09 August 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

One of the things I did with my suddenly copious free time was teach myself how to card and spin wool. Why? Because I obviously don't have enough hobbies to occupy the two to five free minutes in my life . . .

39 gallon trash bag with an Icelandic sheep fleece

It's Linda's fault. She taught me how to knit. Being an enabler, she also turned me into a yarn snob. If all that wasn't bad enough, she left a 39 gallon trash bag full of an Icelandic sheep fleece in my garage. It was intended to be washed and felted, perhaps made into boots. That was the plan, which, as all good plans sometimes do, it fell by the wayside.

Raw fleece
I opened the bag, got a whiff of sheepy goodness (dung, sheep, vegetable matter) and it was like fiber crack. I took a small amount of the fleece - several ounces of white and a few of brown, washed it, and got rid of the little twigs and grass bits, not to mention that farm fresh smell.

Washed and fresh smelling fleece parts.

Since I wasn't sure if I was going to make this a full time hobby (more than 30 minutes worth of time), and I didn't want to invest money in something I may actually come to hate, I purloined the dog's brushes to act as wool carders.

Max and Merlin's brushes (shh, don't tell)

Since I know enough about processing wool to fill a Dixie cup, I called Linda to ask, "What now?" After receiving instructions via cell phone, I proceeded to card my washed wool. And card. And card. It was sorta like teasing the hair up for a very resilient sheep.


For such a small piece of fleece, I ended up with bags full of rolags. (the rolled fiber pulled from the carders) About four bags of white, and four of brown . . . and I hadn't washed even an eighth of the whole fleece.

Gallon bags full of rolags

Now on to the fun part, spinning. I had a drop spindle I bought over a year ago - yes, there was forethought and premeditation. But procrastination delayed me. Until now. I played with the spindle, and some roving I bought at the same time, read about how to spin, watched a few YouTube videos, then set out to conquer my rolags.

Ashford drop spindle

It was a disaster. I was getting thick and thin yarn, inconsistent enough to frustrate me into thinking of wearing polyester. I called Linda and whined. We determined the spindle was all wrong for what I wanted to do. Much too heavy. A trip to Hobby Lobby (280 miles. Talk about suffering for your art.) and I had several wooden car wheels, some doweling, and eye hooks, enough to make myself four drop spindles.

Homemade Drop Spindles

I sanded everything, stained three of them (the fourth was already in use) and all of the sudden the spinning was smoother, easier, and more consistent.

Drop spindle with CD add-on

Me, being me, couldn't leave well enough alone. I played with the parameters of my spindles, securing a cd to the bottom in hopes of increasing the amount of time my spindle spun. (I sacrificed an old, self burned copy of Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason. I think Roger Waters would approve . . . .)

25gm balls of homespun Icelandic wool yarn

I'm getting better at drafting the wool and pulling some consistent yarn. Linda has threatened to teach me how to use a spinning wheel. But for now creating my own yarn from sheep to finish has been a fun project. I'm trying to keep it from becoming an obsession. It may already be too late. I've brushed the dogs and gathered up a LOT of undercoat. After I wash it, I'll card Max and Merlin fur into the wool, and spin it up. One of these days I'll be posting pictures of my very own Corgi-wool chapeau. And you know what? When it's all blended together, nobody can tell what part of the dog it came from, although referring to it as my bunny butt fur hat might be a dead giveaway.

South end of Corgis going north



Anonymous said...

Beware of sisters sending fleece (?) products as gifts.

Constance said...

What? no bunny-butt fur hat for you?? Hey, there's always Christmas. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid if I get a knitted object from you it will be made from Corgi butt hair!

Gabriele C. said...

You should try a spinning wheel. I'm not good with that sort of thing, but the wheel was more fun than the drop spindles. (I only did it at some reenactment event; no way I start making my own sweaters; I can't even knit.)

Constance said...

Gabriele, I'm sure a spinning wheel is next up in my friend Linda's insidious plot. How come everything that's fun and practical, is expensive though??

Constance said...

Anon, I'm sure Nonny Moose wouldn't care!

Carla said...

You obviously have a talent for this sort of thing! Can you borrow a spinning wheel to see how you get on with it?

Constance said...

Carla - my enabler friend Linda has a spinning wheel. That's on our agenda for the fall when it cools down some.