Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dying (some of) All the Fleeces

While some folks might like the yellowed colour of these fleeces, I'm planning to dye most of it.
I've not had much luck in the past (once) with dying fleece (was white romni), so I've avoided dying it. Mostly, of course, I've been purchasing lovely roving/batts dyed by other talented fleece artists. This won't change.
However, I'm going to have to take my dying skills up a notch. I don't expect myself to spin all the yellowed fleeces into yarn and THEN dye it. That would be far too boring.
Plus, I might want to needle felt some of it.

Dying the fleece is a skill I need to learn.

I'm starting simple with what I know and what I have the tools for - food colouring and vinegar dying.  I'm going to need to collect other kitchen tools if I want to use not-food-safe methods. I'm sure I'll get there by the time I'm done with All The Fleeces.

I prepped a bucket of Fleece 1 - the fluffy fleece - by combing it. As usual, the middle where I hold the fleece locks remains quite sticky with lanolin, so I gave it all another hot wash along with some combed black fleece locks.
The black fleece has not been in hot water or soap yet and I found that when I combed this batch it definitely needs a hot wash if I want to spin this lace easily.

Ready for a bath.
 After a rinse, it was time to prep the dye water. A little orange Wiltons paste in a glass bowl with vinegar added goes a long way.  This is a large and deep bowl. Fortunately, we have a very large microwave. Yes, I chose the fastest heat-set method for this test.

Fluffy! Even when wet.

All soaked.
After several 2 minute rounds in the microwave (and then another set of rounds with more vinegar added because the dye didn't seem to be taking as well as I would like) it was time to spin dry. Oh, first I drained the dye water and rinsed the orange fleece back in the first rinse bath - which was clean enough.  I don't have  a salad spinner and I'm pretty certain it would be a bad idea to toss a recently dyed fleece into my washing machine to spin dry (orange spots on DH's white shirts?). Plus, that sounded like a waste of electricity for such a small amount of fluff.
I did it the manual way! Spin it in the sack!

 The "black" fleece locks are looking lovely. (I should stop calling them that, even if they were labelled as such.)

The orange fleece is looking scrumptious!

Ooops, a couple of small sections were hiding in the wash bags. They'll find their way into the next dye bath once I have confirmed that I didn't create a matted mess. So far it looks fine. I'm excited for it to dry. Right now.

Spun up as 120m of squishy, worsted-weight-ish yarn. About 15m of it is a beaded 3-ply using a very finely spun portion of the wool to hold the size 8/0 beads.  The first 22m section was plied with some of the natural yarn (same fleece) that was sitting around on a bobbin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Baa Baa Black Sheep

...have you any wool?
Yes, maam. One fleece in the sack of "all the fleeces".  Would you like to spin it?
Yes, yes I would, thank you.

The "black" fleece was the second of the fleeces to be cleaned in the FSM vat. You can read about how it was rinsed and left out to dry twice in the previous post.  Here is the fleece drying (first time around)

I ran out of room on my drying racks. Evidently I need more.

It's quite a lovely colour. I think of it as dark chocolate brown.  As with all the fleeces I inherited, there is plenty of VM and there was plenty to skirt.

Here's a little chunk I brought inside to test. I have my tools ready - comb and hands. Doesn't that colour just look delightful?

 These locks are about 18cm / 7" . Lovely.

A little combing of both ends (like brushing the tail of a My Little Pony while you hold on tight to the other end so you don't yank all the nylon out of the tail) et voila - FLUFFY STUFF

I decided that this time I would see if I could make some roving. Of course, I don't have a hackle. Nor do I have a diz.  But I do have this antique needle gauge (which is in neither metric nor US sizing so it's rather useless as a modern gauge).

Not too shabby. I admit, this would have worked much better with some sort of hackle to hold the fibre, but I managed with my hands.

Spun up a sample on my mini Turkish.  It feels a lot like the white Shetland I spun. Perhaps it is Shetland (or related) wool.  Regardless, since it seemed like Shetland, I decide to spin it as I had found that white Shetland preferred to be spun - as lace weight.

Then I grabbed both ends of my "turtle" off the spindle when I was done and proceeded to whip up a 2-ply.

 Washed and now I wait for these few meters to dry.

I believe I know what yarn I will use (after spinning more) to knit an edging on my Shetland Lace table runner.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Catching up on the FSM vat

Last week, before the thunderstorm hit, I pulled out the second fleece from the FSM vat and tossed in a third.  I saved a small portion of the third to be soaked in some plain rainwater and washed for comparison with the FSM-washed fleece.

The fleece, again, looks quite different from the others. Perhaps more alike to the first fleece with a lot of crimp.

Upon immersion in the rainwater tub, the dirt was evident.  A little swishing and the water turned a golden colour.

Time to immerse the rest of the fleece. You can see the white-ish highlights against the orange mesh bag and the dark, smelly vat liquid. Oh, yeah, the vat is good and smelly now.

Then I let the rain rinse the second fleece. This is my black fleece. While intense, the rain was short-lived.

I used rain water from the overflow barrel and one of my large buckets to rinse sections of the fleece that I could then lay out to dry.  A half way through that work the rinse water was in need of refreshing. I fed some of it back into the FSM vat, fed some to the garden, and then diluted with more rain water.  By the last bits, I had a second rinse going too.

Just as the fleeces were dry (last Friday), I was helping out at the school all morning when the rain hit again, unexpectedly. I had to start drying again. 
The story of the black fleece continues... (I've already spun a sample because I delayed on finishing this post due to too much family fun.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

From Ick to Love

I am LOVING the delightful process of taking a dirty, neglected fleece (or fleeces as the case is) and transforming it into squishy yarn.
Proper wool combs would be even more delightful, but even this simple dog comb is proving very useful.

I am starting with this matty-looking fleece, pulling a comb through both ends, and ending up with this fluffy stuff.
Then I spin it from the side/fold and get this squishy yarn.

See, here's a chatty video of me combing (awkwardly, for the camera) so you can see the transformation.