Saturday, January 9, 2010

A spinning world

It's been quiet around here during the holidays and since, and I've finally made time to get into the wool room and try to impose some order. I came to the conclusion that I did indeed have a boatload of fiber, and that it was really fun to use the carder to make more. This leads to a dilemma, however -- fluffy fiber takes up more room than fleece, and the ramifications of this on the already-tight storage situation was becoming dire. What to do? Well, it means more spinning is in order.

I'd been neglecting my poor wheel for ages, since it was hidden behind the loom, but before Christmas I moved it out of the living room, uncovering the wheel. I've been trying to make a point of spinning a little bit each evening, with the goal of spinning a pound a month this year. But choices, choices -- what to spin first?

This basket o'heavenly blue had been sitting around for some time, winking and fluttering at me, so it was the first to come down for a little Lendrum lovin':
Dorset (or could be Suffolk, I am not positive) dyed in the wool in the crock pot, then blended with mohair dyed the same way. Both fibers (if it is Dorset) are from local animals. A little angelina in different blues/purples makes it sparkle like the ocean on a late, sunny afternoon. This picture is washed out a bit, but the batts grade from aquamarine through blue to purple. I'm splitting them in half and spinning them in order, and plan to ply the two halves to keep the colors together for the most part, but to allow some barberpoling where they meet. It's just lovely to spin, and I'm spinning it long draw to keep it woolly and lofty. There's nothing like spining from your own batts -- they are so soft and draft like a dream.

This was spun between Thanksgiving and Christmas to try and meet a Christmas deadline... the spinning got done, but not the knitting. It's fur from my good friend's dog, and she asked if I could knit her son something from it. Miss Heidi (the dog) is and Akita mix, and this is both undercoat and guard hairs. I'd never spun dog hair before, and decided to just grab handfuls and spin it up on the chunky side. It turned out much better than I expected, and I'm going to knit Thorpe, an earflap hat. It should be perfect for keeping his ears warm though the Maine winter.
Nice and even, although very fuzzy, but soft and not scratchy. I am pleased.
This is superwash merino in my own colorway that has undergone a number of name changes... but thanks to my lovely guild friends, it is now called "Clown Barf". I was SOO tempted to order myself a Threadless tee shirt for Christmas that had a clown barfing a rainbow on it...
This is an experiment that I've been wanting to do for a long time. I took about 8 ounces of Suffolk fleece and dyed it in a roaster pan in the oven with a bunch of different colors of dye squirted on. Then I separated the colors as best I could, hand carded them, and spun them all into one long single that I Navajo plied. It's my Noro-esque yarn, and it really turned out well. I've wanted to spin COLOR ever since I started spinning (see clown barf above), and this is how I wanted to do it. It is a bit lumpy in spots (because my hand carding sucks, I am impatient), but it turned out exactly as I planned, and that makes me happy.
It's a worsted weight, and I haven't measured yardage yet. I am reaaly looking forward to playing with this techniques some more, especially with thinking of each batch of fiber as an individual unit of colors and how they will blend together. I have a bunch more of this fiber (this Suffolk is from a local farmer... and it was all free!) that I dyed in different colors to play with like this too. Now all I need is time.
This is the mohair/wool laceweight I whined about in an earlier post, but I am very happy with after all. 660 yards of creamsicle bliss. I am waiting for the right pattern to jump out and holler for this stuff.

And finally, the end of the fiber parade... this is the last of more than two pounds of Dorset I dyed and spun for a lady who was making a blanket out of it. She's a good friend of the farmer I got this from, and she didn't bat an eye when I told her what it would cost. The blanket was for the farmer, and it is stunning. I'm glad I got to see it while I was still spinning, because it gave me the incentive to finish! The only things that kept me going here are the fact that the farmer is a great fellow, and I love the colors. The money was nice too, and I appreciate it, but I am not sure I am going to spin on consignment again, at least for a while or for a project this big.

My next big project after the blue heavenly batts is a Suffolk fleece I got at MDS&W that I dyed with black walnuts and am carding through a second time to mix the colors better. I am thinking of knitting a sweater for myself out of it -- plan to browse through "A Fine Fleece" later tonight and look for inspiration. If I had to pick only one book of patterns, that would be it. I could knit every single item from it, and I've never found another pattern book that I could say that about.

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