Posts tagged ‘fleece’

August 20, 2010

Fleece is turning to yarn!

In the last few weeks, it’s been way too hot to spin, especially wool.  Every time I tried, it turned into a mess of fiber sticking to my hands or flying around the room if I turned my fan on.

But I can at least show you my progress so far.

I’ve spun up one bobbin’s worth and wound it onto a spare knitting needle to be ready for plying once I’ve spun up a second bobbin.  (What I wouldn’t do for two more bobbins!)

A bobbin's full of wool!

As you can see, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping guage.  It’s pretty fine since I’m going to use it plied and I want aran (close to worsted) weight.  There are a lot of little variations because of the different wool types that are all blended together (I didn’t sort the fleece as well as I should have), but I really like the little bits of character.

I’m learning a TON already.  A lot of the methods that I’ve read and youtubed about that I couldn’t ever get to work just seem to happen with the rolags I made of this fleece.  I even understand long draw drafting!  And it makes everything so much more even.  I’m also learning about how different staple lengths and textures spin up — I’m able to recognize (by feel anyway) what types of fibers are going to want to slub, what fibers need more twist, and when I get to a section that needs to be carded a bit better.

Patty has turned out to be quite the little helper with this project — up until now she’s just ignored the wheel for the most part.

Patty supervising.

Before too long, of course, she needed to check to be sure that I was hitting the correct WPI.  I think she thought the wool could use a teensy bit more carding, just the type that little kitty paws would be good for.

"Just a second, let me check here..."

We are expecting just a smidgen-bit of cooler weather this weekend (heat index is only 99 degrees, yeah!), so maybe I’ll get a few minutes to prepare some more fleece for spinning.  I bet by the end of this project I will have picked up some speed as well as consistancy!

Happy spinning!

July 20, 2010

How to prepare the not-so-scary fleece.

So, remember about this time last year when I went to the Maine Fiber Frolic and bought my first ever fleece?

Well, it turns out that a fleece is kind of a scary thing. It’s big. It’s dirty. It smells sheepy. It’s not all tidy and combed and ready to go. Where do you even begin?

Well, to begin with, you want to tidy it up a bit, so hand sort it so that all the really gross bits are out.
To deal with the less gross bits, you need to wash it.

Tip 1: Use a big laundry bag! It’s harder than it looks to deal with a wet fleece and it helps prevent agitation so that you don’t felt your beautiful fleece.Tip 2: Use Dawn dish soap. You can buy expensive wool soaps, but Dawn will get the job done — it gets grease off your dishes, why not lanolin off your fleece?

So, I started with a simple rinse.

Seems straightforward doesn’t it?
It is until you get this:

Only one word for it. Gross.

This brings us to Tip 3: Make sure you have an outside space where it is ok to dump a lot of water. And so you don’t bring the smell of eau de wet sheep in your house.
After a few rinses, I went ahead for the wash. I filled a tub of water, added Dawn until foamy and added my fleece. And let it sit there awhile.

And rinse.
And repeat.And repeat.
Keep going with the “wash/rinse” until the water goes (mostly) clear.
Then, spread out your fleece on a big towel or net to dry in the sunshine.

At this point, the wool is wet and sticks to your hands in long tendrils and you’ll want to just wring it out. Don’t. If you must, roll it up into your towel and pat it a bit. And then just be patient — it will dry, I promise.

Now, all of this was done in North Carolina between me moving from Maine and moving out to Missouri (remember Tip 3). Since that time, it’s been bundled up in an old pillowcase, just waiting to be loved. A note on storage: never store your fleece in a plastic bag. It’ll get warm and cosy and you may end up with moldy wool. Also, the longer you wait to wash your fleece, the grosser it gets. So do this part, and then stash it away for awhile.

Now that it’s summer and I’m mostly done with classes and the first half of my prelim (woohoo!), I decided it was time to be brave and dive in.

So, like the good graduate student I am, I started researching what I should be doing. “Comb it first” some people say. Others claim you can spin straight from the fleece (yeah, right!). So what to do?

I came across my New Favorite Fiber Website, The Earth Guild site on carding.
Now, I’ve never bought anything from this site, but it has such great tutorials that I would seriously consider it in the future.

This website taught me how to properly card wool. I tried it on my messy scary fleece that still looked awfully sheep like…and got heavenly puffy rolags.

So, what’s next?

The actual spinning. I can’t wait.
And as this wonderful website says,

Spinning, as everyone knows, is magic.