Archive | March 2009

Washing Wool

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I washed/am washing the shetland fleece indoors since it’s not exactly balmy outside this week in ontario.

I began with soaking the fleece, in parts, in tubs in cold water – changing the water as it dirtied and warmed. I’ve still got a little in a cold bath that started soaking the first day. I think extra days make it easier to clean.

Next, I used this method of hot water wash. My soap is a presidents choice aromatherapy dishsoap – it smells like lavender.

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The wastbasket was a stroke of genius – we found it at the second hand store for 75 cents! It works as the perfect colander. I used an old tupperware bowl for the wash, the metal bowl for a drain to set the basket in.

Each batch got two soapy soaks and two or three rinses in nearly boiling water. In the interest of saving water I use the last rinse as the first soapy soak for the next batch (and make the last rinse very quick to prevent significant cooling). I used a couple of towels and rolled each batch, squeezing out most of the water and laid them out on my sweater drying rack (in the livingroom).

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As the fleece dried, I seperated it into locks…

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By starting at the tips, it was pretty easy to seperate. Dirty tips aren’t so bad, lol….they help the fleece stay together and (mine) combed out easily later.

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I’ve still got a third of a fleece to do…

I’ll be the lady in the kitchen 🙂

It’s Here!

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I picked up my fleece this morning at the post office. Good thing too…now it looks like it’s going to pour rain today! It came in a pretty small box, it’s amazing how well they vacuum packed it.

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About 4.5 pounds of raw charcoal/black shetland fleece from Devine West Ranch in New Brunswick, Canada.

Couldn’t help it – had to see! – so I’ve let it stretch a little in a smallish bin in the living room until the kids get home for lunch. I want to let them share in this whole thing – it’s a real learning experience for all of us and I’ve always been craft mama with them 🙂

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It fluffed right up and it’s not nearly fully ‘fluffed’…

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I can see some finer fleece as well as some coarser and there seems to be a variety of browns/blacks within the fleece. I’ll be able to say more once I stretch it out (planning to use an old sheet for that!) and have a better look. Doesn’t look like too much hay or other fun stuff in there but again, I need a better look.

I’m all excited and intimidated at the same time, lol! Wish me luck 🙂

The Second Set

I wanted to try to make another set of wool combs.

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This time, I used some scrap needleword framing wood (no idea what type but it seems really light) with bamboo handles (from the dollar store wooden spoons) and again the 3.5 inch finishing nails but I bent them this time.

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LOL, not easy but possible. I used a large wrench, a set of pliers and traced the original on paper to match the rest with.

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I used the 5 minute epoxy again and left them to set for almost 24 hours.

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They seem to work a bit better than my first set because of the curved ends. Really happy with them!

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They Work Great!

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Some small blended rovings? tops? whatchamacallits? that I made with my handy homemade wool combs — playing last night, you know, it was impossible NOT to try them out a bunch of times, lol.

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They sit nicely in my hands and everything – as a first attempt I am thrilled with them.

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Oh, yeah, the paintbrushes ARE dollar store crappy and they aren`t going to work for this wool comb project. I`m keeping my eyes open for some better quality ones.

Since I Don’t Have An Extra $120

I’m working on building my own wool combs!

After much research (looking at wool combs on the net, different styles and types) and after reading these instructions , generously provided by a like minded soul —

There was the first attempt…

I tried using some old pine I found in the basement but it was too weak and tended to crack along the lines of nails – not to mention that this is my very FIRST time using a drill, lol, so there was a lot of learning to drill straight!

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Not really very pretty. I scrapped the first few.

I regrouped. So far I had spent zero dollars since I got the nails (3.5 inch finishing nails) at Canadian Tire with Canadian Tire money (love that) and didn’t want to spend a lot on wood.

So! My husband and I decided to check the dollar store and found these lovely things…

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5 minute epoxy – $1
2 4″ paintbrushes – $2 (I’m thinking these are fabulous candidates for comb-i-fying, great handles, great width and I think I can drill through the metal sleeve which I’m thinking will help support the wood. We’ll see!)
4 bamboo sets of utensils – $4 (The spoons will go in the kitchen and the spatulas are what I wanted for the first set of combs)

So, I’ve spent $7 (and I have four new wooden spoons) in total!!! Very exciting, lol.

Ok, and a day and half but I’d be knitting anyways 🙂

Here are some pictures as it went…

I drilled holes with centres approx 1/4 inch apart and a second offset row about a 1/4 inch away, in two of the spatulas (sanded it down when it was done but the bamboo drills beautifully)…

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I fitted the third and fourth spatulas to fit underneath the nail heads, held by epoxy (maybe I should have added screws, we’ll see in time). First I used a larger bit to make halfway holes that the heads of the nails could sit in. I clamped the two pieces together and marked the holes first.

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I then fitted the nails into the holes, cut the handles off the third and fourth (backing) spatulas, on the marked lines, and mixed the epoxy in an old cup. I spread a thick layer of epoxy onto the nail heads and their side of the first and second spatulas and fitted the backs on. I could have done a better job but I’m giving myself high marks for a first try 🙂

Now they’re clamped and drying for a bit…

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See the holes on the far one? I got a little excited it was going so well and drilled a little too far on that backing 🙂 I’m thinking it will fill in nicely later with putty, if I want to go that far.

And VOILA! The finished combs, yet to be tested on actual fibre…

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I may yet get fancy and use the sander to smooth them out around the joined edges – maybe even stain them 🙂

Next up…the paint brush wool comb project 🙂

SO Excited!!!

I’m getting a raw shetland fleece!!

And! The news is good…saw my surgeon today and the tests came back negative after my operation. Happy Dance time! I’m walking on clouds today. Ah, and the healing is going perfectly well 🙂

A belated birthday present – the fleece is just over 4 pounds, from a farm in New Brunswick, my very first ebay purchase ever, my first fleece ever.

I totally can’t wait. It’s surprising I’m this excited over dirty sheep, but I really, really am 🙂 It’s listed as ‘charcoal’ so I’m not sure I could dye any – if I felt like trying out dying. Doesn’t matter actually…its the adventure I’m after.

Oh yes, I finished the camp shirt…
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Still not thrilled with the sleeves but the handspun worked really well and it’s a comfy sweater to wear.

Not sure, with the shetland, if I will make something fine like that or maybe a really nice outerwear cardigan…decisions for later!

I’m hoping it’s a ‘good’ fleece (as if I would know!) and the final product seems secondary to the learning curve, which I truly enjoy when I’m learning a new craft. I’m reading everything I can find about methods of processing and spinning. I’m leaning toward going slowly with the cleaning, in small batches, and probably trying to keep the locks nice and spin from those since I don’t have carders. I’m pretty sure I can flick card with the dog brushes I have. LOL…again, guessing – I’ve never actually ‘carded’ anything but the flick carders I’ve seen look exactly like dog brushes with longer handles.

I expect, on the outside, I’ll get the fleece in about three weeks. You see, this way, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, hopefully!

I’m off to work on my blanket…

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I Have To Have This Camp Shirt!

Now that I’m done surgery (and healing well I’m happy to add!) and my 40th birthday has passed uneventfully…I wanted to do something for me. A little personal pat on the back…

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Nice, isn’t it?

I’m using some yarn I spun for the project, superwash merino laceweight in the colour ‘sapphire’, mill ends purchased at The Black Lamb in Port Hope, Ontario. My yarn came out thick and thin (doesn’t it always?) and is roughly lace/light fingering weight. It seems to be working out well in this sweater though I’m pretty sure my guage is off. I’m making the smallest size so there’s a bit of room for that guage issue.

I really don’t tend to worry very much about getting guage and I’m usually pretty lucky.

A little peek…

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The colour is off…it’s brighter than the picture shows but it’s so blah here today I’m doubting it’s the day for a better picture…

Check out the newest gadget I’ve reassigned to spinning…

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It’s actually a tiered knit dryer with mesh that fits over the bars…I found it at a discount store for about 8 bucks last weekend. I think it’s ideal as a yarn dryer as well, on it’s side like it is!

It’s currently drying a skein of laceweight (for the camp shirt) and some yarn I’ve spun for the African Adventure blanket. That blanket is surely sucking up the yarn, lol. I’ve got good news…it’s not abandoned, just in transition while I respin each colour for it.