Fleece washing has commenced and at one point I thought I had a problem. Thankfully all is well. In fact it is better than that - it is divine!
My starting point - dirty fleece. Very sheepy smelling with some barnyard mixed in.
Then began the bath of very hot water and a good amount of Power Scour. I used the hottest tap water I could get plus a kettles worth of water from our electric kettle for each bath. After the first bath, this was the water. Ewwwe (thanks Ashley for that joke)!
Second bath - a little less scour
Then the water rinse bath
It was during the rinse that I noticed little white flecks of something. I Googled what it could be and was alarmed. I put out an SOS to my online spinning community and got some feedback. I got some helpful advice and encouragement. Everyone said keep washing and see if it will process out. I did a sample comb through of a lock and it seems to be okay. I didn't see any flecks of white in what I've processed so far.
In processing my fleece, I have several options which will yield different results. For my Merino/Border Leicester fleece, I am going to comb the locks to keep the strands parallel and orderly. This is a worsted fiber prep and I'll spin it in a my modified worsted way. Worsted spinning is different than worsted yarn weight. Worsted in the spinning sense means the fibers are spun with little air making a dense, smooth and durable yarn. Above are my tools. I learned in my Maggie Casey video that I can use my hand cards for more than just carding fiber. Traditionally, carding fiber would produce a woolen prep. I'm combing my fleece in locks to produce a billowy spinning dream. My combs are not the very expensive and scary spinning tools. I'm using dog combs which are working just fine.
Top: combed locks
Bottom: cleaned locks before combing
This fleece is coming out to be a range of greys - from light to dark charcoal and I'm falling in love with spinning all over again. Taking fiber from animal to yarn is a lot of fun. I can't wait to spin this fleece up. I'm already dreaming about what it may turn into. But first I must wash and comb - a lot.
So since I'm going to be spinning a lot of locks I decided that I wanted something handmade and wonderful to hold my fiber. That led me to the local basketry supply and I found a lovely smallish basket kit. So I'll very soon add basket making to my skill set (yes, Karyl.....I'm in very big trouble). The shop recently had a class to make a wool drying basket. I missed it, but I can purchase a kit. I'll have to get back to them on that one. One thing I like about St. Louis - we do have a lot of specialty stores and St. Louis Basketry Supply is one of them!
I thought I'd share some garden news. Our garden is much smaller than in the past. Blame our standby status on moving or not. Still, we have a lovely harvest coming up of lettuce and strawberries. I planted some broccoli, cauliflower and peas as well. Everything seems to be growing well.
The strawberries have taken over the bed for the most part and there are lots of flowers. Hopefully I can get them in before the little critters do.
I have finished a few things since my last blog post.
Mister's sock yarn at a whopping 362 yards!
This was going to be sock yarn for me, but I snafued my color arrangement. I have long strands of green, gold and brown. I should have arranged them to have two sections of the color repeat - one fore each foot. I could have coordinated but not matching socks. I think instead I might make a shawl out of this one. Maybe this one?
Speaking of shawls, I finished my first handspun shawl. This is from these fibers which I blogged about here and here. The top part of the shawl is Blue-faced Leicester (BFL for short) from local dyer River Poet and the bottom section is an alpaca/Merino/Silk blend from All Spun Up. I'm sorry to say, but my colors in the shawl picture got washed out a bit. I'll have to rephotograph it. It is a great fingering weight shawl and is so nice to wrap up in. The "pattern" is just a basic top down shawl with increases on each side and in the middle (yarn overs). Simple and easy - great for showing off handspun and hand dyed yarn. Next I need to learn to dye my own yarn.....hmmm.
On the Needles/On the Bobbin
I am working on a Citron shawl from Knitty.com. I've had this one in my Ravelry queue for a long time. I'm knitting it out of Dyeabolical's lovely Merino/silk lace yarn in a lovely green.
I'm currently spinning up Miss Crabtree (remember her?) to knit Wendy Johnson's Japanese Garden Shawl. Wendy is donating her profits for this shawl to the Red Cross to help the people of Japan through April. So far the total is over $5,000. It is a lovely shawl and I'm very much looking forward to knitting this one.
No April socks this month. After cranking out three pairs, I got a little sick of socks. Now that Mister's sock yarn is ready, I'm sure I'll have a pair of May socks going soon. I have plans for two other shawls as well - the Japanese Garden out of handspun and one from yarn already in my stash. I've been eyeing the Verdaia for a while now. A lace shawl with cables?! Yes please!
Longer update today; wow I have been busy!
Coming up on Thursday:
Progress update on the fleece, podcasts that I've been enjoying and more.