Sunday, 29 July 2012

Jacobs Ewe Fleece

I've bought my first whole sheep fleece after being advised by experienced spinners on a Forum as to which breed would be best to chose to get for a beginner spinner.  Its a Jacob fleece from Jacksmere Pure Breeds that I bought through Ebay.  The ewe, pictured, had recently given birth to triplets and it was her fleece that I bought.  When it arrived it stunk to high heaven of Ammonia, on top of the usual sheep smell, even before I had even taken it out of the plastic sack that it had arrived in through the post.  I was busy doing something else but due to the overwhelming stench and I had no choice but to have a break from what I was doing and get to work on giving it some kind of initial wash straight away by filling the bath with hot soapy water and placing it in whole to have a soak with the window open whilst I finished what I was doing.  It stunk the house out.  I would not recommend trying to wash a fleece whole like this.  It was an absolute nightmare!

Anyway, after its first soak and then a water change and another soak I allowed it to drain, I then started separating the colours by pulling large chunks of white locks from the fleece.  I broke these large chunks into individual locks and washed using my laundry bags, in the same way that I washed the Alpaca fleece.  I worked the black/brown in the same way and then the rest, where the colours were mingled together, was worked.  Once dry I started working on it using my trusty dog comb.  It worked ok but I could only do a small amount at a time, it was extremely time consuming and hard work but I managed a small pile of "fluff".

This prompted me to order a set of Wool Combs otherwise I will be here all year trying to comb this fleece.  I also bought myself a wooden diz set, which is a little concave piece of wood with a hole in the middle and a little tool to pull the first bit off wool through.  The Wool Combs arrived and I set about combing the rest of the fleece, with a lot more enthusiasm than using the dog comb and before I knew it I had a lovely pile of hand combed tops (nests) ready for spinning.  Those combs removed all of the rubbish and made it all lovely and the diz helped to make a long length of fibre ready for spinning, as you pull the fibres off the comb through the diz and keep going until the comb is empty.

I started spinning the lovely hand-combed nests that I had created into a light fingering weight single yarn that weighs 183g and measures 634m.

I then turned my attention to the black/brown fibres and processed in the same way, using my combs to get rid of all the rubbish and just make a lovely nice clean light fingering weight single yarn of 152g and 412m

Last but not least, the mixed colours, which were impossible to separate due to the mingling.  This gave me a light fingering weight single yarn of 131g and 460m and seeing as a certain book is very popular right now (not in my household I might add!), I have decided to call it the very aptly "50 Shades of Grey".  Who'd have thought that combing these mixed colours would produce grey, a bit like mixing black and white paint and getting grey!

Its amazing, 3 natural coloured lots of yarn from just one fleece!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Spinning the Dorset Down from Griffiths Mill

I thought I would spin the Dorset Down Roving that I picked up from the Griffiths Mill stall when we all went to the Staffordshire County Show back in the beginning of June.  It was a very very long, thin length of roving so I folded it in half and pulled the two halves apart at the fold.  I spun two singles and then plied them to achieve a 2ply yarn of worsted weight which gave me 128m from my 100g of roving.  Not super soft but not totally awful either, slightly crisp.

I made this braided cable hat from my wool.  Its a lovely snug fit and very warm.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I've bought myself a set of Wool Combs

Since my last post, I have purchased a set of Valkyrie Extrafine Viking Wool Combs, after studying a chart posted on a Spinning Forum which detailed the results of a "study" about which type of Valkyrie combs worked best with the fleece of certain sheep breeds.  The heads are 5 inches wide with a 4 inch working width and contains 43 closely spaced 3 3/4 inch long hardened polished steel tines.  I bought the universal mounting pad too, which can be clamped onto a table.  They are not a cheap tool, at around £150 for the combs, pad and delivery within the UK.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Spinning with beads and experimenting

When I bought my Ashford Joy Spinning Wheel, I got some fibre samples with it, including some Merino Slivers and some Corridale Slivers, just over 30g in each sample.
Top Row: Merino Sliver in shades Blueberry and Green Tea
Bottom Row: Corridale Sliver in shades Raspberry and Cheesecake
I had seen someone showing off their spinning with beads on a forum and I was very intrigued with the idea and so I Googled for information about how to do it.  Armed with this new knowledge I spun the Merino as singles and then I started Navajo plying, adding beads every now and then by putting the loop through the bead, sliding the bead up to the last loop and then spinning up to the loop and pulling a new loop through as you normally would with Navajo plying.

This is the YouTube video that I used to learn how to add beads whilst Navajo plying.  I hope you also find it useful.

The Blueberry yarn is about 33m long and has alternate blue lustre glass and Haematite beads and the Green Tea yarn is about 39m long and has green lustre glass beads.

The two Corridale Slivers, I spun from both at the same time to make a multi-coloured single and then Navajo plied it.  I am not overjoyed at the results but I called it Gryffindor for obvious reasons.

All three yarns were eventually used with lots of other yarns in small, striped projects.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fairy Garden

I was shopping for some more spinning fibres on Etsy and I fell in love with these fibre batts from Weaving Me Home called Fairy Garden.  The description read "Like a walk through a magical spring garden, Fairy Garden combines Merino wool in a very light, pastel spring green with shimmering Angelina sparkles of light blue, lemon yellow, rosy pink and mint green".  That was it, those were now mine!

I've never spun from batts before, so this was new and I had to figure out just what to do with it.  I broke it down into sections and strips and spun it as a single and decided to leave it as single so once it was spun, I soaked it and then thwacked it, achieving 279m from 100g of fibre.  So, so pretty! 

This stayed in my stash for a while until I finally decided what to make with it.  I finally found the perfect pattern for this gorgeous yarn and made these fabulous bobble, cable and lace long-arm fingerless mitts.