Posts tagged ‘suffolk’

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.

Another weekend of spinning. This is about how it’s going to be until everything is done. I finished more yarns over the weekend and now that The Boyfriend is done borrowing my camera I’ll get pictures taken. A local knitting group did a dye workshop a few blocks away, I stopped by for a visit Saturday afternoon and ended up with a bottle of extra dye. I need to dye some of the Andean two-ply for the traditional three color patterns, so now I have medium gray, white and blue. The white is from a Blue-faced Leicester top I picked up for fun, it’s similar fiber although not so long a staple length.

I also did the drop spindle skein, again because I didn’t like how it came out the first time. The fiber for that was a grab-bag of fleece that appears to be Border Leicester. It was cotted (tangled) and had some color variation, so I flicked, drum carded and then combed just a little. Saturday I reeled some silk and Sunday was the guild meeting where I did fiber prep. I tried an experiment with the mystery farm fleece, a 4/3 12-ply cable. It was lofty and bouncy and huge, and with that many plies it doesn’t matter what the single looks like. But the fiber is filthy, so there I was with the dog brush yet again to get the junk out. It’s short and fine and crimpy but obviously has some down breed in it. The woman from the farm thinks it might be part Rambouillet, closely related to Merino, but there’s no way to really know.

Today I’m working on the remaining woolen with the Suffolk fleece. I used a friend’s drum carder to make batts and now I’m tearing them into chunks to make rolags. I couldn’t do it with hand cards because I couldn’t get batts large enough for the yarn I need. I’m also doing it with the quill, because it has to be large and low twist. Long draw works really well that way and the Lendrum quill head is huge. It’s weird to work with this big spike pointing directly at me, I can’t draft as far as with a normal position but this yarn doesn’t take long. Even if it’s still slower to spin than it should be because I have to get it as perfectly even as possible. Woolen just doesn’t like to do that.

Before I started this project, I carded something maybe once a year. Once upon a time, when I had space for a drum carder, I would save up various bits and pieces and throw it all together for some random yarn for things like holiday gifts. I didn’t actually own a set of wool cards until recently and my cotton cards were mostly used as large flickers. I like smooth thin yarns and big pointy wool combs. I hate hand carding. But for most of these small skeins, it’s faster to hand card than go over to somebody’s house to use the drum carder. I’m only doing it if I really have to. I tried to hand card the Suffolk for the thick woolen, but I just can’t get a rolag big enough for the yarn I want. So I added it to the pile for the next drum carder visit.

Yesterday I was hand carding tow flax, of all things. I had saved up all the nasty bits from the Louet Superfine Top and I was thinking of using it for the thick linen yarn. So I made a pile of flax rolags. And I thought the llama was bad! The stuff gets all over the place, I don’t want to think about what I inhaled in the process. Then I sat down in front of a big pointy spike, err, the quill wheel, and spun a huge lumpy linen yarn. It was huge. And lumpy. Oh, and it’s fuzzy too. A little too fuzzy, actually. All that short fiber makes something that looks like burlap gone wrong. New content for the Misfits page! Well, at least it didn’t take very long. I’ll try it again after I do all the line flax, because I’ll have plenty of new tow from that. Better stuff, too.

This afternoon I started on one of the yarns I actually like. After that annoying cotton, I need a distraction. I’m doing Andean weaving yarn for one of the plying skeins. It’s a fine, high twist two-ply and not the least bit balanced. It’s not supposed to be. Since this is ignoring the requirement for balanced yarn, I’m also doing the plying swatch in Andean style weaving to show the results. The overtwist keeps the yarn from shredding — Peruvian backstrap weaving laughs at your wimpy yarn! This is my favorite type of yarn to spin and the Romney fleece I’m using goes fast. Of course, having the wheel set at 44:1 doesn’t hurt. The finished two-ply will be about 16 wraps per cm, or 40 wraps per inch. I ♥ Teeny Tiny Yarn!

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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