Archive for November, 2005

So today I was out for lunch and had some time to kill, so I wandered over to Pearl. It’s a big art supply store on Market Street. They always have strange and interesting things in the clearance section and I have at times found some pretty nifty stuff. Very much like today.

I’m pawing through bins, and come up with a wool hand card. Almost at the same time, my friend halfway down the aisle pulls out a matching one from a different bin. 60% off. They are a set of Leclerc fine wool cards, flat ones. They have had them downstairs in the craft department forever so it really was a matter of time before they ended up here. Some hunting unearths another set, still wrapped together in cardboard and tape. There is even a standard pair, with huge painful-looking wire teeth. (No, thanks.)

Now I’m not normally interested in carding by hand in the first place, and I’ve never been fond of the Leclerc cards. They are kinda clunky, and I prefer curved ones anyway. They are some of the less expensive available, but still like $60. And I don’t have a set of flat carders, something that may prove useful later for teaching. We troop up to the front, our matching sets of wool cards for under $20.

Pearl clearance being what it is, I ask how much. They weren’t marked, of course, and although the scanner said the regular price was 39.99 you never can be sure. They do indeed come up 39.99, 60% off, $16 plus tax. Yippie! Then the comment from the cashier: “That’s for one.”

Huh? Wool carders come in pairs. One of them isn’t much use unless perhaps one owns an extremely large cat. “But they come in pairs,” I insist. The cashier is convinced that because there are two of them (from different sets, apparently, and both tagged) then they must be sold individually. We quickly determine that my friend and I are the only two people in the store who have any clue what these things are. I can only convince the staff they come in pairs because my friend has an identical set wrapped together. The cashier examines them closely. And scans the barcode. Sure enough, they come up the same price as the “single.” How is that possible?

Sheesh. I realize that not everyone can be a spinning maven. But to not have the first clue about one’s own inventory? And for something that has been sitting around the store for literally years? But at least I got my discount hand carders.

Finally the bobbin of purple scarf warp is done. It looks nice but I’d rather be spinning something else. I’ve thought about it and determined that it’s mostly the short staple length that bothers me. I think the 600m I have will be enough, so I can put the rest of this fiber in storage and pull out the black top. That has a longer staple length, so maybe I’ll like it more. I started a page over in Projects for this, and even have a photo up.

I’ve washed the baby blanket several times now and it’s still throwing off lint like crazy. I even pulled out the sweater shaver. It’s impossible to tell from looking at the ball of yarn how it is going to behave when washed. In this case, I even machine washed and dried a sample and it was nothing like this. Back in the laundry it goes, and another round with the shaver, until it’s time to deliver it to the intended recipient. That may be several more weeks, so I’m not too worried. It only gets softer with every wash.

Somebody paid good money for this drek. At least it wasn’t me. And people ask me why I spin.

I finally finished a baby blanket I started a few months back. It’s a big dishcloth in classic cotton dishcloth-type yarn. I put it in the Gallery, too. I started it thinking it would be a good travel project, but even with the absurdly simple pattern the two colors were a nuisance to drag around without tangling. I finally ended up putting it in a basket and threading the yarns through the two handles. It was too heavy and too easy to tangle for travel, so I rarely worked on it.

I’m still sorting and washing the Merino lamb, it does drum card nicely but I think I’m going to comb anyway. Combing doesn’t require an extra step to get the VM out. I tried carding with the bleached tips cut off and it is darker, but only barely. It’s good and dark for wool, but not black. I might dye it once it’s spun. I can’t decide what to make, so for now I’m just working through the scouring a batch at a time.

I did the Dorset/Romney blend on the drum carder and it came out nicely. There are a few noils because I didn’t flick the Romney, but not too many to pull out along the way. I can’t figure out what to do with that either. There’s almost 300g, enough for several hats or a scarf or maybe a lace shawl. Spun worsted it will still have decent loft, perfect for socks but I like finer fiber for socks. And I hate hand washing socks, anyway. I want to finish the spinning I’ve got going, so I packed it away for now.

Also in the interest of cleaning up half-baked ideas, I started flicking yet another dark brown Merino. I long ago packed up the nicer parts of this fleece, a rush scour job after a brush with the M-word. I wasn’t so careful with the sorting and more than usual ended up in the carding pile. Which then felted a little in the wash. After that, I wasn’t happy with how it came off the drum carder. So it’s been sitting around in an old produce bag ever since. I should be able to pull out enough well-formed staples to flick out the felted bits and then card and still have enough to do something. I could always blend it with more from the other portion, or any of the other three nearly identical fleeces. Somebody kick me if I suggest buying yet another dark brown Merino fleece before I make it through the ones I have. That should give me a good five years, minimum.

Lately I’ve been less than enamored of my current spinning project and also in need of more stare-into-space time, so long sessions with the dog brush are actually a good thing. I have fairly easy access to the drum carder now, so I’m trying out different things. But I always go back to combing anything that can be combed and then only maybe getting around to carding the rest.

Now that the blanket is done, maybe I can get motivated to continue with the purple Ashland Bay stuff. I’m trying to like commercial prep but failing to be enthused. Maybe I’m just out of enthusiasm this month, it being used up on other things. I’ve had some real work and expect more and we are trying to buy a house. I’ve been organizing my fiber stuff with the thought of having an actual room to myself for a studio. Maybe that’s why I just don’t have the energy for this pretty but too short and very not perfect commercial top. It’s like those things on the shopping list I never quite get to, despite being out of AAA batteries for weeks now.

Every time I intend to sit down and do something textile, real life intrudes. But finally, with The Boyfriend off for the weekend, I can do something. I’m not particularly inspired to spin, so fiber prep it is. And with nobody to complain, out comes the music…

L’amour est enfant de Bohême,
il n’a jamais, jamais connu de loi,
si tu ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime,
si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!

No, la Carmencita makes cigarettes, not textiles. But it’s nice to listen to, anyway. And then I’ll visit with Mimì and Susanna and maybe even Turandot.

I previously sorted the short and excessively crimpy part of the Romney fleece and started picking it to later card. I’m contemplating blending it with what’s left of the Dorset. But that is filthy and has to be combed out with the dog brush to get out all the trash. They are similar in length but the Dorset is more bouncy, together it should make a light gray. I don’t know what I’m going to do with any of it, so why not.

I did the same dog brush number to some of the Merino lamb, to see what I think about it drum carded. I tried some combed and that was nice, but I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve got enough of it. But I might have to find somebody with a fine fiber carder because I have my doubts about the standard one I normally have available. If the fiber is too fine, it doesn’t stay in the teeth of the carder but floats on top in clumps. I know a lot of people with drum carders, but some are more convenient to visit than others.

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© 2004-2007 Andrea Longo
spinnyspinny at feorlen dot org