chain the 4 oz. bits for dyeing.

My idea with this one was to do tones of brown. I’ve purchased fiber with tones of brown before, and always loved the result. So, I pulled out all my brown tone dyes and gave it a whirl. It was commented that the result looks like a calico cat, and I’d have to agree.

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I think it is quite amazing that I’ve consistently liked the result of my dyeing lately. I’ll certainly have no business purchasing fiber in the near future!

In other news, Mr. Ink (my favorite name for the man in my life) and I headed out for an overnight trip to Des Moines this weekend. He attended the Volbeat concert while I hung out with the dog at the hotel. Sunday morning we got up early, and headed out to do some biking. I took a few pictures of what is possibly some of the nicest signage I’ve ever seen at a trail. One I took because it is my dad’s name, which I thought really fun.

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In the end, we weren’t on these trails, there’s some mountain biking trails in there as well and we had fun exploring them. We hope to get back out there at some point, since I tend to be very cautious on my first run through. I’ve also been doing so much biking, that my muscles are just all exhausted, which didn’t help matters since this trail was a step up in difficulty from what I am accustomed to riding. Even so, it was a very successful little trip, and a nice way to get away and out of a routine for a bit.

 

 

 

Dye Week

I’ve been continuing on with my dye week. I throw some fiber in the dye pot if I’ve got an evening “off.” It’s been an effective way to continue. My current method continues to work well.

First up is 4 oz of BFL. I dyed this on Monday actually, but I didn’t think it had enough color, so I threw it in the dye pot again last evening and added the purple. It’s still going to be on the lighter end of the spectrum when it is done, but I like the addition of the purple quite a bit.

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And then I tried another. This one turned out far better than I could even imagine. I absolutely LOVE it. All the colors here, and the combination of them, totally trip my trigger. Plus, perfecting my method has added to my happiness with the fiber overall.

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I plan to continue this trend since it seems to be working so well. And I keep having ideas. So, that’s refreshing!

 

 

More handspun neck gaiters

Because the last two clearly were not enough, I decided to knit two more. These are just the most lovely things. Handspun is 2 ply, the wool from enchanted knoll farms.

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I rather quickly gave away the last two, so at least one of these is going to be mine. All mine.

Dyeing Locks

I so enjoyed making the green batts out of dyed locks and undyed locks on the drum carder. Enjoyed it so much that over the weekend I dyed two more colors in hopes to do the same.

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I am really eager to see how these turn out on the drum carder, but just haven’t had the time to get them flick carded and sent through yet. Plus, I have one final batt of green left just for me. I may make more green, the colors were so pleasing to me. Perhaps this weekend.

Dyeing and Blending

My friend Marja has been doing a lot of babysitting for Bug lately, as well as other all around general awesome helpful friend stuff, and I wanted to do something special for her. I had it in my head that I’d dye some locks from my CVM Romeldale fleece that I’d already washed. I thought that the gray would work well with greens and blues, as evidenced by some I’d given Corrie and her son had dyed. I decided to crampot dye them, and did so. Unfortunately, not much of the gray showed through, and the colors were quite saturated. The effect was not at all what I wanted. Not at all. I wasn’t pleased.

Then I pulled out the drum carder, flicked some of the locks, blended them with the undyed gray locks, and ended up with some beautiful batts.

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The above photo shows the batts, as well as flick carded and not yet flick carded locks, both dyed and undyed.

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Let’s take a closer look at those batts, shall we? This is 3 passes through the drum carder and they are just lovely. I have 3 complete, and one more on the carder. Then they will be ready to pass off to Marja next time I see her. They are extremely soft, lofty, bouncy, and beautiful and I intend to make some of my own. And then dye more locks and make more batts in different colors, because why stop at one?

Not a quick process

Knitting is not a quick process for me these days. I started a muji painting cowl at the beginning of April. To add interest to a very long project full of stockinette, I added a few rows of detail as I saw fit. The yarn is handspun I spun from wool I dyed, then blended with silk on my drum carder. The cowl is extremely soft and squishy. It is also super long, and if I pull it down over my shoulders, it feels like a cape with a cowl. It should be a very nice piece in the winter.

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I do believe that the kitchener stitch is really what held me up at the end of this project. The idea of that much kitchener just made my soul tired. The closer I drew to being done, the longer it would languish between times of picking it up. And once it was done, I made even more excuses to not complete the project. Thankfully, once I needed the needles for other projects, I was actually able to find inspiration to get it done.

 

A long awaited post

At least it is for me. Spinning and plying 2 loop bumps is no small task. But I finally finished. And the result is 870 yards of gorgeous sport weight yarn. This is a project I am extremely proud of. The spinning is well done, as is the plying. The sparkle is subtle, and then yarn is smooth despite being a textured bump. I am extremely pleased.

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Writing from the past

So, I am going to write on Saturday, day #1 of TdF, and have it post early Sunday morning. So you are getting a Saturday update on Sunday.

I began my TdF today, but not quite as expected. I had a kid to pack for camp, an appointment for service of my car, and many many errands to run. This didn’t leave me a lot of wheel time. So instead, I pulled out a bullseye bump I’d started some time before, and took that with me, along with a spindle, to have the car serviced.

I spun a spindle full of yarn, quitting when the spindle got boggy.

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The blue I had spun previous to this, but figured I should finish this bump before moving on to something else.

I did have the afternoon free, but it was for making lunch, napping, and gardening. Now I am on to making dinner and relaxing, and perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to pull out the wheel tonight. That would be lovely. I also had an opportunity to finish and block a handspun scarf. That hasn’t happened in ages.

For now though, I am off to spend the evening doing weekend type things, and look forward to updating Monday morning after another full day of TdF.

On a Monday Evening

All day long yesterday at work I looked forward to plying my cloudlover singles. I finished them up Sunday evening and I couldn’t wait to get home to ply.

And then….when it was time to ply, I decided instead to work on combing my shetland wool. I actually finished it up and then worked a bit longer on the spinning of it.

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I really am not sure what I will do with this. Leave it as a single? Ply? This is clearly yarn just for the sake of making yarn. Experimentation.

So after that was done, I figured I’d put Bug to bed, and THEN I’d ply the cloudlover singles.

That didn’t happen either. I seem to have a desire to knit lately. It is so unusual for me right now, that I am afraid to look at it too closely, lest it disappear again.  I knit on my Muji Painting cowl, and no plying was done. We will see about tonight.

All the Cool Toys

I’ve added to my collection of cool toys this month. From a destash, I picked up a pair of wool combs. I’ve desired them for ages now, but wasn’t ready to spend the cash on them. These just practically fell in my lap. While I received them on Monday, this week has been ridiculously busy and I wasn’t able to even touch them until Tuesday evening. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I’d put on them. Then I remembered that one of my between ewe and me fiber club offerings was 4 oz of washed shetland wool. That seemed perfect. 

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I loaded up my combs with gorgeous shetland locks and gave it a try. I was surprised at just how much VM these locks had in them. It wasn’t immediately apparent by looking at them, but combing wool does really make all the VM fall out of the locks. 

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I combed according to the Benjamin Green Studio youtube video. It worked quite well though I’ll need a lot more practice. And it is my intention to watch a bunch of other wool combing videos since I think just going with one is unwise. Other people may have tips and tricks which are quite valuable. In fact, Susan McFarland’s video seems to get the results I would find ideal. 

In the end, I had 2 birds nests of fiber. One which is quite small as my first combing I was too nervous to put many locks on the combs, and the other a pretty normal sized next. 

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The shetland, which was super light grey with brown tips, turned into a lovely blended beige. 

I don’t have time to work on this any more until at least the weekend, but I am eager to practice and make this part of my fleece prep routine. 

Jumbley!

Dyeabolical has something new in her shop! Rolags made from a blending board! So cool!

Ever since I saw the resurgence of blending boards as being “a thing” I’ve been interested in trying some fiber blended on a board. I wasn’t really convinced it would be a lovely experience. I wasn’t sure of the point of it, though it was intriguing and I was curious to know what yarn spun from them would be like.

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I think I get it now. I’ve got some rolags from dyeabolical and spinning them is a dream! A great deal of fun! These that I have (and please forgive them for being jumbley, they were dropped, it happens, they don’t spin any worse for it!) work super well on a support spindle.

I finished up the singles from the corgi hill batts. I planned to continue on the saxon, but it has been a super busy week at work and at home. I was so tired and I had a bunch of chores, and so when I did get a chance to settle down, the newness of the rolags called to me and I couldn’t resist trying them.

I am not sure I’ll have much time for spinning this evening either. And I know I’ve got some other stuff to get done before I can ply the corgi hill batts. But once I do have time again, probably this weekend, I think we are going to see a bunch of yarn all at once from me!

In knitting news, I am quite excited to report that I picked up a 2 colored shawl I had set aside for awhile, figured out where I went wrong, and am well on my way to finishing. This is pretty exciting for me since I haven’t really been doing much in the way of knitting lately.

Now for the question of the day. You know, I was struck by the fact that not one, but two people suggested chain plying that caramel colored saxon wool. The reason it struck me is because I don’t generally consider chain plying at all unless I am trying to preserve color changes or make stripes, or too lazy to figure out what I want to do about color changes before I start spinning. Being that chain plying makes a weaker yarn, I am not sure what the advantage there would be? Also, I’ve always heard that chain plying “eats” singles. Now, I am not sure if that is in comparison to a 2 ply or in comparison to a traditional 3 ply, though I suppose this would depend on how long you made your chains. So I am curious, what are your reasons for choosing to chain ply over other plying methods? And do you choose chain plying for wool that is all the same color? If so, why?

 

More Fleece

From my Between Ewe and Me fiber club shipment, shetland fleece. I love how this has two distinct colors. This is, as far as I know, my last fiber club fiber, as I don’t see a new club up and running right now.

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Then there are the 2 samples I washed recently.

Merino:

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Border Leicester:

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I actually washed the border leicester, decided it wasn’t quite clean enough, let it soak a few days and washed again. The water ran clear and I do not believe that the soak took any more dirt out than had happened in the initial wash. I do believe anything else will have to be flick carded out.

Fleece washing is so odd, I look at most fleece and don’t figure it is particularly dirty. And then….once washed I can finally see just how dirty it was.

I have more samples floating around, Racka, Shetland and Navajo Churro. Maybe I will get around to that this weekend. I also have a pound of Wenslydale waiting to be washed, about 8 oz. of CVM Romeldale, and more Corriedale.

Super Fluff

So, my little wool samples all dry in the bathroom. While I was in there, I was looking at the grey corriedale and thinking “Where have I seen that exact color before?” Then I remembered the 4 oz. of Romney I had gotten in the longwool offering of the Between Ewe and Me fiber club. Same lovely grey, and I’d already flick carded those romney locks. I wondered how I could incorporate the two fibers, and I got the brilliant idea to drum card them both together. I figured it would take 2 batts, so I divided out each fiber just by eyeballing the amounts, and threw it on the drum carder. I am telling you it may have taken me all of 15 minutes to make two of the BIGGEST fluffiest batts I’ve ever seen. Seriously. The fiber was so well prepared that I only had to run each batt through twice and there was no real problem with feeding that fiber in. What a joy they were to make and they turned out even more amazing than I expected. So of course I had to spin one. Then I grabbed a picture of my largest spindle and the batt so you could get the perspective of just HOW huge those batts were.

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This is just amazing for my relatively small drum carder!

Why Fleece Prep?

I have managed to wash another 4 fleece samples.

The first is a Jacob. I think these are some really adorable sheep and the second fleece I purchased was from a Jacob.

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Another Corriedale, this one grey.

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Romney

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Cormo

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Disclaimer, this seems to me a rather unorganized post. I can’t figure out if I should tell you a story about what goes through my head during fleece prep or just give you facts. In the end, I fear I haven’t done either very well.

In my last sample fleece post, IntrovertedKnitter asked me this question:

“I haven’t had the pleasure of trying out raw fleece yet, but your samples are so enlightening as to the difference between before and after. I love the variety you have and can’t wait to see what you end up doing with it all. Aside from being able to go back a few more steps in terms of processing (which I can see the appeal)are there other reasons for starting with raw fleece?”

Well, I had to think it over and do a little reflection because I hadn’t really given it much thought before. It is just something I do. But there are reasons.

When I began spinning I thought I would never be interested in fleece processing. It sounded like such dirty hard work, and there was so little spinning involved. Then at some point, I got the idea in my head, as I do, and it stuck. In fact, it refused to let me rest from the time I started researching fleece processing rather intensely to the time I got my hands on a fleece to process. And even then I couldn’t rest until I started washing the fleece. Along the way, I realized I was having a crazy good time with it all and so it stuck. And it grew from there. I guess you could say I started processing on a bit of a whim and then realized just how fun and obsessive it could be. But that still doesn’t answer the question why.

After 4 years of spinning , combed top and batts all started to look the same. I couldn’t get too excited over color anymore as I’d seen most color combinations before and it was a whole lot of same fiber different day. I felt that I’d seen it all and done it all. This was false actually, as it took another 2 years for me to spindle spin, support spindle spin, corespin, spin bulky, etc. But to be honest, I was a little bored with my spinning. Prior to this, my obsession with fiber was like my obsession with yarn, it was all about the color.

But then, all of a sudden, natural colors began to appeal to me in a huge way. And that was when fleece became very interesting. I’ve rarely wanted to dye fleece I’ve prepped, because I love the color that happens in nature.

When it comes to commercial wool, you are limited in what fibers you get to try. So there’s merino, BFL, polwarth, various superwashes, various basics blended with silk, bamboo, or tencel, but as far as the huge variety of wool out there? Commercial wool is limiting. Plus, with it being already prepped commercially, it is hard to get a good idea of how that wool naturally acts. Yes, polwarth is bouncy and BFL is a crimpy longwool, but so often you spin something commercially expecting it to act one way, just to wash it, release it into a more natural state, and it behaves differently than expected. This is a perfectly valid way to spin, but I got to the point where I wanted to understand how these wools acted from the start.

In addition to that, it is awfully hard to find the rarer breeds in commercial top. Even Romney, a longwool fairly popular, isn’t often seen in commercial dyed prep. Never mind Racka, Navajo churro, and a whole host of longwools that are very interesting. Now, it makes sense. After all, breeds like Racka and Navajo Churro are not for sweater or close to skin wear, but they are still interesting and serviceable wools and I have a great desire to explore each of them as much as I can.

There’s an element of learning to it as well. My process is that I end up with a breed of wool I am unfamiliar with, and then I am forced to research how it might act, what the best prep for it might be, what it is best used for, etc. All that is highly interesting for me, I enjoy that part of the process. And then I get to spin it and see how it feels in my own hands and if my experiences are consistent with the going wealth of knowledge.

It gives me a great respect for the differences in each breed as well. For instance, my first experience with Border Leicester, a longwool, was with one that was extremely wiry. You wouldn’t want that anywhere near your skin, and you might not want it on the outside either! Then I got some super cheap Border Leicester, washed that up, and it was the softest longwool I’ve ever encountered. It depends on the sheep as well as the breed, I was amazed at how large a difference it was.

Processing your own fleece gives you the opportunity to design your yarn and garment from start to finish. You wash, you flick card, you decide you you will prep that wool according to how the wool is acting, you’ve got enough to make samples, then you spin your yarn with intention. Then you get to knit or weave the garment that you imagined when you began the entire process. That’s a pretty wild feeling.

I truly enjoy each step of the process. I love watching wool go through its transformation from greasy dirty locks to beautiful yarn. It is extremely appealing and interesting and while I believed at one time certain parts of the process would bore me, I find that it does not. I like to flick card, I like getting all the junk out of the locks. I like to hand card and throw it all through the drum carder. I don’t have wool combs yet, but I’ve played with them a bit and I feel confident that I’d love having them too. And then when all is said and done, I still get to spin that wool.

There’s something to be said for having a few spinning years under my belt as well. When I began spinning I was in a rush to spin all the things. Now I don’t mind if the process takes a good amount of time. As long as I am enjoying myself I am happy with the time it takes.

I suspect fleece prep is a highly individualized thought process. I, personally, have tried to send fleece to a mill before. I’ve even gone so far as to box it up and fill out the appropriate paperwork. But in the end, I can’t let it out of my sight! In the end, I feel that sending it to a mill is going to ruin my fun, even with a dirtier, VM full fleece. While sending a fleece to a mill is a perfectly valid option, for me it feels a bit “What’s the point?” Mostly because I buy fleece because I want to be involved in the process from start to finish.

So I suppose, for me, the reason I prep fleece has something to do with the desire to research and understand my craft better and more fully. I will never be an expert, but I do want to be as knowledgeable as possible. I need the hands on process of prepping my own fleece in order to do that, because that is just how I learn. While all other options are valid, fleece prep is the best option for how I learn and how I enjoy what I spend my free time on.

Anyone else out there want to weigh in on this? Why do you prep fleece? What is the thought process that you have and how did you come to decide you wanted to take on such a thing?