Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spinning, Spinning

OK, more updates on my Tour de Fleece progress:
Day 6: I finished spinning and plying the Cotswold lamb top, carded the Hampshire and the Hog Island and picked the Blue Faced Leicester sample. The BFL was a pain to pick, very clumpy and lots of short bits. I have handled better, but the fluff that remains should spin up nicely.

Day 7 & 8: I was pretty busy performing for the Bluemont summer concert series with The Flaming Shillelaghs. We played at a nursing home each afternoon before the evening concerts, and I got to do a little spindling at the nursing homes and while we were warming up before the concerts.

I mostly sing with this group, but I also play a little concertina. This is my Wheatstone English Concertina and my Bosworth Moosie spindle with the Finn sample in progress.
Day 9: I finally finished spindling the Finn sample just before our third evening concert began then came home and wound it off on the nostepinne, rewound it into a plying ball and plied it up! 90 yards, lovely stuff. I foresee more Finn in my future. A very white, smooth fiber with a lovely soft feel.

Day 10: I had no time for spinning, so I am calling this my rest day. Between the heat and giving 6 performances in three days, this weekend was absolutely exhausting.

Day 11: I spun and plied up my Hampshire sample (the skein) and re-plied the Debouillet (on the niddy noddy). Quite a study in contrasts! The Hampshire had a very short staple but spun easily into a wooly, springy yarn. The Debouillet is a very fine wool and spun into a fine, smooth yarn.

I had spun the Debouillet last fall and plied it on my Moosie spindle, but when I took it off the spindle I wound it off the end of the spindle onto a weaving spool and I took out part of the twist. Dumb. So I ran it through the wheel to add more twist. I love the way this fleece spun up, so very fine. I can’t wait to knit it up into some lace.

I am thinking about knitting up two samplers with the fleece study yarns, one of lace weight yarn worked with a different pattern for each breed, one for the thicker yarns - I think there is a lot of DK weight yarn here - maybe in gansey type stitch patterns. I may weave up the long stapled hairy breeds - I will see how they spin up.

Day 12: I spent the day sitting with a friend at the hospital, waiting for news of her husband and spindling my Blue Face Leicester sample. At home this evening I spun and plied the Hog Island sample. The Hog Island looks very consistently stained - I don't know if that is a typical color for this breed. It was a pleasure to spin, drafted easily and is a good medium grade workhorse wool.

I also wound the BFL into a plying ball. I will ply it on the spindle the next time I am away from my wheel.

Day 13: no spinning, but I picked one ounce each of four samples - Brown Coopworth, East Friesian, Isle de France and Oxford. These are all extra breeds that I bought last summer, 4 ounces of each from The Spinning Loft. Most of my samples are between one half and three quarters of an ounce, so I decided to weight out an ounce of the each of the new breeds to work up for my study.

Time for more carding!

Day 14: I was too tired to spin at the end of the day, but I carded three samples before I went to bed - East Friesian, Isle de France and Border Leicester.

Day 15: We had a very damp outdoor concert tonight, but I did get my BFL plyed. I also ordered some more fleece from The Spinning Loft: Ryeland, Teeswater, Warhill and Wensleydale.

I did a little administrative work on the project: I am trying to save a clean lock of each sample, but sometimes I forget. So today I went through most of the rest of the bags and pulled a lock for the small labeled bags. I will finish this tomorrow. I also started washing the skeins I have spun during this Tour. The yarn isn't done until it's finished! Between washing and blocking, wet finishing handspun wool can make it really bloom and settle.

Here is how I wash my handspun: I put a small amount of a wool wash in a mixing bowl, add warm to hot water and soak one or two skeins in each bowl for at least ten minutes. Then I rinse twice, squeeze out the excess water and take the skeins outdoors. I hold each skein in one hand and swing it around and snap it in the air to release more water and to snap the plying into place. Then I roll it in a clean towel and step on it and hang it up to dry. I usually hang a weight on the skeins - I use little loops of string to attach a small hand weight or a niddy noddy to help block the yarn as it drys.
Day 16: I had the day off but I was limp from the heat & humidity most of the day. I did do some spinning in the cooler evening - East Friesian and Isle de France. I finished pulling a lock from each sample for my records and I ordered a few additional fleece samples from two Etsy sellers from England: Portland, Hebridean Black, Manx Loughtan, Romney Marsh and Zwartbles. I washed more skeins and updated my spreadsheet.
Day 17: I washed four samples this morning, spun and plyed the Border Leicester this evening and then picked the Montadale and Perendale samples. Now I have 3 ready for carding and only 2 skeins unwashed. I will wait until I have four skeins and wash them in a batch. I confess that I skipped over the Merino sample for the moment - it has a lot of what spinners refer to as Vegetable Matter (vm) and looks like it will be fussy to pick.

Day 18 is a rest day on the actual Tour de France, and we spinners also take rest days. So today I went to work, ran some errands, met my daughter Lily for a pedicure and then went for Chinese food - does that sound restful? Parts of it certainly were. And when I finally got home, I caught up on my blog posting!

1 comment:

Laura Fry said...

Whoa, you have been going to town with your spinning! Love the concertina. :)