Wednesday, January 28, 2009

processing a fleece

Some of you might remember eons ago (august, I think) that I got a Jacob sheep fleece from a cousin who has 2 Jacobs. I washing the fleece in three different batches during the summer and started flick carding it up. You might remember some of these pictures.

The full fleece
The "helper"
The first wash (ewwwwww)
Another wash (slightly less ewwwww)
Roving brains
Hanging out to dry

I started spinning up some of the roving at the end of summer but didn't get very far in the rubbermaid container which was almost full of light, airy puffs of wool. In November, I bought a second wheel (oh, how the addiction grows!). With the new wheel, a new determination to get through this fleece surfaced (also, the buying of 2 additional Shetland fleeces helped. Ooops).

So I started spinning the Jacob again. Jacob sheep have very distinct fleeces of black and white. It also turns out that this sheep has an undercoat of light brown with some darker and lighter patches. I didn't try to keep any sort of color separation going while I was spinning. If I felt like it, I grabbed some darker sections. When I got tired of that, I picked up some lighter ones. It made for an interesting experiment. Some of what I had already done was still on the Majacraft bobbins (my other wheel is a Majacraft Little Gem for those of you keeping track) and some of it had been wound up on a ball winder in order to free up bobbins. I decided to start filling the Kromski bobbins and, once I had enough to start, begin plying everything together.

I went into the woodworking shop at the barn one day and made myself a plying tool. This tool is basically a rectangle of wood with holes drilled in it. I made myself one with 4 holes so I can make up to a 4-ply yarn if I so choose. This easy little tool has been really helpful because I'm spinning this Jacob into a 3-ply.

The new wheel (seen here) is a Kromski Polonaise. It is a single treadle wheel and I've found that I really enjoy the single. I don't know how I would have done learning on it, though. The double treadle seemed much more natural to me. Having already learnt to treadle, however, made using the single treadle very easy.

After plying the first batch, it went into the sink for a soak in the wool wash and I dried it in front of the woodburning stove. Got to love those drying racks!

This is a picture of the first skein of yarn after its twist is set. My notes say that there are 230 yards in this skein but that really doesn't seem right. It is a monster of a skein and I probably just forgot to double my initial measurement. I have a 2 yard niddy noddy so you count the number of strands on one side of the noddy and double that number to get an approximate yardage on your skein. I could be more scientific about it all but I am lazy :)

I've already broken out the ball winder and swift so I can start knitting the yarn yup. Last week, I decided to make a pair of fingerless gloves/mitten combination for the cousin who gave me the original fleece. He lives in New Hampshire and is a pet-sitter. It always seems like you need your fingers when working with animals but who wants to wear a pair of fingerless gloves in the middle of a NH winter? Hence the idea of the mitten glove combo.

The pattern is based on the mitten and gloves pattern from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. This book is fabulous for figuring out basic patterns, by the way. I did a whole bunch of swatches and decided to cast on using a US 6 to get a nice and firm fabric.

It looks a little funny right now because I still need to rip back on the thumb and fix its length. I also then need to block the mitten and fingers inside of it. I'm almost finished with the second mitten glove. All that is left to do is the thumb and the mitten top (and weaving in the ends but we don't want to talk about that). I've been testing the gloves on almost every man who stands still long enough for me to get one on his hand. I don't know exactly how large my cousin's hands are so I'm going for a general fit here.

The colors of the fabric are really fun. I like the way it is almost like striping yarn but isn't.

Last night I finished plying and setting another skein. It looks pretty much like the first but has 380 yards to it. See? A much more realistic number than before.

I still have some roving puffs left in the rubbermaid container (it never ends!). Tonight, I'm going to try spin more singles to finish those off. After this, I'll need to card up some more washed fleece. Have I mentioned that I've only used up maybe a quarter of the fleece? I'm sure glad those Shetland are smaller than this Jacob!

1 comment:

Janelle said...

Anne, this is really impressive. I aspire to your spinning heights! And the mittens look great.