19 July 2013

Fragment Friday - The Road to Mittens

A photo essay on the steps to creating mittens, Part I, starting with the wool.

3 pounds of Coopworth fleece, fresh off the sheep. Coopworth is a breed of sheep developed in New Zealand. The locks of wool are crimpy,(wavy) and about 4-4.5 inches long.

A bag of Icelandic sheep fleece, both white and brown. Icelandic sheep are a Northern European breed, very cold hardy. The sheep is dual coated, with a longer outer coat and a shorter, finer inner coat. The outer wool is coarser, the inner wool finer. Not much crimp in this fleece, and the locks are about 4 inches long.
Raw Icelandic fleece, unwashed. Notice how yellow the 'white' appears. That's from the lanolin in the fleece, which I want to wash out so my yarn isn't 'greasy'.
Clean Coopworth fleece drying in the sun. See how much whiter it looks with all the dirt washed away. You can see some of the crimp in the locks.
Washed Icelandic wool, ready to card. Look how nice and white.
Coopworth wool on handcarders, teased out and ready to roll. It's like using dog brushes to straighten the locks and align all the fibers. I should be using wool combs to do that on locks this long, but I only have carders, so carding it is.
Coopworth rolags - wool bundles rolled off the hand carders and ready to spin are called rolags.
Icelandic rolags. Notice how white the white wool turned out, and the nice shade of brown. The brown is not quite as soft as the white.
Now it's time to spin the rolags into yarn using my Lendrum spinning wheel.
Yarn slowly fills the bobbin on the spinning wheel.
One bobbin with single ply yarn. When I get three bobbins worth, I will spin the yarn together and have one three ply yarn instead of three separate one plys. It will be stronger spun together.
More washing, carding and spinning is in my future if I want to get enough yarn to knit mittens - or anything else. I also have some Shetland sheep fleece in a lovely shade of brown (what else) to spin into yarn. There's even some camel fiber in my stash, but that's for another day.


Gabriele C. said...

Now you need to learn how to naalbind those mittens old Roman style. :)

(No, I can't naalbind; I can't knit, either.)

Constance Brewer said...

There's a reason they invented knitting over naalbinding. :) I'd much rather knit. Now if I was doing reenactment, I might give naalbinding a shot, but I would go for a Byzantine persona, and I believe they knew how to knit.
I would break out my loom and weave a focale though...

Anonymous said...

Is there anything you can't do???

Constance Brewer said...

Hey, at least when the zombie apocalypse hits, I'll have clothes...

Kathleen Cassen Mickelson said...

That's really interesting and a lot of work. I'll bet your hands are quite soft from working with the raw wool thanks to that lanolin. I hope you show us photos all the way through!

Carla said...

Really interesting to see the wool at different stages, thank you.

Constance Brewer said...

Hopefully you will see photos all the way to the end result. Mittens!

Constance Brewer said...

Carla - Wish I could have gotten a sheep pic to make my process more complete.