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Merino

Days 5&6 of Tour De Fleece

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I have made some progress on my major spin for Tour De Fleece.  More importantly from my perspective, I have decided to take my time and enjoy the step I am working on.  My personality is such that I am usually looking toward the next thing.  The next project, the next skill, the next thing to learn, etc.  This means that I do not really spend much time, if any, enjoying the step that I am on.  Recently I have been reading where several spinners talk about the hours of enjoyment they have gotten from a piece of fleece/fiber.  I have, for me, a large project that I am spinning toward.

Paradise Fibers sent me 8 oz of their Merino Blend in Bloom.  I split that in half to perform a Monet Spin, if you’ve been following me you know this already.  At present I am spinning about 4oz of the top in a straight short forward worsted spin on my ladybug.  This is resulting in the finest and most consistent spin I have ever accomplished.  However, instead of relaxing and enjoying this spin I am eager to get to the next step, spinning up the carded fibers.  I am also eager to see what the final plied yarn will look like, I have done two ply back samples and I believe I will have either a lace weight 2 ply or a DK weight 4 ply.  (it’s pretty fine)

Right now, I have spend almost three hours spinning up this first part of my fiber.  I am only capable of spinning about an hour or so at a time, the fineness of this spin means that should my concentration waver too much I will lose my consistency.  In those three hours, I have barely made a dent in my top.  This being said,  I have made a conscious decision to do my best to enjoy this time creating this yarn.  Haste makes waste is very apt in this case.  I am spinning a fine consistent yarn, taking my time, concentrating on how I am spinning and the results that I am obtaining will be key to enjoying this spin.  At my current rate of spinning I should get another 21 hours of enjoyment from this fiber.  Let’s see how it goes!

Happy Crafting!

A Study in Wool Part 1

I have been having a blast sorting thorough my stash (taking a quick break from another project).  While doing so I ran across a sampler kit I had purchased with different wool breeds inside.  All of the wool samples were washed, but they were still in their lock formation.  To simplify things, and make sure that the preparation and spinning was not different for each type, I decided to card them and spin from the resulting rolags.  The end products (once spun) were interesting.  I’ll show you as I go, after letting the yarn rest a day (and clearing off a bobbin to spin with) I navajo/chain plied the yarn to keep the breeds separate.  I also spun a bit of a commercially prepared merino in between most of the breeds.

This is my bobbin before this concept seeped into my mind.  I started with some BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) a breed that most people rhapsodize about.  I have spun commercially prepared top BFL before and enjoyed it.  This fiber has a very soft hand, though this sheep must have had some tender tips or something because I wound up with some nepps in my rolags.  Rather than risk more appearing I stopped after 2 passes each rolag.  I did smooth this fiber down as I spun it (which should result in a less springy washed yarn).

The Lincoln had a well defined lock structure but once it had been carded the resulting wool was semi coarse.  This batch did not have many nepps, and actually carded out to pretty, lofty rolags.  I did not smooth this down much while I was spinning.

The Adult Mohair was a nightmare.  This batch had less than 1″ staple length and the guard hairs were still present.  This gave everything a slightly coarse feel but still quite silky.  The main problem is that when spinning the very short fibers either clump together resulting in huge bumps or fall out altogether resulting in a huge mess.  I nay be entirely wrong but I would like to say that the blame is either with the producer (it isn’t a very good fiber animal) and the seller that sold me such messy, useless fiber.  If you have the patience for it and a dropcloth under your wheel this might be usable.  I believe I will see if anyone can use it for felting, or something.

The very first thing I have to say about this Cross Breed fiber is: Whatever was used to wash this smells very sweet!  The fibers are springy and medium soft.  I would not use this as a next to the skin product like socks or a sweater but it might make a decent scarf.  Something you wear for a short while and then take off.  Maybe mittens?  Oh well, I did not smooth this down at all while I was spinning.  I am discovering that since I am not smoothing things down, I have a harder time getting an even yarn.  When I do what I see others doing, spin and then gently pull to pull out the bumps I just wind up with thin spots.  Something else to work on!

The English Gotland fibers had two different types of fibers.  The long springy gray fibers and the shorter less springy white fibers.  It carded beautifully but the differences in staples seemed to result in little clumps of fiber sticking up and falling out.  I did not smooth this as I went so it will be interesting to see how this washes up.

The Icelandic and Romney both carded up beautifully, the Romney seemed to have a lot more loft than the Icelandic.  Neither had many nepps but also neither spun up completely smoothly either.  Possibly an error of the operator rather than a fault of the fiber.  Neither seemed soft enough for next to the skin projects.  I did not smooth them down while spinning.

I had some Llama Fiber and Cashgora that I spun up as well.  I did not bother carding either of these fibers.  There was not enough Llama to bother and I felt that my hand cards would be too coarse to process the Cashgora.  Both of these fibers spun like a dream, the Llama was a little sticky (Probably due to processing oils).

I cannot wait to see how all of these fiber will turn out in the end.  I will say that one of the fibers, the English Gotland I believe, wound up splitting in a place and had to be tied back together resulting in a flaw in the skein.  This skein and the other that I plied to make room for the bobbin have both been soaked for an hour or so.  They are both hung up to dry and I cannot wait to see what they will look like when I dry.  (I also have some fiber drying that I washed and rinsed very thoroughly.  It came to me a bit sticky and so I hope it was lanolin that I have succeeded in washing off.  I only did about half of the batch if this does not work, or felts the fiber, I will have to see what else I can do.)

Happy Crafting, more information about the skein of samples and the sticky fibers in the next episode.  Dun, Dun, Dun.

Thursday’s singles = Friday’s ply

I managed the monster mile!  

My first five skeins are beautiful 2-ply yarns at about 14 wpi.  I managed to go well over my monster mile. Hitting my first goal out of the park. For my sixth skein I created a 4 ply yarn that I think of as my unicorn yarn, just beautiful and magical.  

I’m not too sure where I am, though I know winning rogue is out of my realm, but it’s fun anyway.  I have an event I will be at tomorrow, but hopefully I can continue my plying.  I am surprised at how much of my fiber I have spun.

I’ll see what happens tomorrow and do a frantic rush on Sunday, posting my totals then. 

Happy Crafting!

Kool Aid Dying Part 2

I had an absolute blast dying some Merino that I picked up earlier this year.  I am trying to gear up for Spinzilla this October, in preparation I decided I wanted to spin my own Colorways.  To spin my own colors then I need to generate them, starting with dying the fiber.  To dye these fibers I soaked the batches of fiber in water for at least 5 minutes, usually longer.  Once they were saturated I wrung them out.  While they were soaking I mixed up some kool-aid in the color I was looking for.  In the case of Yellow I added in some food coloring left over from Easter.  I will admit that I added in a glug or two of white vinegar to each of the baths in an effort to maximize the dye absorption.

It was so much fun to set up a few batches on my bathroom sink then go to work or to bed and come back to find the fiber a beautiful color and the water clear or almost clear.  Every single time it looked a bit like a miracle.

I had no problems with felting so I plan to spin up the multi-hued batt I created straight from the combed top.  The rest of the hues will be blended with different fibers, some silk, some other materials, to create rolags or mini batts to be spun up for Spinzilla!

By my calculations I have about a month to get this fiber carded and prepped for spinning!

Happy Crafting!

Facebook Fiber Find

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I recently joined a fiber ‘destash’ group on facebook.  I was a bit hesitant to buy anything from Facebook but when I saw 2 oz of mixed fibers for $5 I thought I would give it a shot.  When the bags arrived I was amazed, everything from flashing, locks, silk, wool, etc.  The colors are beautiful and I love everything I received.  In the 6 bags I ordered there was 1 beautiful mini batt and a couple of rolags that I just had to spin up right away.

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The pretty blacks, blues, and purples with the bits of flashing that are stuck to them wound up just beautiful.  There are a pair of beautiful little bits of colorful batts that I am going to spin on this same bobbin (since I only have 3 that spin well on the wheel).  The rolags, toward the top of the picture, had a bit of what I think of as ‘sticky wool’ and wound up a little bit chunky but it should be very pretty when finished.  I plan on plying these with some merino to let the blacks and other shades just pop out at you!

In addition to the rolags and bits of colored wool I received a lot of dyed locks.  When I separated out the materials from the bags 3 of them were filled with locks.  Little, tangled up locks that looked impossibly matted down.  I was dreading working with these little pieces.  All I could think about were the long silky locks that characterize ‘lock-spun’ yarn that is a big artisan movement in spinning.  (These were not those kind of locks).  I remembered something about ‘flicking locks’, looked on YouTube, and found a way to not only save these locks but make them a joy to work with!

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Half a handful of locks, when flicked, created the beautiful cloud of fiber that can be found above.  I took a close up picture as they were sitting in an old serving bowl, so there is more fiber than it appears to be.  I am looking forward to flicking open all of the locks I received and discovering what beautiful colors they hold.  I have some personal debate about whether it would be better to card them with some merino to create a soft, light, lofty yarn with watered down color, or to spin the flicked locks up as a single and then ply it with some merino.  The merino ply should add some softness and bounce to the single colored fiber.  At this time I think I am going to flick open all of the locks and see how rich the colors seem.  If they are as pale as this green I will probably spin them up as a single and ply them with the merino since blending mutes the colors.  How very exciting to be spoiled with such beautiful choices!

Happy Crafting!

 

Spinning My Heart Out

I am having such a good time playing with the merino I got from Paradise Fibers.  In addition to spinning just merino and plying with other merino singles, as is illustrated in the skeins on the left and the white ball, I really enjoy how the white merino singles cause other colors to pop out.  The three ply ball on the bottom right  in addition to the corriedale and merino skein on the top right really show off how the white makes the other colors pop.

I still do not really know what I am going to do with these yarns, though making a sampler with my ashford sample-it rigid heddle loom is looking better and better.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Crafting!

New Fiber

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My fiber from Paradise Fibers arrived Today!  1 lb. of Ashland Bay Corriedale Cross Wool, and 4 oz. of 64 Count Undyed Merino Top.  I am so very excited, the Merino is just beautiful, I’m almost afraid of it right now.  I managed to hold out for a whole ten minutes before I got my hands in the Corriedale, while it seems a bit coarse I have been working with silk for a couple of weeks so anything that doesn’t catch on my hands is probably going to seem a bit rough.  It spins beautifully.  I could barely put it down to post this and if I didn’t have to get to bed so I can go to work in the morning I probably would not have put it down at all!  I am still working with a drop spindle so it isn’t really ‘production’ speed, but that also means that this fiber might last me a good long while!

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