Another English Angora, Being a Fleece Harlot and The Joys of Wool Combs
Wow, been awhile since I posted here! My life has been so busy, it's enough to drive me nuts sometimes. There are days when I feel like I'm getting nowhere nohow noway and others than I feel like I might be getting something accomplished. Today's not a bad day, but my to-do list is still kind of overwhelming. I have succeeded in getting some serious housework done and that always makes me feel better, while at the same time pissing me off because I'm not knitting or spinning!
LOOK AT PHILLIP ~ CUTE, EH?
He's quite adorable, really, but when I first got him at the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival last weekend he was looking pretty ratty, I must say. BUT WHAT A COLOR! He's a Blue Squirrel, 3 months old and quite a character compared to the more stately Miss Phoebe. He had some matts but they didn't worry me much...they were from being damp in the weather and rubbing against his cage mates. He was also a little thin but healthy. So, I brought him home, where he proceeded to eat continuously and after a couple days, I brought him in and did some serious clipping and grooming. He's just a hoot! Very lively and curious, a hearty eater, very sweet natured and a fab color.
I was somewhat concerned about his coat being difficult but aside from the normal baby softness, I think it'll be fine. He looks much better in just a week and he always makes me smile. Can't wait to spin some of that lovely stuff up but it'll be awhile yet.
Got some awesome stuff at the festival...spent every last DIME I had set aside for it no problem! The last dime went toward ice cream in a waffle cone, of course.
The haul: Some Finn hand dyed by my good friend Suzanne Higgs, some lovely stuff from Ms. Liz Cowdery of Linden Lane Farms ~ merino/tencel and a black/grey/brown Polwarth, Angora, & Alpaca blend (which I'll probably have to email and beg for more!), a gorgeous yellow romney, kid mohair and silk blend called Sunflower and a chocolate swirled Alpaca and Mohair blend called South Island Mocha from White Creek Wool (Sue Baughman and Anne Tullet)...I bought from all my friends there and pretty much didn't have any money left for folks I didn't know. I'll have to branch out a bit more next time (read: BRING MORE CASH!)
I also bought another fleece...a super soft, wonderfully crimpy, long stapled black Lincoln/Corriedale/Coopworth lamb...sigh....the above photo shows the color well but this photo shows the luster and fineness and general crimpy goodness
OK...so you didn't *need* to see 2 photos of my fleece but admit it...it's lovely, eh? Multiply that lovlieness by 5 pounds baby and we have some serious excitement for fleece worshippers!
I'm such a fleece harlot now. I love them...I love the way they feel with the lanolin, I even love the smell of fleece. I'm hooked, I'm shameless. I have an embarrassment of fleeces now ~ and I just acquired a five pound washed white romney, some light grey romney washed and a dark soft washed romney that has some neps but is amazingly soft so I don't care. I'll comb it. I still have the 4.5 pound dark fleece from the other festival, a washed Jacob fleece, 1.5 pounds of unwashed merino, a little bit of unwashed mohair locks left, a small shetland fleece from the other festival, some Lincoln locks given me by a dear friend and I do believe that's it for the moment. Then there's the 2 fleeces from my pal Nancy Barnett on the way...a shetland and a border leicester lamb in curls... Oh...then there's the 1.5 pound alpaca cria fleece nightmare that I'm working on at the moment.
Here's the story...someone brought in some alpaca fleeces to the shop but while they were amazingly soft and lovely, they were hacked to bits! It was a crime I tell you! Second, third cuts...just butchered. Waaaaah! But, I bought the cria fleece for half of what they were asking thinking I could maybe needle felt with it.
Here it is briefly washed up and after I'd pulled out anything that was even close to 2" or more. The prime stuff that I pulled out I combed and ended up with about 4 oz of some really nice fiber. The fleece was really sooo soft, with some lovely luster. After that...well...let's take a photo journey, shall we?
Using a pair of Louet double Mini Combs, I began combing the washed fleece, which is still dirty but not *as* dirty. These are the loaded combs above. Slow going, lemme tell ya! But the other combs I'd borrowed were too coarse for this fine a fiber soooo...onward with the addictive combing! I have to be careful of when I pull it out to work on because once I start, I can NOT stop! Its bizarre! The photo below shows what it looks like after being transferred between combs a couple times. Clean and lovely!
Then I start pulling it out from the comb, twist a tiny bit and then roll up into a small bird's nest. The first combing of this stuff I'll spin on the wheel. Here's what it looks like ready to go but bear in mind that not all the pieces of roving are that long. Not many of them are, really, and I believe that might be 2 pieces laying there together to fool you into thinking I'm not nearly as crazy as I must seem :)
But do I stop here? NO, I CERTAINLY DO NOT! Being the glutton for punishment that I am, being helplessly frugal and foolish and believing that there is still more spinnable cria fiber to be had for my ten bucks, I decide to comb THIS:
"this" being what's left on the combs after the first combing. See that little lock there looking at us? That's what I'm after! That would be spinnable! So, I do the whole combing thing again, getting even LESS fiber and teeny little bird's nests which I then proceed to spin on my Bosworth Featherweight into laceweight : ) Here you can see the teeny-ness of it all but just perfect, really, for that teeny spindle and teeny yarn.
And finally my friends, the JUNK:
Gee, it doesn't look that bad in the photo...but trust me, it is. I've harrassed it for every single bit of spinnable fiber I can get. I imagine that I could spin this somehow, with all the neps and horribly short fibers but I decide against it. I'll dye it and use it for needle felting :)
How far am I into the fleece you ask? NOT VERY! I've got about half of it combed, first and second combings. I've got a lovely big basket waiting for the wheel but I've spun up all the teeny stuff I had on the featherweight which I'll be plying tonight or tomorrow hopefully to see if it makes as nice a yarn as I think it will when it's washed up. I've filled up the spindle twice now. More incentive for another day or two or three of addictive fiber combing!
Aside from all this, I've been knitting like crazy (finished 2 projects for ME for my SSK! You can read all about it here!), I'm currently blocking the poncho I knit for my friend in exchange for hair maintenance for myself and my hubby, I have several Halloween projects to finish up this week for the shop, I'm working on my Fiber Trends Sheep Shawl and LOVING it (tinking aside!) I posted pics of it on the SSK blog too and you can still get in on it...we've just started. Check the Sheep Shawl KAL link in the sidebar.
But, no spinning lately...waaaaaahhh! I do have some soy silk I'm spinning for my friend Carol on the Mazurka which I hope to finish tomorrow, and the Tour de Fleece Shetland is STILL on my Traditional. UGH...I have to finish it and move on! That's meant to be another lace project.