Saturday, May 15, 2010

Raw Wool - Corriedale

Corriedale Locks
For my second round of sorting and washing, I thought I would try and improve on my process. I've read several people using tulle to keep the lock-structure of their fleece when washing, so I dropped by Jo-ann fabrics and grabbed a yard to test it out.

My next-up wool was the 2-ounce packet of Corriedale. Corriedales were bred from a mix of Merino ewes and either Lincoln or Leicester rams. Their wool is still considered a "fine" wool, and can have quite a bit of lanolin in it.

Corriedale Locks
The sample of fleece I received was, of course, lovely. The locks were blunt and I was able to sort them by grabbing the slightly-dirty tips where they had matted together and use that to define the lock and separate it from the rest. And when I say "dirty" and "matted" I really just mean that this animal was alive and moved around and encountered a normal (or even less-than-normal) amount of dirt, sweat and wear. It's really a very, very clean sample. There was maybe one piece of grass in it and it took two rounds in soapy water to rinse completely clean.

The locks seemed much easier to separate than the CVM. I had a lot less of the tangled fluff that I had the first time. I did find a bunch of slightly-shorter locks and I kept those out with what little unidentifiable locks I had to card when I was done.

Corriedale Locks
I laid out all the locks in a square of tulle and folded them up inside. I then used these "fiber sausages" to wash. Unfortunately I didn't stuff them enough, or didn't really understand how to work with them. The locks slid around inside the tulle and tumbled together. They also worked around so that the butt was at the bottom and the tips at the top. When I pressed the water out of them all in a towel, I had to go back and re-align locks as best I could. The tips didn't come entirely clean, either. But I figured that will come out in the combing and carding, and if not the final yarn will get a good wash, too.

I think next time I'll fold my tulle in half and work with it that way, rather than in a really long piece. Or I'll put those tulle sausages back into my cookie-rack sandwich for support.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Little Pretty

Handspun Shrug
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I love to spin. But I do seem to end up with a lot of bits of handspun I can't quite figure out how to use. I've been saving several for a while that came out of an experiment in dying. They're all made with the same colors, but different amount of dye and slightly differing techniques. But finally I had an idea that there was just enough for a small project.

I found a project called a "Circular Shrug" that required approximately the yardage I had on hand. I figured I could fill in with some scraps of other colors if I needed.

Handspun Shrug
It's an extremely easy little project and yields lovely results, especially in the handspun. I did make two small modifications. In the original design, the ribbing is knit on the square and sewn together afterwards, and the lace used in the design is much more open. I wasn't particularly thrilled with either option. Instead, I knit my rectangle in the Gull Lace pattern used for the February Lady Sweater starting from a provisional crochet cast on. Then when I had the size I wanted, I freed up the cast-on stitches and knit my ribbing in the round. It saved me from needing to seam anything up and also allowed me to keep my ribbing the same color without worrying about how much I needed to knit.

I have to say, I'm looking forward to making more. Since the basic construction is just a rectangle made to size, it can be knit in any weight and any yarn you like. I'm sure I'll end up with a couple more, eventually!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Project That Never Ends

Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
So here we have it.. the yarn half of what I've started to call The Project That Never Ends. I started spinning the silk last year for the Tour de Fleece with no real idea how I wanted to use it. I just wanted something bright, and cheery and colorful. The silk was perfect.

The idea evolved slowly over time. I had a braid of Bluefaced Leicester that I dyed and when rinsing I got a little too enthusiastic. The braid compacted and possibly felted a little bit. So that turned into a set of twelve blended batts.

Full Spindle
And then I had the idea of the two together, so I started spinning the BFL to match the silk for lace-weight. And spinning. And spinning. And then plying them, and plying, and plying. It felt like I would never get it done!

But I did! Despite a pressure-bruise I gave myself on my leg from working with six ounces of fiber on the spindle, and all the time it took, I have 1770 yards of lovely lace-weight yarn. The silk gives it a very elegant shine and the blue strand has a surprising depth of color that comes out in full sun.

I have plans for this yarn. Oh, I have plans. Plans that are probably going to take me a whole additional year to figure out before I can get it knit up. So, the project goes on.