Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wool Washing Pics

I Here are some of my wash day pics. If you had any doubt about how dirty raw wool can be, look at the wash water. The result of all my hard work is shown here in this huge pile of clean Shetland wool. I've started running it through the drum carder, so I'll try to snag the camera again for more pics. Obviously, getting a camera of my own is high on my priority list. I have it picked out already, just need to find $150 to buy it.
For the rest of the wash day pics, see the slideshow at right. The little girl is my niece, helping me pick over and fluff the clean wool, and the cat is my buddy Patches. He likes to help me knit and spin and makes an excellent lap warmer.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sock Disaster

I'm obviously an idiot. I've been working on those toe-up socks for some time, and knew they were too big, but kept going, apparently on the assumption that I was going to turn into a Hobbit and grow giant feet to fit these socks. The fantastically high stitch count should have been a tip off, but I just kept knitting on. Now I have to rip them out. I think I'm going to cry. They were really looking good.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Have a Clean Fleece

I got that fleece washed today, little by little, and it looks pretty good, nice and soft, and definitely cool with the variagated black and white. It didn't have a lot of lanolin in it, so it went fast. I'm NOT looking forward to carding it, though. It always makes me feel like an organ grinder.

I took pictures, which I'm hoping my sister can upload today. If not, I'll get them up tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm Washing Fleece

It's time to start preparing for my next spinning project, which will be a Shetland fleece I bought ar Rhinebeck. It's actually pretty cool looking, variagated black and white. I'm debating separating the two colors out, or carding it all in together for a heathered look. It does come from an older ewe, but is still pretty nice.

My usual approach to fiber prep is as follows:
  1. I skirt the fleece and pick it over as best I can for VM or whatever other nasties are in there
  2. I handwash in small batches in the kitchen sink with water as hot as I can stand in Dawn dish detergent. It really does cut grease. I use an old dishpan or a bucket and throw the first wash outside, because it has the most lanolin, and I don't want to clog my sink.
  3. I alternate washing and rinsing until most of the lanolin is gone and the fleece is clean. I try to keep the water temp consistent and avoid agitation to keep from felting, but even if you do felt it, just pull it apart.
  4. When the fiber is clean, I spin it out in the washer, fluff it on the kitchen counter under the fan, and let it dry, turning occasionally.
  5. When the fleece is dry, I then run it through the drum carder, or comb it, depending on my needs.
If anyone out there has never made their own yarn, it is a time consuming, but rewarding process, which I do enjoy. I was tempted to send this fleece out, but it takes awhile, so I'll just do it myself.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


At long last, here are some pictures, and let me tell you, getting them up and running was a real challenge. I tried Flickr first, and couldn't get them to load up, so I switched to Picasa, which turned out to be ridiculously simple. Just sign in and load up.

All these pics were taken this morning, and when you see the pics of the goats and sheep (collectively known as geeps at our house), you'll see that we had some snow last night, as well as enough ice to lock me out of my car this morning. I ended up attacking it with the hair dryer. Not fun. I thought I was going to end up with frostbite.

Aside from the beloved geepers, which consist of two pygmy goats, Wayne and Garth, as well as the Romney/ Hamp Isabella, or Izzy, and the Cotswold, Gracie, I took several pics of my wheels and different projects. I hope you like them.

On the Ashford Joy, I'm spinning 70/30 Merino/Silk, in Gem colorway, and on the Schacht Matchless, I have 50/50 Merino/Silk in Cranberry Bog.

The socks are my toe-ups on two circs at different stages knitted in Knitpicks Essentials. You can find the yarn and pattern at Knitpicks.com. The pattern is a free download, by the way. If you've always wanted to try socks, this is the pattern to go for. Two at once, so no second sock syndrome, which I suffer from terribly, and there is no set, detailed pattern to follow. Just increases, decreases, and lots of round and round.

The yarn that you see is all my handspun. The bright multi-colored stuff is Izzy's fleece dyed with Kool-Aid and food coloring. I'm a 4-H leader, as well as a homeschool co-op teacher, and I was experimenting with kid friendly, non-toxic dyes. The rest of the yarn is this and that that I've spun over the last few years.

The purse is Amanda's Squatty Sidekick pattern. Give it a Google. I knitted it out of my handspun, then felted it.

Hopefully now that I know how to post pics, it will go easier next time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pictures Up Soon And Lamb Prep

Well, pics should be along soon. I gave up on my digital camera and borrowed my sister's, so I WILL have pics up this week, hopefully a Flickr slide show, little snapshots of my life and work.

Aside from scrambling around for all of our usual craziness and activities, we are starting to get ready for our first lambing. We have two ewes, a Cotswold, and a Romney/Hampshire cross, which we sent to a Cotswold breeder. Hopefully, one of them will have a lamb or lambs, if not both. They are due the beginning of December, so that will mean big excitement!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Green Knitting?

Yesterday, My sister and I went out shopping together. Our plan had been to go out, Barnes and Noble, browse around the store for an extended period of time (think hours, not minutes) I would hang out in the craft section and drool over the half dozen or so knitting books I've been coveting, and she would wander around and look at everything. We would drink cappaccianos and leisurely spend the day in a non-child, non-stress environment. Unfortunately, this dream was derailed.

We both ended up taking our dear sons, hers age 11, mine age 13, because they both needed clothes. Hence the dash from store to store, and a very short (only an hour, and no cappacciano) visit to the book store. Not so fun, and I didn't even buy a knit mag.

We did, however, get to a Chinese buffet for lunch, a family favorite. That's where my green knitting fantasy began. They pop up now and then, whenever I get my hands on something that can be used as knitting tools or knitting yarn. Chopsticks look very much like knitting needles, and I started thinking about recycled knitting projects that people could use them for.

I know at some point I saw an episode of Knitty Gritty, where they used old plastic shopping bags, cut them into strips, and knitted them into a tote bag, or something like that. You can look it up. Anyway, I had visions of people all over America recycling their chop sticks to recycle their old bags. Maybe I should start a Green Knitalong if I don't get laughed off the internet for my daydreaming.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Spin Cental

You all have an idea of what it is that I'm knitting at the moment, but not what I'm spinning. I've got two wheels, a Schacht Matchless and an Ashford Joy, both of which get regular use. Both of them are great to work with.

I'm something of a silk addict. I love to spindle straight silk, and right now I'm working on a couple of silk caps on my Bosworth featherweight. For those of you who haven't worked with silk in this form, I highly recommend it for building up the old arm muscles. Yowza, you draft for miles and you really work at it. It's worth it, though, because you can literally draft it our to frog's hair.

On my wheels, I currently have two silk blends going. On the Matchless, I'm doing 50/50 merino and silk in a cranberry bog colorway. It goes from a pale pink, up through a smoky reddish purple. Really spectacular. That's destined to be a scarf for my mom. On the Joy, I have a 70/30 merino and silk blend in a gem colorway that will hopefully be a pair of socks if I've managed to draft it out far enough. Otherwise, I'm thinking about a pair of mitts.

On the picture front, I did get some pictures of my socks yesterday on my sister's digital, and the batteries died, so it had to recharge. I promise, I will get pictures to you within the next few days, hopefully not just of my socks, but my wheels and maybe even my geeps (goats and sheep).