Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Joey's Rainbow Capelet!

I am SO excited about this project!  Sheep to Shawl, seriously.

I got 8 ounces of raw fleece from a rescued cormo ewe that had not been shorn for over two years. The fiber had been even longer, but they’d had to cut off a few inches at the outside. The staple length was still incredibly long (9-11”) for cormo! I washed it, huge lock by huge lock.

I dyed it with food coloring and vinegar in the microwave.
I spun lock by lock, flick combing the ends with a cat brush and picking out bits of VM. It was an interesting spin! The long staple made it a bit of a strain on my fingers. Here’s a spinning progress shot.
I finished spinning and navajo-plied it. Here’s the finished yarn.

 After months of trying to find the right project, I knitted the yarn into this Capelet for my daughter! She LOVES it. :)

A day after it was finished, I couldn't help myself...

Monday, November 12, 2012

How did I learn to spin?

In a Facebook Group, someone posted the question, "How did you learn to spin?" This is/was my answer.

I encountered a skein of handspun angora yarn at a craft fair where I was selling jewelry.  I touched it and it ignited something in me.  Not remembering learning how to crochet (and, actually, not remembering ever having done it before), but knowing I knew how, I asked the spinner what size hook she would recommend.  She told me, and I bought the 12oz skein of yarn.  It was a single, grey.  That week I went to a yarn store and bought a hook, and then I went home and crocheted a sweater for my daughter (no pattern, just intuition, and I ran out of yarn just before the end and put in a stripe of dark pink store-bought yarn).  That sweater has been worn by all 4 of my kids (I dyed it cobalt blue when my daughter was done with it).

I was attracted to handspun yarn from the beginning of my remembered crochet, and then I learned to knit.  I joined Etsy (and set up a jewelry shop there) so I could trade for handspun yarn.  I did hundreds of trades.  I was crocheting and knitting all the time, and I loved it.  I tried spinning here and there, but it didn't click until it did.  And I have never looked back.  Now I spin every day - on spindles, on wheels, with my fingers.  I have never loved any vocation as much as I love spinning.  It feeds something primal in me. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My pencil was cold.

Cormo and cormo cross locks from Buckwheat Bridge Angoras, Bosworth Spindle and a number 2 pencil:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Bowmont Bag for Blythe

I scored a Bowmont fleece! Bowmont is 3/4 merino and 1/4 Shetland, and it's bred in the UK. Sola made herself comfortable while I inspected the fleece.

Here's an unwashed lock with delightful curly crimp:

Here it is, washed:
A section of it, dyed and combed with a cat brush:
I spun and plied it on a Wenge Spanish Peacock drop spindle:
 I knitted (and crocheted) it into a (little) purse.
Someone had plans to go to a fancy knitting group, and she needed a purse to match her dress (and her yarn), so I gave it to her.  :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jake's Dream

We went to an extended family get-together and our 2-year-old was enchanted by the sweet golden retriever.
I was sad to learn that the sweet dog’s days were numbered.  I offered to brush him and make a keepsake for the family, and they loved the idea. I brushed out some underfluff and also trimmed (ok, stole) his tail. I spun his underfluff into soft 2-ply thread on a spindle and knit some of it into a tiny sweater.
The tail hair was pretty coarse. I spun it into a thick yarn, also on a spindle, and I took my time deciding what to do with it and finally decided to do a dreamcatcher.  I used the thick tail yarn to wrap the brass circle, and I wove the web with the thread. Finally, I crocheted three motifs (a heart and a flower from the thread, and a flower from the thick yarn) and connected everything, using a short spiral friendship bracelet-type cord (knotted from the tail yarn) between the dreamcatcher and the large crocheted motif. The big circle is 8 inches in diameter.
 I am really happy with this piece, and I hope it brings some comfort to the dog's family.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Frond - noun
1. The leaf of a fern.
2. A large compound leaf of a palm.
3. A leaflike thallus, as of a seaweed or lichen. 
I dyed this BFL and needle felted the cut end together. I want to make a piece of jewelry out of it, but I haven't decided whether I want it to be a necklace (with the frond hanging down) or a bracelet or ring (with the frond pointing up). I love it already, though. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Combed Cashmere From A Goat!

I was driving around in my town, unaware of any farms, when I stumbled upon some angora goats (well, they were behind a fence). I was excited, and I pulled over to try to find the owner, but she wasn’t home. She had some cookies out and a cigar box that said she was on the honor system, and cookies were fifty cents each. :)

I stopped back a few more times and still couldn’t find her. Finally, I ran into a neighbor who told me her name, so I went home, found her number and called her. Contact, yay!

I went there wanting to see mohair fleeces, and I loved the farm in general, but I was disappointed in the fleeces. Then she happened to mention that she had recently rescued a couple of neglected cashmere goats, and she could see why, because they were feisty. She had combed one of them (tan cashmere - and she was willing to part with the fiber, as she is not an active spinner, yay!). She couldn’t catch the other one (cream cashmere), so I, um, offered to help.

I went back early the next morning. We cornered the goat and tied her up. The woman held the goat while I combed. I forgot to take pictures. Oops.

The goat wasn’t very friendly, and it was sort of a constant battle. The goat should have relaxed when she realized I wasn’t going to harm her, but she didn’t. I got several ounces of cream cashmere (and I have several ounces of the tan from the other goat). I have dehaired some of it (I actually enjoy dehairing, go figure) and have started spinning it (expect to see a tiny sweater soon, hee hee). I got attacked by a rooster and chased by a cow. It was an interesting morning!!

Here’s the raw cashmere:
Here’s yarn I’ve spun from a little of it (that’s the tip of my left index finger - it looks weird in the photo):

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lovely Morning!

Just a short post - what a lovely morning it was!  My kids entertained themselves and let me spin some yarn.  This is corespun Wensleydale top with tailspun Teeswater locks.  :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fleece to FO(s): Sharlea Merino (& Cormo) Socks

Lately I have been loving processing fleeces!  Here's a shot of a BFL lock I washed the other day.  YUM!  To clean it and preserve the curls, I piece together small locklets into a larger lock, hold one end and dangle the other end in a pot of hot tap water (I used to almost boil it, but I realized that it doesn't have to be that hot to be effective) with either dishwashing liquid or Unicorn Power Scour in it, gently swish it back and forth, turn to other end and repeat, then rinse in a pot of equally hot water the same way, never squeezing (unless it's a fine wool without curls to preserve), and lie it flat to dry on a towel.
I'd like to share a couple of projects with you, from fleece to finished.  I found a (2 year old ram) cormo fleece (from Foxhill Farm) at Rhinebeck that would not allow me to leave it there.  The lock formation was incredible!
I washed a clump of it:
...and spun most of the clump (in several separated locks, flick-combed at both ends) into a fluffy yarn sample.
On a separate (but to be related by the end of this project) subject, I was trying to think outside the box with not only my spinning (trying to spin thicker than thread, for example), but also processing. Previously, I had processed fine Sharlea merino only one way (individually formed and washed locks), and that method is extremely time-consuming, though it does yield excellent results. I got the idea to wash a bit of a 13.4 micron Sharlea merino fleece the regular way (as opposed to one lock at a time) and then card it into a batt.

People generally do not card extremely fine wool into batts. When one does so, one runs the risk of creating a bumpy texture. I carded the washed fiber only once, so there was still some visible crimp left, but there were also some bumps (and some short fibers that could be picked out during spinning). Spinning this sample yarn was fun, because I let it become what it wanted to be, an UNBELIEVABLY soft, textured yarn (rather than the traditional extreme laceweight that most people think of as the only thing one can do with extremely fine fibers). This wool has a long enough staple length that I am not worried about the stability of the yarn, even though it is airy and textured.

The raw fleece:
It had some dirty bits:
A bit of the washed fiber (I picked out all remaining bits of dirt, so it came out VERY clean):
Washed fiber going into my Fancy Kitty Kitten Superfine Drum Carder:
Batt (the softness is mind-boggling):
A small braid of roving that I dizzed from the batt:
The sample yarn I spun from the braid:
In a way, it's such an expensive fiber that I feel as if the lock method shows appropriate respect for it whereas this method doesn't.  On the other hand, extreme softness is wonderful, and this yarn can be knitted much more quickly into something than an extreme laceweight yarn can.

Here's the tie-in to the cormo...I had enough yarn in each sample for *one* newborn sock.  So here you go (cormo at the top and Sharlea merino at the bottom):
Now onto the second project...I used my regular (time-consuming) method for washing Sharlea merino locks one at a time. 
 I took a small lock and spun this 2-ply thread on a spindle.
Today I knitted this sock (yes, I did) to my original pattern.
Had it been a little bigger, I could have done it in a short time.  This tiny, though, it took me over 4 hours.  I cannot bring myself, at this time, to knit another one.  Since nobody is actually going to wear it, I am going to consider the single sock a finished project.  :)