Week end wrap up Jan 25

I'm gonna make it right under the wire. It's just been one of those days.

It was a slow week fiber-wise.

Still, I made some baby steps.

I washed the blanket that I'd posted last week. Yep, washing makes a difference. The weave tightened up and bloomed. It's much softer and fluffier now. I like it. Go figure.

before washing
after washing
after washing

In the spinning arena, I made a quantum leap. A baby quantum leap, but quantum all the same. I forced myself to switched over to working only on a wheel. Up to this point I've done most of my spinning on a drop spindle. Partly because I work mostly with only small batches of fiber at a time and that's just easier on a spindle. But mainly cause I just like them. Nonetheless, I know if I could get into a groove with a wheel, I'd get a lot more done. So that's what I worked on this week.

I spun more of Clementine. I was happy to see that I could just about match the yarn I'd already spun on the spindle. I estimate that I now have about 500 yards of single ply. Not sure how much I'll need for a sweater, but the box of washed fleece still looks completely full, so no worries there.

I spun a bunch of commercial BFL roving that I had lying around. It's not my favorite stuff, but it was good for practicing. I never figured out how much I spun. When I started to ply it, after just a few yards, I decided I'd rather keep it as a single to use for a woven scarf.

Finally, I got the storage system for my fiber inventory out of the boxes and set up. Yay.

I really like this system of wire drawers, not least of which is because I can dry stuff in place. It's a one stop system. I can also see everything easily, and if I want to, I can pull out a whole drawer and carry it with me. The only downside? It's a dog magnet. They think pulling the curls out through the wire mesh is a super fun game. Darn dogs.

Monday morning update: And at that point last night I fell asleep. Next week I'll shoot for Saturday so that I can actually finish the post and proofread before I hit the publish button. :)

Remember us?

Manny: May I help you?
It occurred to me the other day, that I haven't mentioned the Bluefaced Leicester lambs lately. People might think they've disappeared.

Not the case. They're just sequestered in a spot that is hard to photograph.

When Cricket got sick at the end of the summer, but before he finally died, I made one last ditch effort to break the hold the parasites had on the lambs by moving them to a shed in the front yard that was separated from all the other animals and free of any possible parasite contamination. Then I started stuffing their little faces with hay and grain, lots and lots of grain, as though I intended to eat them myself. Ha.

Bottom line? They thrived. There in their dark little hole (there's no fenced area for them to go outside) they have grown and grown and grown. Three months on and with only a few minor issues they are, or seem at least, huge and healthy. Only Butterfly, the little black ewe lamb is still very small, but she is genetically unrelated to the others so I think it's just her. I can also still feel one too many ribs on Firefly, the ram, but he's grown a lot as well.

Bumblebee, people might be pleased to hear, is doing extremely well and has a lovely fluffy fleece all grown in.

I sorely wished I'd done this in time to save Cricket.

Fortunately, no signs yet of any breeding readiness on the part of Firefly or the ewes. I really believe their maturation was impacted too much by the worms to manage anything this year. Fortunately. At least I hope so for their sakes.

Another month or two and I will grit my teeth and move them back to the barn in the pasture and come spring I'll let them out on grass. I have a field resting up, just for them.

Someone may have to sedate me to get me to do this, but that's the plan.

I caught them sleeping in a spot of afternoon sun the other day. They always pop up as soon as I walk in. The eldest, Manny, typically leads the way. Followed close behind by the rest.

Weekend wrap-up

Yeah yeah, I know. It's Monday. My internet went out last night so I couldn't get online. Today was a holiday anyway, so for me, it's still the weekend here.

In the service of my new year's resolution to be more mindful, deliberate, and strategic about my fiber work, I'm going to try to keep pace with thecrazysheeplady's weekend summaries of fiber work. She didn't ask for company, but...well...I need the motivation, so she's got it. :)

This first summary will include more than a week's worth of stuff. More like what I did over the holiday break. I wish I had lovely pictures to add, but most, if any will be shots from my phone.

Clementine's lamb fleece yarn
I started spinning Clementine's lamb fleece in earnest. Clementine's the Lincoln ewe with long curls. Her most recent fleece is bea.u.ti.ful, and I'm hoping to offer it in my online shop as curly locks, so I'm NOT spinning that. Her lamb fleece, on the other hand, though long (~8 inch locks), soft, and lustrous, is a mess. Mess, in the sense of chock full of junk and gunk. So I'm going to use it myself. This is pretty tedious work. I see a winter of hand flicking and combing ahead of me. Like cleaning Donnanoble's goat fleece last winter. This time, I'm better at it, faster, and I have a goal. A sweater. In fact there's enough fleece for two or three sweaters probably. Also, I do not feel the need to wait to see how this turns out before I start other things. I've already traversed that learning curve. This I will do in the background, so to speak, in between working on other things.

Hog Island yarn
I also spun up a sample of Hog Island fleece that I was gifted by a vendor I bought from recently. She gave the samples away with sales in her Etsy shop last month. The fleece came from the heritage sheep at Mt Vernon. I gather the sheep were very common during colonial times, but now there are only a few flocks in existence. Unfortunately, this fleece had been so dirty when the vendor got it, that she pretty much shredded it trying to get the gunk out with a picker. The sample I got looked like a wad of unorganized fluff filled with neps. I started spinning it only because I didn't have anything else cleaned and ready to go at the moment and I was curious. In the end I loved it and would happily buy a raw Hog Island fleece myself if I could find one. It was not like anything else I've tried. When you touch the yarn you can almost see the sturdy cloth that the colonists must have woven in your mind.

I finished a weaving project at the weaving studio downtown. This is the blanket that I'd intended to use Popcorn Pee Pee Pants' yarn for, before I chickened out and used an ordinary commercial yarn. I like the way it turned out, but I'm glad I saved PPPP's yarn. This is a huck lace pattern with a very loose sett (is that the right word? not sure). I'm not great about doing swatches before I start things. I tend to guess and hope for the best. In this case, the loose sett with chunky wool made the lace pattern a little more rustic than I'd hoped. I still need to wash it though, so that may change.

I made some behind the scenes progress on my horsehair weaving. I don't remember if I posted pictures of the most recent project around Thanksgiving, before I set it aside. It's a design for a sofa pillow - linen on one side, horse hair/linen on the other.

As I progressed on this project, I decided I  really needed better technology before I sank more time into it. Nothing fancy, just a better way of sorting and selecting the individual horse hairs for each bundle of the weft. I'd been doing it on the kitchen counter in the evenings after work, when the light was poor and the time was short. I was struggling with seeing and counting the individual hairs in the dark and then having to put everything away out of reach of cats and dogs and children every evening, so I took a break to think about it. After talking it over with one of my brothers -- an engineer -- we were both convinced that no easy straightforward tool exists to help with this job. So, I decided to go for an incremental improvement based on lighting. I ordered a translucent cutting mat, that has a preprinted grid on it's surface. I can place it on a glass desk top I already owned, with a light shining underneath (much like a light table) and hopefully sort the horse hair on top. The light will help me see the hair and the grid will help me sort it by length. I've set the whole thing up in a room where no dogs or cats are allowed, so I should be able to leave stuff in progress out when I'm not working on it. I've no tangible product to show for this progress, but I'm hopeful it will jumpstart things.

I made zero further progress preparing more fleeces for my online shop. I've washed a bunch of stuff so far (Bluefaced Leicester lamb fleece, Icelandic fleece, Lincoln curls, etc.), but I very quickly ran out of space to store washed fleece so had to stop until an affordable solution was found, which I found online of course. Although it came this week, I haven't set it up yet. It's still in the boxes. So, that's progress in a very very behind the scenes sense there.

And that's what's been going on lately.