That's what they say a picture is worth, so I'm going to shut up today and just SHOW you what I've been up to lately. Well, okay, you're right. I'm probably not going to shut up completely!
First week after returning from all our travels, I combed. I bought a little Corriedale X fleece at the CT Sheep and Wool, washed it, felted some (not on purpose, damn!) and decided to try combing what I salvaged.
So, that took care of that week. I also finished these. Nancy Bush's cabled socks from an old IK magazine, done in Bearfoot Ruby River for "Red Hot Sizzling Socks" along. Great socks, but I don't think I'll ever do cables that small again!
And, I've been WEAVING! Really. I bought this stupid ridid heddle loom at Halcyon on a whim...I was taking a class, they give a 10% discount on anything you buy while taking a class....you do the math. Himself put it together right away. I bought a stand for it. I bought a bag. Two years later and I still didn't know how to use it! So, the really good thing to come out of the trip to New Hampshire was that Cindy at Harrisville showed me how to warp it and got me started weaving a scarf with my own homespun, from the roving I bought at SOAR. On the loom, and OFF! Finished this Sunday night and "cut the umbilical cord" on Monday morning! All washed and pressed...now if I can keep the moths away till winter.
I've been spinning. I've finished two bobbins of this so far (all plied, skeined and washed...forgot to take a picture) from the other roving I bought at SOAR. This one was from Three Bags Full in Montana and, while not quite as nice as the one that turned into a scarf, it's got its charms. I'm almost done with the third bobbin.
I've been washing. After some
disasters inadvertent felting "experiments" with a batch or two of the gorgeous Corriedale I bought at MDSW (not a whole fleece, just a bag containing 1 lb 12 oz), I finally figured it out and have the system down pat. I should save that for another day, but I'm here now and the photos are resized. This method is a combination of the directions given me by the vendor (which were, in a word, ridiculous), some information from old SpinOffs, and some information from the 3-Day workshop at MDSW. It is a bit tedious, but it works beautifully for any fleece that is considered a "fine wool" and therefore extremely waxy/greasy. And prone to felting!
- Make "sausages" of indiviual locks, tied up in pieces of nylon netting, aka bridal tulle. Cheap. I do two layers and can fit two of these, side by side, in plastic mesh baskets (that also make dandy emergency lacy kates, by the way).
- Fill sink with HOT water. Your tap water is not going to cut it. Have a kettle of boiling ready to add.
- Squirt in Dawn dish liquid...to the slow count of five. Then add a little more. Do not make suds....just stir gently with a wooden spoon.
- Lower baskets into sink and let soak for 10 minutes or so. Don't let the water get too cool. You can move the baskets back and forth gently to let some of the water run through the locks.
- Lift out and drain water. Refill sink as above, including the Dawn. Repeat step 4. The bundles will not want to go under because they are now filled with bubbles, but push down gently with a wooden spoon.
- Lift out, drain. Refill sink with hot water and a bit of boiling, although you probably don't need much if any by now, and a good measure of white vinegar. Half a cup, maybe a bit more. Dunk baskets again. Ten minutes or so. Drain.
- One more clear rinse should do it, but you can feel if there is detergent still trapped in the bundles.
- Drain and gently squeeze as much water as you can out of the bundles. Roll in towels and press to extract more water. Untie bundles and lay locks out on drying racks.
I've been carding. I finally dragged out the Pat Greene carder and spent the end of last week playing with it. I had a box of Shetland roving* that had been carded on my Louet carder but still wasn't satisfactory, so I ran it all through the PG. Wow! The machine is magnificent. Here's what I got. Yum.
So, just when I thought I was catching up, making progress, getting a bit ahead even, a huge box arrived with the mail carrier, Joe, yesterday. Joe does not even snicker. He just hands me the box and wishes me a good day. Joe should have guffawed at this one. Joe should have fallen off the front porch laughing over this one. Shelley sent me about half a washed Rambouillet gray fleece named Comet (!) and a whole unwashed white Rambouillet fleece that doesn't appear to have a name. Holy Mother of Purl. (Can someone explain why my friends have neighbors who raise sheep and give them free fleece, but I end up with the Neighbors From Hell?!)
*The Shetland roving was a multicolored one that I bought a ton of at In Sheep's Clothing up near Rhinebeck. I never had much luck spinning it the way it was packaged, and the various colors were in short chunks, so the decision was made to run it through the old carder. That meant losing the distinct colors, of course, and the resulting blend was a bit muddy, but better texture and more easily spun. Another pass through the new carder worked magic, though. I had some left, too, that I separated into the various colors and carded them individually. That's one that you see on top of the huge plastic tub that I filled with these batts.