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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gall Bladder Woes

I'm counting the days!!  I swear, once I booked the appointment for surgery, my gall bladder heard me.  I spent almost all of last weekend in the hospital.  Another attack, but this one was different as it was making it hurt to breathe.

In we go at 11pm, they do the ecg tests, blood work, blood pressure, etc.  Nothing wrong with my heart, so they gave me a drug for the pain.  That was GOOD!!!  Then because the liver enzymes in my blood were so elevated, they figured that a stone left the gall bladder and was stuck in the common tube and was causing a backup.... which would necessitate surgery.  Had to wait until the morning though, for the tech's to come in before they could do a CAT scan.

9:30am Sunday they do the CAT scan... we wait 2 hours for the results.... they can't see anything... so then the surgeon on call says an ultrasound may show it better.  Wait to get in for that... then wait another couple hours for the results.  They still can't see a blockage, and my enzymes are still high.

So then the surgeon wants to do a test... give me a shot of Toporal? and a glass of gingerale and see if I have an attack.  Nothing happened.  Surgeon finally came and talked to me about 4pm and let me go home.

Hopefully, everything stays normal until surgery next monday.  Cause if I end up in the hospital again, they'll probably do emergency surgery.  That just means my vacation starts earlier!  LOL

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My first skein of handspun yarn.

The BFL x Corriedale cross is from Wooly Wool of the West that I hand dyed.
The second ply is a Polwarth/Llama coffee & cream roving that I purchased from Elderberry Farm.
Right now there's only 78 yards, but I still have a lot more of each to spin to add to this skein.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Raw Fleece - This is a new adventure

I've said it before, I must have ADD when it comes to crafts... or I'm trying to make up for the 10-15 year hiatus I took from all my crafting.

I've been learning how to spin!  No not one of those bike spinning classes... been there, done that, almost died!  I'm talking about spinning fiber into yarn.

Watching many youtube videos and reading everything I could find on the internet, I started with some fiber from one of the local wool shops and a drop spindle.

My reason for dong this?  Jake has a lot of hair!!  And I learned I can spin it into yarn and whatever you make from it is warmer than wool.

I'll have to take some pictures of the yarns I've spun so far.. but i the meantime, I have the pictures of the raw fleece I purchased from a wonderful farm in Saskatchewan.  Wooly Wool of the West.  If you ever get a chance to order from Val... do so!  You won't be disappointed.

So.. this is the package I received...

I was at first really disappointed because per the Canada Post tracking it was supposed to be delivered on the Friday... but, because we were at work, they kept it and I had to wait until after 1pm on Saturday to go get it.

Needless to say, Jim now had a woodworking project to do.  Once I washed it and dyed it, I needed a rack of some sort to place outside for it to dry.

So while I was washing and dying.. he was making me a rack.

Here's 2.25 lbs of Bert taking up the small space of my kitchen counter.  The order was for 1/2 a fleece, shoulder to britches.  And it's raw, meaning sheared off the sheep and packaged up.  There is still a bit of VM (vegetable matter - meaning straw, grass, hay, etc.).

And boy does it have a "farm" scent to it.  Brought back a lot of very fond memories... and Ashes went ballistic over the box it came in!

Here's a close up of the fleece.

Look at all the cute kinky locks.

This is what it looked like after I soaked it and spun it in the washer.

But that wasn't enough... I had to dye some of it.

I left one smaller batch natural... but this is what it looked like drying on the rack Jim built for me.

I've already started hand carding it to prepare it for spinning.  Doing so is removing a lot of the VM and it's so fluffy and soft!  I can't wait to begin spinning it.

For now, I'm extremely happy with my purchase and how beautiful this fleece is.  Can't wait to try others.

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