Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To Card or To Comb?

On this beautiful Spring day (the heat wave of the past 5 days is over...for now) the birds are singing, the sun is shining, the Crab Apple looks like a white cloud & the Cherry trees are in full bloom , violets are peeking out all over the place and I should be out in the gardens weeding and cleaning up the winter debris; but, I am still washing my Gotland puny 14-ounces of fleece...I am on the third day of fleece washing...what will happen when I get POUNDS of the stuff??

Yesterday, DH & I set up my new Strauch Petite drum carder and I just had to try to card some of this fleece I have been diligently washing and rinsing and washing and rinsing and...well, I now understand why Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is so picky about how she washes fleece...I just put mine into the wash pot, then into the mesh spinning bag and then onto the drying rack...didn't worry about keeping locks and fibers lined, what a mess! it will take me forever (OK, an exaggeration, but you get the point) to get this all carded. I have to tease each lock and this fiber is VERY curly & VERY crimpy (see photo), so to try to line up the fibers just a little before sending it into the carder is say the least. I spent about an hour and just got 1 rolag completed...I had to send it through the carder 3 times! However, when I finished and removed the rolag from the carder it was a light gray cloud and so incredibly soft I had to keep 'petting' it...and it spun like a dream. Yes, I had to sit right down and spin a part of the first carded bit...the blend of colors in the yarn was fabulous. But my question, to all you Master Fleece Preparers out there, is should I buy a set of combs and comb the curly, crimpy fleece first before carding? I do want to spin wooly, but not fuzzy.
The timer just went off...down to empty the 3rd rinse (the one with the vinegar in it) and then a final quick rinse, a spin and then set out to dry. Only one more batch to go. Yes! Now I need a good cup of tea...what will it be? How about a lovely Tippy Yunnan...that will make the carding go better...sure!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Very First Fleece!

When I started spinning, everyone told me that I would soon buy a fleece so I could start 'at the very beginning' (well not quite, since that would mean raising the sheep! and I definitely will NOT be doing that! Right!) and I said 'Oh, no, not me'! Ha! That didn't last long. I started slowly...just 14-oz of the most beautifully clean fleece you can imagine...that is certainly the best way to start (Stay around for the next fleece story-and yes, there already is one!) The photo on the right is the unwashed fleece - gorgeous, isn't it. The sheep breed is a Gotland and if you spinners out there don't know about this breed and its fleece and wool, I would definitely suggest you check it out. Today I spent a good deal of the afternoon washing the first 2-oz...not because it really takes that long but because I had never done it before. This fleece was so clean that I only had to do one washing in detergent and then 3 rinses.

Here it is in the wash pot (which is a very large kettle with strainer I bought for only this purpose...since I now know I will be doing a lot of this washing of fleece!). It took me most of the morning to remember where I had put the detergent a friend of mine gave me for this purpose...surprise, it was found with the other washing detergents...who would have guessed. My compost/soil screen was cleaned up to serve as the drying rack; placed on top of 4 cans of beets - to let the air flow underneath - and placed on my screened-in front porch to dry out of the sun and out of the way of critters. With the very hot weather we are having in the Garden State, I am sure this will be dry by tonight and that means tomorrow I will be able to wash more of this glorious fiber. Once all of the fleece is washed and dried, I will card it into batts (since I am planning to spin it woolen) on my brand new :-) Strauch Petite drum carder. Then the fun continues as I spin it and knit it...with any luck my DH may have his new sweater by the winter of....2010!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spinning, Fleece and Spring

Spring is here...sunny, deep blue skiy and lots of daffodils and forsthyia looking like sunlight...but the temperatures are still in the 30's at night and mid-40's by day...which is just the way I like it. Spinning is going very well with 4 yarns completed...3 of them waiting for the project to be knit with while the bulky singles spun with heathered grey/brown Jacob roving has become a pair of Maine Morning Mitts and I look forward to wearing them on our next Maine sojurn.

Finished spinning the Fallen Leaves roving...that's it on the right...gorgeous colors and so will become a vest with a shawl color.

Bought my first fleece last week...Yea!! Gorgeous shades of grey with a hint of gold Gotland with a wonderful staple and crimp and very clean with light should be easy to clean and card and as this is my first attempt at both, I am glad that is the case. Later roday I will be picking up my next fleece (yes, that is addictive too), an English Leiscester that a knitting friend has arranged. My knitting friend will also be getting a fleece because, even though she doesn't spin (yet!) she wants to learn about the process of turning sheep wool into yarn. We will work together and that will make it lots more fun. The adventures continue!