Archive for the “carding” Category

The weather this past weekend kept me indoors, and I decided to use some of my time to start carding Fleece Four-Twelve. I chose a section of fleece at random (it was the piece nearest me on the floor) and started by opening up the locks on the teasing tool so that the carder wouldn’t choke on them:


Then I fed them to the carder sideways (yes, sideways!) until the drum was full, packing it down a few times with a scrub brush so I could fit more fibre on. Even with the drum carder, it’s a slow, slow process. Too much fibre at once, or cranking too quickly, will cause lumps and bumps in the batt. The fibre needs to go on the input tray in a super-thin layer – so thin that you can read the “keep hands clear” sticker on there. (They aren’t kidding. The licker-in drum will mangle your hands if you get too close. Those pointy bits are *sharp*.)


After the first pass through the carder, the batt was super fluffy but not done yet. It needs to be run through at least once more to get all those fibers aligned and the batt even all the way across. I’d like to get to that tonight, after grocery shopping and cooking dinner. If Four-Twelve really is going to be my Tour de Fleece project, I need to move the carding way up on the priorities list.


(I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not going to get all that fleece carded in time for the TdF, though.)

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After I’d taken pictures of many sheep, I met up with friend Holly at The Fold’s booth, where we tried to resist buying every single skein of Socks that Rock. The colourway that I was looking for was nowhere to be found, unfortunately.

For the next several hours we perused as many of the vendors’ offerings as we could. Despite my best efforts to buy nothing, I had gone into the day knowing that I would probably buy something, and indeed I did:

Two braids of Blue-Faced Leicester in the “Stone House” colourway from Three Waters Farm. I’m not sure what I’ll make with this yet, which is why I went for two braids instead of one – I’ll have more options that way. BFL is great for socks, and with eight ounces I’d surely have enough for some nice tall socks. If I made regular-length socks, I’d probably have enough yarn left over for a second pair, or maybe armwarmers. When I unbraid it, I’ll decide whether I’m going to do a three-ply or a chain-plied yarn. I like the barberpoled look of a true three-ply, but then the striping of chain-plied yarn is tempting.

Two ounces each of Ashland Bay’s merino-silk blend in McKenzie, Concord and Sea Lilac will eventually become another colourwork hat. The spun-up samples of the two darker colours were nothing like what it looks like now; they were lovely heathered shades without any hint of striping at all. I’ll have to sample to see how to get that effect. While I do generally like to buy hand-dyed fibre from small companies or individual fibre artists, Ashland Bay’s fibres are always appealing not only because the colours are beautiful, but because the prep is so consistent; every piece of fibre is just as smooth-drafting as the next. The first real usable yarn I spun was from Ashland Bay fibre, so I guess I have a soft spot for it.

From Little Barn, eight ounces of unbleached tussah silk and eight ounces of silk noil for carding into blended batts. The drum carder is set up in its new station and I’m excited to get started on producing some beautiful batts. I have about 14 ounces of Corriedale top in a variety of solid colours, some undyed mohair and nylon that can be added in for sock blends, quite a bit of alpaca in natural shades, and now the silk.

Then, Holly gave me a bag full of Cormo locks that she prepped. I’ve never spun Cormo before and I’m really curious to try it! She warned me that while it’s clean, it does still have a bit of lanolin in it. I think I’ll try spinning it as it is, and then wash it in hot water with dish soap after it’s all plied up.

Being around so much fibre has gotten me anticipating this year’s Tour de Fleece, a spinning challenge that parallels the Tour de France. I’ve already joined “Team Kromski” as I’ll be spinning on Grace the Sonata. So far I haven’t set any goals for myself other than “spin daily, and spin more”. Last year I left the wheel out in the living room and was reminded to spin daily. This year with the cats I don’t think that would be the wisest of ideas. They think that Patience the Traditional’s drive band is a great toy and I can only imagine what damage they would do to any fibre I left unsupervised.

The only problem is that the Tour begins on July 2, and I’ll be out of town until July 5. So I won’t be able to start until the fifth day, and that puts me in the “Lantern Rouge” group of spinners who can’t quite do the whole thing but participate as much as possible. Will I be able to catch up and match last year’s spinning if I start late? Will the cats begin to hate me if I spend nearly three weeks locked away from them with my wheel? Will I actually set a real goal or will I just leave it as “spin daily, and spin more”? Time will tell…

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After a weekend of spinning whenever I got the chance to sit down, I’m about two-thirds of the way through the Rambouillet. It’s not my most even spinning ever, but it’s certainly even enough to make sock yarn – that is, if I can get the hang of chain-plying. I’ve been watching tutorial videos and I think I know what to do, but doing is always different than watching. I’m looking forward to having the long colour progression that’ll be kept by chain-plying, rather than doing a standard three-ply yarn. Not only that, but I’m looking forward to having yellow and orange socks. It’s a colour that I really can’t wear close to my face, because it makes me look ghastly and sick, but that won’t be a problem with socks.

Because the Tour de Fleece is a parallel of the Tour de France, I thought it might be nice to watch a little bit of the bicycling. I’ve never actually seen any of it before… and now I know why; it’s actually kind of boring. But it made good background noise for my spinning. While I listened, I thought that perhaps “spin one pound of fibre into yarn” would be a reasonable goal for my first Tour de Fleece, and made a deal with myself: if I spin up one pound of fibre, I will treat myself to a new four ounce braid. I have a double dozen shops in my list of favourites on Etsy, but I’d love suggestions – who are your favourite dyers? What’s your favourite fibre? What would you recommend?

Today is one of two Tour de Fleece/France “rest days” so I plan to knit, rather than spin, when I get home this evening.

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Did I really make plans to be out of town on the same weekend as the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival? That’s what I get for not looking at my calendar. Boy, did I feel stupid when I realized my mistake. Fortunately, Amtrak doesn’t charge change fees, and I am able to move my trip to the following weekendweekend before (the following weekend is Mothers Day, and I can’t miss that either!) Whew!

Despite not remembering when it is, I’m pretty excited about MDSW. Like last year, I plan to buy mostly fibre – the hand-dyed stuff that I love to touch before deciding to buy. I’m going to help a friend look for her first drop spindle and some fibre so I can teach her to spin. I’m *not* going to buy anything that hasn’t already been washed. I haven’t gotten around to carding any of the solid-coloured stuff that I bought last year, so I don’t think I need more of those. I meant to bring the carder out over the weekend, but it didn’t quite work out. I *am* going to buy a braid of fibre in colours that I don’t usually go for, and something in a semi-solid, and maybe a sort of fibre that I haven’t yet tried – perhaps a blend that will spin into a tweedy yarn.

If I see the perfect sock yarn for my mom, I’ll pick it up; otherwise I’m going to have to order from WEBS as my local yarn store doesn’t have the colourway and wasn’t very forthcoming about their ability to order it in for me. I was a little disappointed at the hedging about ordering, and the implication that I’d have to buy a full bag of the yarn when all I need is one skein. (But ordering from WEBS is dangerous! I never want to get just one thing; I always want to get up to a $60 order so that I can have the 20% discount!)

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One of my goals at Sheep and Wool was to purchase fibers that I’d never tried before. Here’s the haul. Not pictured: the Finn/Mohair I posted about on Sunday, and the pound of raw Romney that Janis has taken with her. I have spun Romney before, but it was dyed/processed stuff, so this counts as a new experience too.

bullens-wullens_falkland1 bullens-wullens_falkland2

Falkland Top from Bullen’s Wullens.

bullens-wullens_merino-silk1 bullens-wullens_merino-silk2

80/20 Merino/Silk from Bullen’s Wullens in the same colorway. I plan to spin this separately from the Falkland and then ply them together.


80/20 Merino/Silk from Cloverleaf Farm. I could not resist these colors!


“Starry Night” is 50/50 Wool/Mohair with some Angelina for sparkle, from Tintagel Farm.

corriedale-solids glitz

Corriedale Solids from Stony Mountain Fibers, and a variety of glitz. With the nylon roving that I ordered from Sheep Shed Studio, I plan to card this into batts for spinning sock yarn.

Not a bad haul, and not over my budget, either! I am really looking forward to experimenting with all this stuff. It should be enough to keep me busy until next year’s Sheep & Wool festival!

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On Saturday, Janis and I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and had a wonderful time! For the most part, I kept to my shopping list. I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t on the list, and I didn’t buy some things that were on the list, like semi-solid sock yarns. I didn’t buy any yarn at all, actually!

I picked up both a spinner’s control card and a WPI (wraps per inch) tool, which is basically just a bit of wood with a one inch notch cut in it. These should help me get to a point where I’m more consistent in my spinning.

Then I bought a variety of fibers to spin – a four ounce braid of Merino/silk in a foresty green and brown, four ounces each of Merino/silk and Falklands dyed in the same bluesy colorway that I plan to spin separately and ply together, eight ounces of “Starry Night”, 50-50 wool and mohair with a bit of gold glitz, and an eight ounce bag of Finn/mohair locks in a variety of colors that somehow all go together well.

Janis and I are splitting two pounds of raw Romney, but she’s taking the whole of it home with her to clean. I think that’s awesome of her!

I snagged about fourteen ounces of Corriedale in a bunch of solid colors for making blends on the drum carder, but I couldn’t find any nylon roving at the show. When I got home, I ordered a pound of it from Sheep Shed Studio. I got a few small baggies of glitz in different colors to blend in, surprising myself, as I never thought I’d like the stuff. It’s a lot less scratchy than I thought it would be.

What’s surprising is that I decided that I like the walnut finish on the Kromski Sonata better than the new mahogany finish. I had been so excited for the Sonata to be released in mahogany, as I’d seen both finishes on websites here and there and didn’t really care for the walnut much. Now that I’ve seen them in person, I’m definitely leaning towards the walnut!

On Sunday, I sorted out the colors in the Finn/mohair blend and carded two batts. The fiber seems to be less clean than I thought it would be; I’m definitely noticing lanolin on my hands, and wondering if I should re-wash it before I card any more. The first batt seems to be more mohair, and the second more Finn. I teased the locks apart with my fingers and fed the batt through three times. For the second batt, I used the teasing tool that came with the carder to open up the locks more, and only had to do two passes to get a reasonably smooth batt.

bag_finn1 bag_finn2 sorting

reds first-pass

texture finn-mohair-batt twobatts

When I was tired of carding, I went upstairs and spun for about 45 minutes before bed. I’m working on some Ashland Bay merino top that might be thin enough for a three-ply sock yarn, and coming to the end of the second bobbin. I’ll have to weigh the singles, since I was stupid and didn’t split the top before I began.

More pictures when I have a sunny day, so I can get good shots with accurate color!

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Spindle with NickelI picked up this half-ounce drop spindle in gaboon ebony and african rosewood from the Spanish Peacock on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, I started spinning some laceweight from a sample of merino I’d gotten from Sheepish Creations, because I just had to try it out. On Monday, even though it wasn’t Tuesday, I spun some more with it. And now that it’s Spinning Tuesday, I’m debating whether to keep on with the drop spindle, or do some wheel-spinning today. I could also spin on the other spindle, which is half-full of some gray-green mystery fiber. Or I could take out the drum carder and work on processing some more of the alpaca fleece… technically that’s not exactly spinning, but it’s fiber prep *for* spinning, so I think it counts.

SpindleLaceweight takes a long time to spin. Longer than I’d thought. I’m not very fast at this, and I’m glad I decided to try the spindle with just a half-ounce of wool. I have no idea how much laceweight yarn I’ll get from this, but hopefully it will be enough to knit something small. Meanwhile, it’s really good practice at drafting finely. The fiber is dyed in a rainbowish progression. I split it in half down the middle, weighing to be sure I got it right. I’ll spin each half in the same direction, then ply them together. Hopefully the colors match up somewhere!

spindle_fullThis year I want to try dyeing my own yarn and fiber. I would love to experiment with my own colors, and possibly even sell some of my work on Etsy. I’ve had the shop set up for a while, and it’s been empty since day one. Maybe if I get really good, I could sell some of my handspun yarn. I have some ideas for other things to sell, too. 2009 is looking to be a creative year!

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Yesterday was gray and drizzly, and I didn’t accomplish much in the way of knitting. I did catch up with friends for a bit, and had a lovely dinner with Pirate-Husband of chicken, sweet potato, and acorn squash over couscous… but no knitting! This morning was black and rainy, my commute took twenty minutes longer than it should, and I’m a little grumpy about it. In order to make myself feel better, I’m looking at my stash on Ravelry.

(I also ordered a three-pack of Malbec from wine.woot to make myself feel better, but that’s not as closely related to yarn and fiber… though it’s just as relaxing!)

So anyway, my stash. It’s so soothing to look at it, even in pictures, even without the tactile pleasures. I can imagine what I’ll knit or spin, I can envision the excitement of casting on and the accomplishment of binding off, the curiosity to see how dyed top will spin up and the milestones of filling a bobbin, plying, washing, and parading the finished yarn around the house.

I’m starting to plan out my 2009 fiber arts. Mom’s gloves should be done in two weeks (I’m being realistic; I can knit a glove in a week but my hands will hate me for it) and my socks should hopefully be finished in the next few weeks after that. Maybe I can get both of those projects done before the New Year!

Two fairly complex projects need to be worked on. The first is the Pomatomus socks; I have no excuse for not having those complete already. The next is Napramach, a colorwork bag for friend Angie, who has made me some beautiful SCA garb. I have the yarn and am thoroughly intimidated by the pattern.

Two sock designs are percolating in my head. One is the written-up pattern for the with numbers for a smaller size worked out, and a new name of “Brother’s Socks.” The second is the design I started in the sock class I took with Cookie A. back in September, which is much more elaborate. I’m going to name it “Verdant.”

2009 will also be a year for spinning. I can’t justify the purchase of a second wheel until I’m spending more time at the one I have. And I can’t justify the purchase of more top/roving until I’ve spun up some of what I have. The Yarn Harlot says that Tuesdays are for spinning, so perhaps I will take her advice and schedule time that’s specifically for turning fluff into usable yarn. I would really like to have a pair of socks made from my own handspun. I also have a dream of a lace shawl from my own handspun, but I’m not touching those rolags until I’m more confident in my ability to spin smooth, fine yarn.

It’s possible that 2009 will be a year for dyeing. There’s only one room in the house that hasn’t been unpacked and set up yet, and that’s the crafts room. Well, right now it’s a boxes-and-laundry room. The washer and dryer are going to stay right where they are, but there’s no reason that the rest of the room can’t be set up for arts and crafts! I’d like to arrange a fiber station with areas for both carding and dyeing.

Ahh, I’m feeling better already…

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