The past few weeks have been rough for me so I’m taking time to decompress and re-balance myself. How does a fiber person re-balance themselves you ask? Well for me it is cleaning wool and fiber along with a bit of spinning. In the past 2 days I have cleaned a small portion of my rose gray alpaca fleece, all of the 2013 Catlina wool fleece, all of my Navajo Churro fleece and half of the Border Leicester/Icelandic wool. As it has been so hot in Denver letting the fiber dry outside has been wonderful.
There is something about wool cleaning that appeals to me. Perhaps its watching the transformation within the fibers are just getting all that lanolin on my hands. I impressed myself by not felting the alpaca fleece while cleaning it today. Alpaca is a mental adjustment for me as it doesn’t have the lanolin and doesn’t need very hot water to get it clean. I went with a lukewarm too cool bath and rinse to simply remove the dust.
My plan is to combine the alpaca with my Wensleydale fleece and make a heathered yarn. Catlina will also get combed into top sometime in the coming weeks. Not sure how I’m going to process the Churro and Leceister/Icelandic fleeces as of yet. The goal is to not stress so I will do a little bit of fiber preparation at a time and just see where things go!
While in Taos, NM last year I bought an ounce of bison/silk roving with silk noils added to the fiber. The fiber comes from the Buffalo Wool Company. Equipped with a Russian Spindle I was able to create a fingering weight single yarn. It would have been thinner but the noils stuck out so I tried to make the fibers the same width as the puffs. Then I learned about Andean plying and wrapped the fibers around one hand to create a 2 ply yarn on the same spindle. It was a great learning experience although using the Andean method is not really good with lots of fiber.
Bison fiber on the Russian Spindle
Starting to ply yarn
2 ply bison silk yarn
My second project on the spindles was with Llama roving purchased at Taos too. This fiber I believe was from the Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association. So far I had spun short fibers on the Russian spindles and wanted to see how a long fiber worked on this tool. It was absolutely fabulous and I think it made quite a pretty yarn too. I learned to predraft the roving a lot to get the fibers to thinness i wanted in the finally product. Pre-drafting allowed me to spin the fibers quicker than trying to draft as I was spinning. I am so thrilled with this yarn that it will be entered into yarn competitions this spring/summer. I only spun an ounce but as you can see from photos it created quite a bit of yarn. Still need to measure each of these but I do like the finished product.
Llama to be plied
2ply Llama Yarn
Next time we will discuss my experience with angora fiber along with cotton!
So the hat craze appears to be fading. I have made several hats including a baby one to add to my online catalog and get me through the next season. So what may you ask have I been up to – why spinning yarn of course!
The past week I purchased another beautiful Russian spindle with a metal tip. The bison/silk seed roving is being spun on it. It is thicker than I would normally spin on this tool but the silk seeds are thicker than the bison. I also went through the fiber bins to get at the supply purchased in 2011. Yes I still have fiber in good condition from then. I pulled out the white cleaned Shetland wool fibers and started to flick out the vegetable matter and align the fibers for spinning. It is actually quite good fiber and I think I was turned off originally as all of the lanolin had been removed from the fiber. I am spritzing the fibers as they are combed and have prepped 2 oz thus far. Tonight I plan on spinning up these fibers and flicking out the remainder of the fleece. The goal is to have a 2 ply yarn by this weekend.
In going through my hand spun yarns which are about 10 skeins I have realized so few have enough yardage to be sold at my LYS. The goal in February is to spin enough yarns to restock the LYS and get fresh product out in the marketplace. I can’t recoup my investment if the yarns don’t make it to the market (reminder to self).
My big quandary is what to ply the yak, quivit and cotton singles with. As the yak and quivit are very expensive fibers I am leaning towards plying with a strand or two of wool or alpaca. The other issue is the color of the 2nd or 3rd fiber. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
On the horizon is my first teaching class for profit. I have taught others for fun before but for some reason now that income is involved I’m a bit nervous. The kits for the students have been created and I have tools/equipment ready to be displayed. The only thing left is to create my handout of resources which should take about an hour or two.
Although I do not blog regularly my Twitter and FB accounts have lots of photos and updates on the world of fiber and all of its uses.Shetland Fiber
I seem to be on a hat making binge. Trying out patterns with different yarns and textures has kept me very occupied over the past week. I’m also using up several of the skeins of yarn purchased in the past few months too. Tonight I hope to clean and block my wool baby hat and partially frog another hat as I’m running out of yarn to make it as long as I wanted. Oh well it will have a child or small headed adult as its future owner. As I don’t actually have many items for this demographic this is a great opportunity to broaden my horizons.
On the Navajo Spindle is the Oreo Cookie blend of Alpaca fibers which will be sold at Ancient Treasures Alpaca Ranch. The wheel has some blue wool top that seems to be expanding in its raw form the more I spin since it is being spun very thinly. The problem with spinning lace weight is the fiber supply lasts a lot longer than when spinning worsted or bulky. I know though when this fiber is plied and cleaned it will grow in diameter to perhaps a DK weight yarn. That’s the great part of spinning fibers multiple times – one learns the nuances of the fiber and can alter techniques to truly achieve the right quality of yarn.
My big news is that I have not one but four students signed up to take my “Learn to Spin On A Drop Spindle” class in late February. Yes, I do know two of my students but the other two are complete strangers to me. I have the drop spindle kits set aside for the class and am gathering books, materials, websites and such to share with the class. Hoping to rent the drum carder from the guild as a prop in the class and I will be bringing my comb/hackle set, wheel and various spindles as tools. Of course given my fiber supply my students will have ample opportunity to try their hands at spinning the various wool and alpaca fibers in my stash.
This week was a holiday week in the U.S. – Thanksgiving to be exact. I have had 4 days off from work and have enjoyed sleeping in and just relaxing. Went over to a friend’s parents house for Thanksgiving dinner and had a great time eating and laughing with everyone. On Saturday, my mom took me to the mineral spring baths in Idaho Springs, CO along with a massage. It was a very relaxing time and then we went to the salon to get our hair done. Hot water and black hair do not mix well so the stylist was a definite treat for me.
Although I slept a lot this week I did get lots of things accomplished. For one the mohair/silk lace scarf is complete – yeah!!! It needs to be blocked but at least I have finished knitting it. Still working with my comb and hackle set and learning the ins and outs of fiber prep. Suri alpaca definitely does not need to go on these combs – I am thinking of just flicking the ends and spinning the locks that way. I prepped 4 oz of the tri-breed wool fleece and spun it into a lovely fingering weigh 2 ply yarn (see photos). While at the ranch today I prepped 2 oz of the Lincoln wool locks and have started to spin them on the wheel. My wheel has been in use this week and made the lovely tri-breed fleece yarn. I took the remnants of the fiber from the combs and used my hand cards to turn them into rolags. This fiber is being spun on the Navajo Spindle and should be done sometime this week.
Not only did I finish an entire skein of yarn but I managed to drop off new yarn to Wild Yarns as planned. I am also starting to prep for the Holiday Artisan Boutique in 2 weeks. All of my knit items are labeled and ready to sell. There are 2 scarves that need to get blocked along with mohair/silk shawl. While going through my stash I found the 2 woven scarves I made earlier this year and have priced them for the boutique too. So far I am keeping my promise of labeling the hand spun yarns as I finish them. One day I will truly inventory it all but I feel that as long as it makes it to a store to sell it makes more room in the house for more fiber!
My new scarf is a lacy creation using Malabrigo lace yarn which is a 1 ply baby merino wool yarn. The yarn is a blend of black and grays varying in shades throughout the skein. It is so soft and I am using the “Nancy
Lace Scarf” pattern to create it. Enjoy the photos and I hope everyone had an enjoyable week.