Dyeabolical Batts

So, my blue dyeabolical batts, which were a combo of merino and angelina (I think, because I’ve misplaced the tag, I really need to make a system for my tags!) are complete. I spun these on my Neal Brand tibetan. I had 2 matching batts. I spun each on one spindle, which turned out to be quite a challenge as the spindle was so full it got really laggy and slow. I spun each in a gradient, so that I could ply them together into a 2 ply gradient, light to dark. Personally, I love this skein. It is 25o yards of 2 ply, it is nice, light, and bouncy. At about a sport weight yarn it is going to make something quite beautiful. And no, I don’t know what that will be.

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I’ve been thinking about this tag issue quite a bit. Everyone knows that I am not the most organized person out there, and I hate clutter even though it seems that clutter builds up. Generally my way of dealing with it is to get frustrated and throw everything out. Which means I misplace tags and then throw them out. I will never be the kind of person who keeps a spinning notebook with tags and samples. No no no, I don’t even want to BE that person. However, I’ve got to figure out some system. What do you do with your tags and how do you keep your fiber arts organized?

Raw Fleece Samples

So, I’ve been grabbing up some raw fleece samples to wash and experiment with. Some will get dyed and blended on a drum carder and some will get spun into various yarn for warp on the loom. I figured as I have the opportunity to wash, I will also take pictures of the raw sample and then the washed sample for comparisons. Since these are sample sized, I can get quite a few done in an evening since using various buckets and containers in the house works well. I have learned that though everyone talks about high grease fleece being tough to clean, I’ll take a clean high grease fleece over a dirty low grease fleece any day!

Wensleydale

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Racka (Check out the dual coat on that!)

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Navajo Churro (This was the one that was particularly dirty!)

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Corriedale

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I love the comparison photos because they really do show how clean a fleece can get in a short time.

So tell me, if any of you are of the type that enjoys fleece processing, what has been your dirtiest fleece and how did you come by it? I’d love to hear of experiences with rarer fleece as well. The racka is such a novelty for me I am not quite sure what to do with it, and I’ve got at least 3 more samples of the stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Spinning

I started my “fauxlag” project quite some time ago. It has basically been sitting at Jeremy’s house and I spin on the project only once in a great while. A week or so ago I finally finished all the singles. On Friday evening I was able to finish plying them. This is a 2 ply of thick and thin yarn. 269 yards. Making them into fauxlags really did muddy the colors quite a bit and make them a lot more muted. I really enjoyed this project even though it took me forever. The added bonus is that I spun them gently, and now plied back the yarn is very soft and squishy. Also bouncy and lofty. I picture this being used as a weft on the loom more than anything else.

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Despite feeling like I haven’t gotten much finished lately, all my spinning work is paying off. All of a sudden I’ve got new yarn all over the house that needs to be plied and finished. I love that feeling!

Th’ Spinnin’ O’ the Green

I made a “Study in Green” batt, and spun it on my trindle. I then made another and spun that on my trindle because the first was so gorgeous. I plied them on my wheel yesterday, then washed the skein and hung it to dry JUST so I’d have some pretty green yarn to show off today. I suspect I’ll use this colorway again, making more of these batts and spinning a coordinating yarn. I love the colors and I think the border leicester paired with the silk just makes the skein shine. It plied rather beautifully too. While it is a semi solid, there will be some color blocks I believe. I muddied up the colors when spinning from the batt, rather than leaving stripes or a gradient. This one is another small skein, 73 yards. But, I’d say 4 or 5 more skeins like this and I’ll have enough for a lovely project.

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Happy St. Patrick’s day all, rather than crafting, I’ll be out riding my bike.

 

 

 

 

 

Spinning batts

So you remember how I started making batts over the weekend? I couldn’t really resist spinning one up. I chose the first batt, the one which was well blended to start with. I decided to tear strips from it, spin, then chain ply in order to achieve a gradient yarn.

I spun on a tibetan spindle:

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Look at that snow! I suspect this may be one of the last snow pictures until next season.

Then I chain plied on my trindle. This was my first attempt at chain plying on a spindle. With the shoulder issues I’ve been suffering from, it wasn’t a very good idea.

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But once I started, I figured I’d better get it finished.

In all honesty, the only reason I chose to use the spindle for plying is because my wheel is still sitting at my friend Sarah’s house, and I still haven’t managed to get the motivation to go get it. Even though I could really use it. In any case, once the yarn was finished and dried, I had 60 yards of a gradient. I guess this would technically be a striped yarn, as I’d have to make a few more batts and spin them the same way in order to make an usable amount of yarn.

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It is a bit fuzzy as border leicester is a longwool. However, it isn’t nearly as fuzzy as the last border leicester I spun. It is also a bit rustic, what I am carding up is full of second cuts. I’ve been picking most of them out of the wool, but some get missed.

After I finished this little project, I started spinning up more of the lavender and green BFL that I’ve been working on for ages and ages. I put it on the tibetan I used for this project. When I then wanted to start spinning the “study in green” batt from yesterday, I realized I didn’t have any tibetans left (I’ve loaned one out) and would then need to actually spin on a drop spindle. Which I started and it is going quite nicely. I’ve all but given up on drop spindles recently, so it was good to be forced to use one again and refine my skills.

 

So Over It

I am SO OVER sock knitting.

And even though there has been sock progress, I’ve got other stuff to show you.

First of all, the spindle spinners on Rav are spinning green for St. Patty’s day. Well, I’ve been spinning green (and lavender) FOREVER. However, I didn’t want to continue to spin that to mark the month. So instead, I decided to do a batt. A study in green batt. I took pictures, and then decided I should also take pictures of the floor as it looks when I start messing around with color blending.

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This is my floor with a ton of dyed border leicester. You will see the cord to the vacuum cleaner there too, because drum carding this particular border leicester makes a bit of a mess. I just make sure when I pull out the drum carder I’ve also got the vacuum out. This way I can’t space it or become unmotivated to clean up.

I got the border leicester so cheap it was amazing. However, with cheap wool comes some stuff you’ve got to sift through. It was dirty, full of VM, and has a ton of second cuts. Despite this, it was WORTH IT for the price. Still is. I can’t even get annoyed by the VM falling out of the drum carder, or the fact that I have to pick some second cuts out of my batt while spinning. The border leicester is lambs wool so it is softer than most, the locks are amazing, some quite long, and it took color in a gorgeous way!

For my study in green batts, I basically took every green color I had with the border leicester, added some other colors from other fiber, and then added silk. It is interesting to me that though there is no white in this batt at all, the lightest green looks white compared to the more saturated colors.

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I haven’t decided if I will spin this in a gradient or if I will try to blend up the colors. However, not a bad little project for a snow day!

 

Spinning in Progress

We are all probably getting sick of me talking about the Vintage Vespa bump, spinning the Vintage Vespa bump, looking at pictures of the Vintage Vespa bump, and even thinking about the Vintage Vespa bump. However, I did have some time to make a little progress on it, and it seems I have finally moved into the last major color on the bump. So, I thought I’d take a picture. Of course. The thing is, since I am struggling so much to finish, posting about it holds me accountable. And since I have so much other stuff I’d love to spin, I need to be held accountable or this will never ever get done.

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Green toned white with a dark grey stripe now. So eager to be done.

Unexpectedly though, I finished some singles I spun on my trindles. These go way back, I started them mid October. I just kept the wool at Jeremy’s place, and spun on it when I didn’t have anything else to spin on or knit. This weekend I looked at what I had left and figured if I just worked at it a bit, I could finish all the singles. And last night, I did just that. When Jeremy told me his tulips were coming up, I couldn’t resist a picture of singles and tulips. Yeah, I know. Goofy, but indulge me!  I am looking forward to spring!

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So, since it has taken me so long to finish these singles that I’ve pretty much written them off as a project in progress, I get the bonus of plying something unexpected and having a new skein of yarn!

Wensleydale

This isn’t something that I got from fleece of the month club, but it is something entirely new to me. Black Wensleydale wool. I’ve got a pound of it and it is not washed. It is, however, gorgeous. And again with the absolute lack of any VM whatsoever. I don’t mind dirty fleece, I don’t mind fleece that takes a bit of time to wash and figure out. However, I love love love fleece that is so beautiful that the entire process is ridiculously easy.

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Despite the fact that Friday is day #1 of Month O’Socks, I do believe I may do some fleece washing this weekend. Some of the fleece I have in my house is too lovely to ignore, and some of it I just want to use for drum carding and blending and making fun colors.

 

Leicester Longwool Locks

I spent my spare time this weekend on my leicester longwool locks, so by Sunday night I had them plied and hung to dry. These are a 2 ply, but I haven’t yet bothered to count yardage, as I didn’t love the color and decided to overdye it in blue. I’ll have to count yardage tomorrow. These are far less fuzzy than the border leicester, and slightly softer even though they are still wiry. The locks were long, I’d say 6-7 inches so this yarn should also be quite strong as a 2 ply. I am hoping to use it for weaving once I finally figure all that out. And by figure it out, I mean put away my drum carder, finish a few obligations, and then pull out the loom.

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A Dreary Day

As sunny and beautiful as yesterday was, today is dreary and windy. In fact, the pictures that I took for today were hard to get simply because it was so windy (gusts up to 40 mph) that putting fiber down for a picture proved disastrous.

First up, my leicester longwool locks. I’ve finished spinning the singles, so I intend to pull out my wheel tonight and get these plied. I might hate the color, but I am not yet sure. My thought is that if I do hate the color, I will overdye in blue for a tonal blue yarn. But, I will evaluate that after completing the yarn.

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The other thing I worked on a bit was my delaine from my fleece of the month club. I tried to put it through my drum carder, going very slow. Unfortunately, it seems quite clear now that my drum carder does not like bouncy super fine wools. So, I ended up pulling out my hand cards and using them instead. I’ve got a few rolags done, and a bunch more wool to finish. I am actually considering purchasing some fine hand cards at this point, as even these aren’t doing that great of a job with the delaine. Considerably better than my drum carder, but not really my best work overall I don’t think.

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I did try to sample spin a bit of this on my spindle, but that didn’t go well either. I think these would be better for the wheel, or perhaps a drop spindle. They are lofty and squishy though, and I anticipate a lofty, squishy, lovely yarn from them.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit sunnier and brighter, and hopefully I’ll have a finished yarn to show off.

Gotland

My latest fleece club shipment came in last evening. These upcoming months are northern european shorttail breeds. Again, this will be 3 breeds I’ve never really come in contact with, let alone spun, so I looked forward to my club shipment. And it did not disappoint. The breed for this month is Gotland, and what I got is 4 oz of almost black wool. Just gorgeous with this incredible shine and silkiness to it. There is absolutely no VM in this. There’s no clumpy tips. There’s really nothing at all to complain about, just wool that shines. Amazing.

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Decisions

Yesterday I suddenly decided it was imperative that I “make some decisions” about my spinning. This is odd really, since I am under no obligation whatsoever to complete any particular project, and if I wanted to, I could totally take out all of my fiber and spin up a little of it just to see what it looked like. Not that I am going to. Though it is tempting. It always is. Anyhow, being that I have a limited number of spindles and a fairly large number of ongoing projects right now, I hoped that focusing on a project would help me decide what to complete first.

Now, when I reorganized my dining room to give myself a proper work space, I set up all my fiber there, in little baskets. So, I wandered over there, picked up the first basket I saw, and got to work. What I had was the basket of flick carded CVM Romeldale, some of it was already in rolag form, some of it was already spun. I decided my mission for my evening was to fill the two spindles that I had already started, ideally finishing up what I had in the basket. So, the evening was spent spinning, and also making additional rolags with the flick carded locks I had in the basket. I have a few rolags left, s0 I have a bit more to do here before I wind off these two spindles and put the project aside for a bit. I may, ultimately, end up wheel spinning the CVM, so for now I think it is better to set aside in order to work on my other ongoing spindle projects.

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When I picked up that basket, I still didn’t have any real direction to my spinning. I couldn’t figure out what project I was to work on. But, under that basket was the basket of leicester longwool locks, and as soon as I saw them I realized that was what I’d work on next. I had completely forgotten about them until that moment!

Color Progression

Yeah, still not done with Color Affection shawl, don’t get your hopes up! May I just add that while I am technically on the last row, I just looked at my yarn and said “Surely I can do another repeat!” I truly must be a sucker for punishment.

No, the color progression I want to talk about has more to do with lovely little batts from a jacob fleece that are coming off my drum carder. Now that the drum carder is running very nicely, and because I made myself a lovely little work space for it, I sure have a hard time walking away from the thing. I started with the darkest of the jacob fleece and worked my way to the lightest sections. I am now on the all white sections and I’ve got about a grocery bag left of wool left to card. It always amazes me that wool that looks rather less than desirable in washed lock formation can produce such a beautiful batt. The whole realization that I don’t really need to flick card the lock before sending it through the drum carder has really cut down on the amount of time spent processing the wool too. Yeah, the resulting yarn will be less smooth. Yes, there is still a bit of dust and VM left in the batt, but I know from experience that yarn smooths out with finishing and VM falls out of a batt during spinning. As long as the wool is free of lanolin, it will be fine.

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I showed all my batt progress to my knitting friends yesterday, and I immediately heard “Oh, colorwork!” However, what I have in mind is a bit different. I’d like to make a color progression. Probably a 3 ply yarn once spun. Of course, there’s little need to do all the fleece in a color progression, but I’d like to have enough for some sort of a shawl perhaps. I suppose I’d technically have enough for an entire sweater if I wanted to do that.

Point being I suppose…that seeing all these different colored batts from one fleece all lined up and tidy just looks like possibility to me and then my mind won’t rest!

I guess I do have a bit of a finished object though, I did finish Bug’s cardigan. I reknit the sleeves and finished over the weekend. She was THRILLED when she saw it and couldn’t wait to wear it this morning. I didn’t even get to block the sleeves. So they’ll just have to do. (Please excuse the lopsided look of the sweater, I tried to capture it as soon as she got out of school, that may have been ill advised. )

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I’ve got a few goals this week. My goals are to finish the loop batt I am currently spinning, finish carding the jacob fleece, and finish the color affection shawl. So this week is to be a week of finishing in various ways. Hopefully that also means it is to be a decent blogging week too!

Like new but better

So, I bought that drum carder a couple years ago. And I used it to process my first fleece. It was effective. But, after a number of issues with the carder, I stopped using it. I just didn’t bother to pull it out at all, which felt like a bit waste. I had renewed hope in it when I learned that I could process my Jacob fleece without flick carding first, but because I was still having issues with the drum carder, I ended up ignoring that project too. And I got in the habit of deciding that hand carding was just as fast as drum carding, failing to pull out the drum carder at all.

Then I decided to ask Jeremy to look at it. You see, I hadn’t done enough research (Oh I cannot stress enough the need for massive amounts of research when taking on any new element of fiber processing!) and didn’t realize the proper amount of space between the drums. That was totally my bad, and for someone such a proponent of the proper research, I felt really stupid, realizing that I should be able to fit a credit card between the two drums. So, Jeremy looked at the carder, made a few adjustments, and we tried it out with my jacob fleece. Lo and behold, it worked like a charm. Rather than fighting the carding cloth, it rolled right along beautifully and I got results I wanted. So, on Saturday I sat down with it and started processing the jacob fleece in ernest. I have worked my way entirely through the darkest of the fleece, processed all that was slightly lighter than dark, and have managed one bat of lighter yet still grey fleece all from the jacob. It would be SUCH a load off my mind to have that fleece done! And I am excited that it has been started and is moving along so fast. I am also quite impressed with how fast and fluffy and beautiful the batts are!

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Thank you Jeremy for all that you do to cut down on my frustration level when it comes to my fiber processing tools!

Color Affection

Oh, did you think I was done with a shawl? Gotcha! No, no I am not.

I believe that one of the reasons I love fiber arts is that I love color. Bright colors, muted colors, natural colors, colors which blend well together, jewel tones, colors that don’t work together…I just love color. I think it is so interesting, the combining of colors, and the way spinning often looks so different from the way the wool looks before it is spun. To say I am a bit obsessed with color would be an understatement. It is one of the reasons I started dyeing some of my own wool, it is what draws me the most to different yarns and finished objects, and it is one of the reasons I want to weave. The way colors play in weaving is so different than how they do so in knitting.

I came across a really good deal on some border leicester lambs wool. I knew going into this project that it would be quite dirty, quite full of VM, and there might be bits I didn’t want to save at all, and that has been the case. But, the cheapness of it gave me courage to start playing with colors. Because, in my mind, I can’t wreck cheap wool. So, after a 2 day soak and then a good hot water wash, I had a bunch of white border leicester to dye. Rather than experimenting with cram pot dyeing, I decided to dye handfulls of fiber in different solid colors to use with blending on my drum carder. At the moment I technically have 10 different colors to play with and more wool to dye. The richness of the colors just makes me so very happy, and I am enjoying this experiment immensely.

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Grey CVM Romeldale Experiments

So, this past fall I purchased a grey CVM Romeldale fleece. Coated and beautiful, it really is one of those fleeces that makes you love the fleece washing process. This fleece was the first one I washed in my basket to keep the integrity of the locks, and it is such a smashing success, I am sold completely on the basket for finer fleece. It takes a bit more time on the outset, sorting all the fleece and pulling it apart into separate locks, then setting it up in the basket and making sure it stays that way. On the other hand, it saves so much time and energy on the flip side!

When I first washed this fleece, I was slightly concerned about the yellowed tips. I stressed over them a bit, but then decided I’d be blending the fiber anyhow, and how much could it really show? Once I flick carded the locks, it seemed even more apparent that the yellowed tips weren’t a big deal.

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(Washed locks shown with flick carded locks)

I then decided to see what this fleece and a set of hand cards would produce. And it produced some lovely rolags of fluffy beautiful grey wool. No yellowing apparent at all. So much for worrying over the yellowed tips! As an aside, I used to think owning a drum carder would make my life so much easier and make processing fleece so much faster. I can tell you now that it doesn’t. It is a useful fiber tool, especially for blending and so on, but a pair of hand cards are just as effective and quick, or more so.

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Then I decided it would be fun (and wise) to sample some of the grey CVM, so I set about to make a cabled yarn sample. I’d like to make this into a cabled yarn, but I’ve never created a cabled yarn before and didn’t want to mess it all up. I used this knitty article as well as instructions from a good friend of mine to wrap my head around it all. I concentrated hard on getting a ton of twist in the 2 ply sections. And then I did send it back through for extra twist just to be sure. Upon finishing the yarn I realized I probably didn’t need to send it back through a second time in the 2 ply stage. Though it would be a very effective tool if I hadn’t concentrated so very hard on making the 2 ply overplied. Despite all this, I LOVE the look of the cabled yarn. And I think it will be very effective for this fleece, as it is somewhat variegated in color. I did spin the singles on my spindle, but did all the plying work on my wheel.

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Now, I’ve heard a lot lately about spinning the waste fiber from the flick carding process. It used to be that I’d just throw all that outside for the birds to enjoy in their nests, or add it to my soil for compost. However, lately I’ve been saving it for things like stuffing. You know, stuffing for owls I hate knitting. I’d basically been told that I could spin the waste fiber, but to expect my resulting yarn to be a different quality than what I’d have when I spun the best parts of the fleece. I decided to see just how bad a quality I’d get! I spun a sample of waste yarn on my spindle. It is interesting because it seems that the lightest and darkest parts of the fleece are what comes out of the locks when I flick card. This sample is not plied very well at all. I think it was getting late and I’d done a ton of work in the evening and I did it as a plying bracelet which seems to make my plying a bit off in the first place. However, I think I can get an idea of what the yarn would look like if I spun up all my waste. That being said, I don’t think it is all that wonderful and feel pretty certain it is ok to leave the waste for stuffing.

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And now for variation on the theme. I’ve got this small, unscheduled fiber club going on right now. I mean, my fleece obsessions won’t be ending any time soon, and the only way I can deal with the amount of fiber in my house is for some of it to flow back out. I have found that there are plenty of spinners who want to experiment with natural fibers but don’t particularly care to purchase an entire fleece, nor do they care to do the washing of it. So, Shells Fiber Club (Which is not much of a fiber club at all) sells 4 oz. samples of quite a few of the fleece you see regularly on this blog. (Do feel free to contact me if you see something you want to get your hands on, as while I am not interested in offering such fiber in an official way, I am fairly open to making a deal.) 4 oz. of this grey CVM Romeldale went to my friend Corrie last month. She, too, worried a bit about the yellow tips, and this is what she (and her little one) came up with. Locks drizzled with dye and then flick carded. Looks like a fun spin to me!

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How did that happen?

I started spinning in 2007. Not one to do anything in a small way, I immediately got a wheel and learned on that. I never bothered with a spindle. Since then, I’ve considered myself an adequate spinner. Knowledgable, but in a rut. Able to make a decent knittable yarn, but not by any means a spectacular spinner. I didn’t feel I learned new techniques, and I always spun about the same thickness, 3 ply light fingering weight yarn.

And then something changed. Over the summer I became interested in spindles. Drop spindles and support spindles. Along with wanting to master spindles, came a desire to master new spinning techniques. Suddenly I am no longer in a rut. And on top of that, I’ve slowed down taken more care, and am now producing better yarn than I ever have before. I am also enjoying spinning in a way I never have before. Spinning for me has always been an end product venture. Knitting was about the process, spinning was about the product. Except, not anymore.

I just spent the last 4 days spinning up this loop bullseye bump, and I want to show you all the pictures. I switched to my larger whorl so I could make a slightly thicker than usual yarn. I then snapped photos of the process.

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There were about 2 more colors of grey in there I never got a chance to photograph due to darkness and bad lighting.

I then navajo plyed the entire thing, leaving me with 460 yards of Dk to worsted weight yarn. And it is well done yarn, if I do say so myself. It is even, consistent, and beautiful. I am extremely proud of it.

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I intend for this to be my year of spinning dangerously. I had a year or two of knitting dangerously and it expanded my knitting knowledge and ability beyond what I would have hoped. So, this year in spinning, my goals are as follows:

-To regularly spin thicker yarns, and manage to do it with intention. If the idea is to have a consistent yarn, I should have that. If I want something thick and thin, then I should be able to master that as well.

-To try corespinning. And coreless corespinning

-To create a true cabled yarn

-To alternate spinning older stash, newer stash, and fleece/locks/less processed wools

-To create a beaded handspun

Hopefully this will keep me right out of a rut, and have me spinning in ways I never imagined. I think that is a fantastic goal for this year!

Out of the question

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Did we really think for a moment that I wouldn’t cast on something just as soon as I had the first skein of this cram pot dyed stuff? Not casting on was out of the question. I estimated how much yardage I’d have overall, looked for a pattern that would work for the yarn AND make it so that I could use my new cubics needles, and got to work. And quite frankly, I didn’t stop until I was out of yarn. The pattern is called Unicorn Barf, it is a simple seed stitch cowl with what I want to call spines in it. I think the yarn and pattern combo is going quite well, and the end product will probably be rather warm and squishy. I already love it.

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Wrapping up

As I wrap up this year in crafting and assess how the year has gone, I realize that my focus has changed majorly this year. While past years saw me knitting miles and miles of yarn, for instance 2011 saw over 18 miles of yarn knit, this year I didn’t even manage to average a mile a month. My total came in at 11.5. However, my spinning totals are up a bit. 5.04 miles spun rather than less than 4 in the past. But if I look at it overall, my focus has shifted considerably to fiber prep and experimentation, rather than knitting with commercial yarns. My spinning focus has shifted to learning to spindle spin. While I do still spin on my wheel, the wheel has become just another tool, rather than the be all end all of spinning it once was. Support spindling has me spinning in a far more relaxed setting and way than I have ever achieved on a wheel, and so I get more accomplished and enjoy it more.

In the upcoming year, there will be weaving. I have decided that it is time to learn, and I am eager for a way to use my handspun yarns differently than just knitting them into simple shawls. I intend to keep experimenting with different wools and fibers, stuff I’ve never tried before. I want to keep spindling, and I want to make thicker consistent yarns. I am hoping to knit a colorwork sweater out of handspun wool fleece undyed paired with handspun dyed wool top. In the upcoming year I will track pounds spun rather than miles spun, as I’d like to get an idea of just how much wool I go through in a year. Tracking the miles of finished yarn doesn’t really give a good indication of that.

And so, the theme for next year is continued learning and experimentation. Appropriately for that, I am again going to talk about the Rambouillet cram pot dyed wool. I finished flick carding it all last night. I also used what I had already spun to start plying it to get an idea of how it would look when it was done. Now, this is the sproingiest most elastic wool I’ve ever knit, and actually getting something resembling neat and tidy has been a challenge. I plied VERY slowly, yanking off any nepps I could as I plied. Then I gave it a warm water soak and thwacked it really really hard against concrete. This was to make the yarn bloom as much as possible, covering the majority of the inconsistencies. I took a picture this morning of the yarn hanging next to another skein I plied yesterday. Both skeins were skeined on my 80 inch niddy noddy, and hanging, you can see just what a difference in elasticity there is. I lost about 12 inches overall on the skein of rambo. This means that rather than the 131 yards I THOUGHT I had, I will have to recount later.

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Wonderful Days!

Seems I’ve been having a string of wonderful days. We celebrated Christmas on Sunday. It was wonderful to spend it with Jeremy and to skype in my parents. It was wonderful to have some spinning time and finish spinning my katatomic colorway. It was wonderful to make funnel cakes and hang out and watch a movie. It was wonderful to spend some quiet time with my man after Bug went to bed.

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Yesterday was wonderful, in its quietness in the morning, coffee with Bug, grocery store run, and playing with Christmas gifts. Then we had a last minute invite to visit some friends for dinner. While there, I started navajo plying, finishing up once I got home. It is wonderful to have 244 yards of worsted weight yarn. Yarn that I’d say may be the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever created!

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I hope every one of my readers, friends and family, are having a string of wonderful days themselves!

Cram Pot Dyeing part 2

Well, I’ve been a bit obsessive about cram pot dyeing. I decided to get the leicester longwool into the dye pot and use some primary colors on it. It worked out well, I did get some colors that blended together. However, I may have been a bit impatient that morning and I think I rushed the job, not allowing the entire pot to really get hot. So, the colors are a lot lighter than they could be I suspect. I think I’ll try this combo again during the next shipment, but allowing the colors to really get nice and bright.

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Since my Rambouillet experiment was something I was not too sure about, I decided that would be the best one to try to spin first. On Saturday evening I ended up staying awake quite late watching a movie and flick carding. I got a bunch done. This particular fleece is very weak and neppy, so there is a ton of waste. I’ll be interested to see just how much I end up with once the yarn is complete. However, I do think the yarn will be light, bouncy, and interesting in its color.

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There’s bumblebee in action again! I love that SST so much.

Cram Pot Dyeing

I’ve been itching to try some cram pot dyeing for months now. When I saw the locks from my fiber club, I decided that those would be awesome to cram pot dye with, but I assumed I’d need more and waited until the second shipment. After finishing the icord on the vest during my snow day yesterday, I had no desire to knit anymore. So, I soaked the locks for my cram pot dyeing experiment. I needn’t have worried about the amount of wool, as my first pot was completely full with just the rambouillet. I wasn’t in love with the rambouillet in the first place, so I really just went nuts with the colors, and indeed did end up with some crazy stuff. However, I do believe that when flicking and then spinning each lock the colors will come together and look pretty interesting.

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Then, once that was done, I decided to dye the border leicester. This time I decided to just do beiges and pastel like colors, with a hint of yellow for pop. And these turned out far better than I expected! I really like this combination, and am very eager to spin it up. And better yet? I’ve got my leicester longwool soaking in anticipation of doing another cram pot experiment.

It has been nice to have my dyes out for a bit. It happens so rarely!

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Fleece Club

So, in my spindle spinning board I came across a very interesting club. It is a fleece of the month club, you sign up and receive, for 3 months, 4 oz. washed locks of fleece which you can then process yourself for spinning. This idea thrilled me, as it is a chance for me to try some breeds I would probably never purchase an entire fleece for. So I signed up, for both the longwool and the merino clubs. It also comes with a card that gives a bunch of info about the breed and the characteristics of the wool, with even a space to add a sample once it is spun.

My first shipment, to be honest, didn’t thrill me overly much, but I knew I could experiment with what I had anyhow. My second shipment however thrilled me to pieces. And so I figured I’d better get the two shipments photographed and posted, before the third shipment shows up in January.

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This picture is the two merino breeds I received. At the top is Rambouillet wool, and at the bottom Saxon. The Saxon is absolutely the most beautiful wonderful soft, bouncy wool I’ve ever felt. In fact, I’d say you could just pick up a lock and spin it with no prep whatsoever. Amazing stuff!

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And then there are the longwools. At the top, Border Leicester, and at the bottom Leicester Longwool. I’ve never spun longwool before, nor have I prepped it. I am rather excited about these.

To top it off, they all come in a cute little burlap sack.

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I love the burlap sacks, and feel certain I can use them in the future!

The Saxon I’ll leave as is, but the rest are destined for the dye pot. I’ve been itching to try “cram pot” dyeing for months now and these seem the perfect fibers for such a thing. Then, my plan is to spin them with minimal prep. Maybe just a comb through with a flick carder to loosen the fibers before spinning. My last shipment will include Romney, and I believe delaine merino.

You see, I’ve got this fleece….

Or two rather, that need to be washed. So I made the fleece a basket to be washed in. Originally I wanted this basket to wash my fleece faster. But after giving it much consideration, I decided I’d rather wash the fleece while preserving lock structure. So I made a basket and then sorted the fleece carefully, lining the locks up butt to tip and pulling out any second cuts I found before I even put it in the water. The fleece I am currently washing is a CVM Romeldale. It is gorgeous shades of gray and natural.

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Bug took one look at this fleece and asked if it was all from one sheep. I told her it was, and she said “That must have been a very beautiful sheep!” I asked her why she thought so, and she told me it was because it was gray and white with some very dark gray as well.

I then created a top for the basket, because I was worried that just setting it in the water would cause the locks to move about and then I’d fail to preserve their structure. The next picture I took just after I set the fleece in the water for its initial wash.

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The fleece is nicely caged, so the locks are preserved. Then I snapped a photo after 20 minutes in the hot soapy water.

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All the gunk and lanolin just rise right out of there. I removed the basket, drained the water, and refilled the tub. After the second wash it looked like this:

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The rinse worked great, so I hung it using dowels, and allowed it to drip for an hour.

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Once my hour was up, the fleece was cool, so I removed the lid and gently squished out as much water as I could. Then I took it outside to dry:

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Look at all those locks all set up just how I want them to be! This will make flick carding so much easier. And sure enough, I ended up with some beautiful locks!

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The next batch I am going to try a few new things. First, I’ll try stuffing the basket a bit fuller. I had to fill far fewer tubs full in order to get the locks clean, but at this rate I’ll still be using the same amount of water because I am washing less fleece per basket. The other thing I’d like to try is sewing the basket shut. This might help with the instability of my materials. Once the fleece is lined up properly, I really have no reason whatsoever to open the basket up again until the fleece is dry. So next time I will fill the basket full, sew the lid on with cotton yarn, and then wash. That should be sometime this evening. I also think if I had my little Bug helper, it would have been easier, as she’d have helped me lift the basket out of the water each time. But, she was at school this morning thus unavailable to help. Even with these minor changes, I’d call my basket a success.

Stuff

Yesterday was amazing. The weather was downright balmy for November, and while I did get a bit of knitting done after the stockings, I also spent time in the yard, and did a little drum carding. So, last year at the IA Sheep and Wool festival I picked up a jacob fleece. At the time I didn’t know a ton about fleece choosing, but was obsessed with my brown CVM/Romeldale fleece and knew I really wanted a jacob fleece. I chose one at the festival from a booth. It was cheap, not too large, and I grabbed it up barely looking at it and, quite frankly, crowing over my discovery. I washed it soon after.

Let’s be honest, it isn’t the nicest fleece I own. There were a lot of burrs in it, big prickly pieces that really did make for difficulty even washing it. It is dirty, even after a good wash. It has a fair amount of VM, but more annoyingly the tips are yellowed pretty well and it wasn’t skirted all that well, so there are differences in wool quality and feel.

Well, I’ve been grumbling about this fleece since I sorted it a couple weeks ago. Flick carding and then drum carding is such a lengthy process and it felt terrible to think of spending that much time on a sub par fleece. However, I still wanted to get something out of this fleece. This begged the question: Can I drum card without flick carding? And the answer was yes. Of course, the wool has to go through the drum carder a few times after that initial run through, but the answer was favorable. The tip I heard was that I should feed the unflicked locks over the top on the large drum rather than through the tray. I gave this a try and let me just say it works beautifully! The VM and dust just fell out of the bottom of the carder, and the initial batt had promise. A couple more runs through the carder and I had a batt I could truly be proud of!

This is from the dark wool I separated out. The batt is surprisingly soft and lofty. Since I did not flick card, there was quite a bit of waste left on the small roll, but I saved all I could and am now quite excited about the prospect of finishing up this fleece!

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The other stuff I worked on…well I decided that this year all three of us should have felted slippers. My adventures into felting haven’t always gone so well and my desire to felt has always been pretty low. However, the prospect of thick felted slippers in the dead of winter is a promising one. I am working on the fiber trends felted clogs pattern. I started with Jeremy’s slippers, assuming since this is the largest, the rest would go quickly. I have knit the majority of the slipper, including the outer sole, but attaching it has proved complicated so I’ve given them a rest. Add to that the problem of my hands falling asleep when using large needles, and using large needles exclusively for the last week, I do think I need a break.

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Not sure what I’ll knit on next, but pretty sure it will involve something already on the needles rather than starting some new project. Also? I get to spin again!

Rasta Man Wingspan

My Sid Fishious Wingspan wasn’t off the needles more than 2 minutes before I balled up and cast on a new wingspan using my Crown Mountain Farms merino spun Rasta Man Vibration. This was wool which I spun and then navajo plyed. It will look quite a bit different than the sid fishious because the color changes are shorter and more abrupt. This was one of the reasons I was so eager to cast it on actually, I wanted to see how a different spinning technique would turn out once knit. But also, I needed something mindless to knit on during a hockey game. You see, I love watching hockey. And so does my friend Sarah. Hockey season has begun and I need a mindless knit I don’t even have to look at in order to keep my anxiety levels down during the game. Because seriously, for someone who is not a sports fan at all, I can get SO worked up over a hockey game.

One thing of note about the Crown Mountain Farms merino wool is that it is extremely soft. Absolutely the softest wool I’ve ever spun. It is really easy to spin as well, but the biggest draw to me is the softness of the wool.

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Adventures in Fleece Part 5

So, in my continuation of fleece obsession, I also purchased this lovely CVM Romeldale fleece. More than 5 pounds of gray/white fleece and it is the BEST fleece I’ve ever purchased. This is good, since my obsession became my friend Mary’s obsession and she purchased her first fleece, a black one from the same vendor. This one is so clean and beautiful and doesn’t even smell stinky. I can’t wait to get started on this one!

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The Jacob fleece which I purchased a year and a half ago is needing to be picked up again so that I can get started on these two new fleece. I actually sorted it on Sunday, and it was one dirty job. I’d cleaned it, but the quality of the fleece is not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. It was cheap, I shouldn’t be surprised. And I learned something new, don’t get obsessive over the type of fleece, get obsessive over quality. I will process part of it, get what I want out of it, and then maybe it will go up for grabs to someone else who might want to mess around with it.

First Fleece

I’ve finally done it! I have finally finished spinning my entire brown CVM Romeldale fleece. This is quite a large portion of the project done, and I am feeling very proud of myself. I am also happy to be moving on to another color in spinning! The grand total of yarn on this project is 1507 yards of 3 ply yarn spun woolen, and weighing in at a worsted to bulky weight.

That is a lot of yarn! I have no idea what I will make with it at this point, it needs to take some time to mellow. And I need to look at wool that isn’t brown for a bit.

So since that large project is done, I now get to start on this fleece:

This is my fleece from a Jacob Sheep that I purchased at Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival this summer. It is just lovely! I have no idea how long it will be before it is all carded and ready to go, but I can at least get it washed and put away so it is ready when I am inspired.

Tomorrow I can give you a “to do” list update. I’ve done fairly well, but ended up working on an unexpected project, leaving a bunch of knitting by the wayside.

Wensleydale Wool

So, I took on a little spinning project for a friend of mine. She was gifted some wool even though she is not a spinner. So, we are making a little trade. (You KNOW how much I love trades don’t you?)

Once I got my hands on the wool in question, I read the tag stating that it was Wensleydale wool. From the feel of the wool I could tell it had to be a longwool. It wasn’t particularly soft, and drafting it was a challenge. However, it has a great shine to it! It is most certainly the stiffest wool I have ever spun, having not had experience spinning longwool before. I added as much air to it as possible, and I am hoping a good finishing after it is soaked will soften it up a bit.

So, I just had to spend a little time reading about the breed. I must say, some of the pictures where it looks like the sheep have dreadlocks on their heads are awfully cute!

In any case, I spun the wool into a 2 ply. I have 145 yards of yarn out of this one.

5 Hour Baby Sweater

Next week I will be attending a baby shower of a friend of mine. Now, I don’t typically knit for babies, but since I don’t knit much in general any more, and because I am on a forced cycling break due to injuring my back, I thought it might be fun to knit the 5 hour baby sweater….and time myself.

I am not sure if this baby will be a boy or a girl, so I used the “boy” pattern (sans holes) and used knitpicks swish worsted in green. I had this in stash already, and using stash yarn thrills me to pieces these days.

I did time myself, and took lots of breaks. Even so, there was a point almost 3 hours in where I wondered why I was knitting a baby sweater in one day. It just seemed…boring. But I muddled through even so, and am fairly pleased with the results. I loved how the seaming takes place as you are knitting the sweater. It does indeed feel like the entire project goes faster that way. My final time? 4 hours and 29 minutes. Which actually was faster than I expected.

 

In other news, the commission sweater continues along. And “long” being the key word. I do try to work on it daily but it is a bit of a slog right now. I am working my way up the yoke though, and I feel confident I’ll be done pretty soon. The goal is in the next 2 weeks.