Friday, June 17, 2011

Princess has Arrived!

My first Romney fleece, Princess, has arrived from SkyLines Farm in Idaho. It is 9lb of beautiful sheepy goodness! This is a huge fleece and should keep me busy for a LONG time! I'm not even going to bother spreading it out yet, since I'll be busy with the Tour de Fleece in a couple of weeks and am already hopelessly overcommitted (again). Plus we have the Knit at Night Guild's 15th anniversary luncheon on July 9, and I'm coordinating a workshop with Kenny Chua on July 16th at Park Avenue Yarns. That said, I do have a handful in the sink, soaking, so I can see how wonderful this fleece is going to be when it's ready to spin. It is amazingly clean! There was hardly any dirt after the first rinse. If the bottom of the bag is as perfect at the top, I'm in for a real treat!



Thursday, June 16, 2011


In the midst of all the fleece prep, our little informal weaving group is meeting on Sunday at WC Mercantile. Loretta is going to help me put a warp on the loom for some plaid dishtowels. They'll be woven in 8/2 cotton and I really like the colors. I don't know why I always put off warping. I think it's going to take me forever, then it surprises me and goes pretty fast. At least it's fast for the small projects that I do. I don't like putting a really long warp on my Ashford table loom. It's always been hard for me to get it wound on evenly. Hopefully it will help having an extra set of hands, and I'm hoping Loretta will have some tips to make my life easier next time. This is going to be my tune-up for the Bluebonnet Tartan project.

On the warping board


Warp wound onto sticks for transport

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011 - Prologue, Day 7

Friday night, Day 5, I washed my Jacob fleece, Blossom, in the washing machine using Power Scour. I was not impressed with the cleaning job. Especially considering how expensive Power Scour is! Most of the locks are clean, but they have a hard, dirty tip that I'm going to trim prior to carding. From now on, I'll be sticking to good old blue Dawn dishwashing liquid which has served me so well in the past. I can buy gallons of Dawn for what the Power Scour cost. Oh well, now I know.

Blossom-004 washed

Saturday, Day 6, was fleece day. After much trial and error, I finally am able to card the alpaca on my Louet Jr. and get it off the drum in one nice piece suitable for spinning. It is a dream to touch; so soft and luxurious.


With that problem solved, I moved on to sorting Blossom. I now have six piles of fiber ranging in color from black, dark brown, dark gray, medium gray, light gray, and white. Once I decide on a knitting pattern, I'll be able to start the carding process.

Blossom-006 washed

Blossom-007 washed

Blossom-008 washed

Blossom-009 washed

Blossom-010 washed

Blossom-011 washed

Blossom-012 washed

Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 Tour de Fleece - Prologue, Day 6

I'm still trying to figure out how I want to process the alpaca fiber. It is so incredibly fine and slippery, that it's almost impossible to take off the drum carder or English combs in one piece. So I'm taking a break while I solicit advice on how to proceed. In the meantime, I took one of the balls of fluff and spun a little sample on the Country Craftsman. I spun it semi-worsted and made a 3-ply yarn. It came out at 14 wpi (wraps per inch) and looks about like sock yarn, but VERY fuzzy which will probably make it knit up to a bit larger gauge. I'll have to spin some more and wash it before I try knitting with it. Feels heavenly though!



I did wash a little handful of Blossom's fleece to see what colors it would be. Very lovely light cream, grey, and dark brown. After someone tipped me off that The Yarn Harlot had done a similar Jacob project recently, I read her blog and the pictures confirmed what I wanted to do. Blossom will get a good washing, then the colors will be sorted, then spun into a laceweight gradient yarn that goes from the darkest brown to white. It should make a beautiful shawl. Now I just need to find the perfect pattern. I was thinking something with flowers (for Blossom) or maybe Fiber Trend's Sheep Shawl.

Blossom-sample washed

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011 - Prologue, Day 4

Nothing much to report yesterday. Just trying to finish spinning the merino/tencel to free up Lendrum bobbins by July. But I did get a new tool in the mail - an electric bobbin winder! No more carpal tunnel trying to wind bobbins. And I can use it to wind singles off my spinning bobbins onto storage bobbins. It will save what I paid for it in just not having to have so many extra bobbins for each wheel.

Got home a bit early today and a surprise was waiting on the front porch. Blossom's fleece has arrived! You can see a photo of her on my June 4 posting. I've never processed or spun a Jacob fleece before, so this should be fun. It's a beautiful cream/brown/black. The plan is to sort it to spin into a worsted weight 3-ply yarn with a barberpole effect of all the colors together. But first I've got to get her washed! It's a dirty job, but interesting to see how the colors brighten and the wool softens and fluffs up.

Straight out of the bag and spread on a sheet
Blossom - unwashed fleece

Closeup of dark brown section (tips are bleached out)
Blossom - unwashed closeup c

Another closeup
Blossom - unwashed closeup b

One last closeup
Blossom - unwashed closeup a

Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Tour de Fleece - Prologue, Day 2

What a productive day yesterday! The alpaca is now cleaned and on the drying racks. I wish there was some way to photograph texture. This fleece is so soft and NO veggie matter to worry about. Now that it's clean, it is so lustrous that it is even more difficult to photograph. But I've tried. Now I just have to be patient enough to let it get good and dry before I start carding. So today's project will be to finish winding off all the Kenny Chua workshop kits for the Knit at Night Guild.

Into the sink for washing...
Alpaca washing

Onto the drying rack...
Alpaca - wet

Almost dry...
Alpaca - drying

Almost dry closeup...
Alpaca - clean locks

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tour de Fleece 2011 - Prologue

It's almost time for the 2011 Tour de Fleece to begin on July 2. This is an annual event on one of the spinning groups I belong to. We join teams and spin on the same days as the Tour de France. Last year was so much fun, I decided to do it again. This year I'm on four teams (you can join as many as you want) - Team Lendrum, Team Jacob Junkies, Team A Spinner's Study, and Team Bestlittlewoolshop. For "A Spinner's Study" I'm working on our June study fleece - huacaya alpaca. I'm using the dark chocolate brown fleece from my friend Jane. I spent this afternoon skirting the fleece, and am in the process of getting it all washed and ready to spin. Thankfully, it is just dusty and easy to wash! Here are a couple of "before" photos.

Raw alpaca fleece

Alpaca locks

For the Jacob Junkies I have a fleece enroute, so I'll just have to get it sorted and washed by 7/2. Blossom's fleece is arriving from Honeysuckle Farm in California. Jacob sheep are just so cute in their black and white coats! Here's Blossom at the farm. I chose her because she has some brown spots as well.

I'm sort of combining project for Team Lendrum and Team Bestlittlewoolshop. Since I'm spinning the alpaca exclusively on my Country Craftsman, I'm using the Lendrum for the Jacob fiber and for an assortment of stuff from WC Mercantile (The Best Little Wool Shop). Hopefully, I'll get a lot done over the month of July, but I'm pretty sure that this will be an ongoing project for awhile.