Monday, July 27, 2009

A Hat for Muggles

I was pleasantly surprised when the new summer knitty came out and it had winter patterns in it. The powers that be have done this to help us prepare for the holidays which is just a scant ... gulp ... 5 months away. I love it! There were several patterns there that I love. There is a beaded lace shawl that I've been eyeing for some time. But I couldn't resist this little baby. I ordered the exact yarn in the exact same colours as the designer. (Wooly Wormhead by the way - fantastic!) This is something I rarely - if ever - do. This hat is knit in a combination of stripes and intarsia using short rows on a straight needle. Genius. I've even purchase the yarn to make this into a 'Labrador' hat. Here Amy is modelling it on our front lawn in the much too hot for woolen hats weather that we have been blessed with.

I thought I'd include a bonus shot of the fleece. I don't know how many more pictures of dirty water that I can post, but I am slowly making my way through the 6 pounds. I've spun and finished a total of 160 yards of the stuff so far. Notice the slightly different colour? I'm not sure how to fix that. I guess I have to wash all of the stuff first and then card and then spin. But, I'm going to stick to my method of washing bits, carding bits and spinning bits. I think I've gotten about 2 pounds done so far. Just keep at it right?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Way more work than expected

There is this saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well. I am trying to keep this in mind when processing this fleece. I tried spinning up that original bit that I washed and lets just say the results were less than stellar. The end yarn bore no resemblance to any yarn that I've ever seen before - not even a novelty yarn. I'm optimistic though, because the yarn was quite soft. Next to skin soft even. Take a look.

Those things, those little bits and blobs are called 'nepps*'. They sometimes result from the processing of fleece (possibility) or come from weaker fleeces (likely). Now, I'm not saying that my processing skills are so developed that I couldn't have possibly caused these nepps. I am saying that I handled the fleece parts with care, no agitation, no squeezing or wringing. I spoke to RGB (the lady that I'm buying the wheel/carder/picker from) and she recommended that I use the picker. She also recommended that I try spinning 'in the grease'.

*can you believe that they sell these nepps on etsy?

Now the picker is one scary looking device. Check it out.

I've had this thing in my possession since May '08 and have yet to use it. Blair says it looks like some sore of medeival torture device. I agree. I took a bunch of the fleece and ... I'm not sure of the right verb here... 'ran'? it through the picker. Not really an accurate verb because you kind of swing the barbed nails over the fleece. This seems to accomplish two things (besides tearing a hole in my jacket and puncturing my leg) It fluffs up the fleece and it removes quite a bit of debris. See?

So after that I decided to wash it, using the same method as I previously did. I want to see if I get different results running the fleece through the picker prior to scouring the fleece. It is really remarkable how much dirt comes out of this fleece. Here is my laundry tub after the first wash on this section of fleece.

And here is the fleece drying in the sun (on my sweater rack)

I'm hoping to get better results when I card and spin this. If not, I guess, maybe, perhaps I'll consider taking RGB's advise and trying spinning in the grease. I'm just afraid it'll muck up the equipment. And, I'd have to do it outside, because this fleece is way too stinky to consider leaving in the house as is for any length of time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Busy with Mom

My parents came to visit us for 10 days. We had a great visit with them. Dad and I went out in boat. We went to Muskrat Falls. We barbecued. Had lots of other good food to eat (fish and brewis - yummy!) And there was crafting. Mom and I crafted that is. Of course there was knitting - there is always knitting where I'm concerned. But there were other things too.

First up the knitting. We knitted dish cloths - your basic, run of the mill, garter stitch dish cloths. Can you believe that I have never knit one before now? I think its because THAT'S ALL that my mother knits. She usually gives me a big old bundle of these every year for Christmas. These are the only thing I use to wash dishes. I don't have a dishwasher. I'm not a fan of doing dishes (who is?), but I love these. I have come to expect these from my mother every year. So, I don't knit them myself. Also, I'm not a fan of the dish cloth cotton.

These are knit with knitpicks new organic cotton. Its hard to see in the pictures, but the colour is a really nice caramel colour. This cotton is actually grown that way. No dyes. Nice.

I have quite the large yarn stash. I live and breath knitting and would gladly quit my day job, if I could somehow make the same sort of living as a knitter. So, it really tortures me to know that my mother only knits dishcloths. This is the same woman who taught me to knit. She is able to knit other things. In fact, I recall a bright green Phentex pullover that she made my sister (and I secretly wanted). She also recalled several hooded sweaters that she made for us growing up. I came up with a plan to get her back into knitting things other than dishcloths. She really liked that drop stitch scarf that I made her out of my handspun for Christmas last year, but she didn't think she would be able to make it. I assured her it was quite easy and that she would have no trouble making that scarf. So, I gave some handspun 100% alpaca yarn right off the bobbin. Here it is in all its glory.

I ususally have a lot of trouble parting with my handspun, but not this time. Its for my mom - she is worth it. She just better not try to knit a dishcloth out of it.

When my parents visited us two years ago Mom and Jenna (my neice) and I went to yard sales. I have no idea why we did as I normally do not go to yard sales. But we did score some nice things back then, so we decided to give it another go. The few times that I do go yard saling, I am always on the look out for 100% wool sweaters; either to felt or shred down into reuseable yarn. I made some great finds at the yard sales we went to this past Saturday. I washed and felted them right away. This is what I made out of it.

The pattern is from Betz White's first book 'Warm Fuzzies'. (I really want to buy her second book soon). I made these more or less to show off to my mom my mad needle felting skills. Not really, since the flowers are very easy needle felting, but I did want to show her what needle felting was and how it could be used.

And then we did some painting. Rock painting. This is craft that my Mom is into. My sister too I think. Mom actually painted 3 houses, but I must have forgotten to 'document' them. I'm going to be in trouble for that.

Not bad for 10 days. And, I was still processing that dirty fleece in between all of that. But thats another blog post. Next time, I'm taking time off work.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yes Sir, Yes Sir - 3 Bags Full

Well, 1 bag full anyway. I purchased a raw Jacob fleece from here.

This is the first time I've ever bought raw fleece. Its the first time I've ever intended to process raw fleece. To be quite honest, I'm not sure what prompted me to want to try this. I've been hearing some of the podcasters (Megan of Stitch it and Jasmin of Knitmore Girls) talk about the pros and cons of processing your own fleece from scratch. Hearing them talk about the process inspired me to give it a try. I hope its not something that I'll live to regret.

Here is a picture of the fleece spread out.

Pretty dirty isn't it? Well, I was expecting that. The seller did an accurate job of describing the fleece. It also had some tags on it. Not sure what tags are? Well, Megan (of Stitch It) gives a great description of tags in her most recent podcast. Tags are dingleberries. Still not sure what they are? Well, tags are bits of poop that cling to the sheep's fleece. Some shearers will remove this stuff when shearing the animal. This one had all that charm left on. I wonder what the guys in the post office thought? I hope the package wasn't too stinky while at our postal station. I'm sure the guys think I'm eccentric enough without having packages come that smell like shit.

I decided to clean about 8 oz tonight. I used Maggie Casey's method as outlined in the book 'Start Spinning'. This fleece is very greasy. Or it feels greasy to me. I have nothing really to compare it to, but it is greasy to the touch. But after two washings the fleece is no longer feeling oily. Take a look at the dirty water that was left after the first rinse.

And here it is drying on a sweater rack. I'm debating whether I'll keep on with the cleaning process or whether I'll card this stuff up and spin it right away, just to get a feel for it. Already this bit of fleece feels so much cleaner. And the best part is, it no longer stinks!! Now, there is still quite a bit of vegetable matter (VM) in here that will hopefully come out with carding, but I think (or hope) I can handle that. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Tour de Fleece 2009

Its back! Hurrah! I spun a lot of fibre last summer during the tour. I'm not sure if I'll get to spin as much this summer because my parents will be visiting as of Sunday. I'm not sure they will understand the madness. Here is a picture of some of the fiber that I plan on spinning.

My personal goal this year is to use the drum carder more. I really need to do something about the drive belt/band. The owner of the drumcarder had some kind of aquarium tubing rigged up. But since I plan on buying the carder, I need to invest in an actual band/belt since the aquarium tubing doesn't work well. I really enjoyed spinning the batts that I carded last year.

I plan on dyeing the natural corriedale different colours and use some of Deb Mentz's colour theory to blend, blend, blend.

The last tour, my goal was to spin enough for a sweater - which I did. I just haven't finished knitting the sweater. Its the violent green Leisl (pattern by Ysolda). Its almost finished, but not quite.

Oh, have I mentioned that I purchased a big dirty fleece. It should be here any day now. I will be processing it all by myself and documenting it all here. Megan (of Stitch it podcast fame) has been talking about it a lot on her podcast, and I'm totally inspired. I'll likely be looking for a good therapist by the time its all over, but its something that I want to try.