Posts tagged ‘mystery fleece’

In the interest of scientific inquiry, I tried washing some fleece with the “Hand Wash” cycle of my front-loading machine. I tossed in a mesh bag with a handful of throw-away fleece, added extra detergent, set it to hot and let it go. The results were not nearly as bad as I feared, but not something I would do again. What I did get out of it is that I’m ok with putting most handspun finished items in there. I tried to felt a wool scarf this way and it came out no different from when I put it in.

The wool was a little remaining from the mystery fleece, divided into decent-sized locks. It came out with the butt ends felted together and the tips every which way. I can pull it apart into recognizable staples, but not that well. It is, however, quite clean and it wasn’t before. It’s felted enough that it would be annoying to card, you would never get a good yarn from it without first pulling it all apart by hand and brushing out the felted tangles. Plus, there are still sticks and burrs and whatnot, but I hardly expected that to mysteriously dissapear. Since it didn’t come out one huge felted blob, it’s getting tossed in the carding pile with the rest of the junk wool.

I suspect that had I added baking soda (as I must when I try to felt something for real,) it would have come out looking more like a felted blob. That is the more normal result and I’m convinced it’s because of the weird San Francisco city water that makes it hard to felt things. Don’t try this at home, kids.

The past couple days have been sunny and warm, perfect fleece washing weather. Unfortunately, they have also been a bit windy, which makes drying fleece outside a problem. I recently found the solution at a local Cheap Stuff From China store, of which there are many all over San Francisco. There was the “Infant Sleeping Tent,” a pop-up mesh tent of sorts. The label has some of the worst Engrish I’ve seen in a while (“To protect baby form bitting by mosquitoes and files” is only a sample) but it’s actually a handy little thing. Don’t know that I’d trust it for use with actual babies, but that’s not my problem. I don’t even remember what I paid for it but I’m going to go back for more. It might have been a buck but certainly not much more. Here’s a picture:

The fleece in there is some of what I got from Forest Home Farms annual shearing party in San Ramon a couple weeks ago. East Bay Mystery Sheep at it’s finest. It’s short and full of kemp but not too dirty. It might be a lamb because it has that curly tip like first fleeces tend to have and it’s fairly soft. From the spongy feel there is obviously some down breed in there (Suffolk?) and a bit of California Red. I figured I’d use it to mess around with some drum carder experiments, although at this point I think it’s getting tossed in the I’ll Card It All Together Eventually pile. There’s a lot of kemp in there and the red hair is not high on my list either.

The 16-ply cable is done, along with the extra fine cotton. I haven’t measured either, although the 50g of wool yarn won’t even begin to fit in the plastic sandwich bag. It’s huge. Much to my amazement, I had no trouble plying the singles even with the absurdly small amount of twist in them. The yarn comes out kinda square, it’s a 4-ply yarn that is then done 4-ply again with hardly any twist at all. The whole thing is felted, it shrunk quite a bit but now holds together nicely.

I skeined the extra fine cotton to wash, very carefully. Now I have to unwind it to measure. I think it will be ok, it only broke once in winding, but I’m still nervous. This yarn is much more even than the brown cotton single that gave me such trouble. Since I’m doing extra fine cotton, I’ve started on some combed Pima for the two-ply. It is breaking more than I’d like but otherwise is doing ok.

I’m trying to figure out how to describe my cotton spinning technique. I’m doing the exact same motions as for the other extra fine, but since this is combed and not carded the yarn comes out smoother. Supposedly combed cotton is to be spun “point of twist,” which is drafting while moving the fiber so it stays ahead of the twist. I do that, yes, but then I make the yarn thinner and more even by continuing to draft. Isn’t that what happens with a rolag spun woolen or carded cotton or a puni? Some people even call it “double drafting.” This is where the whole woolen/worsted thing falls apart. Cotton doesn’t handle like wool. I tried pure point of twist, with no extra drafting, and other than a thicker yarn it doesn’t look any different. But since I’m using combed fiber, supposedly the “correct” way to spin is with a short draw technique. Point of twist, with no further drafting, is short draw because it is pulling the fibers out in parallel and then immediately twisting them into finished yarn.

I haven’t had much to say because most of it has been pretty dull. I’ll spare you the details of the not-family-friendly conversations I’ve had with the inkjet printer over alignment. I did some research at the library and worked on more writing. Oh, and I changed my jury service so I don’t have to go the week before I need to mail all this stuff off. Isn’t that thrilling?

I am doing some spinning at least, I got the fine textured cotton done, reeled a bobbin of silk (and glued another together into a sticky mess) and today I’m doing singles for a lofty cable yarn. That one is fairly mindless, a nice break. I’ve been warned that The Boyfriend might be coming home early from his business trip, I hope it’s not before I can vacuum up the fiber that’s all over the floor.

No, the cotton is not done yet. But I did some other things at least.

This week I had my first real try at reeling silk. I did a basic how-to with a friend some months ago but he set everything up and we all just tried it for a few minutes. He was still there, but I did nearly everything so I could learn to use the equipment. It went exceptionally well and I got some very fine filament silk out of it. Now I have to decide just what I want to do with it. I have been thinking of using this for the medium silk skein and I have some ideas of how to do it. Now I can try some out and see what I think.

Today I went to a sheep shearing party. There is a park in San Ramon that is a farm, they have sheep for dog training. Every year there is a public event for shearing and there are demonstrations, kid art projects and so on. A bunch of local spinners went to more-or-less sit around and be colorful atmosphere and answer questions about spinning. It was windy and hard to get much spinning done but we had a good time showing off our stuff. Also, we can get basically all the wool we want from whatever is not claimed by someone else. It’s not great stuff, but it’s ok and I always need more dirty greasy wool, right? Yeah. Well, anyway, I came home with a bunch of wool that I have to figure out what to do with. I have a small bag of some kind of Suffolk that I think I might use for my remaining wool COE skein and a random fleece that looked usable. It was finer than most and not particularly nasty, even if it’s shorter than I like. The shearer was keeping some fleeces to sell to the local wool pool, but only the white ones so this landed in the discard pile. It’s several shades of gray, I sorted it out back and washed up some samples to have a look.

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