Posts tagged ‘cotton’

The past few days have been spent dealing with a mountain of fleece. No, I didn’t buy it at Spinners day at the Winery. (I’m negotiating that for later.) Long, long ago, like in February, I asked The Boyfriend’s uncle if he could get a little bit of wool from his neighbors. He lives in 4H land, and I was looking for meat sheep fleeces for the woolen stuff. I didn’t hear anything, so I went and found my own. Well, this week I get a cryptic email about Dorset fleeces. I go to the mailbox and there is a huge box containing two Dorset fleeces. Yikes. They are stinky and dirty and smell more like barnyard than sheep. They are also full of hay, burrs, dirt and all kinds of things. I went through both to see what I could use and out of two large garbage bags I got one small one of stuff I might be willing to do something with later. The fiber itself isn’t bad, it would be good for sock yarn or cold weather sweaters or things. But I have plenty of other fiber that doesn’t need nearly as much work. It’s very kind of him to go through the trouble to locate and mail me the fleeces. And at the time I did need such things. But Oh Boy.

In the middle of all that, I’m still trying to get yarn done. It’s getting to the point where I’m sick of pretty much everything and I want it to all be over with. I needed to ply the cotton for the fine two-ply, so I took a look at how much a nightmare that might be. Earlier attempts were a mess, so I decided to let it sit on the bobbins a while. It’s only a little better now. I finally wound the two singles together on a bobbin so I can ply without also fighting snarled, tangled yarn. It only broke about a dozen times in the process because I went r e a l l y s l o w l y. It took hours just to wind the bobbin and I still have to actually twist it.

I’ve decided to do the spinning wheel skein as the single from the Andean weaving yarn. It’s tiny, but it’s fast and it’s something I can do without much thought. I started flicking more Suffolk to do the spindle wheel yarn, I will drum card it if I can but there are several other things ahead of it in the queue. I am still avoiding the small supported spindle. I should just get the large supported spindle thing over with, but I don’t know what I want to do with that yet. Maybe more Suffolk. Whatever it is, it will be large. And I’m not doing it with the long “Navajo” spindle, either. I don’t like them for soft yarns because the part that spirals up the shaft gets mashed while you are spinning. I have other large spindles, or I can take that same huge whorl and put it on a shorter shaft. Any bottom whorl spindle becomes a supported spindle by setting it down. Nothing fancy about it at all.

I have a third millspun reproduction and the Andean swatch now. The swatch is drying, so it will be a while before I can get pictures up. But on the second attempt, it worked nicely. A little weird warp tension here and there, and I have no clue about the traditional way to finish these things, but it’s done. I spent most of the day weaving, once I got it warped the correct way, it went quickly. Even if I did forget where I was every other pick for the first two repeats. I even found a use for those 0000 double pointed knitting needles I foolishly bought — they work great as shed sticks for needle weaving the starting edge. I wove in various ends that could conveniently be woven in and neatly tied off the rest. The other end has a fringe, to show how the overtwisted warp works and also because I didn’t want to fight to open smaller and smaller sheds.

Tomorrow is another fleece-buying opportunity, err, spinning event. I’m sure I will see all kinds of things there that I just Must Have Right Now, but I will have to avoid temptation. I already have too much raw fleece sitting around the living room in plastic bags because I can’t put it in the storage unit like that and it takes forever to wash 400g at a time in the sink. I was going to bring the swatch to weave but once I got into it I realized it was too fussy because I didn’t know the pattern very well. But I did get the bread started for my potluck dish! I had to promise The Boyfriend that I’d make a little one just for him, he really likes bread and I don’t bake as often as I used to. (Yes, I did indeed make the trek west with my wagon full of household goods and a jar of sourdough starter. I haven’t used commercial yeast for about eight years now.)

Last night was the monthly get-together at the local spinning shop. I picked up a few things I’ve been needing: new drive band, shed sticks for weaving and FLYER CLIPS!! Finally I can replace the nearly-dead ones on the Insanely Fast Flyer. Plying this Andean stuff just kills them. I’ve been trying to locate some replacements for months. Was it last summer? I don’t even remember anymore. I also got some Egyptian cotton top, which I will try for the fine cotton yarn and see if I like it better than the Pima. I picked up some alpaca/silk, not normally something I am interested in, to try it with the supported spindle. Early results are mixed, I may end up with the cotton pencil roving after all and this turns into a holiday gift exchange goodie. I really didn’t want to do a whole skein of cotton on the supported spindle. I’d rather not do anything on the supported spindle at all, actually.

With The Boyfriend gone for the weekend, I’m getting a lot done. The Cascade-alike is drying and it is a bit fuzzy but other than that looks pretty good. I stuck all four bobbins on knitting needles in a plastic box to ply and that worked ok. It only tried to shred a little bit. It looks kinda like somebody washed a skein of Cascade 220, so I guess that’s not too bad. Not that I’m washing this stuff. I sprayed it with water and hung it to dry to set the twist.

I created a new Misfit this morning by attempting to copy some things that I see all over in the yarn stores, a thick and thin bulky spiral. It looks exactly like something I’d expect to find put up in a 50g ball and selling for $15. The thick parts are too thick and although it looks good now it is so low-twist that it would start to pill even just trying to knit it. Sound familiar? I don’t like the ones in the stores for the same reason. I did it again with the fat single a little more even and it is more stable. It looks disturbingly like something from Lion Brand. But it’s a special effect yarn from a blend of fibers, in this case wool, silk and ingeo. The sky blue silk/ingeo blend from before didn’t spin up as smooth as I’d hoped, so I did something else and used it for the binder with a big Merino single. I knew there was a reason I bought that bump of black top.

I have to spin more of the cotton/silk blend, because I don’t have enough for the wpi card. Fortunately I had some blended fiber left. I did a little but I need more, this stuff is so thin that there’s going to be like 30 meters wrapped around the little piece of cardboard. In the interest of avoiding that nuisance, I started on the camel hair. I’m doing another cable, in two colors and fairly thick. It will go fast. That’s a good thing.

Now I can get back to my reheated pizza. The Boyfriend goes away and see what happens? It’s not all bad, at least. There are vegetables. And soy cheese (because I can’t have very much of the real stuff.) I ordered two so I’d have it for a few days, the place messed up my order and in fixing it I ended up with four huge pizzas. I gave away a bunch and we will still be eating it for a week. At least it’s good pizza.

Finally the brown cotton is done. Now I need to ply it. I tried but I immediately had problems with it snarling and breaking. I’m going to let it sit on the bobbins a while and hope it’s better behaved in a few weeks. I did some experiments with the other cottons I have but I still have to decide what I want from them.

In the meantime, there’s plenty more to do. I’m working on one of the blending skeins, I’ve decided to do the two ply as one of bamboo/tencel and the other of ingeo/silk. Each pair is close in length, which makes things a lot easier. The tencel is very shiny and the bamboo is not, together they are a nice in-between. I’m blending blue ingeo with bombyx top. It comes out sky blue with little white bits from the neps in the silk. (Just like the brick, it’s not great silk. Same source, too.) I just spent about four hours blending 18g of dark blue ingeo and white silk and I still have to make the rolags. Blending anything takes a long time with hand cards, even more for very different colors. The bamboo and tencel should be easier, I’m doing that with a hackle. (Well, a wool comb actually.)

A few days ago I pulled out a bunch of odds and ends from the combing waste and today I dyed it yellow-gold. I’m going to use it to reproduce one of the millspun yarns. Leftover junk is pretty close to “Approximately 100% Wool” if you ask me. That’s what that yarn is, take all the stuff hanging around and make something from it. Now I have to try to match it.

So now I’ve got the second bobbin of brown cotton started. Just as dull as the first. I’m getting slightly less broken yarn so far, but only by kicking The Boyfriend out of the house to remove distractions. I’m hoping to get this done before the weekend but that is going to require a lot of spinning time. I don’t normally have muscle aches after spinning but using the fastest ratio takes more effort to treadle and it’s leaving me with lower back pain. But, strangely, not anywhere else. It’s still not what I would call aerobic exercise, however.

I have such a light tension that I get some snarls winding on. But I can’t increase it or the yarn will break even more. I don’t normally rewind bobbins before plying, but the snarls will cause problems so I rewound the first bobbin to another to fix it. I’m strangely happy that it only broke three times in the process. Better now than during plying, anyway. I got some cardboard storage bobbins for this sort of thing but I don’t want to ply this fine yarn untensioned. I just used a spinning bobbin I don’t expect to need right away. Normally I don’t bother because I wind pretty evenly while spinning. Yes, winding a nice even storage bobbin makes for easy plying. But as long as you pay attention and not make horribly uneven and loose bobbins while spinning, it isn’t such a big deal. I rarely do it for any reason other than I need an empty bobbin and I don’t want to toss the yarn.

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