Monday, January 19, 2015

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.


  1. I'm still now sure how you work all this in. Maybe your scientific job is to stretch time??? I am waiting for your etsy store. Never mind that I have a pile o' fleeces of my own.

    1. Haha. Well, one way is by cutting corners elsewhere. For instance, I don't grow my own food, like some people I could name. Heck, I don't even cook my own food half the time. I am a cog in the wheel of the prepared food industry. That's right, say it with me...C.h.i.p.o.t.l.e...stretcher of time :)

  2. Hey, this is great! Somehow I missed this post earlier. Just came back because I wanted to link to your "pipeline" post and found it. And, yes! I do want company :-D. Thanks for joining in and I'm glad we are both getting some stuff done!