Friday, May 30, 2008

Cotswold Fleece Redeemed & Dye Inspiration

After posting about the raw, super-long stapled Cotswold fleece last time, I thought I might share what it's become before it leaves me and goes on its merry way to whomever decides it would enhance their stash :) Please excuse the goofy shadow in the photo ~

Granted, there's only 9 ounces there and it's for sale on my website, which is a shame for me because this would be so perfectly lovely to comb and spin. It's nice and open and silky (though not soft, really ~ it's cotswold!) and ready to just jump onto some combs and be somebody's sexy playmate. Alas, I am in the business of selling fiber and my personal stash is just about as guilt-inducing as it gets, not to mention that it's spilling over its allotted space, which is considerable. I'm on a bit of moratorium as far as personal stash goes. Not a complete moratorium, but a BIT of one.

And, as I was dyeing up the curly lock part of this fleece, I managed to harvest these:

Cotswold Locks OOAK

How awesome are those things???? 8-10" long perfectly organized OMG GORGEOUSNESS. sigh...

I originally didn't think I could get anything like this out of the fleece because it was dense and needed a lot of teasing/picking BUT I managed close to 2 ounces of the Kelpy colorway above and 3.4 oz of these in my Jester colorway:

Cotswold Locks Jester

And, there were curls as well from this fleece so all-in-all, a great harvest from the small amount I managed to wash. And I *did* manage a little pile of this fleece in this colorway for myself that was really picked out a lot and didn't have much lock structure left and wasn't REALLY enough to offer for sale on the site. And really, I DID have some space in my huge "Lock Basket" which is where I store all my bits of dyed locks for art yarns. It's on a shelf and there's still ROOM in there so :p

Cotswold Curls Jester

Wednesday was a 13-hour long day of dyeing (and packing and shipping) and out of all of it, this simple little colorway made me fall in love and realize why I do what I do...I mean, it's not an In-Your-Face OMG WOW thing but it's sweet and simple and I think it's lovely.

Romney Roving Winter Leaf

So, I dyed some yarn too because I adored the pale silvery lavender in there ~ I hope like hell I can do it again!!! I did take notes but it makes me nervous to love this so much and be disappointed because there was some weird little mojo that day that left me and won't come back.

Sock Yarn with Nylon Winter Leaf

On my google homepage, I have a widget called "JS Nature Photos" and I get a lot of inspiration from there. These are freaking fabulous photos taken by a man named John P. Sercel and you should go check them out. Amazing!

What I'll normally do is see the photo as I'm checking my email account, then quickly write down a name and a list of colors to use. I generally don't look at the photo again before I do the colorway, which is usually down the road so what I come up with is sort of a very loose translation and more "my own" that way than trying to nail the exact photo. When I try to nail exact photos (for example, I rip out a lot of magazine ad pages and use them as I'm working) I'm more often than not disappointed. I'm ALWAYS happier when I see something, write it down and then go about it. I don't often compare my work to the original photo but sometimes I do. And sometimes that makes me happy and sometimes it doesn't. But translating amazing photography and nature's wonder into wool with powder and vinegar isn't exactly an exact science and I'm not really a perfectionist.

I did that with my Big Sur colorway and shared it on a Ravelry dyers group and several people commented that it really DID capture Big Sur perfectly and that made me really happy. Of course, I worked from the heart as well as a photo on that one because I've been there and find it to be one of the most beautiful places on this planet.

Some of the colorways that I've come up with using that method...

Sock Yarn w/Nylon Independence Pass

It came from this photo here: Independence Pass Nature Photo If I were to pick it apart, I could say that the green isn't "green" enough or bright enough or deep enough and the lavender isn't silvery enough or intense enough in spots but hey ~ I still like it! And I did that fleece in the top picture in the same colorway, which is actually closer to my original intentions. Yarn and fleece or roving are two different animals when it comes to translating colorways.

For my May colorway contest one of the gals sent me a picture of this bird: Blue-Bellied Roller and I came up with this colorway on roving:

Romney Roving Bird

I feel like I'm having a bit of an intensity issue here but it's still pretty. And then I worked from a magazine ad and did NOT hit my mark and this sort of bums me out so I'm going to keep trying. The result is pretty enough but it's NOT WHAT I WANT DAMMIT!!! So as soon as I get over myself (roflol!) I'll give it another go...

Romney Roving OOAK

Of course there must be a shameless mercenary plug here since all of these are available on my website. The yarn is not but will be in my Etsy shop soon :)

My knitting mojo has gone and left me. I hate that! I really need to finish some UFO's but I keep starting (and actually finishing!) really simple little projects so I'm still knitting while UFO's are grumbling and mocking me from their hiding spot in my wool room. Screw 'em! They aren't going anywhere. It's seriously time to frog at least one of them and commit to the rest because there are SO MANY cool sweaters I want to knit. Sooooooooo many. Damn Ravelry anyway.

Wool Silk Laps ~ Sea Mist

I've been spinning some of the Sea Mist wool/silk laps I sell on my Ashford Traveller and they're working out really nice. I pulled out 8 oz for myself and am trying to spin them into fine singles just as they are. I think most folks who buy them drum card them but I just sorta pull 'em into roving-like strips and do what I can that way. I've got a couple of smallish slubs here and there but it's not awful or anything.

Of course, I don't have a bobbin photo but just looking at that picture makes me all hot to get home and put on that other bobbin for the last four ounces and get me some YARN BABY. (it is Friday night, which is "Do-Whatever-The-Hell-I-Please-and-Screw-Working" night. Oh, and I don't cook on Friday night!!!)

It'll probably look something like this, only sea green and not azure blue :) Mmmmmmm ~ I can still feel that skein like I was holding it. Have I knit it yet? Ah..... no. But that's only because I have a little bit more of that stuff (which is superwash and silk) to spin and THEN someday it'll leave it's cozy home in one of two huge handspun yarn baskets and make it's way to the needles.


And last night, in my So-Tired-I'm-Stupid situation, I took out a spindle and started spinning this really fine as well. Really fine for ME that is, which isn't exactly lace weight. I think I'll get light fingering weight though.

Alpaca Wool Silk Roving

This is some Alpaca, Merino, and Tussah Silk roving I had made up for a particular sweater I'm going to do one day from the Classic Elite book "Make it Modern". How spoiled am I???? This stuff is really delicious and it's only fault is that either the silk or the merino noiled a bit in the processing but that's ok. The yarn has cute tiny little white nubs that will be very subtle in the plied yarn and give it a bit of a rustic feel, which is perfect for this awesome sweater I think. (excuse the crappy lifted-from-the-catalog photo. I still need to order the book. I adore Classic Elite patterns!!)


Did I already blog about this sweater? Probably, cuz I'm totally in love with it. Anyway, just giving the fiber a bit of a test spin since there were a couple ounces left over from what I put away for the sweater and the little bit I had left over to sell. I'm spinning it up on my lightweight carved rosewood spindle and it's lovely lovely LOVELY! I hope to have enough for a lace scarf or neckwarmer. I doubt there will be enough for any kind of real scarf but a sweet little neckwarmer is likely :) Or some cool wristers to go with my awesome sweater. Or something.

See what I mean about the moratorium? This is constantly what happens. Of course, this was never meant to be business stock ~ it was all mine all day!!! Just so happens I had more than enough and could share with my business. I'm a bit nervous about attempting to spin for that particular sweater but I think I can handle it. I'm an expert at subbing yarn anyway since I never EVER have knit a garment using the yarn called for in the pattern.

If you'd like to check out my knitting projects, they're in Ravelry and I'm YarnoraTale there so check it out and be my friend :)

And I've been promising a pug picture so here's Miss Lily, my adopted creature whom we ADORE and is just the best little snuggle buddy on the couch or on Saturday morning in the bed that there ever was as far as four-legged creatures go :) She's a constant source of amusement and smiles and the occasional urge to wring her neck. But she's so damned cute that will never happen (and I'm not a hideous animal abuser nor is my husband!) Yes, she has a bum eye and we have no clue what happened to it. But she can see amazingly well with the one that's left :)


And, here she is playing with a hanger (and yes, that's my under-construction laundry room and my dirty laundry and it's embarrassing but hey ~ when you're in the midst of home renovation, pride has no place in your existence!!!) Apparently, many pugs play with plastic hangers, if the half a dozen other photos in my pug lovers Ravelry group is any indication. I'm tellin ya, pugs are like the Borg...

Lily with hanger

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Cotswold Fleece Processing, Color color color!!

It is I, crappy blog-keeper-upper :) But that's just because when I'm not working outside my home business, I'm doing my home business thang, which is processing raw fleeces by hand, dyeing or working on my website. And Ravelry has nothing to do with it. Honest.

Anyway...Cotswold fleeces. Hmmmmmm.....

I wish I could say "yum" when it comes to Cotswold fleeces but I'm afraid I can't do that. They aren't anything like the near perfection of some recent border leicester fleeces I've worked with and some of them are just downright icky. Like this one. Very dirty and icky because it has incredibly long staple length ~ like 8-10".

I've been searching for long staple length cotswold to wash and dye so I could sell the locks but what I've discovered is that if the fleece remains on the sheep for the life of 8-10", there are some issues, which is probably why you don't see lovely organized 8-10" cotswold locks for sale out there much (if at all????)

Generally, a fleece on the sheep long enough to attain that sort of impressive length has a few things going on: Lots of dirt and VM gets trapped in there and the fleece gets dense or matted up. Denseness isn't a totally bad thing, particularly when you're going to send it out for processing. Of course, a lot of mills won't process a fleece that long either. And I've read that cotswold is notorious for "cotting" or matting on the critter and it's also very prone to doing the same damned thing when you hand wash them in your sink.

So, as far as long stinky cotswold goes, this fleece was a gem. It was a tad dense but fairly open with long long long locks. Thing is, unless I wanted or could spend days and days organizing each lock in a mesh bag and subsequently selling them for $212.00/oz, the stuff was going to get disorganized in the washing and the necessary teasing as it was drying because if you even look sideways at a cotswold fleece in the water, it gangs up on you and gets friendly with it's fibery neighbors.

Cotwold Locks

These gorgeous things in the above photo are what I fantasize about ~ and I could accomplish this to a certain extent by carefully sorting locks that are all separate like this out of the dirty fleece then laying them all nicey-nice into a mesh bag or basket and washing them by hand for a week or so. But I don't have the luxury of that much time and I don't need 10" perfect cotswold locks for Santa beards or anything.

The best I could get for the time and energy I have to expend is this:

Cotwold Fleece ~ washed
This is lovely and clean and gorgeous and not all matted up. The lock structure is visible enough so that someone who wanted to spin from the lock could do so relatively easily. I have to keep my costs reasonable so that I can actually sell this fleece to someone, dyed or undyed and it takes more time than you imagine washing something as nasty as a long-stapled cotswold fleece by hand so that it *is* nice and clean and relatively free of VM and still open and nice. But how awesome is that staple length, eh???? I have more of this to wash and I list the clean white stuff on the website for sale until I can get it into the dyepot.

The way I washed this was to separate hunks out of the fleece ~ meaning you could see how the fleece was arranged and there were long strips of it that hung together during shearing ~ the butt end was obvious. I took off 12" lengths of it (or a little shorter than the width of my sink) and then did my best to organize them carefully into a sink that was full of super-hot tap water and dawn dishsoap. I gave them 2 soapy soaks and 3 rinses. In that process, if you're not VERY careful with cotswold, you can have terrible issues with it matting/felting so be SUPER careful with them. In that process, they manage to get disarranged and then they get even more disarranged when I take them out of the washing machine spin cycle and tease them apart gently to remove any large VM pieces and to make sure they aren't matted up.

So, I had a bit of a rude awakening since I was under the impression that I could get my paws on some lovely 10" long cotswold fleece and all the locks would be nice and separate and life would be easy and lovely. I'm not saying that what I got is bad, or that what I had to do was bad by ANY means ~ I just learned a little bit and I do love the results, even though they're different than what I expected.

I have better luck with super curly little cotswold lamb fleeces as far as lock structure goes ~ see?

Cotswold Curls

(DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a cotswold breeder nor a cotswold fleece expert. I'm a hand spinner/business owner/dye artist who works with cotswold fleeces. If you have beautiful 10" long cotswold fleeces that aren't matted, CALL ME!)

And then there's color, which is a huge part of my life and business these days. I've been doing a monthly contest with folks that are on my website's fiber news list ~ they submit colorway suggestions and if I chose one of them for one of my new colorways, they get 4 oz of their colorway. Here are the winners so far:

Rambouillet Roving

Wendy on 100% bright white Rambouillet roving

Romney & Mohair Roving, Under the Sea colorway

Under the Sea on a romney/mohair blend roving ~ this was submitted by James and didn't turn out anything like either one of us thought it would but, as James says "close enough for government work!"

Rambouillet Roving J's Choice

"Jam" , another winner from James, also on 100% bright white rambouillet roving.

Big Sur Colorway

This one is one of my all-time favorites ~ Big Sur. It's evocative of my Big Sur memories and Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places on this planet (according to me!) This was one of those colorways that just happened exactly right the first time. I LOVE it!!!

The following colorways and Big Sur came out of my own head ~ I get my inspiration from all sorts of things. Nature, of course, magazine ads, photos, and sometimes I just reach into the dye box and pull out three random colors and try them out no matter what my brain is telling me about whether or not they go together. I actually think that's how Melon Balls happened, except I tweaked the yellow somewhat.

Bounty Colorway Test 1

This is a little number I'm calling "Bounty" ~ I was trying to get to the same place as a magazine ad I was working with and didn't really get there ~ it needs more of a brown in the green and more pink than the peachy color BUT it's very pretty in its own right and actually sold right away. Sometimes those "mistakes" are wonderful things :)

Melon Balls Colorway

The Rock Star colorway that is "Melon Balls" ;> ~ on bright white 100% rambouillet roving. This colorway has been really really popular and it *is* a lot of fun!

Spring Dreams I Kid Pencil Sliver

Swwooooooooooonnnnnn ~ this is the 100% kid mohair pencil-roving like stuff ~ I have so little of it left to dye up, it's making me REALLY sad. It's amazing! This is Spring Dreams . This isn't a colorway I'll be reproducing, although I did take notes ~ it was, however, some leftover dyes from a dye session and while I can probably come close to it, it won't be the same. The fiber isn't what I would call easy to spin ~ it's SUPER slippery and a bit fragile but with the right feather weight spindle, it's pure joy. One of my customers spins it from the fold on her wheel. I've been saving odd lots of it from dye sessions for myself and have at least a pound I think of various and sundry colors to someday do something ultra cool.

Melon Balls Mohair Locks

And lastly, Melon Balls in mohair locks The picture isn't doing it justice but all the same, this batch didn't come out with as much pink as the other batches. Still, it's cool canteloupe-y oranges and honey-dew greens and some yellow....yum!

I haven't been getting in a whole lot of new and interesting knitting. If you do want to keep up with my knitting projects, Ravelry is probably a good place to look right now. I'm YarnoraTale there and would love to have you stop in and say hello.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Don't Worry...I've been dyeing lately....

Crazy. That's my life. I work four days a week at a job, and I try to keep up with my online fiber business, my booth in town, my Avon sales (don't ask!) and my REAL life with husband, home, hearth... I. AM. BUSY. Therefore, my blog suffers horribly. My husband suffers somewhat but he's as busy as I am. My Hearth wails in dispair 75% of the time. I'm quite certain that when I settle in to knit or spin, I can hear it tearing its hair. My UFO's suffer the most these days and they are LEGION folks. Anyway...enough boring would be good, eh?

Jester Colorway

LOVE THIS! Cotswold Curls in my new Jester colorway and you can buy some HERE along with other colorways ~ I really love working with cotswold fleeces.

Mardi Gras Colorway

Above is Montana - grown rambouillet roving. I bought this stuff and it had some VM in it, which bugged me but it was the right price that I could resell it and experiment with colorways and I do blab on and on about it on the site so no one is disappointed when they get it. I dislike dyeing fine wool like this (and merino) because it compresses in the dye bath and there's not really a damned thing you can do about it. But this stuff is SO BRIGHT white that I couldn't stop myself. Mine isn't felted, mind you, but it did change somewhat from its natural state of open-ness. I'm just super careful about handling it and pre-draft while it's damp so it's absolutely spinnable. I spun some up before I listed it for sale and it was great ~ easy enough to draft and the remaining VM that wasn't dealt with in the dyebath and the pre-drafting popped out readily enough during spinning on the wheel and plying. See?

Hand dyed rambouillet roving handspun sample

I dig this colorway too ~ it was an experiment that I'm going to add to my colorway portfolio. The yarn is soft and lofty and bouncy and light. It differs from Merino (to me) in that it seems a bit "firmer" and not quite as buttery or squishy. Which is probably a good thing for certain types of projects.


These are, sadly enough, some of the last of my 100% Kid Klouds. Very very very very sad! I do have about 8 oz left to dye up and will probably keep them for myself. This colorway sold right away ~ it's delicious and fun and bright. I did this whole layering thing in the dyepot, which is different than I usually go about it. Worked out well and I'll do it again. The colorway is so fun that I made it into sock yarn too:

300 yds 4 oz 70% wool 30% nylon 13 wpi

You can buy this killer little skein, which is about 300 yards of a sport weight, 70% wool, 30% nylon, by going HERE :) If you must have more, that's a distinct possibility ~ JUST ASK!

Let's see ~ I have adopted a pug since we last spoke. She's a freaking RIOT of a dog packed into a 15# bundle of doglet and we named her Lily. Good thing, cuz she sheds like a fiend so pugs must be cute and funny and entertaining or no one would keep them. I have photos of her on my home 'puter so will add one in here soon. I adore her. Truly truly love the heck out of her. And Tasha, our doberman, is crazy about her too. And so is the DH. The Original Nay-Sayer of New Dog Acquisition. HA. He's terribly squishy on the inside :)

I've been spinning. Mostly for other people, or samples, or handspun-for-sale type spinning but spinning nonetheless. I have been spindling and I have a new spindle too but, like most of my new handspun photos and my new spindle photo ~ on the home computer and not uploaded to Photobucket. Sigh. But here are some handspun photos to check out:

Kid Wool Silk Roving

OH YUM! This is an awesome heathered grey roving I had made up ~ Kid Mohair, Merino Wool & Tussah Silk. Way wonderful ~ it's hard to sell it on my site but I've come to the realization that A: I'm in BIZNESS and B: I can't keep all the good shit for myself. Believe me ~ this whole Keeping The Good Shit syndrome is difficult to overcome. I'm greedy. But I do share and I do sell Good Shit on my website. Really. But sometimes a fiber comes along and it wrenches you to part with it ~ any of it! But I'm a giver, deep down. I do share.


So, I consoled myself with 12 oz and listed 4 pounds for sale on my website. It's awesome. I spun that on a spindle and it was like eating chocolate. Godiva Chocolate even. I hope there's enough to make this little shell with a detachable cowl that's in Weekend Knits by Falick. Thing is, that little number is made with Kidsilk Haze, which is 22 wpi and I don't think I can spin a two-ply that fine but I can try! Moving on...because I'm going to get really sad that I'm not home spinning something wonderful RIGHT NOW....


This is Bearnese Mountain Dog fur swirled with some merino that I spun for a truly cool man and his wife in New York. I spun it all fat and bulky and it was a blast and sooo hard to send away the yarn. I spun 4 pounds of it ~ thank goodness it was bulky. I love me some bulky handspun!


Sigh...I'm reduced to showing you Handspuns of the Past. I had overdyed some cinammon-colored alpaca and spun a natural single and an overdyed green single then plied them together. I sold it at Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool last year to Chris from Briar Rose, which was a huge compliment cuz her work rocks! I love that it's mostly dark and moody colorways. She bought this huge skein and one just like it but with blue instead of green. She's a really cool person with vast amounts of color talent.

Oh ~ wait! I've found some spinning projects buried in the bowels of photobucket :>

Behold! The Nastiest Fiber Evah! Really...this just about made me hate Rambouillet forever. And Ever. I got it in a swap/trade/buy thing with the nicest woman whom I will never contact about the nasty stuff because I adore her. There was this white, and some brown. I bought it cuz I'd not tried rambouillet before and wanted to (and didn't realize I had some in stash already!)

Well, I managed the brown alright. Not an impressive yarn by any means but the white? No. Way. And folks, I will spin just about anything ~ I hate like heck to throw fiber away. But this was unredeemable. Thank goodness I found more NICE rambouillet and now enjoy it very much. This was noily and nasty and noily and gross and noily.

Photobucket Photobucket

The Brown. Plied and plied up still on my sweet little Valkyrie Turkish spindle. Kind of OK ~ it was noily too and a bitch to spin but I managed on my spindle and have combined it with some other kinda-weird-not-so-perfect yarn (a white montadale and a blue cotton/wool blend that's faded) for my first foray into Fair Isle ~ I want to make the Amber Hat on Mag Knits for my first Fair Isle project and this fiber was meant to be a chores outdoors hat anyway. I hope I can get gauge and that I have enough brown for the main color. I spun up four oz so I'm sure it'll be fine ~ gauge? We'll see! Here's the brown in Not So Fab Roving Form:


Rambouillet is cool for a hat cuz it's very lofty and light and bouncy. And using Ugly Stash Handspun for a first Fair Isle and a hat that will have angora rabbit hair stuck to it most of the time is a good idea, I think :)


Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh. AAaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Remember how I love me some bulky handspun? This is an experiment with the waste I pull out of the laps I sell on my site. I sort them out and pull out tangled nasty parts so that my customers only get the really nice parts of the laps. I have this for sale on the site right now but am seriously considering pulling it down and spinning up what I have, dyeing it with food dyes, and marketing it as a baby/kid yarn. As a matter of fact, I've just now this minute reduced the amount for sale on my website to 2# and am keeping the rest :) (Hey~ in case you're fixin to accuse me of Keeping The Good Shit, well, let me tell you ~ this stuff hasn't sold. It's kinda pricey, I do admit, but I paid quite a bit for it. So. They had their chance. For at least 6 months) Anyway, I digress...this was a blast to spin. It's very thick and thin and slubby and hands-down some of the softest yarn I've ever felt in my life. It's buttery and squishy and fabulous. I've since dyed this skein an orchid color ~ it's pretty small, about 60 yards, and I'll probably make a baby hat out of it. It's some ridiculous wpi like 6 :)


I have other fab merino laps for sale on the site too ~ they're just not organic. But, they are delicious and soft and buttery and squishy. This is a skein I spun (above), just straight out of the bag like I sell them. I'm planning a tutorial on spinning laps (more of a cloud/batt than a roving) for my site and wanted to experiment some. I love that the yarn is so lofty and soft ~ there are a few slubs but that's probably because I am NOT the Best Spinner of Merino in the Universe. I kinda suck at it, actually. I think it's hard to spin.

I had dyed some and then tried to spin them and while I *could* spin them after dyeing, they just weren't so nice as the undyed to work with. The laps compress a lot more than top or roving , I think, because they aren't so perfectly organized in the first place. I really don't recommend dyeing them first unless you're going to card them afterward.

This is what they look like right out of the bag ~ you can take them and pull them into roving-like strips and spin away :)


And Dyed....


See what I mean?


But, I forged on with them and ended up plying them with a singles of the wool/silk laps dyed in the same type of colorway but with more white because the color of the merino was so "bleh" . The wool silk certainly did perk it all up but I don't really like the whole colorway so am selling it in the booth.


The top skein is the merino with the wool/silk and the bottom is the merino plied with itself. The top one is a bit livelier, eh? Very slubby and bumpy and cool ~ someone will love it, I'm sure. I just don't adore it. The plain merino is much more matte and the wool silk, aside from being a bit brighter in color, has that silk sheen which helps things along.


This is a sample spun from the Kid Klouds I sell on my site. Sweet stuff! 100% kid mohair and soooooo silky and very soft with awesome halo. A bit easier to spin just as they come, in cloud form, on a wheel than a spindle. You can certainly spindle them though, no prob, if you treat them like locks... (sorry for the sad crappy flash-at-night photo!)


I think it's a bit easier to grab a handful and head to the wheel. I did card some up but didn't find that any easier to spin than just grabbing a handful. You can see what they look like in the Melon Balls Kid Klouds photo at the top of the post ~ the locks in this sad photo are not a good rep for the klouds at all :) The colors above in the yarn are different from the locks. I do this "sponge" thing when I'm dyeing ~ I take odd bits of fiber or yarn and use it to soak up dye that hasn't (and won't) exhaust in a dyebath so I don't have to rinse like a mad woman and hurt my fibers. I get really interesting muted colors and generally just keep them around for spinning up myself and selling or spindling for me :) I've gotten some interesting yarns that way too but generally end up selling almost all my hand-dyed yarns.

As a matter of fact, I was cataloging all my yarns (yes ~ Cataloging, like a librarian) because I have such a complete embarrassment of yarn that I need a database to handle it. Seriously. I'm working on entering it all into a database so that when I find a pattern I want to do, I can look in there and sort by wpi, fiber type, amount, etc.

Anyway, while cataloging over 250 different yarns (in various amounts ~ some small, some large and I am NOT YET FINISHED!) I discovered that I have zilch in my own hand-dyed yarn. Almost nothing at all. Pitiful. I have such a hard time keeping up with my dyework that I usually sell everything fairly quickly. I do, however, have a lovely assortment of white and light grey and/or tan goods to dye for myself for projects should the opportunity present itself.

I plan to catalog my personal spinning fibers as well right quick, and then will move onto the yarn in my biz inventory and the fibers in my biz inventory as well. That should keep me away from blogging for another month


Lastly, just in case you're all horribly jealous that I live in Michigan, get a load of our Mid February 16" snow storm. Nice, eh? yeah, yeah, yeah. It's pretty. I know that. But c'mon ~ where were you fickle snow in DECEMBER???? Today, March 14th, it's 48, sunny, and you can almost believe that Spring is coming. But, we're going back down to the 30's and *might* get a nice sunny day on Sunday. Bring on the Mud, sez I!

I'm off to screw around for hours on Ravelry (you can be my friend there ~ YarnOraTale ) Next time, I will blab on and on about the perfection of some truly fabulous Border Leicester fleeces I've recently acquired, share some KNITTING content and some mo' handspun goodness. Probably some dyework too, cuz that's what I do :) Now, be nice and go shop on my SITE! It's fun there. I promise ;> Your stash is probably really pitiful and needs some cheering up. And NO. I did NOT keep all the good shit


Thursday, December 27, 2007

The final result of the Polypay fleece odyssey....


I hope everyone had a lovely holiday so far and that you're still enjoying some R&R before you have to go back to work. Me? I'm at work, knitting socks :) Not knitting socks on dp's or circs, but on big ass commercial knitting machines. More on that part of my life later, I promise!

Above, behold the final product of the 10# of polypay fleece I blogged about last time. Voila~from raw fleece to yarn! I'm pretty pleased with the colorway ~ I used 1 pound each of turquoise, charteuse and violet with 1.5# of natural white. I was surprised that more violet didn't show in the mix ~ very weird. The turquoise and charteuse blended together more than I expected as well. Had I done a swirl instead of a variegated roving, they would have each remained more distinct. The next variegated I do will be higher contrast in dark purple, pale charteuse, medium turquoise. Like picking colors for a quilt :)


This is a photo of the roving itself.

Several surprises with this fleece. I pretty much expected it to noil in the carding, and it did. It's fine wool and didn't have awesome staple length. I would say it was less than 3" for the most part. The other surprise is quite pleasant...almost no VM remained after all that hand picking and I fully expected there to be more since there were small pieces I just couldn't get at. Looks like the carder at Zeilinger Wool Co did a great job of getting rid of the rest for me:) Had I blended this with a bit of mohair, the noiling wouldn't have been so bad but polypay is really quite soft...lots of the same properties as merino but not quite as fine...and since I'd never worked with it before, I wanted to see what it would be like all on its own. It has a lot of elasticity and is nearly as soft as merino. My other option to eliminate the noils would have been to have it processed into combed top, but I only had ten pounds of raw fleece, which became like 6 after washing soooo...

If someone wants to spin a fine, even, smooth yarn, this wouldn't be the roving for them. If you want a bouncy, playful, kinda slubby thick and thin then get some! (It's going up for sale on my website this weekend) I first tried to spin the sample on my beloved Valkyrie Turkish spindle but it was way too slow for a fine, short stapled fiber like this. I mean, it would spin but the yarn was just ~ eh. As I gain more spindling experience, it's easy for me to know right away that the spindle is just wrong for the fiber and that the fiber would love to be spun on something else. Had I kept trying to spin this particular roving on that particular spindle, I would have found it ugly and frustrating. Back in the beginning of my spindling career, I probably would have just struggled along on the same spindle and I know that many of you probably only have one spindle to start with, and that's OK. In that case, you can try spinning thicker or thinner to see if it helps (and I've found that to be really important too!). But, sometimes, having at least one more spindle option can make a world of difference.

So, I switched to a much lighter, faster top whorl spindle and off we went! The roving requires quite a bit of twist and I found the new spindle made it possible to spin in more of a long draw fashion, which suited the fiber just fine. The little colored noils made fun slubs in the singles and the resulting 2-ply is soft enough for a child's garment with lots of bounce and fluffiness. This would be an excellent fiber to use as a fat single to ply with a thin commercial yarn or thread for some of that fun, artsy yarn without a whole lot of jumping through hoops to get there. It would be a really fast, easy spin on a wheel :)


This is some of my very first handspun ~ actually, it *is* the first handspun I ever did that was more than one small ball of slubby, nasty stuff.

I actually knit it into something kind of weird, kind of cool ~ not quite sure which! It's a scarf vest out of the TV issue of Knit 1 magazine and it was really easy to knit. Of course, it was nearly impossible with the uneveness of the yarn to get consistent gauge and the garment ended up a tad large but that's OK.


I ran out of handspun so did the collar and half of the fringe in some of my wool/silk laps, which worked out better, I think, than a collar in the handspun would have. Plus, the yarn has a lot of mohair and not-so-great wool and is a bit picky so the wool/silk against my neck is a better deal anyway.

I spent the week before Christmas spindling some lovely stuff for my Mom ~ I'll blog about it next. I also just recently (pre-Christmas) started spinning some of my very first Rambouillet, which is interesting. I have enough of "black" (really dark brown) and white to knit a funky little hat for going outside and doing chores. I'm not sure if the roving is just not-so-fab or if what I'm experiencing is typical of's kind of annoying to spin. ha! I'm spindling it ~ my wheel is going to be really occupied for the next couple of weeks as I have 4# of bearnese mountain dog swirled with some merino to spin for a lovely gentleman out east. Should be quite an experience ~ he wants it bulky, bless his heart, so I'll be sure to post about it as well.

Here's hoping Christmas was lovely for you! I got a Black and Decker "Mouse" sander from the DH...our home is still a construction zone and I've got a lot of furniture sanding in my future so believe it or not, that gift made me really happy :) I'll be back to blog some more soon ~ and I do want to say thanks to everyone that left comments and are glad I'm back ~ thanks so much!