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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 🙂

The fruit trees are starting to blossom! We have pear and apple, I believe 🙂 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 🙂 If it works out it’s fabulous – if not we’ll plant a few more things in a couple weeks 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂 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!
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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… 🙂
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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 🙂 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 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 🙂

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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 🙂

Back To My Spinning Wheel…

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I’m hoping to spin enough 2 ply yarn for a light weight sweater 🙂 It feels good to be working with fibre and using my wheel again, after so many months of focusing on other things!

Since finances SUCK this year for us, I’m using mostly stash yarns and fibre in all my projects. I am out of sweater-lots of wool so if I want to knit anything bigger than socks I will have to spin first!

I have lots of bits of superwash merino in different colours and am going to combine them to spin up some yarn for knitting. It means combining colours and is a surprise every time. I made this a couple days ago – it’s a mixture of three or four blue shades, 2 ply, approximately 260 metres. I’m thinking socks for the baby boy, or a little sweater, perhaps 🙂

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Another project I’m working my way through is combing through the leftovers from last years fleeces. I have about a pillowcase full of jacob wool and another partial case full of rambouillet. Some of it is ‘second combings’ since I HATE throwing out anything and there is a lot of saveable wool left over from combing in the first place.

Happy Spinning!

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 🙂 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…
mystery fleece-combed

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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mystery white fleece - combed top