Sunday, November 08, 2009

Icelandic chocolate fleece and more

I know what you've been thinking. Where is she? She just doesn't blog as much anymore.

It's not you.
It's me. (really!)

I've been having a busy work week. When I wasn't busy, I wasn't breathing all that well, because I have asthma and am allergic to fall. Well, I'm allergic to leaf mold, I think. So, with the help of all my medicine and some caffeine (opens up those lungs) and a few attacks, I'm making it's just been a rough season for me. I'm probably the only person in Winnipeg who wishes the unusual warm weather would end with a nice long frosty period to get rid of that mold!

Anyhow, first, there's the fleece. Here's a knitted swatch of roughly what I'm aiming mom wants yarn between 4-5 sts. This is what I'm aiming for. Since that color doesn't shine there, here is what it looks like on a bobbin--For those who are spinners, I'm spinning this differently than my "usual." The usual part? I take a lock of the fleece out of the pillow case, tease it a bit, taking care not to separate the thel and tog (the hairy part and the soft undercoat of a primitive dual coat fleece like Icelandic) and spin it. The unusual part is that I'm spinning this to make a very firm (even hard) yarn. My dad wears the heck out of his sweaters (just like me, I inherited that!) and I want this to wear well.

While spinning the first bobbin, I've found quite a few short bits of fiber. For some fleeces, this would indicate that the shearer made a lot of second cuts, which isn't a good thing. (while shearing, she'd miss a bit and go back to cut it off the sheep in a second pass.) However, some Icelandic sheep still "roo", which means there is a natural break in their fleece. This is leftover from long, long ago--hundreds, if not thousands of years ago-- when people didn't shear sheep but rather plucked fleece from the sheep (and from bushes) as the sheep shed its fleece. While sheep have now been bred for a long time to avoid this, some primitive breeds still roo, and a good shearer has to shear the sheep right above that break point. That's an interesting part of the fleece and I wish I had a class to show it to!

These bits are not something I want to include, they will automatically pill, so I just pull them out as I'm teasing and spinning the fleece. This might make good stuffing, but otherwise, it's not useful for much else.

When the bobbin is mostly full, I like to use a ball winder to make a center pull ball. I tuck a bit of stiff paper or cardboard around the inside strand of yarn. When I'm ready to ply this (this will be a 2 ply yarn), I will push out the paper, pop my thumb inside the ball, and ply from both ends of the ball. This is my preferred way to ply, and I like to pile up the balls of singles so I ply a whole lot of yarn at once.

I also just dyed a handknitted sweater--more on that later.

OK, now, that was my planned blog post. Then I found out:
Guido over at It's a purl, man has posted our interview. Please check out his podcast if you're interested!

Also, today there was a little promotional email that went out about Knit Green. Then, next thing I knew, I looked over at the book's listing on Amazon and it said:

#2>Books>Home & Garden>Crafts & Hobbies>Knitting

That means, for this brief period of time, Knit Green is the second best selling knitting book on Amazon. Whoa.

Good thing I was sitting down.

So, over all, a very nice day. I'm off to cook some lamb for dinner. Oh, did I mention we got our freezer lamb from Seine River Shepherds this week? Like I said...busy week...

A spinning and knitting friend is coming for a visit starting tomorrow. I'll try to get back over here after her visit. Whew! big times around here!

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Blogger Willow said...

I'm so excited for you! It looks like KG is a huge success! Yay!

That chocolate fleece looks yummy! I don't know much about fleeces and sheep history so your explanation was very intersting. Thanks!

Enjoy your spinning/knitting friend's visit!

November 8, 2009 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I hope you are feeling better. LIke you, my sheep and I really prefer the cooler weather.

I saw the promo on Amazon this morning for KG.... I was so excited for you!!!

A mutual friend, Sherry W-W said that she was taking a northern trip to visit the polar bears and will be visiting you. I was very envious on both counts :)
I hope when she arrives you have a wonderful visit.

November 8, 2009 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Geek Knitter said...

My goodness. I get tired just reading your posts sometimes, you cram so much living into your days.

Alergic to leaf mold... that means you ought not come visit me just now. Piles of leaves everywhere, and not a cold-snap in sight.

Congrats on Knit Green!

November 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Hope you are breathing easier by now (feel better!)

Good news and congrats on the book!

Great post about Icelandic fleece!
Thank Yu! can use those little stuffing bits for felting (wet or dry)
I once made some "faux vadmal" with Icelandic fleece --fun!

November 9, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Dear Joanna, Now that wonter is on its way I was thinking of knitting a cowl scarf and came across your fabulous pattern on your website. It is so gorgeous that I thought I should make one for myself. I am a beginner knitter and so I will be following your exact instructions. I'l be getting the same wool Knit picks Shadow that you have mentioned. I just wanted to check with you if one skein as mentioned in the pattern is all it takes. Please do let me know. I was looking for a way to contact you, but only found the blog. Do look fwd to hearing from you.
Thanks so much for sharing


November 10, 2009 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

I hope you printed the page that had Knit Green at #2. That would be something to take out, look at & bask in the pleasure of on really cold winter nights.

I had to chuckle when I read about the only people getting high on the fiber-producing hemp yarn would be knitters. Makes me want to find some to knit!

I'm learning lots of new vocabulary words reading about spinning. They don't always make sense to me, but I'm learning the lingo.

Enjoy the time you get to spend with your friend. We'll be waiting for your return.

November 10, 2009 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

Did you see it? I received an email from Amazon today & it dealt solely with Knit Green! That was exciting to see!!

November 11, 2009 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yes! It was me at Rhinebeck. And I had my fangirl on but I think I hid it a little, right?

November 11, 2009 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Yea for KG!! I'm so glad for you!

And the Icelandic is lovely, as is your spinning.

November 12, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

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