Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tour de Fleece

Hey look at that - It's Tuesday and I'm blogging.  I win the gold star today.

Spinning News

Lots of spinning news.  I've been busy.  First, I finally plied up my lovely Rambouillet fiber from Funky Carolina.  The Bobbin on the left shows the finished yarn.  It is sunbathing right now on the patio to dry from the bath.  I'm planning on adding it to my online store with in the next week or so.  Rough yardage is 300 yards.  Once it dries, I'll reskein and count.  The bobbin on the right is the single yarn.  Each time I spin, I evenly divide the fiber.  In this case it was 2 oz and 2 oz, and each time I have over on one.  Just one of the funny things about spinning.  I plied up the remainder and will use it for a craft project.

My next project is some delicious fiber from Rachel at Dyeabolical.  This colorways is Green Means Go.  I just adore it!  I'm spinning it with the fractal method.  Now what spinners call fractal and what mathematicians call fractals are different.  Mister has explained it all to me.  Basically to spin a fiber fractal you: divide the fiber in half.  Spin one bobbin from that half.  The other half gets divided even more.  In this case into fours.    The result is a real good random color change and a neat effect.  I haven't started plying yet, but here is what I'm starting with.  The bobbin on the left is my fours and the right my half.  Produces an interesting color intensity.

In case you are interested in mathematical fractals, you should click here.

A few weeks ago I received my long awaited copy of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  I've been buried in it ever since.  If you are a spinner, knitter or fiber artist - GET THIS BOOK!

 Speaking of Sheep.....it finally happened.
I finally needed a tub to hold my fleece.  Unfortunately, some of my fleece are still in the laundry pile waiting to be washed.  It is getting a little out of hand.

Last weekend at spin club, we sorted through the Jacob and Shetland fleece.  It was a lot of fun.  I may have helped enable some spinners into purchasing some fleece.  I may have come home with one additional Jacob fleece and a Shetland fleece.  After we were finished and had separated the fleece and labeled what wasn't purchased, I mentioned we should have taken pictures of the process.  Picture the open lot behind a city knit store.  Seven or so spinners are pulling dirty fleece out of trash bags and laying them out on the grass.  Then we pick at them, smell them, admire and pet them.  Cars were driving by very slowly and we had some walkers stop to ask what we were doing.  Scaring the muggles, obviously.

With all my fleece, I was really starting to want a way to process a lot of fiber quickly.  Enter the Beast.  The Beast is a used drum carder that I scored off Craig's List.  He is a chain drive Fricke model and I've already carded up a lot of fiber from my first fleece.  The Tour de Fleece is approaching (more on that in a minute) and I needed to get my rear in gear in order to be ready to start.  Drum carders do the work that hand cards take a lot of time to do.  They get the fiber ready for spinning by aligning the fiber and produce a fluffy cloud.  Being a machine, Mister is fascinated with the process.  I'll film the Beast in action and add it in this week. 

Schacht drop spindle on right
About a month ago, I scored a Schacht Ridge Heddle Loom off Craig's List.  I haven't woven everything yet, but the deal was too good to pass up.  Hopefully, I can add in the tools I need and be able to weave soon.  This loom needs some cleaning (and naming).  I was very happy to acquire her and give her some love.  I love the Schacht company.  They are based in Boulder, CO and have a perfect record.  They are the same company that made my spinning wheel.  Recently, I was given a bottom whorl drop spindle that was also made by this company.  This loom is discontinued.  The new models fold, but Schacht still makes and sells parts of the original loom.

Tour de Fleece

Spinners have the tradition of spinning during the Tour de France.  It is all about goal setting and supporting each other.  Teams have formed and there are prizes awarded.  I've joined one team (GO team St. Louis Spinners!) and I'll probably joined the Schacht team as well.  I haven't set a specific goal other than spin everyday and work on my first fleece project, which I have finally named Winona (Lakota Sioux Indian for first born girl).

Tour de Fleece Guidelines (NOT RULES):
  1. Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 2nd through Sunday July 24th. Days of rest: Monday July 11th, Monday July 18st. (Just like the actual tour)
  2. Spin something challenging Friday July 22nd. (The Tour’s toughest mountain stage over the Col du Galibier for the second time, and finishing up on Alpe d’Huez.)
  3. Take a button if you want one. Then we can use the button on our blogs in show of solidarity. Take it from here or grab a clean one from the flickr pool. Come join the flickr pool!
  4. Wear yellow on Sunday July 24th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour - but here we are all ‘race leaders’)

I'm glad that one of the days of rest is the 18th. Mister and I are celebrating our second wedding anniversary then, so it times out wonderfully.

Hope everyone is having a good start to their week!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Counting Weeks and Sheep

Hello readers.  Still trying to adjust to work schedules so not back to usual blogging. I've been hitting the stupid tired mark about 9:30 pm each night.  Upon coming home, making dinner and trying to cram in house and pet chores - I seem to be running out of hours.

Mister and I are currently sitting tight with some potential decisions and news.  Despite a lot of opportunities to practice, we really haven't perfected our waiting skills.

Finishing It Up

I have managed to finish some things, but no photographs yet.  Mister's birthday socks are complete and well loved.  I finished my summer mystery shawlette last Saturday.  It is still unblocked!  I could show you, but right now it looks like bright turquoise limp ramen noodles.  Hopefully, I'll take the time to block it this weekend and photograph it.

Spinning News

I've been working on spinning up 4 oz of Rambouillet fiber from Funky Carolina that I acquired from a destasher.  Due to my hours it has been sitting only 1/8 plied on my wheel.  My goal it is to finish plying it this afternoon.  I have a crafting night tonight and I'd like to take my wheel along to spin.  Tomorrow is my spinning group meeting so I need to finish plying!

Last Sunday, my lovely long supportive husband and I went to a small town nearby to meet a local shepherd. I purchased three Jacob sheep fleece from them.  Jacob sheep are really interesting and these fleece made my heart go thump bump.  In a Jacob fleece, one can find multiple colors and textures. I've posted pictures of my fleece.  Two show the range of color - brown, silver, white, and black - these are soft and squishy.  The bottom picture shows a different texture - much more hair like.

The shepherd was most anxious to sell off their lot (60 or so) and my spinning group has been connect with them.  The shepherd was selling three fleece to a bag, so I just purchased one bag until I knew what I was really getting.  I came home and sorted them out.  Jacob fleece are on the smaller side and my largest fleece weighted in at just over two pounds.  I'm hoping to make sweaters for Mister and I.  After washing, the fleece tend to loose weight from grease and debris.

A person in my spinning group was interested in them as well and I posted pictures and my take on the fleeces.  The group was very interested in them as well.  The fleece were purchased in one huge lot and the buyer is now selling them by fleece to interested people.  Tomorrow, we'll go through the fleece, bag them up and hopefully move a lot of them.  I'm wanting one more Jacob and also a Shetland fleece.  I meant to look at the Shetland fleece when I met the shepherd, but after seeing the color and texture of the Jacob, I lost my head a bit.

Jacob sheep have had a bit of a PR blitz in the spinning world.  Popular blogger, The Yarn Harlot, recently stormed the web with her handspun Jacob shawl.  Me, I'm loving working with heritage breeds and supporting local folks.

So today, I'm washing fleece and spinning up yarn.  It seems a perfect way to spend the day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last week....the lost week

Starting a new job was quite an adjustment - one that I'm still trying to accomodate.  It has thrown off a lot of things and really is cramping my knitting and spinning mojo.  While I try to re-adjust my interal and external scheduling, I thought I'd share some fun that Mister and I had this past weekend.  We headed out to lovely Prairie du Rocher, Illinois for the 41nd Annual Rendezvous which takes place in a restored fort near the river.  Despite the heat, Mister and I went and grand time.  Here are some of the sights and sounds.
Mississippi River out of her banks.
Lovely spinning wheel for sale at a vendor tent.  Hmm, wish I sat down with her - $150 seems so reasonable.

Interior of Fort de Chartres

Flax prep for spinning.  This is a primitive hackle which is used to comb the flax fiber.
Primitive loom
Kilted lads!