Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clean up

I'm cleaning off my spindles in prep for tdf.
It still amazes me that you can take a lump of fuzz and turn it into something beautiful.
I only got 1oz spun of the total 4 oz of this one. I won't be spinning it in the tdf because it's so time consuming and I want to really concentrate on getting it spun as thinly as I can. I think I'll knit or crochet this into a scarf for my sister for her birthday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The washing of the wool

A.K.A. You need to have something to spin for Tour de Fleece.

I spent, and am still spending, my days this week washing wool.
Skirting a merino/targhee fleece.

Lots and lots of sausages.

I came up with this great idea to put them in a milk crate instead of bags or let them float amok in the water. This way I can wash more at one time, they get cleaner, and I don't burn my hands pulling them all out of the water. I could have put twice as many sausages in the milk crate, but there are only so many bundles you can make before you start wondering why you bought a fleece in the first place.

As soon as I let the hose down from the wash tub, Kenshin runs over and watches the water go down the drain.
Ugh, my basement doesn't really look like this. Where it looks muddy (or bloody), it's really just water. The kids have had a lot of fun in this corner doing picture shoots in their get-ups from Silent Hill and I've been sworn not to scrub this corner until they are done.

With this two tub system, I can wash one and a half pounds of wool while the other tub is having it's final rinse. This is so much easier than heating water on the stove and only getting one ounce of wool washed in the kitchen sink a day. This is 'Ava' on the left in her first scoure, and merino/targhee sausages on their final rinse.

Drying. This is where Kenshin sits while I skirt and make sausages.

Wool washing days are so hard on cats. Running from the skirting table to the wash tub and drain and back again, trying to keep up with me. Kenshin can only take so much before he finds a laundry baskets and takes a cat nap.

In a mad dash to have my spindles free for tdf, I'm trying to finish up the 4oz of Blue Morpho (merino-tencel) from Bitsy Knits. What's on the spindle and in my hand is only one ounce.

Wool skirted and washed this week (post wash weight):
15.6 ounces merino/targhee
2 pounds 11 ounces of Ava.
I am so glad I moved my wool washing to the basement. I might actually be able to wash all the fleece I own now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My name was on the silver screen tonight

My DD was only 4 when The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship first came out in theaters. Needless to say she's never seen it in the theater. She's watched our DVDs countless times, but she's never seen it on the big screen.

Tonight, after saving up (12.50/ticket x4 = 50 bucks) she took the whole family to the special, one night only theater screening of the extended version with a new opener with Peter Jackson.

We are all huge LOTR fans in this house so this was a big deal for us. Especially me, who was kept in the dark about the whole thing until we got to the theater.

When the movie was over we all sat there waiting for my name to show up on the screen. We waited and waited and....I missed it. Yep, the kids saw it but I didn't catch it in time. Oh well. I know I was there and we all had a wonderful night out together. That's what matters.

There's still The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. She's saved up all the money for all of our tickets for all three movies. I love it that my daughter is as much a fan girl as I am. (Not to mention very generous)

Friday, June 10, 2011


Oh My God, I just joined Tour de Fleece's rookie and spindle teams.
What the heck was I thinking? Now I have to wash an entire fleece, card that and the rest of the coopworth before the 2nd of July.
That means little to no spinning until that gets done. ; (

Someone please tell me this was a good idea. This isn't something I should be panicking over, right?

eta: Well now I've done it. I've added the spinners study team. It'll be a good excuse to get through all those breed samples I've been hording, and it'll keep me from being bored by spinning only 2 kinds of wool in 20 days.

Spin every day of the tour using a spindle.
Spin all of the coopworth (gray and white) into 3 ply yarn for the area rug.
Spin the merino/targhee fleece
Spin several samples of breeds I've not worked with before.
Extra challenge - Spin a good, well balanced, 2ply lace weight yarn. I'll have plenty of practice with all of that merino/targhee fiber yumminess.

6-19 eta:
I joined the Phat Fiber team after realizing that my original goals were way beyond what I could comfortably handle. After a week of doing nothing but washing wool, I still have to comb it all and get it ready and I'm just not going to be able to do that. So, new goals:
Spindle team: Spin everything on a spindle.
Spinner's study team: Spin as many of those 4oz samples as I can.
Phat Team: Spin as much phat fiber as I can get through.

Phew, now I might be able to relax a little bit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Live and Learn

I've been on a roll this week. I spun up Beesybee's 100% merino Fossil colorway and Fiber Fancy's 100% Falkland in Tiger Swallow Tail colorway.

I had a high learning curve. I'd never drafted and spun 100% merino before, I learned a new way of plying, and I've never INTENTIONALLY spun a chunky yarn.

I took this fiber (shown half spun and half waiting)
divided it in half, and spun each half on a drop spindle (Ashford student spindles), then I wound them together into a plying ball (thank you Abby Franquemont of Respect the Spindle), and plied them together into 174 yards that falls around the DK/light worsted and sport weight.

I knew it would barber pole but I thought I could manage that much better than I was able to. Most of the lavender color is solid while the rest of the colors poled. I love the lavender color but in hind sight I'd rather have pulled that color out to spin by itself because I also love the poling colors, just not with the lavender. What I really should have done was to wait until I'd learned how to Navajo ply this. Live and learn.

What I did learn though, was that I want to get some of this blue and some green and spin them separately with white. I love that look. Also, this is the most uniform spinning I've gotten so far, as sad as it is to say that. It's over spun in places but I can forgive that since I learned a new trick. Usually when I ply, I let the spindles roll around on the floor as I ply them together, using my feet to keep them from tangling. The cats just LOVE days like this. I've tried using the lazy kate that came with my spinning wheel, but quickly found that that is only good for holding yarn. I've also tried making my own out of Kleenex boxes and that never really worked well either. My plying has always been uneven and nothing to write home about. While it's still nothing to write home about, it's much more even this time using the plying ball method.
It's over plied but, as mangled as this yarn looks, I'm pretty proud of it. Live and learn.

While I was drafting this fiber out (and I wish I had taken a picture of it first because it was yummy), it told me it wanted to be spun chunky. I agreed since I really don't have any chunky yarns. I tend to spin as finely as I can. I divided the fiber in half and lightly drafted it out and spun it and plied it up in one evening. I didn't even try to keep the colors together, just let them fall where they may. This yarn is soft and squishy and yummy. I have no idea what I'll do with it. I didn't measure it, but there's not much there since it's chunky. I love to play with it though because it's so squooshy.

The only thing I'm disappointed in is that the red ran when I washed it. Oh well, live and learn.

I think I've decided what I want to do with my phat phiber samples. I love the idea some people have of spinning them up and making a samples blanket. I think I've said this before but, I'm really not so much in love with knitting, so I've decided to use my small wooden hand looms and weave a samples blanket.

Here are two squares of North Star Alpacas 25% suri, 75% Huacaya in the April phat fiber color Scarab. I've said before how much I love this yarn. It's so soft and the colors are gorgeous. She gave a generous 20 yards sample so I still have enough left to make the 3rd sized square too. Not much with the learning on this one, just the living.

Friday, June 3, 2011