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Sidetracked, Again (or is that always?)

Ok, I admit it, I just might have a BIT of an issue with sticking to one thing, lol. It’s like some kind of ‘ooooooh shiny, soooooo pretty’ disease. I have so many projects on the go that it’s truly ridiculous.

There is the sweater I am knitting out of handspun light fingering weight yarns, in stripes. The white is cormo/merino hand combed and blended with very fine alpaca, two ply. The coloured yarn is a hand carded silk/wool blend, 2 ply.

the yarn

close up

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The yarn I really did finish (yay, one for me, save the part where there are half a bobbin of singles waiting to be plied into yarn, should I get around to finishing the other ply), created from hand processed, hand combed cormo/fdt fleece from mmfwool….

'dilbert' cormo/fdt 2 ply lace weight

'dilbert' wool cormo/fdt 2 ply lace

So far I have two skeins of this, around 700 metres, I’d guess. And I would be guessing, lol, since I have yet to count the strands 🙂

The ‘ooh shiny’ which I just started yesterday. Days off work are fantastic!

silk,wool,camel

Hand dyed silk, cormo/merino fleece and super-soft-camel fluff…it is divine….

blending for 'moss'

And, certainly not last, simply last for today – some super soft gloves I’m working on, created with handspun angora bunny/hand dyed silk blended yarn.

glove project

the pink bunny wool (angora/silk)

Thankfully winter is a few months away!

The ‘RED’ Has Turned Out Very Well!

I’d love to say ‘good morning’ but it’s afternoon, evening really… so happy day, my friends 🙂

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I’ve been keeping busy with work and fabulous fiber. I managed to ply the red yarn and it came out to 380 meters of lovely lace or light weight fingering, I’d say. I like my socks on the thin side, comfy and perfect for normal wear in normal shoes. I’ll most likely put it in my shop but perhaps not for long, depending on how long I can resist it…

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I’ve also spent some time working with the beautiful cormo/fdt cross fleece purchased from mmfwool on ebay…

soft! cormo/fdt

It’s taking two washes to get the lanolin out, or mostly out, as the case may be. Really lovely fleece with a variety of greys in it starting with the lightest pearl gray and going to almost black in places! It combs as nicely as I suspected it would, too. Take a peek at this bit of hand pulled roving…

cormo/fdt roving - hand combed

It’s SO very satisfying, turning a raw fleece into clouds of fiber-y goodness.

Have a fantastic night 🙂

Something Red

Hello!

I barely made it through my day at work, lol – could not wait to get home and get back to the gray fleece again, as I’m quite sure you all understand 🙂

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

What a beauty it is.

All dry and perfect!

Check out that little washed bit, all separated into locks and dried now…it may well be worth washing this baby slowly because the locks couldn’t have come out more perfect, in my opinion….

I couldn’t help but spin a small sample; it’s virtually irresistible fiber.  I tried spinning from the lock and from hand carded rolags – from the lock wins hands down because the fiber is so fine.  Combing would be perfection, something I have to try and will certainly show once I do 🙂

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

I’ve been working through some bits of interesting fiber and have spun another skein of laceweight yarn.  This one is “Something Red”, created by blending the lovely white cormo/merino with hand dyed blue/violet silk and a wine red shade of predyed superwash merino.  I blend by sight and handcard my rolags.

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

Pictures coming soon of the actual plied yarn…I’ve got to skein and wash it first and we all know I’m probably lost in the land of grey fleece tonight 🙂  Have an excellent day!

Opening A Little Internet Yarn Shop!

Good morning!  It’s TRUE.  I’ve finally decided (and worked my way through most of the steps involved) to sell my extra handspun yarn via webstore.

ok, well, I had decided but then discovered it is acceptable to sell handmade items via wordpress and so have, instead, set up a sister site – Handspunyarn.wordpress.com

My little shop is called ‘HandspunYarn’ and will offer a variety of hand spun yarns from laceweight to bulky.  Since I love a good fiber, there will be lots of unique blends and all offerings are one of a kind.

All my my wool is prepared in an environmentally friendly way using safe Dawn dish soap in most cases, sometimes purex naturals, vinegar and occasional hair conditioner in the rinse.  All dyes are food safe unless noted (for example my superwash merino is predyed)

I prepare my fiber by hand, carding/combing and blending with other fibers.  A favorite of mine is silk – sari and bombyx at the moment – and I also blend with camel, alpaca, llama, mohair, angora, yak and even cashmere and cotton, on occasion.

For a great selection of unique, knittable yarns, please visit my shop.

Have an excellent day!

Lisa

Washing The Alpaca Fleece

Good Morning 🙂

alpaca - prewashing

I’ve been working on cleaning the alpaca fleece(s) that I have from last fall, while trying to conserve water and energy at the same time.  It’s wonderful to process my own fiber but the point begins to get a little lost if I use too many resources to do it with!  My general method, last year, was to take out any burrs and then use a few (usually three) washes with very hot water and as many rinses in hot water as were required to get the fleece very very white.  I would then have to comb the locks for debris and vegetable matter, anyway, because there is a lot of that that will not come out in a wash.

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I’ve now realized that was overkill.  Through experimenting, I’ve found that if I comb out the tips of the locks (really handfuls of locks) VERY well *before* washing, I can save a lot of time, water and electricity!  Really, the biggest issue with alpaca is the dust and vm.  If you can eliminate a great deal of that before washing you will be able to use the wash water for longer and wash each ‘bundle’ of alpaca fewer times.  Less vm also means less rinsing and less rinse water used.  Lower temps mean eliminating the necessity of boiling water, to begin with.  I DO boil water to bring the wash temperature back up if it is losing heat quickly outside.

This is the ‘comb’ I use to comb out the upper section of each lock.  I like to hold the locks by the cut end and keep that together, ideally.  It helps later to be able to see the seperate locks.  It’s actually a dog rake – you can find it in any pet store.

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The set up – I have two bins, one for washing, one for rinsing.  Both are large storage bins which are very common.  I have two wire waste baskets from the dollar store which work wonderfully as fleece baskets for washing, rinsing and ‘fishing’ out the clean fleece from the water.  Then there is the soap – original blue dawn dish detergent, the kind WITHOUT enzymes.  You don’t want enzymes as, if any at all is left in the wool, they will eat the fiber over time.  Nothing sadder than going back to a clean fleece and finding it weak and deteriorated.  I’ve not experienced this myself but have heard it can happen.  I keep a couple wooden spoons to manipulate the fleece in the water and also a towel to roll and squeeze the water out of the washed and rinsed fleece bundles.  My sweater drying racks work excellently as fleece drying racks.

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So, I start with a handful of unwashed fleece – just pulling off some at the edge of the blanket, enough to fill my hand and work with comfortably.

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An example of what most of the fleece looks like (what you see on top is the nicest part!)

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The dog rake works best if I loosen the tips first and then comb out the lock from the centre to the tip – a lot like dealing with badly tangled hair, you don’t want to pull hard enough to break or damage fiber, or hard enough to badly mangle the lock – just work slowly and be gentle.

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The really messy lock I showed above, once combed…Wearing old clothes is a great idea because you WILL be covered in dust and dirt and vegetable matter. A surprising amount comes out with just this combing.

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Once I’ve combed out enough to work with without rushing through the process to keep up with myself, I fill the wash bin with hot tap water and then add a generous bit of Dawn dishsoap.

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I have heard that alpaca felts but have not had any problems with that at all.  I totally swish it around, push it back under the water as needed.  I’m always much more careful with wool.  Because I haven’t had trouble with felting, I now put the fleece in by itself instead of using the wire baskets to hold it (a la mesh to keep locks in order).

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I’ve found that a 25 minute soak is a very good amount of time, with a few swishes.  I am able to use the one tub of water for three or four batches of fleece.  The rinse bin is smaller (but doesn’t need to be, that’s what I had) and I rinse for a few minutes, maybe ten, in hot water.

As you can see, the alpaca is very clean and has only had the combing, one wash and this (first and only) rinse.

I pull it all out of the rinse water and roll it in a towel.  The towel hangs on the line in between uses and that way can be reused all day long (if I want to clean fleece all day long).

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I end up with this lovely cloud of fiber – really a collection of locks which are still easy to locate and work with.  One strange thing (I’m always amazed) is how nicely the flattened out, wet fiber fluffs right back up again with drying.

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By the end of the day, I had a large bin of clean alpaca…

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And still this much left in the to-be-washed bin…

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It’s seemingly endless 🙂

What’s New? Spring Cleaning….Fleece!

Good morning!

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It’s been so long….

Spring is here and I’ve been busy 🙂 Seems spring always makes one want to DO more – and some of us have a different take on spring cleaning! I’ve had several fleeces sitting for a while — some since last summer! I don’t know if I posted about it last fall but I have some absolutely beautiful long staple alpaca…dusty dusty stuff with some burr issues as well. It’s got a staple of about 8 inches as it was a long time between shearings and it is SUPER soft – lovely lovely lovely. Irreplaceable really. Fortunately, lol, I started out with about 14 pounds and there is no end in sight yet.

Unwashed…
alpaca - prewashing

Combed out for debris, but not yet washed…
raw alpaca lock 8 - 9 inches

Final product – rovings are clean and pulled from my combs…
alpaca -- combed

There is also the ‘meat’ sheep wool which I was given last year – in black and white – waiting to get a good soak and a wash. The wool comes out nice but the dirt is incredible – sometimes free looks like an excellent price. There is a large bin full of that waiting for me on the porch.

Oh yes, and a basset hound too…
Tired Basset

Mr. Man

My baby grandson has had his first birthday – still the cutest baby in the world with the BEST smile 🙂

Happy Birthday Baby

His other grandma has sheep and lambs and has very generously given me three bags of wool (I jokingly asked for ‘three bags full’ lol) – the first is lamb (three fleeces I think), the second is yearling (two to three fleeces) and the third bag is adult (haven’t counted them but I believe it holds two fleeces).

Grandma wool - three bags full

The lamb, unwashed…
Lovely lamb

The yearling, unwashed (or possibly the adult)…MUCH dirtier than the lamb. I plan to soak this in a cold soak for a few days before washing it…
yearling?

These fleeces MUST be a mixed breed but are sooooo soft I’m pleasantly surprised! I’ve washed some of the lamb, so far, and it’s coming out lovely. Very short fibers but lovely AND it helped motivate me to learn how to spin short fibers. Happy to say that after two days of utter failure…. I CAN DO IT! 🙂

The lamb…clean…
washed lamb

Here’s some blended short fibers that I’ve successfully spun…YAY!…it’s camel, yak, silk and lambswool blended on carders and then spun for a two ply thick and thin yarn….(it truly is soft as butter)
short fiber mix - camel etc.

I’ve sold one of my spinning wheels – the Bordua that I bought last fall – to a really nice Ravelry member who will truly appreciate her. I’ve also begun selling some handspun wool yarn and some spinning fiber (the above mentioned alpaca) through my local kijiji. I definitely spin more than I knit and the wool is piling up!

Some recently spun yarns…
handspun yarn
(Left to right…lambswool, spun from the lock very finely for a four ply fingering weight yarn; alpaca, spun from combed fiber, two ply; grammalamb spun two ply; the soft as butter blended camel 2ply; a skein of laceweight, handdyed silk two ply approx 800 metres.)

Oh – Almost forgot! There IS news on the knitting front….

lamb, silk, alpaca mix for socks - three ply

I’ve spun 900 metres of silk/lambswool/alpaca (in approximate thirds, blended on carders and then spun fine for a three ply lace weight) to make a really beautiful pair of lace knitted stockings. So pretty, so impractical. Of course I had to have them 🙂 I’ve only just begun the knitting but it’s coming along well…

socks!

Lace Stockings - heel detail

As if that isn’t enough, I’ve also been working on some orifice hooks…
orifice hook - loves red

Flowers on a spiral

I am also working on the spinning wheel at the beginning of this post – she needed a few things and a bit of a facelift. I should have pictures to share very soon 🙂 I believe she is a german parlor wheel but who knows for sure…

And just because…I’ve decided it’s time to make a quilt. A really special quilt I’ve had a picture for for ages…known to me and those that know me as “THE ONE”. It begins something like this….

Tammys Quilt

Yes, I Have Been Slacking

I haven’t blogged in SOME TIME….wow, too long, really.

My beautiful daughter had her beautiful baby!! He’s the most beautiful boy in the world…of course, I am a little bit biased…just a little 🙂 She says I must ‘blog’ him, so here is a picture of cuteness itself….

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So, perfect, right? I’m one proud grandma, though that’s something to get used to — I’m so NOT used to being a grandma!

Certainly the excitement of new babies explains my blogging-slacking behaviour, doesn’t it?

I’ve done some spinning, some knitting and some beautiful fleece purchasing – all since I’ve been on the blog last and some of which I’d like to share here since I’m really thrilled with some of the results 🙂 I’ve been on a bit of a yarn/fleece diet this year, and trying to use up the fleeces and fibre I already have rather than buying more. IF you could see the yarn closet you’d definitely agree that the diet is necessary. It’s that or we have to expand the yarn closet, lol, or trade it perhaps with the children – their room would really make a good storage! 😉

I spun some navy and royal blue superwash merino fibre which I had bought last year at the Black Lamb (www.theblacklamb.ca), from Laurie, who is wonderful. I plied it (two plies – I’m a lazy spinner with two bobbins) and knit it up into the Gooseberry Cardigan pattern. I’m more than happy with this sweater – it’s comfy, it’s soft, it’s quite possibly my new favorite all time sweater!

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Not the best picture and I can’t believe it BUT, it seems I forgot (?) to take pictures of the spun wool or the spinning itself. I must be losing my grandmother mind!

Bonus! Found a picture of the spun yarn…
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I made a little crocheted top – the Avalon Top by Doris Chan. Love how it turned out too….

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I also made a little pair of socks, from my handspun superwash merino sock yarn…three ply this time….

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I prefer ankle socks so when I made up this design, they seemed the way to go!

Seems like forever and like I’ve got too much to say for one day. Instead of jumbling it all together we’ll have to finish this up tomorrow – when I’ll show the new alpaca fleeces I just washed and the beautiful shetlands I’m processing!!!

Have a great day! 🙂