Thursday, August 31, 2017

Chain Plied yarn and Jacobs Fleeces

I got around to plying the Merino/Silk/Bamboo tapestry yarn that I had spun from the "Hobbledehoy" fiber braids.  I decided to chain ply the singles to keep from mixing up the colors too much.  I would ply a little and then look at the bobbin, and oooh and aaaah!

Chain plying gives such a satisfyingly round yarn.

I used the "Woolee Winder" on my Hansen, it makes plying a joy!  No stopping to switch hooks on the flyer!

This yarn has all the best qualities of the three ingredients.  The drape of the silk and bamboo and the ease of spinning that the Merino adds.

I have not washed this skein yet and I am not at all sure that it will be used in Tapestry as it is, but it might.  I will spin the next braid differently, and compare the two.

I have split the next braid, "Stuffed Tiger" (lovely butterscotch oranges and browns) according to color and I will spin that as a gradient.  If I like this approach better for tapestry, I may just order a new braid of the "Bejeweled" and have a re-do.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an add for some Jacobs Sheep, and the shepherd happened to mention that there were fleeces available.  I contacted her and to make a long story short, I bought 11 fleeces and my friend Karin bought 5.  As part of the bargain, I am going to make a fleece rug and some yarn (from a first clip) for the shepherd.  I may even see if she wants me to weave her a scarf from that yarn.

I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures of the exchange, and even of the first 2 fleeces that I washed that day.  But I have come to my senses and I took a couple of pictures of the 2 fleeces I am working on today.

First up today is a "first clip".  This one is mostly white and the number on the bag was #14.  (I forgot to keep track of the name or number of the first two fleeces, but they were also first clip.)

I split this fleece in half and put each half in a large lingerie bag.  Then I put them to soak in hot soapy water a couple of times, after that there were a couple of rinses and ecco fatto, it is clean and ready to be laid out to dry.

I split each half fleece between 2 of these sweater drying racks that I have picked up over the last couple of years.  They are perfect for this kind of thing.

(This spring I dried fleeces on the back porch tables, but I found that my little black cat loves to sleep among the fleeces so much and that she leaves behind her little black hairs, and they are not very easy to get out!)

Next up is #3, a full grown sheep this time, so I split this fleece in quarters and went about the same process.  Right now as I write this we are on the second wash and soon this one will be drying as well.

I have taken the time to label the fleeces today, and I plan to do that for the rest of them, too bad I missed those first two.

I want you to see the crimp on this #3, isn't it beautiful!  Most of these fleeces will become fleece rugs to sell at the upcoming fall shows,  (I will probably spin the 3 "first clips" because they are so soft) it takes 2 good sized fleeces to make a rug  30x45 inches, which is what I am doing right now.

I can see many more fleece adventures in my future, heavens, I may have to reopen my Etsy shop!

Until next week, Happy Weaving, Tina

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spinning Merino / Silk / Bamboo

I have begun to spin the beautiful braids of fiber that I picked up from the "Hobbledehoy" booth last month.  The blend in these braids is Merino, silk, and bamboo, I think it is 50/25/25 but I will check on that and edit with a correction.

My tentative goal is to spin a color palette for tapestry.  I am not sure exactly how it will turn out, but I love to spin fine yarn with delicious blends in beautiful colors.  My "work" is cut out for me.

This is "Bejeweled",  for this first braid I simply split it down the middle lengthwise and I have been spinning with the intention of plying the 2 bobbins, but the more I read about tapestry the more I see "bundles" of  singles being used for color blending and texture effects.  I need to do a lot more research, but it would surely solve the problem of muddying the colors in a 2ply.

The shine on this blend is truly gorgeous!  Here is the first dark blue patch.

I took this to show my daughter how the yarn looked plied back on itself.  I have never spun with bamboo in any blend before, and I am really enjoying it.  It is slippery like the silk is, and the merino gives it just enough grabbiness to make it a little easier to spin.

Here are some more colors on the first bobbin, which is finished.  I have started the second bobbin, but I had to pack away the spinner when company came with small children and I have yet to get it back out.  (I have been playing with the tapestry loom!)  I think I will get the spinner back out this afternoon so that I can spin while we watch our baseball games or sometimes old "West Wing" episodes.  (It has been long enough since we last watched it, to be enjoyable to watch it again.)

In the meantime, I may leave this "Bejeweled" as singles for awhile to give myself time to improve my tapestry knowledge and skills.

The next braid I spin,  I will see if I can break the braid apart into color families and spin those separately, and leave those as singles as well.  If I make myself a PVC niddy-noddy I can block and dry the singles on the noddy as I go so that the yarn will be ready to use when I am ready to weave.   I'm not sure which one I am going to choose yet, but I am leaning towards the orange/ butterscotch braid, the top braid in the first picture, I have a tapestry cartoon drawn and those colors may come in handy soon!

Until next time, Happy Spinning and Weaving, Tina

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fiber Prep

Last week I posted about the roving rug I am making on the Tapestry loom.  I had woven my way through a whole fleece, but I was only half way through the rug.  I had hoped to get another fleece quickly carded, but as it often happens, life got in the way.

I had a few friends over yesterday to spin on the porch, and we had a great time of course, but I left the tables set up out there so that this morning I could set up to card at least one of the Museum fleeces to finish that rug.

Each fleece is in it's own pillow case.  There was one fleece that seems extra fine, so I will save that for when I am doing spinning demonstrations at the Museum of Appalachia.  The rest however will be made into fleece rugs.  I finally got all the lanolin out of the fleeces, it took 3 washes and now we are ready to card.  There is still plenty of Vegetable matter in there though, tiny, tiny bits of stuff that you couldn't pick out if you wanted to.

Previously I had gone through this fleece and I had separated out the short cuts and matted bits, which left the best locks behind.  I take a handful of locks and I open them up by hand and then I turn the crank on the drum carder which turns the small roller which takes the locks a few at a time to the big drum.  Once the drum is full, I carefully take the batt off of the carder and split it into 4 lengths and I feed each length spread out onto the carder again.  I repeat that step at least 1 more time and it is done!

Once the batt is done and off the drum carder, I move it inside to keep my black cat off of it, she loves these white fleeces, but she leaves little bits of herself, little black hairs, behind in the wool.  When I go to the loom I will split this batt, and all the other batts, in half lengthwise, with the grain if you will, and then both of those halves will be split again in half, to make a good size for my rug.

This pile of tiny bits of vegetable matter, which is also underneath and all around the drum carder is after only 1 batt!  I keep the trash can handy and clean up every couple of batts.  I also do not leave my coffee cup anywhere near this table!

Once  I have finished all the rugs with the Museum fleeces, I will move on to the Scottish Blackface fleeces.  You may remember  that I was not happy about the Scottish Blackface last week,  and that was because I had thought that I would be able to drum card them as well as they are, guard hairs and all, and use that for the rugs.  I did a sample batt, and there were so many guard hairs and kemp that I could not even imagine using them for rugs!  Frankly, I was a little grossed out!  So I put that on the back burner for a few days, while I figured out what to do to de-hair all 4 fleeces.

De-hairing fleeces has been historically my downfall.  There, I said it!  I have spent hours de-hairing Nigora fleeces by hand with little to show for it!  I was so discouraged that for the last 2 years, I have been storing the Nigora fleeces, (9 of them) wondering what I was going to do.  Now, it seemed that  I was adding to that 4 Scottish Blackface fleeces with mega guard hairs that make the Nigora guard hairs look like silk!  I was so discouraged!!!!

I have done a lot of research online, for a long time, looking for a way to de-hair at home quickly and easily.  Finally, 2 weeks ago, I ordered a set of double pitch mini combs from the Woolery.  This set is not the Louet mini combs, but they are very similar.  Anyway, the little combs arrived, and when I had a moment to do it, I loaded one of them up with the Scottish Blackface locks, and I began to comb.  I immediately saw that the tines were close enough together to trap all the kemp and a lot of the guard hairs!  With each pass the guard hairs were being left behind in the combs, along with short cuts and vm.  I kept going, back and forth until there were barely any guard hairs left in the wool.  I pulled off the wool, and I did another comb full!  When I had pulled off this second comb full, I reloaded the already de-haired wool back onto the combs, did a pass to combine the 2 batches and pulled off a lovely nest of wool with hardly any guard hairs at all!  If you are thinking about de-hairing a fleece, I must warn you that there is an incredible amount of waste, most of it guard hairs, but some of it is good wool that you might be tempted to try to recover it, that choice my friends, I leave with you.

I am over the moon with happiness!  I was so discouraged that I would look out in the field and see my 9 goats and their beautiful fleece and wonder what I was going to do!  You know that pressure, that hopeless feeling!  Now, I can look out and see their beautiful fleeces and imagine it turned into de-haired comb top, like this.

Be sure you click this photo to enlarge the picture.  You don't want to miss the shine!

Until next week, Breath deeply, Tina