Friday, February 16, 2007

Redeeming a Nasty Fleece...

Whoa...if you read my blog and have been sadly disappointed at my lack of posting, please accept my apologies! I've been working on a couple of team blogs ~ one is the Selfish Sunday Knitters which you may know about and the other is the UFO Knit Club...we'd love to have more team members so if you're interested, email me!


The pile of circus bright fiber above is part of a Shetland fleece that I purchased online...it was not at all what I would have expected...much coarser than I liked and literally packed full of VM...PACKED! sigh...but, I sorted it out and sent the best parts out to the mill and it came back much nicer than I expected ~ not as soft as I want shetland to be but still really nice and not dirty. There's a bit of VM that pops right out in spinning. That was a relief and I can't wait to dye it! I took the matted, really coarse part that I skirted out and washed and shook and picked and then tossed it into the dyepot with a ton of different colors and out came this pile of crazy bright dyed fleece.

I proceeded to hand-comb the nasty dyed fleece:) This took me forever, but I finally finished it. It's now dead winter with about a foot of snow on the ground and the pile o' fleece pic is probably early fall on the deck! I ended up with a lot more birdsnests than what you see here...I spun a bunch before I remembered to take a photo.


Now, combing is a serious amount of work, there's a lot of waste in a fleece this nasty (more on that later!) and it's just shocking how much time I spent to get the resulting 88 yards of combed, spun fiber. ACK! But, the result of the combing was something sooooo lovely to spin...I was just enamoured of this combed top I made while I was spinning it!

The lesson I learned with this stuff is that you can get some very cool color blending done with combs (particularly when you have to comb and comb and comb....) The teal-ish birdsnest at far left is the result of just grabbing a handful of fiber with a lot of colors in it. It blended far more than I expected it to but still had some variation in color. The gold bit is the result of grabbing in a more "controlled" manner...meaning I just pulled a chunk of the lighter orange, which still had bits of the other colors in it but was more yellow orange than not :) Some of the colors that came out were totally unexpected but cool! But, even a small amount of another color in my handfuls yeilded a color that I oftentimes didn't expect at all, and the predominant color in the whole mess was a teal...the purple also tended to dominate as well. When the colors blend though, you do end up seeing one color at first glance but the depth is amazing...at closer examination you start to see different threads of individual colors...very cool!

This is how the singles spun up...I put all the little birdsnests into a paper bag and just reached in and pulled them out at random, spinning whatever I ended up grabbing. The combed top was just so lovely and smooth and way silkier than I expected this wool to be...the spinning with combed fiber is just about effortless.


The bottom skein in the picture is what I ended up with from those singles. Not much yardage and I haven't weighed it yet. But, the waste (super fluffy in volume) about filled up a paper grocery bag and I didn't want to felt it and I didn't want to toss it. The top skein is the waste that I decided to play with and spin.

The combing waste...nasty nasty nasty! But, I thought I'd try to spin it up. Hey...I don't take my spinning too seriously and this stuff was bright and I'm easily amused so what the heck? I just grabbed handfuls, didn't try to draft and ended up with great huge slubs in the singles, which I actually plied into this massive bulky neppy, gnarly stuff. I wouldn't recommend it for a garment, that's for sure! And that whole bag of waste ended up being only 30 yards of super bulky weird yarn.

My plan was to felt it but there isn't enough to felt anything except maybe a coin purse, which is fine :)

The ball shows the singles before plying and the bottom photo is the plied yarn. The skinny photos show the singles in progress...ick, right?
I need to take both skeins to work and weigh them today to find out the ratio of good spinnable fiber to waste fiber from combing the nasty skirted out parts of the fleece. The skirting I had to do wasn't skirting out tags, etc. It was skirting out the coarse, matted, VM loaded part, which was probably neck wool.

All in all, this was a fun day of playing at the wheel :) I adore the combed yarn I came up with and have decided that combing is so worth the effort because what you end up with is pretty seductive.

This weekend, I hope to blog about some hand-dyed and spun wool/silk "crack" fiber that I've been playing with and some awesome Lincoln locks I dyed up for the shop/website :) Thanks for checking out the Nasty Fleece Redemption and I hope it inspires you to take out something less than perfect and see what it can become :)

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5 Comments:

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Crow Calling Woman said...

Tips: 1)Always ask for samples. A good fleece seller will always agree to send samples. 2) Never buy off of ebay. Stick to private sellers. 3)A good group for this is Fleece for Sale on yahoo groups. I have had many-many-many great fleeces come from this one group. 4) The more crimp a lock of fleece has, the softer the fleece is. Look for lots of crimp for a great gauge of softness. 5)Consider adopting a sheep from your local sheep farmers. If none of them do the adopting program, consider suggesting it. It is a great way to bring in more money, a great way to support local, small scale farmers, and a great way to get to know your local farmers and sheep. :)

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger Leah said...

This fleece didn't come from Ebay and I wouldn't write off every Ebay seller, since most of them *are* private sellers and shepherds. I learned a lesson with this fleece and definitely ask for samples and/or pics now.

I prefer to buy my fleeces at local fairs and festivals, or from local shepherds but I often buy online as well, and have found a few farms I plan to buy from regularly. I'm not a really a novice when it comes to choosing a fleece, but this time, I trusted the vendor without seeing so much as a picture...obviously, her idea of heavily skirted and "some" VM differ from mine and while I know what I like, I'm NOT super fussy/picky...I grew up on a farm and I know critters can be dirty! :) I communicated my disappointment but she never offered to make anything right, which is annoying since she pretty much grossly misrepresented the fleece.

Thanks for the tip on the Fleece for Sale group...I'll have to check it out.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Doll Creelman-Migliaccio said...

I really do find, that depending on your particular needs, time and fun there can be very little "real" waste. More work perhaps...but little waste. Your little nests look wonderful!

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Kellie said...

wow. how did you dye that fleece? just threw a bunch of dye in the pot and out it came? How does that happen? The colours don't turn into a muddy mess? I am so new to all this. Just got my first fleece and have never dyed any.

really nice outcome. The yarn looks awesome.

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I'm a great fan of using "waste" fiber, as I hate to WASTE fiber! And I really like the bright, slubby yarn you got from your waste. I think it will inspire me to face some of my waste with more excitement....

 

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