Monday, July 28, 2014

New Hackle

Made the newer one this weekend.  It works much better than the first one I made.  The first one had issues.  The epoxy I used on the hackle just didn't set well.  I used a different epoxy on the comb and it set and hardened with no problem.

Much nicer.

Now I have to make a comb to match :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A wool hackle and comb set - I made them!

Most people wouldn't know what these are.  Crafters who deal with raw fleece will.

There are dozens of youtube videos on how to use them, but very few on how to make them.

I did find a tutorial from Moonsong Fiberworks LLC and it's just what I needed.

This one is made out of curly maple and uses 3.5" finishing nails.

It's a little rough but it's all about function over form.  
Total cost:  about $16 and a few hours of labour.  (compared to the ones sold online for over $225 for just the hackle - I think it's a steal!)

I'm still going to stain and varathane it and I'm just going to use a couple of clamps purchased at Canadian Tire to clamp it to the table for use.

Now I have an easier method to comb all the cleaned fleece that I have for spinning! (vs spending hours brushing each individual lock).

My next project: an art blending hackle.  It will definitely be a prettier version, as I finally found a source for the real tines that are used in most that are being sold through websites and etsy stores.

I've already cut the stainless steel 1/8 diameter rod into 6.5" lengths. I have to grind one end of each into a bit of a point, and I have a very nice piece of purpleheart wood to drill the holes and epoxy the tines into.

The art blending hackle will only have one row of tines.  The fibers you add to it should already be combed and fluffed, you just have to diz it off into roving.

Can't wait!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More dyeing and drying

Been a busy day.  Yesterday I had kettle dyed a good lot of the remainder of the fleece from batch 2 using yellow food colouring.  It had to cool in the pot overnight to room temperature, then I rinsed and rinsed and put it out to dry.

There should be enough here to make quite a few yards of yarn, to use with my yellow/orange locks.

Yesterday I had also finished dyeing more locks, I knew I needed more yellow/orange, and I played with some green/blue ones as well.  Add those to the stash.

Today, I weighed out another kg of fleece from one of the bags I purchased at the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers, and got that soaking.  It's now out on the drying screen.  There are some beautiful big fat locks in there.  It's just too bad there is so much vegetable matter in these fleeces.  It's going to take a lot of work to get them prepped for spinning.

I heard that the farmers who ship their fleeces to these cooperatives, only get about 40 cents per pound for them.  These are all Canadian raised fleeces.  If they knew what kind of demand spinners, weavers and fiber artists alike have for these, maybe they'd take a little more care in how their fleeces were raised, and subsequently, advertise them on the various websites.  They could get so much more than 40 cents per pound.  There's even a facebook page for farmers to sell their Canadian fleeces.  We really need to get the word out to them.

On Ravelry, we also have a group where we list the farmers that we know locally who make their fleeces available to us.  But there have to be so many more farmers that have no idea... given the skids upon skids of fleeces that were just sitting there at the coop.

Off my soap box.  While the fleece was soaking... I made another batch of fabric softener.  Jim and I had stopped at the dollar store the other day and since I knew we were out, I picked up a couple bottles of cheap creme rinse.  Really nice... lavender & chamomile scent.  It's so easy to make, and much cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff at the grocery store.  I even used some of it in the final rinse of my fleece... heck, it has lavender.. that's supposed to keep moths away... not that we've had a problem with them at all.  Couldn't hurt right?

Last night I spent some time spinning the white fluffy clouds that I had prepped.  Oh my!  Does it ever spin up nice and thin.  I think I'm going to use this as a core for something later.  Now I'm going to go outside and prep more fiber for spinning.  I really really need a wool picker but can't afford one.  I need to find someone in our guild who has one that I can borrow for a few hours.  That would make prepping these fibers so much easier.  But, for now, I'll do it all manually.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fleece Fun

I've been playing... even though I've been off work to recover from gall bladder surgery on Monday, I've been making use of my time.  What can I say?  I get bored just sitting watching tv.

Soooooo.... I have been playing (working) with the fleece I've acquired.

On June 21st I attended the Lambs Down Festival in Carleton Place and was fortunate enough to bump into Carlene, a woman I met at the Knit Knackers Spin night and who is also a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers' and Spinners' Guild.

Since this was held at the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers location, I knew she had snagged a good load of fleece recently.  Thankfully, she was ever so helpful and directed me to the location for picking out fleece.  We found a gentleman there, who provided garbage bags and said "go to it".

I filled 2 garbage bags!!  14 lbs of fleece, of a medium-coarse grade, for $3.00 per lb.  Unfortunately, you really have to dig through them and have at least some knowledge of what you're looking for, in order to process and spin it into yarn.  

That was where Carlene was most helpful.  Even though the fleeces are just dumped in a bin, sorting through it and finding what looks to be decent quality is the trick.  And just so you know, in the farming vernacular, a "tag" is a big-ass lump of crap from the sheep's rear end.  LOL  Carlene just about jumped when she warned me I almost put my hand on a big lump of it.

Anyways, she was a good sport and spent the time helping me and I can't thank her enough.

Enough of that... now for pictures:

Raw fleece, ready to be washed

Drying in the sun

Close up

Length of locks (tails) Batch 1
These are about 6" long when stretched out

Batch 2 - I didn't take pics before washing, this is what it looks like dried.

I sat last night for about 4 hrs and pulled out locks for dyeing.
These locks are 8 - 10 inches long.

Tails that weren't clean enough for dyeing, I sat and "flicked", basically, used a small dog slicker brush to brush them out and remove any vm (vegetable matter)

The whole batch I did last night while watching a couple movies.  Processing fleece is not for the faint of heart, there's a ton of work involved.

First batch this morning, dyeing the locks.  My inspiration for this? Natalie Redding from Namaste Farms in California.  This woman is amazing and has awesome youtube videos showing how she makes her fabulous yarns.

Locks drying in the sun!  Aren't they pretty??

I have a couple more batches being dyed right now.  I'm adding to the orange/yellow.... I want a lot of these to make a really cool scarf.

This morning has been so nice outside, I grabbed the rest of the batch and sat and flicked and carded more of the same batch.  It's not something you really want to do in the house if you can avoid it.  The pile of dirt that ends up on the floor is significant.

Now with all the fluffy stuff that's left, I'm going to do some spinning with it tonight.  I really have no idea what breed this is, but the fleece is so soft, silky and has an amazing sheen to it, that I think it's going to spin up beautifully.

Will post pictures when some of that is completed.

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