Sunday, 27 May 2012

Fleece to FO: 1 - The Sheep

Welcome to my new very-long-term-indeed project, in which I turn a raw sheep's fleece into something spectacular* (*Spectacularity to be confirmed).

Let me begin at the beginning.


Blue Sky knit and natter held a yarn swap.  Before I left, I looked at my stash and sighed.  There was going to be very little I could stand parting with (except for that ludicrous pink acrylic on the mid-left - the one that taught me to allow for differences in computer screen colours when ordering online).

Luckily, the ladies at that group are a marvelous bunch, and practically foisted a load of sock weight on me (pictures to come soon!).  Well I say foisted, but what I really mean is that I claimed them Gollum-"My-Precious" style.  The closer I get to large stacks of yarn, the more deranged I become - it's an illness...


At some point, someone (and I'm not blaming anyone, but I am looking firmly in Rosie's direction) said something like "I've got a fleece at home I don't really want".  And then someone else (and this time I just happen to be looking at Claire) said something like "Oh, Kim's always wanted to work with a raw fleece".  Which I can't deny.

And so, last Sunday I was confronted with this:

 Which on closer inspection turned out to be this:

All of which became a little too much and resulted in this face...

... a face which says, "so, er, all those tutorials I watched on youtube aren't gonna help much then".  It shouldn't be confused with my "wow, that's a spectacularly ripe smell of sheep" face, because that came later (to start with, I couldn't smell anything at all, and then once I'd been lulled into a false sense of security it got me good and proper).

Actually though, once I got stuck in, I had an absolute blast.

I started by yanking out anything that was too matted, too dirty or too too scratchy to be of use, and put this aside for composting.  Then I picked out most of the big bits of straw/grass/vegetable matter (seriously, this sheeps only hobby was rolling around in hedges)

That took quite a while, and quite frankly I started getting bored, so I just shoved it all in a big bucket of hot water mixed with shampoo and let it soak for a bit.  My thinking was that it would get rid of some of the dirt, as well as start to break down a bit of the lanolin - I was quite surprised at how greasy the fleece started off (which incidently provided me with an answer to a question which has haunted me for years: why don't sheep felt in the rain?)

Look how happy I look!  No wonder my flatmate was laughing at me!

So after working about a third of the fleece, I left what I'd washed out in the sun to dry, and then put it back into the bucket.  Being crazy-busy with work and moving house, I've no time or energy to work on it during the week, but I've now decided that Sundays will be dedicated to working on this mammoth project, one chunk at a time :)  You'll be able to follow me here once a week to see how it's coming along.

Kim :)

Spinning an Ocean

 Yowzers!  It's been a busy old time recently and this week I'll be moving house too.  With everything else that needs seeing to during the day, it can be hard to find even the brainpower to craft, let alone the time!  I think that's probably why I've found myself turning to projects which rely almost completely on muscle-memory and require the absolute minimum levels of thought or concentration.

For me, spinning definitely comes under this category.  I adore the way you can get some really fantastic results without having to invest massive amounts of love and devotion, and the fact that it can be very very forgiving.

I currently have 4 spinning projects on the go, but mainly this week I've been working on this:

 I dyed some white merino and overdyed some grey/blue using blue and green food colourings, making sure I dyed them fairly unevenly so that when I span it, it would all pull out and blend at random.

Aren't the colours just glorious?!  They really sing to me somehow.  Expect many more tales of hand-dyeing in the future ;)

I think this also might be some of my best spinning yet!  I've managed to avoid some of the problems I've been having with overspin, and this skein is a lot better balanced than my previous have been.  This was actually spun using a supported spindle - my first time using anything other than a top-whorl drop - and it certainly took some getting used to!  The conventional wisdom is that the yarn on a supported spindle is less prone to breaking since it doesn't have to support the weight as it twists.  As usual, I'm going against the grain - this was snapping all over the shop (something that's never happened to me on the drop spindle), and continued to snap as I skeined it.  That'll be something to focus on as I spin the rest of the fluff in this batch!

A note on the spindle: it is BRILLIANT!  It was made for me by the lovely MintyWeaver, who has been experimenting with making her own spindles from old dpns and various bits and bobs from B&Q.  They spin magnificently, and the weighting is just sooooo comfortable.  How long d'you reckon before I'm glueing stuff to other stuff and attempting to twist fluff with it?!!

Kim x

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Holy Wonderwool, Batman!

Wonderwool.  When asked about it, I can still only say things like "nnnngggghhh", or stare vaguely into the distance while my conversational partner backs away slowly.  I'll let the photos do the talking :)

 I started spinning as soon as I got home.  Some gorgeous merino went from this:


To this:

To this:

Veeeeeeeery quickly indeed!  And I have PLANS for it.  Oh yes, I have PLANS!  :D

If you were at Wonderwool, share your pics!  I'd love to see what you got! :)