We got some not-so-great news last week: The Spinning Loft is closing. Beth, the owner, is closing her brick-and-mortar store because it's no longer what she's interested in doing. She's spending more time teaching and writing spinning books. So my friend Amy and I took a drive over to Howell Saturday to visit the store. This will likely be the last time I'll be able to paw through all the raw fleeces and pull the ones I don't have in my breed books. Beth will still have the raw fleeces on her online store but I won't be able to go see them myself. I also wanted white wool to spin for dyeing.
The bundles above, from left to right, are Gotland, Polwarth and Texel. Gotland is the breed whose wool was used to spin and weave the elven cloaks worn by the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings movies. It's a natural grey wool. Polwarth is a fine wool almost as soft as Merino. Texel is a long wool often used for outwear garments, like wool coats. The Polwarth I bought for dyeing and the Gotland and Texel were missing from my breed books.
The Gotland is at the top, the Texel is the top two rows of white and the Polwarth is the bottom two rows of white. I know the white all looks the same but, trust me, it is.
Saturday night my sister came over to have some dinner and watch a movie. As usual, we were cracking up most of the time. The two of us specialize in SciFi movies, especially B-grade movies. B-grade movies are lots of fun because they're often really cheesy. We had a blast.
Today was a very lazy day for the cats and me. They woke me up at about 6:30. I got out of bed around 7:00 and by 8:30 the three of us were asleep on the couch with me on the bottom of the pile. That nap lasted almost two hours. I fixed banana chocolate chip pancakes for brunch. Yummy! After brunch, I popped in a movie, sat down on the floor and started to make the bundles of wool above that are currently in the sink being washed. When they're done being washed, I'm heading out to dinner and the grocery store. This was definitely my kind of day: quiet, lazy but still productive. Okay, I didn't get most of the things on my to-do list done but, hey, I'm okay with that.
I was skeining the yarn onto a niddy noddy, pulling it from the center of the yarn cake. Well, if you've ever tried that, eventually, you have a shell of yarn with a big hole in the middle. I looked away for a moment and when I turned back around, Tyr had her head stuck in the middle of the yarn. Before I could snap her picture, she pulled it out, stuck her front legs through and layed down. I had to work to get her out of there because she had no intention of moving. She was quite comfortable where she was.
Saturday was the day of skeining yarn and running errands (haircut, bank, post office, my sister's to pick up my coat, lunch, Lowe's and the grocery store). Sunday was a little lazier but I did a lot of spindle spinning and I bundled up some raw Finn locks for scouring:
This is 8 bundles of Finn wool, arranged to preserve the lock structure which will make it easier to spin later on. These guys got 3 soaks in Unicorn wool scour and 2 rinses. They are now drying on a sweater dryer in my bedroom (that's where the ceiling fan is). An interesting fact about Finn sheep is they don't just have babies, they have litters. The largest number of lambs recorded to one ewe is seven. That poor sheep had 7 babies! That's unusual but having 4 or 5 is not unusual. The fleece above is a lamb fleece and it is very soft with amazing luster. Finn wool is usually a strong wool and too coarse for my personal preferences but with this one a lamb fleece, it's just lovely.
I need at least 2 ounces of yarn from the Finn for another skein of yarn. This one will go in the category for medium 2-ply yarn from wool prepared by the spinner. Unless I do a crappy job with the spinning in which case I'll just bag that category. Hopefully, these 8 bundles have enough wool. I won't know until the locks dry.
This was how my day started Friday morning: 12 lbs. of U-pick strawberries by 9 am. The beginning of the U-pick season. The plan is for a couple batches of jam and strawberry pancake syrup.
The potato boxes are done and the potatoes planted, along with the rest of my little garden. I'll have pictures tomorrow providing it doesn't rain. I've already had to replant some of the 'tatoes because the stinking squirrels have excavated. Squirrels are evil!
On the left is natural colored Cormo and on the right, true black CVM (California Variegated Mutant). Both had bleached tips I cut off before scouring. I just adore naturally colored wool and these two are beautiful. I've already spun the Cormo and I've started on the CVM. The staple length was rather short after I trimmed the tips so flicking would have been too bloody. I'm not very good at carding so I pulled out my Louet Mini Combs, combed and spun worsted. I'm leaning toward mittens with the finished yarn.
As requested, here are pictures of the quilt. Sorry, they're not very good. I'd already put together my quilt sandwich when I took the pictures. The front:
And the back:
The back looks verrry wrinkly. I hope it doesn't quilt with folds. I've never done anything beyond tying my quilts so getting a quilt ready for machine quilting is new to me. Fingers crossed...
Val inspired me to pull out my hand cards and start carding up the Cormo hogget fleece. I'm hoping I'll have time to spin up a 3-ply in time to submit it at MSWF. I started Sunday and I've spun all the rolags I made. Tomorrow at Knit Night I'll card up more. The fleece is so soft and silky. It's pure pleasure to work with it. I'm scouring more so I don't run out of clean locks.
(Bloody hell! I've got a stinking migraine! On the plus side, I don't get the pain side of migraines but on the annoying-when-I'm-trying-to-type side, I get visual disturbances that are damned annoying and make it really difficult to see what I'm typing. Please forgive any typos.)
These are the tomato seeds I planted Friday night. I noticed Monday night that they'd germinated. Three days to germinate. Those are ome mighty viable seeds. I highly reocmmend the Seed Savers Exchange. Can't see the sprouts? Try this one:
Aren't they cute?
I'm going to bed now. I can't stand keeping my eyes open any longer. Stupid migraine!
The tips of hogget fleeces, the milk tips, are usually brittle so it's best to clip them off. Plus, this wasn't a covered fleece and the tips are gummy. I spent a good part of the day snipping tips. The bin is almost full. When it is, I'll start bundling and washing.
The lock on the left is unwashed. The one on the right has been clipped and washed. The color brightens a bit after washing but I don't thing the tip end will ever be really white. The crimp is just lovely and the staple length, before trimming, ranges between 1.5 and 3.5 inches.
My other weekend project. It ended up being about 220 yards of sport weight.
A Christmas gift arrived earlier this week from, um... my cat! Yeah, my cat! She loves me. Anyway, I have literally bins and bins of clean, unprocessed fiber and I needed a good way to make it all spinable. Aside from just shipping it off to a wool processor, the easiest way is to comb it and diz it. Meet my new toy:
St. Blaise Wool Combs! Aren't they beautiful? (And deadly. You really want to make sure small children are in another room when you comb wool with these babies.) I also bought a Schacht diz... although I wish I'd just thought to make my own from one of the many sea shells I have laying around. Schacht dizes are expensive!
Now I need to make up some combing milk to keep the wool from filling with static electricity and sticking to everything. Combing milk is made from alcohol, lecithin, water and olive oil. (The lecithin acts as an emulsifier so you don't have to keep shaking the spray bottle all the time. Anyone know where I can buy lecithin?) I'm not sure what kind of alcholol. Booze? Rubbing? Anyone know? I would think booze would have too much suger? Non-booze alcohol makes more sense to me. Duh? Why don't I just google it?
The socks are ready to start the heels but that probably won't happen until after Christmas. I worked all day today (we're talking 6 or 7 hours!) on my niece's scarf but I'm having doubts that it'll get done in time for Christmas. I'm almost finished with the first skein but the scarf still needs a good 10 to 12 more inches to be the length I want. That's a good full day's work. I'm off Christmas Eve so maybe... Ahhh, I'm running out of time!
These are my wonderful Schacht hand cards. I'm not very good with them so my friend Eric (from spin night) offered to give me a lesson tomorrow after work. Thanks, Eric! (Hey, Eric, do you want to have dinner afterward at Shalimar? Mmm, Indian food!) I have a large plastic tub full of Cormo and since I don't spin a very even singles when I spin from the lock, I thought I'd try another method. I've played with them a bit the last couple of days and the static is terrible. It's possible I stink so badly with them because of the static. The fiber flips around and clings to the backs of the cards and poofs all over the place on the front. I've tried wiping the cards with a dryer sheet (a hint I got from a back issue of Spin-Off) but it didn't make a difference, although that may be because the dryer sheets are 6 years old. (I don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener because I'm allergic to the perfumes and unpronouncable things they add to them... I should probably throw the darn things out, huh?) Hopefully, it'll be a bit more humid tomorrow when I get my carding lesson.
Aside from the carding lesson, I don't really have any plans for the weekend, aside from finishing up a spindle box I'm making to trade for another Butterfly Girl spindle and some of her lovely batts, and playing with my hand cards, of course. What fun things do you have planned for this weekend?
Oh, I almost forgot, I found out from Elizabeth today that she's going to SOAR, too. Elizabeth and I have been commenting on each other blogs for a while now and I finally get to meet her. I'm totally psyched about this. I've made friends because of my blog but they all live too far away for us to actually meet. Elizabeth will be the first of my blog-friends that I actually get to have a face-to-face conversation with. If I wasn't thrilled about SOAR before, I certainly am now!
Perhaps Winter wasn't the best time to try the spending diet. I don't do so well in winter and this one has been particularly bad. The thought has ocurred to me that living somewhere else might be a good thing. I love Spring in Michigan. It's my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, you have to go through winter to get to it and well... winter in Michigan really sucks!
So, because I've been depressed from frickin' SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I bought myself some beautiful Schacht hand cards. Saturday night I practiced carding Rambouillet and making rolags and Sunday I practiced spinning long draw. I need a lot more practice. My yarn was pretty bumpy but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Tomorrow night is my first spin night. I have some beautiful, soft Polwarth/Kid Mohair roving I bought from a local seller (I try to buy local when I can. God knows Michigan craft people can use the business.) This stuff is cloud soft and I want to spin it for a shawl I've designed. It's a fairly simple design but it incorporates some new things for me: cables and using two different colors.
I'm going to be buying some land in the country some time in the next year. I grew up in the country and I really miss the peace and quiet, having a vegetable garden and listening to the Spring Peepers when I'm falling asleep. I love living in the country. I want at least 2 acres so I have the option of getting some fiber animals, and chickens, if I decide I want some. That's a hard one, though. To be honest, buying the fleece from someone else's animal is much cheaper than growing your own. Having animals makes traveling much more problematic. You can't just go away for the weekend. You're tied to your farm unless you have a reliable farm sitter. And, since I'm single, there's only one person to do all the work. Still, there's nothing like free-range eggs and I can only imagine what it's like to see lambs and kids cavorting around the pasture. Like I said, something to think about.