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Posts Tagged ‘wool’

I went to a fun-filled workshop at our LYS Yarnworks, dubbed a Fiber Blending Class and taught by Ginger Clark and Jane Dominguez of Ewephoric Fibers. It was offered through the Gainesville Handweavers Guild.

The aim of the class, which served 7 or 8 pupils, was to make a 2-ounce batt of blended fiber for spinning or felting. We discussed what our yarn would be used for–knitting, weaving, felting? What might be the final article, socks? A wall hanging? If spun into yarn, what weight will it be? Do you want the yarn to be self-striping? Tweedy? Do you want all the colors blended into one cloud of fiber, or a color mix “frosted” with another?

They brought a cache of all sorts of fibers–a yarn-addict’s dream come true–and let us plunder through it and choose the components of our own future batts. Merino, Blue-faced Leicester, alpaca, silk tussah, soy silk, nylon (called Fake Cashmere), bamboo, Tencel, they brought a treasure chest full. We tried not to get drool on the swatches as they were passed around.

I ended up with this mix:

1 oz BFL, .4 oz burgundy locks, .2 oz yellow locks, .4 oz read, white and blue silk hankie

1 oz BFL, .4 oz burgundy locks, .2 oz yellow locks, .4 oz red, white and blue silk hankie

Jane showed us a color wheel and talked about color relationships but summed up by saying all we really need to remember is “mostly, some, and a little” and that batts can be a mix of colors or one color made from many colors blended together.

Once the fibers were weighed, and we conferred with and deferred to Jane as to how we wanted the final product to look and behave, we then brought our fibers to Ginger, who was stationed outside with a picker to do a first-line pulling-apart and blending of them. The picker, as one student observed, resembled a medieval torturing device. Ginger spent quite a large percentage of the time talking about what could go wrong if you didn’t pay very close attention to safety protocol while being anywhere near the picker.

picker

picker

Ginger picking

Ginger picking

After the fibers were combed by the picker, then they went through one of several drum carders on the premises. Since my choice of fibers were all four fluffy, as opposed to some shiny or flaggy, I was privileged to use the only electric carder. I did have the silk hankie that was cut up and used for flags in some batts, but mine was all fluffed in the preliminary picking, so it wasn’t as choppy and therefore sent to the manual drum carders as others’ silk hankies were.

electric drum carder front left

electric drum carder front left

Jane helping a student

Jane helping a student

my final rolag

my final rolag

inside view of the batt

inside view of the batt

It was a blast! But not a breeze…you really work to get a batt you’re happy with. Thanks for a fun and fulfilling afternoon!

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PVC Loom

PVC Loom

It’s not that I have a burning desire to get a loom, something that will take up lots of space in my already limited crafting space and time. I do want to learn to weave some time, but right now I see a loom of any description and I think….how? Why? What? Weaving is the “final frontier” for me in the fiber arts galaxy.

And then there’s the Babe spinning wheel, also made from PVC pipe.

Babe Pinkie

Babe Pinkie

Some people think PVC pipe is an ugly interloper in fiber crafting, much inferior to turned and worked wood. I do love sumptuous wood and the wonderful Lendrum wheel. But to me PVC is flirty, like a firefighter centerfold. And the thought of being able to build something functional out of materials you can get at the hardware store? I think I want to give it a try sometime. And I can’t forget this DIY drum carder out of PVC pipe and other stuff.

These pics came from The Woolery website. The day’s blogging prompt is from Eskimimi Makes.

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Woolly Origins

Woolly Origins

Discarded wool revealeth

Breezy layers soil untripped

By soft paws

[Today’s Knit/Crochet Blog Week prompt is to post something different!]

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I happened to be in Ocala visiting today, and stopped on the way home to check out the Florida Meat Sheep Alliance Festival. It was well worth the time and effort! I had a teenager and a pre-teen with me and they enjoyed it, too.

First off, we visited a sheep-shearing demonstration.

sheep pen

sheep pen

sheep to be sheared

sheep to be sheared

shearing

shearing

sheep shearing

sheep shearing

sheatring the big 'un

shearing the big ‘un

One lady brought in on a leash a sheep that was so big and tall, it looked like a woolly pony. While it was being sheared, she teared up, saying “that’s my baby! I can’t look!” But the shearer deftly handled the big animal and de-fleeced it with a quickness!

fleece of the Florida Cracker breed

fleece of the Florida Cracker breed

Fleece Judge

Fleece Judge

Dying fleece with Kool-aid

Dying fleece with Kool-aid

Doug from Meyer’s Sheep Farm (the guy in the orange shirt) explained to me that the fleeces on that table, all of them from local breeds, were awaiting judging, then they would go up for sale.

I saw a group of 6 or so spinners and one weaver at the Fiber Arts pavilion. A few vendors had booths and concessions, and the parking and hand-washing facilities were convenient. I recognized some Lakeland tags so I think some fellow ravelrers were present.

my score from the free pile in Ghana free-trade basket

my score from the free pile in Ghana free-trade basket

Piles of wool from the sheared sheep at the demo were cast into a bin with a sign that said “Free Wool, Donation of $1 per bag accepted” so I got a bag full, along with a basket and some beeswax sundries from vendor Caney Branch Farm out of Monticello, Florida. All the fleece in the pile was from the Florida Cracker breed, explained one of the shearers. He said the breed was previously called Florida Native, but “Cracker” was coined to differentiate from the Florida Gulf Coast Native breed. Needless to say, the cats loved the tangy aroma of the raw Florida Cracker fleece; they couldn’t get enough of it.
Bob and Grayzie having a flehman's response moment

Bob and Grayzie having a flehman’s response moment

The festival lasts until tomorrow at the Greater Ocala Dog Club Grounds on NW Gainesville Road.

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At Wednesday Night Knitting, we continued where we’d left off last week, except for — I got a spinning wheel in the meantime!

Lois worked on her ruffle scarf

Lois worked on her ruffle scarf

Ethel would the grape malabrigo sock yarn on the nostepinde

Ethel wound the grape malabrigo sock yarn on the nostepinde

She did bring a brand new crochet magazine to show.
I did a little spinning

I did a little spinning

As you may imagine, spinning has opened up a new world of fiber management for me! New reading, new You-Tube video watching, practicing. I stocked up on some woolly stuff from ebay and from my stash (mostly small bits I’d bought for drop-spindling).

fiber management


fiber management

Practiced a bit with this bag of unknown fiber I bought 2 years ago at the Florida Fiber In.

Ewephoric Fibers roving

Ewephoric Fibers roving

I met some folks from Ewephoric Fibers at that fiber convention, and hope to meet up with them again at a local guild meeting.

How in the world does one decide which wheel? There are so many. I did some research. I wanted lots of options, so I chose one that came with a regular-size, a jumbo-size, and a fast flyer. I wanted one that was somewhat portable. I wanted one that was made in America (I compromised on that, the Lendrum is made in Canada.) I would have been happy to get a Babe, but my DH, the woodworker, favored wood construction over PVC pipe construction, so let’s just say his opinion greatly influenced my ultimate choice. I joined some new groups on Ravelry, including Lendrum Love. I learned more about sheep, goats, rabbits, and other wool/fur-bearing varmints, and discovered that the Patron of the Campaign for Wool is none other than HRH The Prince of Wales. Wow!

Hey Grayzie, have you ever been carded?

Hey Grayzie, have you ever been carded?

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During this busy, hectic summer, we found a way to bring it back last night!

Ethel came with sweater dreams.

Ethel with Knit Picks sweater

Sweater dreams Canon EOS 20D O.6s ISO 200

She found the yarn in a Knit Picks ad in the new Knitscene Accessories It’s a beautiful eye-candy of a yarn in ultra-soft Pima cotton and modal.

Ethel’s Knit Picks yarn

She’s making a lace-pattern sweater. While she was at the web site, she bought some Knit Picks interchangeable circular needles in 3 sizes. I’ve been looking at several interchangeable sets, and wondered if this would be a worthwhile purchase? Knit Picks has an introductory set that’s only $20. What do some of you expert knitters think?

Oh, let me explain the 2 pics of Ethel: I’ve gotten in on WordPress’s postaweek 2012 photography challenge. This week’s entry is called Dreaming. Perhaps I haven’t gotten all the requirements correct for this entry but I’m just getting my feet wet. Check it out, you might be up to the challenge!

Ethel’s other sweater

Ethel is also working on another sweater in garter stitch. Lois agreed that working on two things at once is the way to go with knitting, as long as one is soothing, comforting yards and yards of garter stitch.

Lois and a hat-in-the=round

Tina yarning

We were all happy to see Tina after a long time. She brought us up to date on the move to North Carolina.

During our meeting hiatus, I worked on the stash (here is a pic of it for crayons and milk, who asked to see. I took this pic of the mirror that hangs on the wall opposite the yarn stash part of the sewing room.

the location of the yarn build-up


Now this is what I’ve been working on, a grocery tote from Love of Knitting. This is my first ever Intarsia attempt. I can’t say that it all went along like a breeze, but it could have been worse!

“Go Green” bag, unfelted

Bob thinks I was thoughtfully spreading out the woolly bag for him to relax upon

With eight 220-yard skeins of wool yarn (held double) to be felted, this huge but humble grocery tote is going to end up costing me about $70 to make. Ouch. I used a cheap (if you think $6.99 is cheap) black yarn but the 2 greens, Berroco Peruvia, and Rio de la Plata, were pricey. Also, 100% wool colored green was not easy to find anywhere. Is green the new red-headed step-child in the yarn family?

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Wednesday knitters have spent the past few days anticipating this meeting, as we summed up our trip to the 2011 Florida Fiber In, and looked over our new toys! Ethel brought her drop spindle with a lot of purple wool to spin into yarn.

Alpaca and drop spindle

She spun a few yards of yarn and made a little knitted swatch.

The product of Ethel's spinning and knitting

Ethel's swag bag from the Fiber In

Ethel showed us the many bags of fiber and yarn she got at the fiber convention: sparkly angelina fibers, luscious purple alpaca wool, a deep grape-wine colored yarn, lots of packages of roving, some already ID’d as doll hair.

Lois brought the pattern for the fingerless mitts she’d bought at the Fiber In, and got to work on the project.

fingerless mitts

Fingerless mitts are the snizzle right now; Ethel had a pattern for a pair with fancy picot edges and sewn-on beads. Beautiful! But I believe every little girl on my list (and big girls too, no doubt!) would love a pair of fingerless mitts for winter in Florida.

Tina was back into looming another very impressive hat.

Tina and loom

Tina’s quick and delightful loom projects have inspired us all. Debbie and Beth came bearing looms, as well. And by the time the evening was over, Beth had made a lot of progress on her orange and blue leggings.

Beth looming


Debbie progressed to the heel on her sock (go ahead and applaud!)

Deb and long-awaited sock

Debbie showed us a book of marvelous loom projects, including a wavy shrug pattern. Deb must have been inspired by all the looming going on, too, because she had a brand new pack of three looms with her.

Ethel tried to convince me to make this jacket:

jacket patterns

And she found this pattern for another version of the fish hat.

fish hat

But I lapsed into crocheting, something I can do mindlessly. I wish I was more like Martha in Knitting [a novel Ethel loaned me], who can read and knit at the same time!

Crocheted cloth, with black Sugar N Cream cotton & Linen blend

And, I almost forgot the SWIFT! While I was at the Fiber In, my handy DH created this beautiful tool to help me rewind yarn from a hank to a neat little ball, ready for knitting. I absolutely put it to work the first day, and it is wonderful!

Skip's hand-crafted yarn swift

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