Sunday, 23 September 2012

When Knitting Goes Bad

Sometimes it's possible to get a piece of knitting SO wrong that it produces this face.  What have I done to deserve such a monster (other than, you know, get the decreases wrong and then skip a massive chunk of earflap?  But apart from that?! :P)

It's meant to be one of these.  See, pretty pretty hat, not horrific marshmallow bonnet.

Oh well.  Start again!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Fleece to FO: 2 - The Processing

You can find out more about the project here


I'll admit that this project has not happened quite in the way I imagined.  It's been a very stressful couple of months - not something that really needs sharing here in any detail - but for a long time this project has had to take a back seat to other more pressing things.

That said, yesterday I took a breath and opened the bag I've been storing the washed fleece in.

My goodness, there's a lot of it!!  I'm happy to report that it still has a rather pleasing shampoo-aroma (I had been a bit worried about mustyness considering how long I've left it).

With that much fibre, there's not much to do other than get stuck in.  I had thought that with carding I'd be in much more familiar territory than with the sorting and washing of the fleece.  I've worked plenty of fibre using these cards, so I was expecting it to be pretty straightforward.

What I actually discovered is just how different preparing hand-processed fleece is compared to the commercial stuff I've been used to.  I'm reluctant to say that I prefer one to the other, they're just very very different experiences.

I think perhaps one of the main things I've noticed with this fleece is that it feels very dry to the touch.  It's a coarse fibre (and I'll admit I've been spoiled thus far with merino and bfl and other such treats), but that's ok.

I worked 10 batts in total, and used 2 batts each to make 5 rolags.  (If you're not sure about the terminology, have a read of this page).

If I'm honest, I stopped at 5 out of boredom.  Utter boredom.  Carding is possibly my least favourite stage of the fibre-prep process.  Well, apart from picking (which you may have noticed I've left out completely), which has got to be one of the most tedious jobs ever invented.  My intention had been to card the whole lot into rolags ready for spinning, to keep each stage separate.  But, as I looked into the bag and realised I'd not even made a small hole in the amount of fleece that needs sorting, I soon abandoned that ridiculous notion and got out the spinning wheel (note that when in any doubt, this is always the right course of action).

MUCH more fun!  And the 5 rolags added up to one full bobbin's worth of singles, so really I can just pretend it was all intentional...:P

As you can see, the yarn it's producing is pretty hairy and fuzzy.  There's nothing really wrong with this - I never intended this wool to be made into something worn as a garment, so there's no need for it to be next-to-the-skin-soft.  In fact, the coarseness may actually be an advantage considering what I have in mind, but that, I'm afraid, is a tale for next time ;)

Sunday, 9 September 2012


I've been experimenting again.  This time, working on dyeing different fibres and then blending them together to see what I get.  Above is a 60/40 Merino/Alpaca blend, and below an Oatmeal BFL/Alpaca blend in the same proportions.

They're both lovely and soft, and very light.  I'm learning a lot about spinning recently (like to remember to check the Scotch tension rather than fight against the wheel!!), and the absolute best news is that as the holiday season at work is now over, I'll have an extra day off a week which I can dedicate to spinning and learning more about fibre processing.

To that end, I've ordered In Sheep's Clothing: A Handspinner's Guide to Wool from Amazon which I'm really looking forward to geeking out about ;)  Hopefully I'll learn enough that I can start adding some handspun to my etsy shop soon!