Jun 28, 2011

Crunch time

Our dyeing date is set for the 23rd of July. That's not far off. I was interrupted in my massive carding adventure by the stench of the dog (see previous post), so I still have POUNDS to card. I intend to take some fleece, some batts and some spun to the dyeing adventure, but that means I have much more to card and quite a lot to spin ... and I think I'm the world's slowest spinner.

I guess it doesn't help that I've been limited to my jumbo flywheel and bobbin, making those twists ever-so-much-more effortful. Once I get the new standard flywheel and bobbins stained and ready, I'll be spinning at lightning speed (in theory, anyway). And I'm sure I'm overtwisting, so if I make the uptake faster, I'll have less twist ... and faster spinning!

Update on the dog ... he's mostly not stinky, but if you let him breathe on you, it's gross. We figure he has the spray up his nose, so every time he breathes, he smells it, and it gets out into our air too. There's nothing we can do about that, so we just have to hope that his mucousy nasal passages cure him soon. Poor boy.

Jun 22, 2011


1. My dog got sprayed in the face by a skunk last night. He was outside, of course, as were the boys, who were playing poker in the garage with the door open. Once sprayed, the dog drooled in the garage = stink. Then he was put in the backyard so that no one out front barfed. I was on the back deck carding fleece. The dog drooled all over the deck = stink. I sent him off the deck so that I could grab my fleece and the batting that I had finished and escape into the house. It stunk in the house. How did that happen?

2. I feel gross. Is this an unrelated feeling or can I be feeling gross because I have ghost-skunk smell on me. I call it ghost-skunk smell because maybe it isn't really there, but I smell it anyway because I'm now scarred for life.

3. I don't know how the smell got in the house, but it isn't eager to leave.

4. Did you know that skunk spray doesn't smell like "skunk"? You know when you're driving down the road and you see the squished black thing and you smell skunk? It's not like that. I don't know why, but it was a smell that was heavily burnt rubber-ish and minorly garlic-ish. Gross.

5. Will my dog ever be allowed back in the house? Time will tell. He's had a bath with peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent, and we made him eat a tomato too, in case the smell was coming from his mouth. That would SO SUCK.

Jun 17, 2011

Let's rethink that

I called the commercial carding business referred to in the previous post. Their machine gets reeeeally hot, so they don't card whenever they need to, but wait for the weather (I think that's what she said). They warned me that right now it's about a month turn-around time. Yikes. I'm dyeing in just about a month and I can't risk not having my wool ready! They don't card to roving, but to batting, so I'd have to make it roving myself (with a diz, it turns out) and I don't know if I'll have enough time.

So I'll card it. I've enlisted hubby to become the carder optimizer. Let's get that antique in fine working order!

Now to see if I can make a diz!

Jun 15, 2011

One more wash

Yes, I've enjoyed washing the fleece sooooo much that I've done it again. This time with about a million cups of Dawn (no hyperbole, nor exaggeration) and I think it's completely de-greased. Sad, really, because when I did that test spin the other day, not only did it render my hands very soft, but it did something magical to my fingernails and somehow repaired a small split ... until my nails dried out again.

Anyway, one seriously hot, soapy soak, one clear-water rinsing soak and then another and it was all said and done. Much faster than the previous pick-and-wash adventure.

And the reason for this third washing? The commercial carding business requires a greaseless fleece. So I hope it's really, really greaseless now.

I've done some reading and this Suffolk fleece, while scratchy once spun (lovely to spin, but holding the yarn against my neck makes me think it's an outerwear yarn), is lauded as yarn for socks as it is downy. Downy equals warm. Warm equals awesome. Therefore, this roving, once it exists as roving, will be taken to the massive all-day dyeing event in July and dyed all sorts of colours. Then I aim to bring it all home and spin it up into about a worsted weight (who am I kidding? it'll be whatever weight it comes out as) to make really warm, really quick socks. I'll do all the spinning and hopefully give everyone who participated in the dyeing adventure enough to make themselves or their loved ones a pair or two.

A great thing about this Suffolk is that it is hard to felt, or so I've read. I tend to believe it because with three washings, I had plenty of opportunity to screw up my fleece. I was thinking about making a felted soap, but I don't know if I'll be able to. I'm going to see exactly what it takes to felt it, and then I'll know if I should save some roving for needle-felting. We shall see!

And perhaps the next time I buy a fleece, I'll google the breed before committing. It would be nice to get a fleece, wash it, card it, dye it, spin it and then knit it into a garment like a sweater.

(sorry for the lack of photos in this post - don't get too used to photos because while they're plentiful now, they won't always be so)

Jun 12, 2011

Busy weekend!

Okay, first up, all day Saturday was spent rewashing the 4.5 pounds of fleece, in hopes of removing those icky dirty tips. I'm not joking - ALL DAY. Remind me again why I needed 4.5 pounds of fleece? Anyway, mission accomplished - no more dirty tips!

There still seems to be a lot of veggie matter in the fleece, but it's MILES better than it was.

As of Sunday morning, we have a total of two brand new monsters. The one on the left is Sailor the boat protector. The one on the right is Nacho the homespun (just the blue part is homespun). He's wee because I didn't have much of the homespun. I halved the pattern, and wound up with a monster that my daughter covets. Too cute!

After the wee monster was finished, I thought, "Hm, there was some darker bits of fleece that shouldn't be mixed in with the white(r) stuff. I should go pick all of it out of the drying pile." So I did. And there was enough that I thought I should card it. So I did.

You can't really see much in the picture that makes it look like I carded the white stuff, but know this: My antique carder isn't quite going to cut it. Either that or I'm a complete dolt. The roving is nicely going in one direction, but it's not really, really straight, and it's slubby as hell. 

Anyway, I still spun it.

Sweet photo, right? I love the lighting. So anyway, you can see how there's some darkness in the single. Yes, that's a jumbo bobbin. I don't really know what the hell I'm doing. My regular bobbin is hooped, though, so I make stuff up as I go along. I didn't make up this Navajo plying - that's right, that is 60 yards of 3-ply goodness. And I don't know if you can tell, but it's not overtwisted this time. I took it easy with the foot and didn't go crazy.

No bits coiling up on each other, almost balanced and definitely an improvement over Wheel Attempt #1. Much more even in thickness too. It might be a single weight of yarn instead of several weights. Imagine!

Trouble is, when I was carding, a bunch of veggie matter fell out, which was great. When I was spinning, more veggie matter fell out, which made a mess on my pants, and when I was plying, even more veggie matter fell out, also on my pants. Even with all the veggie matter falling out, I know there's still a lot in the yarn. Why is it that when I buy roving it's perfectly veggie free? I must go google.

Jun 10, 2011

Monster Fever

I finished another monster the other night. That makes three. I have one more to go and then I have to make a bunny to stop the monster obsession.   :O)

Monster number two:

After bunnies plus a monster, I'll fix up a sweater, then start a new sweater. Unless I get distracted by more toys........

Jun 5, 2011

Holy sheep fleece!

Right. So I went to a fleece sale and it was a first for all involved. We saw a sheep being shorn (the guy who did it was a total expert!) and we picked up a 3rd place Suffolk lamb fleece ... 4.5 pounds' worth.

What have I gotten myself into? Dirty tips? I didn't even know what that meant before I got it home! I guess I'm the live-and-learn type.

I followed the advice of the nice woman in the vendor area and put the fleece in the washer with a bunch of grease-cutting dish soap and really hot water. Yes, the whole fleece. Perhaps I should have done it in batches. Anyway, I rolled it up in a couple of curtains to keep the locks together and that's why you see fabric here and not fleece...notice the colour of the water? It was INSTANT. Ew:

Also, I didn't really do anything with the fleece before it went in, so I gave all the vegetable matter a really good wash too. I'll have to pick that out at the end. I really wanted to deal with the stinky, sticky, greasy fleece as little as possible.

After its wash, it had a rinse ... and then another, at which point the water looked a little less brown:

Revealing its goodness after a total of four rinse-soaks ... see those dirty tips? They'll be my enemy:

Out of the washer and ready to be laid out for drying: 

Extreme close-up of the veggie matter that's preventing my fleece from being pretty:

Next up is to allow the fleece to dry completely, then hand-pick all the bits and pieces out. Then I'll probably dunk it once more to be sure it's as white as it can be, and then it'll be drying again before carding. 

After that? You betcha - DYEING! (stay tuned)