Friday, August 24, 2007

sampling and containment

We can't go out too much these days; it's still over 100 every day. The soil is dry and crumbly and even dogs don't manage the heat too well. So, instead, we content ourselves with other excitements. Harry, for instance, delights in moving around this blue fish so that Sally can bring it back to its home on the office couch.

I've put Vicki's bag to immediate good use. I feel boxed in and overwhelmed by fiber. It was TOO MUCH! Everywhere. When it's this hot, feeling claustrophic in one's own office? Not so good. Here I've contained the Finn lamb fleece I bought in May in Maryland. I'll now offer a brief sampling exercise for spinners out there. Non-spinners? I also canned 8 jars of blueberry raspberry jam, 4 cups blueberry syrup for pancakes, 3 cups peach chutney and 7 cups of peach jam. Froze fruit too. Come on over for a sample! Now, look away during the spinning bits...unless of course we can tempt you with spinning?

1) Here you see the washed finn sheep locks at the top of the photo, and three preps. On the left, I teased out the locks by hand. Some people call this "Picking" but I think that's done by a picker which uses two sets of spikes or nails to pull apart wool. It's dangerous like a medieval torture device. I am a klutz and stick with my fingers. It's safer. Teasing is an old fashioned spinning term but it works for me.

The middle bit of fluff is flicked with a flick carder. The last long cigar looking thing is a rolag that I did with my hand cards. I didn't haul out the drum carder for this sampling. Combing probably isn't appropriate here because it's a short lamb's fleece with uneven staple lengths.

Next, I spun things up into 2 ply yarn with convenient spindles. (a Hatchtown is pictured here.) On the left, the teased yarn. It's relatively even, has a neat little halo or fuzz from occasional crimpy locks. It's textured. In the middle is the flick carded yarn. It's a little lumpy from uneven flicking or spinning. Flicking works better for me with longer staples, I think. On the right, is an even, somewhat tightly spun 2 ply from part of the rolag.

I then dove right in and knitted up the carded sample into a knitted one. (I manipulated the photo to see the stitches, but the color is gross. Sorry.) I used 2.5mm dpns that were sitting on my desk. They're perhaps too small for this yarn, but not by much. It came out to 5 sts per inch, but I'd probably manipulate things more by setting the twist in the finished yarn. (which will puff up the yarn and make it bigger and more lofty) I'm also not likely to spin things quite so fine for the finished product...whatever it will be.

Conclusions? I'm probably going to process this little fleece by hand. I like the teased yarn's texture best. Not a fan of flick carding for this crimpy short staple. If I run out of time or in the end wanted a very consistent yarn, I'd go for handcarding above drum carding; it requires less teasing prep and Finn can be delicate. I wouldn't want to damage the fiber.

Now I'm on to experimenting with some Icelandic roving. I bought the fleeces, got it processed professionally, and I'm now thinking about spinning my own Lopi-style my eye on a couple of designs in Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature. Some day I might have time to knit them out of my handspun...
So, Kind readers, was this tutorial useful or interesting? I field a lot of questions about spinning, and maybe I'll address some of them here if you're interested. Let me know in the comments, please! Also, if this is interesting--take time to sample, experiment and play on your own. It's been a great way for me to learn!


Blogger Peggy said...

Very helpful. Thanks. I think I might still of the mind to either send my stuff off or purchase it ready to spin. I sent my alpaca to Stonehenge and I looking forward to getting it back. With that, all the fiber I bought from you and all the stuff I have bought from Abby I should be fine for quite some time!!!! Trying to stay cool and watching the grass get browner and the pond lower every day.

August 24, 2007 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Yes. Very good info nicely written. A lot of spinners know nothing about preping fiber from the raw fleece.

August 25, 2007 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

Useful, of course! I'm especially grateful when I think about how hot it must be. And jam, too... I must see if I can still get the fruit for the Summer Jam: our visitors occupied the best fruit season. I think you're right about sweaters: people may set their sights too high and become disappointed when their efforts aren't what they'd hoped for. I shall persevere!

August 27, 2007 at 6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hm. I am so not a carder. I sold my cards. Maybe I need a flicker... My cormo fleece is so fine it's like silk threads.

August 27, 2007 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger e's knitting and spinning blog said...

i loved the tutorial! I hope it is cooling down a bit on your end:-)

August 28, 2007 at 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a mostly self taught spinner, i would welcome your tutorials!

August 28, 2007 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Thanks for the sampling tutorial; it's both useful and interesting!

September 2, 2007 at 10:24 PM  

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