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Ahhhh….A Glorious 13 Day Holiday!

Good morning!

I’m fighting the urge to go in multiple directions at once lol. Holidays do this to me. I want to wash fleece, prep fleece, spinnnnnnnn (well that one was sort of a given!). Also wanted to super clean the house, arrange everything within an inch of it’s life and organize my already spun yarn so I can properly post it all on my handspunyarn.wordpress.com site.

13 days is not as long as it sounds…

So far I have accomplished some of my goals (we are currently on the 6th day). I have managed to build a database and to list all of my already spun yarns on it, or at least everything which I have not already wound into balls, and was labelled at least somewhat – there are some stragglers I admit!

Here are some of the new additions to the site…
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I washed fleece, weighed fleece and took inventory of fibers…

The fleeces/wool….
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The silks…I do love silks….
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Just beautiful for blending with wools or spinning on their own!!

Then there are the odds and ends – a bit of cashmere, some camel, huacaya alpaca, suri alpaca etc…they really require another collage to show properly ๐Ÿ™‚
lux fiber

So, feeling oh-so-organized and have also managed to rewash the targhee x fleece shown in the first collage – it is drying now. The cvm lamb and rambouillet fleeces were washed during the first couple days of holidaying. There is something so appealing about freshly washed, beautifully fresh smelling, soft and fluffy fleeces — truly addictive lol.

The side effect of building the database was that I ended up completely cleaning out and updating all my computer programs, and adding a couple more programs…even the computer feels oh-so-organized now!

I DID finish a knitting project (I think I hear the trumpets) and am so very very pleased with it!

I knitted it with the bond/rambouilet cross fleece/4 ply/light worsted weight or dk. I’ll have to get one of my girls to take a picture and post it as soon as I can ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a fantastic day – I’ll be trying to figure out how to relax!

Please check out my handspun yarn site if you might be interested in any of my handspun – I’ve updated the pricing page recently as well.

A Very Bright Baby Blankie!

Samantha's Blankie/1060 metres

It’s a pattern from Wooly Thouhts, available on Ravelry. Best of all, it’s based on math and really easy to improvise as you go, once you get the hang of it ๐Ÿ™‚

I used some of the shetland lamb, dyed it in a multitude of colours. I use the Dharma Trading Co. acid dyes and they are excellent! I blended the dyed locks on hand cards and added a pinch of targhee cross to each rolag – each rolag was split in half so when spun, the plies pretty much lined up and created the blending of one colour to another. In total, 1060 metres of handspun two ply went into this blanket.

handspun from handdyed shetland lambswool

It’s Fleece Season!!

Oh yes, happy day!

It may still be snowing outside but I still love spring – I usually stock up on my fleeces and this year I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to find ๐Ÿ™‚ (lol, to be honest, I have always been pleased – I just love fleece)

There is the Romney fleece – purchased from a seller on Ravelry.

Romney fleece

It was very clean to begin with, hardly any vm.

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I separated the locks and laid them in a basket.

I really like taking the extra time to do this – the results are excellent and the fleece cleans very easily. I place these locks in a wire waste basket from the dollar store and then this basket is placed in a large pot of simmering water on the stove. I keep an eye on water temperature with a candy thermometer. I do the same with the rinse water and I have a second basket so I can keep one washing at all times. The going is a little slow because I don’t overcrowd my baskets but it’s easy and the results are excellent!

Romney all washed up

And this is the whole fleece, after washing.

Romney fleece/washed

The next fleece is a shetland lamb fleece – really nice!

Shetland lamb

Charlie really loves fleece!
(our dog really loves this fleece!)

I purchased this from a little etsy shop.

It is a beautiful fleece with minimal vm, well skirted and soft. Count me as a happy spinner ๐Ÿ™‚

Shetland, ready to wash

Washed shetland lamb fleece

I found some lovely suri alpaca – baby suri, just a little so I could try it…lol, I fell in love…

Baby suri alpaca

I ended up blending the suri with a little of the shetland lamb and have not yet plied the singles.

Happy spring ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

What Could Be More Fun Than A Fresh New Fleece?!

I’m a little behind, here, and haven’t shown what I’ve been up to lately! ย My apologies, my friends! ย Work and family and (lets face it!) spinning have been getting in the way…

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This is a beautiful fleece I purchased from mmfwool. It’s a cormo/merino cross and just awesome to work with – lovey crimp and length and so very, very soft.

Here’s how it looks cleaned up…(it only took one wash, two rinses);

The clean white cormo/merino cross - mmfwool

And how it came out after combing…

combed cormo/merino cross - mmfwool

cormo/merino cross/mmfwool

I’ve also been blending – I treated myself to some excellent bits of fiber recently…

luxury fibers - yak,camel, camel, cashmere, llama/cashmere, bombyx silk

I’ve made some really soft yarns in all shades of natural…

luxury blends - cashmere/wool, camel/woo/silk/cashmere, camel/wool, camel/wool/llama/silk,

luxury blends continued - camel/yak/wool, llama/cashmere/silk/wool/yak

I’ve just received another beautiful fleece, a grey cormo cross which is actually even MORE beautiful and super fine.

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cormo cross -  mmfwool - soft and fine!

I’m washing this more carefully than I’ve ever washed a fleece — by the handfull almost, in a wire basket in a LOT of water, simmering on the stove for 20 minutes then two rinses in super hot tap water with some boiling water mixed in. Absolutely NO agitation.

The first batch came out excellently!

A little clean wool

A dilbert lock - mmfwool - cormo cross

I’m surrounded in fleecy goodness! If you are interested, please visit my little handspun yarn shop. ย Have an excellent day!

Opening A Little Internet Yarn Shop!

Good morning! ย It’s TRUE. ย 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. ย 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. ย 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. ย 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

So That’s Where All The Pillowcases Are…Taking Inventory

Good morning!

Another ‘weekend’ for me and I’ve decided to include fleece inventory in my cleaning – more ofย  a thorough spring-type-cleaning than I usually do ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I *think* I’ve gotton most of my clean fleeces together now and WOW – I think I can spin for the next year without really needing to buy anymore, lol.ย  Here’s a pic…

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Yep, lol.ย  A little bit carried away.ย  But (in my defense), quite a bit of this was free so how could I help it? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  There is still some awaiting washing, in bins, both alpaca and woolย — as well as the bin of clean soft-as-a-babys-skin alpaca, of a much higher quality than the alpaca here in the pillow cases.

The group includes;
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Free meat sheep fleece – three bags full! – black, very springy, good for socks/mittens/scarfs and outerwear.

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Free meat sheep fleece, I presume suffolk/suffolk cross – both lamb and young adult – great for socks, mittens, outerwear, felting – springy and very white.ย  I have managed to stuff this into one oversized pillowcase and one of those shopping bags.ย  I believe I have more of this if I get around to washing it.

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Silver/black and red mohair – great for blending for socks/mittens/outerwear.ย  ‘Nature’s Nylon’

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A full bag of mid grade alpaca (free!) which I’ve found is excellent for spinning for mittens and the lighter shades dye wonderfully for stranded colour work.ย  I blend this with wool to give it a little bit of memory.ย  I also have this in two lighter shades….

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And yes, there’s more…

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This is some Border Leicester that I purchased last year – lovely, long and silky – great for blending for socks or anything where you want to add some silky strength.

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This is absolutely lovely silver shetland fleece (about 1.5 to 2 fleeces left) which I absolutely think is a staple fibre.ย  I’ve belended this with so many things! Spins up lovely on it’s own too ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is probably my current favorite fiber.ย  Purchased from Raspberry Hollow, it is a mixed breed lambswool which I cannot remember, with excellent crimp and beautiful softness.ย  Love it.

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And finally – some really wonderful icelandic lamb fiber purchased last year from a local ebay seller.ย  soft and silky!

More to come – I’ve got to see what I’ve got in bins and then there’s going to be the yarn to go through, lol.ย  Oh yes, and the cotton.ย  And the silk. Probably a little bit of superwash merino to rediscover as well…

Happy fiber addictions people!ย  We could do worse things ๐Ÿ™‚

You’ve Got To Love A Friday!

Yes, I know it’s not really friday.ย  For me, though, it is – so yay!ย  Not that I don’t enjoy my job because I actually do, it’sย just a matter of balance.ย  My crafts are exactly what balance me ๐Ÿ™‚

And now I get to spin ๐Ÿ™‚ย  For two whole glorious days ๐Ÿ™‚

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This is some of the very lovely cotton which I bought from an excellent seller I found on Ravelry, from Kentucky.ย  I bought two pounds to give it a try – it was raw…I love learning new things from the ground up!

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It came like the bit on the left – on the right is some of the cotton pulled off of the seed.

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I held the seed and pulled off the fluff…

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In the end I had a cloud of very clean fluff with just a bit of vm left.

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Just because I’m me (lol, of course!), I had to try spinning it both ways.ย  I carded some and rolled it off the card from side to side…

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I think both methods work well and don’t have a real preference yet ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I ended up all distracted and started spinning and knitting for a lovely thin knit alpaca cardigan – 2 ply just-a-little-more-than-lace-weight.

hanspun 2ply alpaca cardigan

I have more yarn to ply…I’m finding the weaving bobbin rack and winder sooooo useful!ย  Best thing ever.

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It’s an absolute star for storing the singles and plying from too!

Oh! And I must show you the baby boy!ย  He’s growing like a weed and getting cuter every day!

So cute!!

The spinning wheel is calling…Have a fantastic couple of days folks – I know I will ๐Ÿ™‚

Washing The Alpaca Fleece

Good Morning ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย  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!ย  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.ย  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 nowย realized that was overkill.ย  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!ย  Really, the biggest issue with alpaca is the dust and vm.ย  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.ย  Less vm also means less rinsing and less rinse water used.ย  Lower temps mean eliminating the necessity of boiling water, to begin with.ย  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.ย  I like to hold the locks by the cut end and keep that together, ideally.ย  It helps later to be able to see the seperate locks.ย  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.ย  Both are large storage bins which are very common.ย  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.ย  Then there is the soap – original blue dawn dish detergent, the kind WITHOUT enzymes.ย  You don’t want enzymes as, if any at all is left in the wool, they will eat the fiber over time.ย  Nothing sadder than going back to a clean fleece and finding it weak and deteriorated.ย  I’ve not experienced this myself but have heard it can happen.ย  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.ย  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 lockย – 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.ย  I totally swish it around, push it back under the water as needed.ย  I’m always much more careful with wool.ย  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.ย  I am able to use the one tub of water for three or four batches of fleece.ย  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.ย  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.ย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

What A Beautiful Day!

Absolutely LOVING the gardens this year…(and they are loving me right back)
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Our veggies are planted and yesterday we added a strawberry garden too…
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I’ll have to get a picture of it since it’s tucked away in the corner there, by the grape vines ๐Ÿ™‚

The fruit trees are starting to blossom! We have pear and apple, I believe ๐Ÿ™‚ New houses are always fun when no-one leaves you a garden map. I feel like an explorer, finding new things every day in the garden.
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I’ve decided to take a chance that the frosts are done for the year and get everything in now – I may be sorry but I’m doubting that. LOL – my way is to plant it and give it to nature – I help nature out by using my fleece soak water as liquid fertilizer and by weeding a little ๐Ÿ™‚ If it works out it’s fabulous – if not we’ll plant a few more things in a couple weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ I have some pepper plants and some cherry tomatoes that I’ve started in the house which are yet to be placed in the garden. Other than that we’ve got parsnips, carrots, lettuce (leaf and romaine), brocolli, corn, turnip, tomaotes, parsley, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, radishes, peas. I’m thinking of adding a blueberry garden in the centre circle which currently houses some rose bushes. Roses are nice but blueberries are better ๐Ÿ™‚ I can always move the roses to a spot along the fence! I’ve also found some rosemarey (my favorite herb) and something that I’m SURE is an herb and smells like lemon – I assume herb because it’s in the garden itself and the prior owners of this house were dedicated gardeners!

After a week of rain, I’m so happy that the sun is out ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to wash most of the mystery fleece that I was working on in the last post…it came out nice and clean!
drying the wool

There were parts of the fleece I gave up on and left too long in the soak water – they will now be going to live in the back of the yard, near the pine trees, as mulch. Since the fleeces were free and unskirted I feel just fine about that – the hardest part will be lugging it back there ๐Ÿ™‚ I still have about half of the total three bags to process and will take a bit more time to skirt these!

I’ve been spinning some icelandic that I washed last year. I thought it was felted but was pleasantly surprised to find it cards up just beautifully and wasn’t really felted at all!
felted icelandic?

icelandic singles - not felted after all :)

Today I really should get back to knitting the socks BUT I have a feeling I just may end up spinning on the deck… ๐Ÿ™‚
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Have a fabulous day!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full…..

Oh yes, I DO have wool!!! :)))

I’ve been accumulating a variety of wools and fibres this year. It’s the ‘year of the blend’ around my house. Last year I had a couple different types; shetland and jacob and some very dirty suffolk/dorset (actually unknown – this is my best guess). This year, I bought two shetland fleeces, both silver and cream — one is silver thel and cream/brown tog and the other is cream thel and silver tog. Absolutely soft and silky. Though I don’t know the micron count (and frankly am not too concerned with it), I’d guess they would class as fine or superfine. They both came from youngish animals, possibly yearling fleeces. They are my faves….a repeat purchase from a fantastic seller here in Canada. I’ll go back year after year!

Ok, so, to begin at the beginning – the shetlands; (approx 10 lbs total before washing)

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Then, I was given some beautiful alpaca, in shades of honey and brown (which I had already blogged about), also from Canada, Ontario actually. I haven’t any idea of weight but it’s at least one full fleece and parts of another or two?

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Some sari silk waste fibre caught my eye. I bought 100 grams and love the effect it has carded with wool! You could make a really nice silky tweed yarn with this! (I like it so much I’ve now bought another 100 grams – hopefully arriving soon) Gotta love ebay. It seems I didn’t take any pictures of this…

I purchased one pound of border leicester fleece. It’s a lovely, strong, long and shiny fibre which cleaned up nicely….from a yearling ewe.

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I was then sucked in by some beautiful red mohair…lovely stuff! I purchased one pound and have tried it with some of the shetland — truly beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚

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Icelandic fleece (again, from ontario) was my next find. 2.7 lbs of black and white (mostly white, really). I haven’t done anything with this yet, besides cleaning it. It seems very soft and silky (the softer undercoat does, at least)

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Then, of course!, I couldn’t help but order more of the lovely mohair. This time I bought a pound of charcoal/silver/black. Seems not as fine as the red but the fibres are longer. I think it’s going to be beautiful mixed with the right wool or perhaps the brown alpaca….

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Romney fleece became available and I thought – why not? I had never tried romney (actually have not tried most things and how do you know until you experience it for yourself?) and wanted to so I purchased 2.5 pounds and washed it up. I had to flick the tips before washing to get it to come up white but it was worth the work. Beautiful bright white and very soft!

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This next picture is after flicking, but before washing!

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My one, ‘non bargain’ purchase was some local (very local – we could drive to pick it up), very long, fine, white alpaca fibre. The staple is 6 or more inches. I WAY overpaid for these two pounds of alpaca but I don’t even feel badly about it since the fibre turned out so very very perfect! The fleece was absolutely covered in burrs and so I had to hand comb the locks before washing in order to clean them. It hadn’t been sheared in two years which is not usual and is why the staple is so long.

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I am waiting for some mulberry silk top (500 grams) – thinking this would ply beautifully with the white alpaca…perhaps for my next up pattern Multnomah Falls by Magit Sage of Fiber Fiend. Very beautiful, isn’t it?

And then, on Saturday, I was given four fleeces! Suffolk/dorset or a mix of some sort – the shepherdess isn’t sure since they are more pets than anything. One is deep black and seems to be a lamb fleece. One is charcoal, one silver and one (very large one) is white. The blacks are cleaning up easily and the white is a little more difficult – there is a bit of vm in there that’s too fine to come out without combing. I’m positive it will be fine once I comb it out. All of the fleece is fairly soft with the black black one being the softest of all.

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So, I’m overwhelmed. A little. I’ve been washing fleece for what feels like forever since I can’t handle leaving it to do later. I’ve got the silver and the white free fleeces to wash but the rest of the list is washed and waiting in pillowcases to become some very beautiful yarn this year! On the plus side, I haven’t bought any yarn since I began spinning and my yarns are a higher quality and much more interesting than anything I could buy ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Creating Colour!

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I’m really, REALLY enjoying my adventures in dye-land. It’s so neat how nicely variegated the colours turn out using the wiltons icing colour…I enjoy playing with the colour ‘breaks’ and seeing the finished product is always a surprise ๐Ÿ™‚ Happily – nothing has felted and the fibres are still easily drafted (or as easily as they were anyway, lol – this sweater sat half knitted for nearly forever as far as I can tell).

From left to right in the photo…
Copper, copper/orange/yellow mix, black/violet mix, royal blue, juniper green and delphinium blue.

I’m dying reclaimed ‘canadian buffalo unspun’ yarn which is basically a six ply roving yarn. I then seperate the plies and spin them as single strands of pencil roving – it works out to a dk/worsted weight yarn and looks like it would be ideal for winter hats/scarves and such. It would also make fabulous felted items…maybe slippers or a purse.

Anyways, fun fun fun. I highly recommend it!

Must Catch Up…

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Wow. I’ve been really really busy lately! I feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog, lol…

The puppy is doing fabulous. He’s learning so much, so fast!! Really amazing. And he’s settled in nicely with the other two – has even learned some manners ๐Ÿ™‚

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I’ve been asked to knit chain maille helmets for a theatre production which is coming up later in the year. Rehearsals start in July though so I have to get them all done by then…

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I was pretty happy — I made the pattern up and it worked out the first time! It was a happy, happy day ๐Ÿ™‚ Now hopefully the rest of them knit up fast, and I’m praying to the wool gods that the wool stretches impossibly far.

I also have to knit sets of 3/4 length chain maille sleeves, for each.

AND!! I’ve been asked to appear in a play as a spinner, with my wheel. Coolness, I thought. It should be fun! I’m not clear on the details of when and where yet. Later this year, I understand.

I’m planning to post the pattern for the helmet, when I have a bit of time.

I’ve been working on quilting the baby ‘fishie’ quilt. That is nearing real deadlines too – the reletive it’s for should be visiting in July. I’d say I’m about 1/3 done the hand quilting and then there’s the binding to be sewn on by hand as well. I’m pretty sure I’m on track.

I was given some canadian unspun yarn – the kind they make the cowichan sweater out of and decided to use it to experiment with dying roving. The sweater needs to be frogged to claim all the yarn so I just started with half a ball of the natural/white mix.

I skeined it…
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Placed it in a pot with near boiling water mixed with almost a cup of vinegar and some wiltons ‘violet’ icing colour (dissolved in boiling water first and stirred). I didn’t soak the roving first. I want to accentuate the ‘breaking’ of the colour and allow the roving to soak the colour at an uneven rate for interesting variation in the colours.

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I soaked the roving in the dyepot, simmering without agitation, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until all the dye was exhausted and absorbed.

After cooling a little, a soak in hot, hot water with a drop or two of dishsoap, a hot rinse…

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It looked fantastic! Check out the colours! I think I maybe should have used a little more dye – see how the centre didn’t really lose the beige/natural tone. On the other hand, when spun up it might look really good so I’m reserving judgement ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s drying and I expect the colours may fade a little.

I made my daughter a pair of ‘sockettes’ for her birthday last month and forgot to post them here…here are a few pictures. The pattern is improvised, toe up, using the free white fleece I got a little while back.

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She likes her socks low on her ankle. The best part of hand knit is the perfect fit factor ๐Ÿ™‚

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Oh yes…almost forgot…I’ve also been knitting the grotto wrap from interweave knits with my handspun rambouillet lace yarn…I’ll post pictures when it’s done…it’s turning out soft and really nice (I think it’s my best handspun yarn ever).

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I have two skeins of sock yarn which I spun from the free white and black sheep – my son and I’ll work on dying those tomorrow….

Spring!

Today, I’m dying my handspun, hand prepped, rambouillet lace – just over 2000 yards. I admit, I was afraid!

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The good news? It turned out beautiful! It makes me think of spring flowers, perfect for today since it’s pouring rain outside. ๐Ÿ™‚

The second batch is ‘cooking’ in the pot on the stove as I type. I’m quite certain it’s going to be a perfect match for the first.

My recipe?

1/4 teaspoon of delphinium blue wiltons icing colour, dissolved in one cup of boiling water

Just a bit more than 3/4 cup of vinegar mixed with boiling water on the stove in my dye pot and stirred

–add the dye solution to the pot and IMMEDIATELY add the dry, loosely skeined yarn. Push down with a wooden spoon, keeping agitation to a minimum.

–allow pot to simmer for 20 minutes, remove from stove, cool to a comfortable temperature and place in rinse water (same temp as yarn) again without agitating.

–roll in towel to remove excess moisture and lay flat or hang to dry.

–admire the beautiful yarn you made yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

I repeated this exactly for the second skein, in order to minimize differences in the two skeins. I suppose I could have done both together in a larger pot – we’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

I really like this ๐Ÿ™‚

A Little Shetland Lace Cardigan

Using my handspun!

Remember the shetland fleece I bought earlier this year?
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I washed it, combed it – seperated the down coat from the coarse outer coat, and spun the down into a nice, lofty two ply.

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I wanted a little sweater – it’s really soft and I’m not overly sensitive to wool anyways. The Sylph Cardigan by Robin Melanson (Interweave Knits) was perfect. Or at least close to perfect! I downsized it, one size. I also continued the lace pattern throughout and knitted on the neckband rather than sewing it on later. I reshaped the sleeves a bit when downsizing. I like them well fitted.

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I love how it turned out!

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Combing Wool

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I decided to do this post to try and show ‘how’ I comb my wool with my diy combs. I find it’s easier to comb sideways. It keeps my fibre on the combs and it seems to do a nice job too!

After a little comb with my dog rake, I place a bunch of locks onto the comb, so the tips are farthest from the tines. I then comb them off, onto the moving comb.

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Since I HATE waste, I save all these bits in another pillowcase. I suppose I could use them in lots of ways…carding (if I ever try that), felting, needle felting, stuffing…

Then I comb back onto the stationary comb…

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I usually give the last bits a bit of a pull…to get as much of the fibre as possible…

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You can continue this ‘off, on’ as many times as you like. I usually just do two passes (one off, one on). The more passes, the more perfect the fibre becomes but the more waste as well. It depends what you like.

Next, I pull off the combed top, as evenly as possible. I don’t have a diz and frankly, am not planning on getting one. I have no trouble pulling off the top and then drafting it out evenly to spin.

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Give it a little twist and move my hand up to the comb again…

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When I’ve pulled all I can from the comb, the rest goes into the waste bag…

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The finished combed top….

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I’m spinning some of this right now, for lace…

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I hope this post was at least a little helpful ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great day!

Sweet!

I’ve recieved the free fleece from the local farm…I’m buried in sheepy goodness!

First – the black (two sheep fleeces I’m told)

As it came…
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Messy, huh?
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But it cleans up nice!
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I’m only half way through it…
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A little I combed with my wool combs…
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And then, there’s the white…

As I recieved it…
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I soaked it in cold water…
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Washed it in hot, hot water (boiling mixed with a little hot tap) once or twice. I’m finding smaller amounts per wash with a lot of love (teasing apart the tip and picking through) is the best bet with this but it’s worth it in the end!

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Awesome!

Very cool day in wool-land!

I’ve started to knit with my charcoal shetland…

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It’s a ‘sylph’-ish cardigan…or at least that’s what I’m going for…

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I had to downsize it, one size, and am thinking about leaving the open pattern throughout rather than changing it to the closed version halfway, as the pattern is written. I think it shows off the shetland nicely AND the mods are necessary if I hope to have enough wool!

Since I’m new at this, I didn’t realize how much weight is lost in the cleaning and processing of the fleece. I have approximately equal amounts of the outer coat (silvery gray) and the inner coat (the chocolate brown/gray that I’m using for this sweater).

My rambouillet fleece arrived today! From Knit-Knackers in Ottawa, Ontario – purchased from ebay but also available directly from the store and sold by the pound, for anyone who is interested. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so soft and fine, really really fine. 17 to 21 microns. I’m almost afraid of it, lol.

It’s soaking already, in a cold water soak.

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And – the 3rd fantastic part of today – I’ve found (or been found by, lol) a local lady who raises sheep and she’s going to drop off three fleeces on the weekend, for FREE. Yay for free things! Very cool and she says next spring I should get back in touch again. LOVE the idea of having local fleeces and saving money even IF they are more work! She’s shearing tomorrow and I’m excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

Did-It-Myself Combs!

They’re all done ๐Ÿ™‚

The ‘how to’ is HERE

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I’m happy with how they turned out!

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I even managed to get the handles on a slight (and shockingly almost uniform) slant even though I was working with the drill freehand, LOL.

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I think I love tool making almost as much as knitting – maybe more!

Have a great day, my spinning wheel is calling…