MS&WF 2- Wools and Sheep

I managed to add at least 13 new breeds to my fiber study.  There was one booth that had over 60 breeds, but mostly unwashed wool.  Since my mother has COPD (and is recovering from double Pneumonia) I am unwilling to bring unwashed fleece into the house.  While I am certain that the sheperds do their best, Wool Washer’s Disease is also known as Anthrax, so I am not going to take chances.

Below please find some of my amazing finds, I cannot wait to get started spinning them!D9786F29-BD2F-4F4A-B1A4-796420E78E90522df623-edcd-4526-be6a-4540e5008031.jpeg

Above are my two braids of Rambouillet from two different vendors.  As you can see one is white and combed top while the other is a natural brown and I believe carded.  The preparations and probably micron count are so very different but both are extremely springy.  I cannot wait to get my hands on them to test and spin!152BD26D-40F5-4FD8-9A9C-3E6957FA59F2

Above is my Tunis top, I have half of this section already spun into a single, I hope to ply and create samples over this weekend.  It was an amazing spin, if a bit coarse.  The dyed blues and pinks have mixed together in places to create an amazing purple effect that I am fascinated to see plied.2CBA7F34-70FA-481C-B641-8523292E1013

The extremely rare hog island I obtained is extremely full of vegetable matter.  The texture is very springy and I am looking forward to working with this fiber, but I also believe I might try to use the Hackle to get out a lot of the vegetable matter before attempting to spin this fiber.

I must have jiggled the camera an extreme amount while trying to photograph this Black Welsh, but the fiber is divine anyway.  A little coarse, but with that deep black color who cares?  24caf879-a0f6-44e0-a96c-b67c4ef94c82.jpeg

 

I managed to obtain lincoln roving as pictured here, and lincoln lamb locks as pictured below.  I will admit I made a mistake, the lincoln lamb locks are not the beautiful long locks I envisioned, they are quite short and I will probably use them to add texture to a batt instead of flicking them open for a true worsted yarn as I first envisioned.  The roving is luscious, though a bit coarser than I was expecting.F9B71DA4-4BB3-4F26-91CE-1F4ECBBAE662

This half pound of Karukal is just begging me to sink my fingers into it’s pretty softness and spin like the wind.  Soon, I promise soon!C839AED6-AF55-47BE-A7F7-DB5581FEB20D

This beautiful black braid of Zwartables is going to be a blast to spin, again it is on the coarser side of things, but who knows what it will do once it is spun and washed.  The guessing is half of the fun!694FFC24-009C-4604-8C3C-22B4BAA684A5

I went a little overboard with the Wensleydale, but I cannot for the life of me regret it.  I have this amazing half pound that I can use to spin worsted and see how well the finished yarn takes to dye as well as a braid of yellow Wensleydale near the bottom of the post that I can spin up and see the different shades of yellow pop out!99B83696-ACD8-42D6-864C-BBDAE22412C4

This braid of Textel seems to be on the downy side of wool, it should be a fun, soft spin, and the resulting yarn will be amazing (in its own way just like the rest of the yarns).714329AA-6DFF-4C20-8E65-B340C4891842

At the Coopworth booth they didn’t have any prepared roving but they did have an amazing selection of curls.  I love how they look in their bags and did manage to comb out a tiny portion on my new hackle.  They comb out beautifully, I think that as I have time I will pick apart the locks that I can find for combing and then use the drum carder for the rest.  This will give me a great chance to explore differences in preparation and how they effect the finished product.  So much fun and so much to learn!4CD66172-5F89-47F8-A734-B2F4FE163DEB

One of my patrons assured me that I already had some Finn that they spun as a part of their breed sample.  Oh well, I didn’t have it written down as a breed that I own, but even so this is such a fluffy bunch (and I was able to practice on an electric wheel for the first time with some skirted finn at the Folk Art Booth, so there is a special memory in this wool already).F1BC11E6-57B0-4035-9532-CDD205ABD86C

This mohair along with the pink locks below were obtained at a booth with two amazing ladies that offered to let me go see their goats anytime I wanted.  Even though I don’t live in Maryland I am tempted anyway!  At least I have this amazing roving and curls to play with!15633D07-5A4C-4293-AA33-771153D5DB4580BEA30B-B92E-4F76-B946-1F7FD546E4BC1CDB9AB4-EE61-46EF-ACF3-3E430363AF4B

No one ever told me that Cormo is one of the softest breeds ever.  I don’t know how this is going to spin up, but for now it is like petting my faux angora, so soft and beautiful!

The Cotswold below is such a delight to pet.  I cannot wait to spin it up.  The Ross Farm was one of two booths at which I found Four different Breeds that I had not spun yet. It was so much fun finding these different companies that raised or processed different heritage breeds.

7D9C0379-E0AC-4D5D-9E48-7D73DA6BEDF8This fiber is like trying to spin very coarse hair.  I have not gotten a chance to even pull it out of the bag other than the tail sticking out the top but I can already tell that spinning this is going to be interesting.  I cannot wait!93A291E2-CFBD-4828-A7FB-3F69B766DC8565BD7A1B-91DF-4006-8059-F0C4032B8F334885860F-0036-4032-981D-F46DCE671153

The last, but certainly not least, bit of fiber I purchased was some Superwash Targhee from a vendor that is friends with my father’s cousin who took me to Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday.  The colors are interesting but more than that I love spinning Targhee for it’s springy texture.  I am not thrilled that it is superwash, I have heard that some people have skin troubles with the chemicals used to make it superwash, but I look forward to working with it anyway.C7CBF171-AD58-43F8-AEC5-967E8E1CB892

So, there you have it, my stash haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I cannot for the life of me believe that it was two weeks ago already.  Oh well, more time to save up for next year!

Happy Crafting!

Kool-Aid Results

I still don’t have any sugar free kool aid, so the sprinkling has not been tested.  Darn life getting in the way!  Unfortunately the blue wool wound up getting some rust since the pan completely dried out and began to rust a bit. That’s what I get for buying cheap pans, but it is a good lesson for the classes I’m teaching.  Take your wool out to let it drip dry.  So I had to throw out the blue wool (I might have been able to scour it but didn’t really want to mess with it).  Before I did that though, I did try and rinse out the Kool-Aid, and it did not move an inch.   The dye seems to have stuck to the wool despite the lack of heat.  This makes sense since there are individuals that Ice Dye with Kool-Aid and then do not seem to add heat.  I’m very pleased, and I will have to try this again when I have a free weekend and can do all of the steps in a day or two instead of a few days later.

Result: You can dye with kool-aid and no heat.  It does remain in the wool, however you want to take it out of your pan to dry, and rinse within a day or two.

Never Content

I swear I am not going to be happy until I drive my mother completely around the bend.  I went to a quilt trunk show, the quilts that this woman produced were remarkable, beautiful, intricate, and so amazing!   The most remarkable fact, she Hand-Stitched every one of them!  Well, from what I understand she hand stitched the front, back, and the pieces on the ends (they are called something I cannot remember right now) and then someone else did the machine quilting in the middle that has the top, batting, and bottom holding together.

Now I admit, I have dabbled at sewing every now and then.  My Grandmother  was an amazing seamstress, and could sew about anything you can think of.  My experiences with my sewing machine has always been, “Push gently down on the pedal, no a little more, a little more, now you’re sewing at 120 MPH. Now your line looks like there was an earthquake, what are you going to do?”  Right about then, I give up.

My only real consolation, and there isn’t much of it, is that Mom cannot even get that far.  However, I now have hope.  I freely admit, I want to be able to do anything and everything.  However, I know that isn’t a realistic goal, that will not stop me from trying.  On that note, and with some wonderful encouragement from the woman displaying her quilts, I am going to give hand quilting a try.  I think I have the concept of the rocking stitch down. I know how I want to start sewing the squares to minimize waste, I even know how I want to cut the squares.  Right now it is just a matter of getting a couple of supplies and giving it a shot!

While I am getting the guts up to try my hand at this, I have decided to try weaving some spring towels for Mom out of 8/2 cotton.  Three spring colors and a cheerful variegated.  I have the warp wound and about 25% of the reed threaded.  One good Nap on Mom’s Part and I should be able to finish threading the reed and start on the heddles, LOL.  I have  few days off here and there throughout the month in addition to my one day off that I usually have so the extra time can be partially spent toward crafting.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Weaving Tools

https://www.interweave.com/article/weaving/free-weaving-tools-guide-from-weaving-today/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wt-alo-fb-180223-Freemium-WeavingTools

This is a brief article to promote the free pdf guide to weaving tools.  I thought that the article, though I really recommend the PDF as well, was thought provoking.

The author, Interweave Editorial Staff, I guess they know who wrote it, begins with an interaction they had with a very enthusiastic “Earth-Mother” Type.  *I like to think of them as the Simplicities.*  Those that eschew any tools that are above the bare bones basic.  Those that say “I didn’t buy a Niddy Noddy, I just use my foot.” Or “I’ll never buy a wheel, why waste the money when I can just spin with a stick.”  Or, “There isn’t any need to buy a big loom, I can do anything I need with Backstrap Weaving!”  (Okay, the last is an exaggeration but you get the idea.) *

So the author is being lectured about how tools can be very simple and don’t have to be complicated, then they ask the killer question.  Why?  Why would you want to stick with the simple tools when there are more sophisticated tools out there?  *Not that we should all go out and buy a Golding Loom, though that would be pretty neat.* If there are tools out there that help you be a better crafter, and let you get the results you need, then take advantage of them.

*If you have foot, ankle, knee, joint issues, and want to spin then either a drop spindle or an electric wheel might be better for you.  If you have rotary cuff problems then you probably don’t want to mess with a drop or supported spindle too much but a nice wheel or electric wheel might do the trick.  For weaving, if you have knee, etc. problems then a floor loom with treadles that you have to push down might not be the thing for you, a table loom where you can just flick a switch and the shafts respond might work.  If you have shoulder issues then a backstrap, inkle, or perhaps rigid heddle loom might do you more good than a table or floor loom.  (I”m not an expert, this is just some advice, for more information contact a guild, health professional, or support group.)

If you just HAVE to try everything in existence out, (and  can afford it) then go for it.  Honestly you don’t know if something works for you unless you try it out.*

This synopsis is almost longer than the article.  But, in conclusion, don’t let anyone shame you.  There is NO Cheating in crafting.  Even if you haven’t shorn the sheep, washed, processed, and dyed the wool, then spun it, finished it, wove it, cut the cloth, and sewn the shirt, your project is still handmade no matter which step you started your process on and no matter what tools you had to utilize.

Happy Crafting!

Equipment! Ack!

A lot of the equipment needed/desired for fiber arts is quite expensive.  Part of this is exclusivity, supply and demand, and people into the fiber arts are willing to pay for quality.  However there are a lot of plans for free/less expensive versions of equipment also.

I created my own warping board, following plans from interweave press, out of pvc.  I love it, I did have to glue each joint together so it would stop slipping, but that was my only set back.  Now I am turning my sights to Wool Combs and Hackles.  I do have a slicing tool coming in the mail, it is made out of metal so I have high hopes for it.  If that should fail, I found these plans on the internet:

How to Make a Wool Comb

I hope that this winds up being a viable solution.
Making my own spinning wheel, I love my Ladybug but would rather not spend $300+ to get a bulky/plying head.  On the other hand, if I do wind up going that way I can get a Woolee Winder for the exact same price or less, so that is a consideration.
Oh well, Happy Crafting!

Choosing Tools and Accessories Part 1

I want to preface this post by stating that I am not paid, sponsored, or in any way affiliated with any of the websites I am about to mention.  I am also not endorsing, making money on, or in any way profiting from mentioning them.  I plan on using these posts to detail my journey toward purchasing my first spinning wheel, including links to websites that I have found helpful and explaining my decisions along the way.  Everything mentioned in these posts are my personal opinions and will not reflect what anyone else thinks.

Whew, with the disclaimers out of the way, I am planning to save up for my first Spinning Wheel!  Yay!  Getting started, I guess one of the first things you need to know about me is that I am a Reference Librarian (I know, most people think of the old lady behind a desk that put a rubber stamp in the back of your book and made dire threats if it was late).  No, not that kind of librarian, I have a Masters Degree in Library Science, MLS, (some call it Studies) from a University endorsed by the American Library Association.  Oooh, fancy! What this boils down to is, before I outlay a lot of money (well it is a lot to me) I am going to research the subject to death.  Learn as much as I can about it and then still mull things over for a while before I purchase my first wheel.  I have already begun that process and started to research.

Most of the time you are told to go back to the beginning and start learning from there.  Given that methodology I would begin researching the history of Spinning as a craft and way of life.  Sorry, not really what I wanted to learn.  As I get into it, I am looking forward to learning the rich history of this amazing life-skill, but right now, I want to see what kind of a spinning wheel I should get!  To that end I began by looking at Spin-Off Magazine.

I have a tablet computer (an older iPad really, I love apple) and the Kindle App.  Fortunately for me they offer the first 30 days of a magazine subscription for free.  So I was able to check out the October 2015 issue of Spin-Off Magazine featuring 4-Ply.  What it really featured, for me, were some very interesting articles as well as a lot of useful advertisements.  The best way to get to know a new craft?  Check out some of what is being advertised, and sign up for e-mail newsletters.  This is how I managed to accomplish my next step.  None of the libraries that I work at, Yes I work at more than one, subscribe to Spin-Off.  Actually none of the libraries attached to the libraries that I work at subscribe to Spin-Off, so when I was looking for past issues I found Interweave.  They are the company that publishes Spin-Off, but they are a store also.  I signed up for their newsletter and received an e-mail about their next 50% off digital magazine sale.  I was very happy since each past issue would have cost $8 and they were now $4.  I picked up 6 past issues for what I would have, theoretically since I wasn’t going to pay $8 an issue, paid for 3.  Thus began my journey into learning the technicalities of spinning fiber into yarn.

Two of the advertisers in Spin-Off are Paradise Fibers and Woolery.  Paradise Fibers has a section about choosing the right wheel, they have a blog, and they have daily deals.  All very neat and somewhat useful.  Much more interesting and useful to me, they have a YouTube Channel which contains a video by Kyle about choosing a spinning wheel.  Thanks to Kyle I was able to discover that if I obtain a wheel that just has ‘Scotch Tension’ I will not be able to switch over to a double drive wheel without buying a new wheel!  This just greatly decreased the number of wheels I was looking at.  Kyle also mentioned a couple of things such as portability, how much space the wheel would take up, and making sure you know what accessories are available for your wheel.  They also have a great video about ball winders and yarn swifts, and plenty of other videos about knitting and products they sell.  I really recommend checking them out.  We will talk about Woolery in a minute, but I want to emphasize, I spend hours on YouTube checking out some of the videos available to get an idea of what wheels are available and how they work.  There are even videos of people putting their first wheels together so you can get an idea of some of the problems they ran into.  There are also videos about drop-spindles, sheering sheep and alpaca, and taking the viewer from sheep to rug.  I watched a Navajo woman spinning on a supported spindle and creating thread so fine I could barely see it, it is remarkable.

Woolery is another site that I found very useful.  They have a ton of shopping options and their videos tend to be integrated with their shopping sites, though they have a YouTube Channel as well.  If you click on a subject, such as spinning wheels you are taken not to a sales page, not right away, but to an information page, explaining what wheels are, how they work, and the first link is how to select your wheel.  Their website is dynamic and very well made.  I love their Social Media links right at the top as well as the enormous selection of crafts that they are involved with.  Under each section is an almost overwhelming amount of choices for shopping.  The first couple of times checking out the website it would be really easy to get overwhelmed and a bit lost.  At least that is what happened to me.

Between Spin-Off, Paradise Fibers, and Woolery I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There are so many choices, so many different types of wheels and things to keep in mind (Aaah!).  I needed to take a break and rethink where I was going with this.  Several of the sites and crafters were talking about ‘the yarn you see in your vision’ that ‘yarn you are just dying to work with’.  Well, that is not why I wanted to spin my own yarn.  I mostly saw that these yarns are like $30-50 or more a hank and if I wanted to play with them I had to pay a ton, if I wanted to make something like a shawl I felt that I had to be a master knitter just to get started or I would be throwing away an expensive hank of yarn.  This way I can spin the yarns that I want to play with, at the thickness I want, in the colors I want, and eventually at the rate I want.  Instead of paying 30-50 for a single hank I can invest in a wheel and crank out as many hanks as I want, eventually.  Okay, so I am going forward with this project.  Crisis Resolved.

After that crisis I still wasn’t ready to go back to my perusing shopping sites and hankering after different tools, I decided to go back to my research.  Reading articles from my Spin-Off magazines and using Kindle Unlimited to get Start Spinning by Maggie Casey.  I am also currently reading Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont.    This, combined with an offer of buying me  a new drop spindle for Christmas, and the visions of the Navajo woman spinning beautiful yarn, helped to rekindle my interest in the tool I had been using but only as a stop-gap measure.  I had been steadily using my drop spindle to deplete my supply of silk hankies, bought years ago, so that I would have some practice drafting when I had gotten my new wheel, as well as some fiber to ply with.  With all of this floating around somewhere in my mind I decided to look at some drop-spindles.  Paradise fibers has a few that are neat, but they all tend toward Top-Whorl spindles.  Meaning that the weight of the spindle is up near the top, right by the hook.  When you spin, they spin faster and when you have enough fiber you fasten it off below the whorl.  It is a very popular type, and I have one…somewhere.  When I started spinning I learned early I like the bottom whorl spindle better.  I cannot really say why, I like how it feels when I spin it, it doesn’t spin too fast or too slow, and I find it easy to pile the spun product up above the whorl.  So I decided to check out Woolery next, to clarify I have looked at other sites and will continue to do so these are just the two that I have found most useful thus far.

Woolery has an amazing selection of drop spindles as well as Supported Spindles.  Oooh, something new!  Actually the Navajo woman was spinning on a supported spindle so I was vaguely aware of them.  With a Drop Spindle you spin the spindle and draft the fiber from the top, wind the yarn on and repeat.  The main support for the spindle is the yarn being created, if you create yarn that is too thin or you overspin the very thin yarn then your yarn will break and your spindle will, well, drop to the floor.  With a supported spindle you are using one hand to constantly, or nearly constantly, spin the spindle while the other hand drafts out the fibers.  At this time I think that is asking too much for my hand eye coordination, I’m having enough trouble with drafting fibers for the drop spindle when I have two hands to work at it, though both books have given me a lot of tips and I am getting much better at it.  I thought I might have to skip a supported spindle altogether, when I found out that Woolery has two kinds of supported spindles that do not require one hand for keeping the spin going.  One version is machined from brass and costs almost $100. Ow, if that were my only option I might be going with it, but someone thought up the Spindolyn.  This is a hand made version of the supported spindle that can be customized between spindle and support, there is even an extension option so that you can set this spindle on the floor and use it sort of like a tiny spinning wheel.  Okay, so I had to find the creators site to discover about the floor option, it is not available through Woolery at this time.  This is going to be my next purchase while I save up to buy the wheel of my dreams.  Using this I should be able to utilize some of my bamboo stash to create a beautiful silky yarn, or maybe mix some fibers together and experiment.

So far, the conclusions I have reached:

  • My drop spindle is actually great to learn to draft on
  • A supported spindle, Spindolyn in this case, will help me get used to drafting finer fibers
  • When I get a Spinning Wheel I will be getting a Double Drive wheel
  • When I select a Spinning Wheel I will make sure that it has sufficient attachments to allow me to create any kind of fiber I will desire.

That has been my journey toward purchasing a spinning wheel thus far.  I hope to posts pictures of my first Plied Silk from my drop spindle soon.