follow up: molly’s fleece

molly's fleece

I went back to Target and got several more of those lingerie bags. Then I sat on the floor and carefully loaded them up with locks (lined up in rows, not just jammed in there). When I was done I had filled 18 bags, but it was such a small amount compared to the size of the fleece! Next I went downstairs to my washing machine and, using the hottest setting I could, filled the machine up along with three squirts of Unicorn Power Scour. Finally I stuffed all the bags into the washer. I let it soak for about 10-15 minutes, spun out the water, filled it again and added two squirts of Power Scour. I let it soak again for about 15 minutes, spun it out, and then filled the washer again without soap. After giving it a final spin, I emptied the bags and laid the locks out to dry.

Negatives

  • The bags took up a lot of space that could have been filled with more fleece.
  • Since the bags were vertical, some of the locks ended up smooshed into a corner instead of staying nicely arranged.
  • The bags looked nearly empty once the locks were wet and compressed; seemed like I could have gotten more in there
  • The tips were not as clean as I would have liked.
  • Packing the bags was very time consuming.

Positives

  • The fleece was very clean. I have been having issues with tackiness even after washing. I think it worked better this time because I didn’t over-stuff the washing machine.
  • The locks were not jumbled up or messy. They are individual and have maintained their crimp and curl.
  • The bags were easy to maneuver.
  • I will have less picking and sorting to do after dyeing.

I went back to Target and found these stackable, foldable sweater drying racks. They were $5.99 each and quite helpful, especially since I had thought about making something similar myself.

molly's fleece

molly’s fleece

molly's fleece

This beautiful 8 pound fleece came all the way from New York. I bought it along with three others (two of which are relatives of Molly). The breed is Border Leicester/Corriedale cross. It has a fantastic staple length with lovely subtle waves and pointy tips. I can’t wait to see how it dyes, but first I need to wash it. Since I couldn’t wait until spring, I got out my trusty “old sheet” and laid the fleece out in the living room. It doesn’t really smell bad. Thankfully the fleece was already skirted and it’s incredibly clean. Hooray for jackets on sheep!

I’m trying something new with this fleece. Often I have seen people line up the locks and place them in mesh pouches before washing. This helps to keep the locks lined up rather than getting tangled. Usually I don’t bother, especially if I’m sending the fleece to a mill for carding. However, this time I plan on dyeing the locks and I want to keep them tidy.

Instead of cutting and pinning my own mesh pouches, I picked up a few lingerie bags at Target for $1.50 each. My time is worth something, right? They are the perfect size to fit three rows of locks and easily reusable. I just don’t know if the fineness of the mesh has any effect on the washing process.

bagging locks

Although, it’s pretty obvious three are not nearly enough! I’ll get some more this week when I’m out. In the meantime I can continue to separate the locks and make piles ready for bagging. I’m excited about this. Usually I just dump the whole hefty fleece into the washing machine. It’s a bit of a pain to maneuver, especially once it gets wet. With the bags, I can easily work in smaller batches, move the bags around to refill the washer, and the locks are already arranged for later. Stay tuned to find out the results…

molly's fleece

done with batts

When I did my first batch of batts, I couldn’t help comparing them to all those amazing “art batts” that have become so popular in recent years. Mine weren’t as big. Mine weren’t so funky. Mine weren’t the same. And I thought that was a problem. But now, after taking them to a few shows, I realized something. It’s not a bad thing that these aren’t the same as those other ones. They’re just a little bit different and that’s okay. Maybe it’s even a good thing? Sometimes people aren’t looking for a totally wacky looking batt that leads them to the question, “What on earth will I do with this?”. And I guess that’s why I don’t call mine “art batts”. They are more subdued, but still bring a little bit of fantasy to your spinning experience.

I’m glad I gave old Whiskers another chance. I’ve had this drumcarder for several years, but never spent much time using it. Now I’d say I’m getting pretty comfortable with the process. This latest batch increased in size significantly (the individual batts, not the quantity). I was getting 1/2-3/4 ounces each, now I’m up to 1 ounce or more. Even though I spent three days making them, I ended up with about 30. It was tiring, but enjoyable. I made a few of each color, which will be good if someone is looking to make a larger skein. I’m considering increasing the price though. Originally I had them set at $3 each or 4 for $10. Now I think I might do $4 each and 3 for $10.

I tried taking some video throughout the day, but it was pretty useless. So UPDATED pictures to help you understand the mess that lived in our front room for three days.

batts in november

batts in november

election day, making batts, getting organized

For some reason I feel obligated to mention the obvious: today is Election Day. I am so glad that the ads will finally shut up! And whatever happens, we just have to move forward. I live in Ohio, which is a big deal apparently. We live in a smallish town, so I am not expecting outrageous lines, but I may bring a knitting project just in case. In the end it feels somewhat futile, as Husband and I will cancel each other out with our votes.

Once I get that taken care of this morning, I fully intend to spend the day MAKING BATTS. Back in June I spent two days just cranking through my stash of odds and ends. When I brought the batts to Woolfest I didn’t think anyone would be too interested, but over the past few months, they’ve sold! Also, I pulled out a few to do another sample skein (since someone bought the first one right away). Now I just have a handful left, so I want to work on a new batch for IKS.

june batts

This event has also given me clarity on my lack of organization. As I was making my list of things to do for Indie Knit & Spin, each item just ended up in a non-chronological jumble. And every morning I look at my list (or don’t) and still waste a great deal of time trying to decide what to do. I need more structure if I am to get more done. I’ve been working from home since February and it’s been fun, but with the year coming to an end, it’s a good time to reevaluate and restructure.

While at Target yesterday I picked up a few things to help me get things in order. I got a few of those wall mount file boxes for “things to deal with” and “things to file” or something. I have file boxes, but I apparently I need an interim spot for those items since I do not file them right away. The most exciting thing was this dry-erase calendar. Now I can get more exact with planning each task and keeping on track for an upcoming event. I’ll have to move a few things around to make a place to hang this up, but it’s going to be awesome! Because I say so.

new fleeces

As I predicted, my fleeces arrived from Zeilinger’s this month. October to January seems to be a standard turn-around, about 2.5 months. And it’s perfect timing, since I’m getting geared up for winter/spring festival season. I had three fleeces processed this time. Each one is a different breed and came from a different place.

Shetland – I bought this fleece in May at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. The man who sold it to me has a small flock of Shetlands in Ohio and he is a skilled woodworker. All of his fleeces were beautiful. I decided on a very light grey and white fleece. When it went through the carding machine, the colors were blended quite uniformly. The overall color now is white with grey strands throughout. I’m curious to see it dyed. I’m not sure whether the grey is pronounced enough to impact the finished colors.

Shropshire – This one came from the fleece sale at the Lake Metroparks Woolfest in June. It was the first time I attended the event and the sale. They were selling fleeces from their own flock at the farm park. There was a wide range of breeds to choose from and I wanted to get something I’d never tried before. You could say I selected this one at random. It seems to be quite spongy! I am interested to see how it spins.

Columbia – This fleece was purchased at the Mahoning County Fair in September. Each year they have a fleece competition and certain fleeces are available for purchase. I had bought a Columbia there a few years ago and decided to try it again. It was a big fleece and it came from a farm in Ohio. In fact, the man who was in charge of the fleece sale owned that particular sheep. Unfortunately it came back to me with a bit more vegetable matter than I would like.

new roving!
They all came in that box, but they don't fit in there now.
three bags full
Left to right, Shetland, Columbia, Shropshire.

the return of whiskers!

Monday night I took my drumcarder with me to spinning group.  Lacking confidence in my carding abilities, I was hoping to gain a bit of knowledge from my older, wiser, more experienced counterparts.  So, I hauled the heavy thing from the basement (something I will not miss once I have my 1st floor wool-room), grabbed my bag of this & that fibers, and headed off.  I set up the machine on a table and wowed everyone there with my colors and fibers, but didn’t really get any useful information from anyone.  In fact, most of them were asking me questions.  And in the end, I really didn’t learn anything new.  Which has proven to me that I actually know more than I thought.

Still having the renewed enthusiasm for batts and carding, I set up my carder in the living room Tuesday afternoon and continued experimenting.  The fibers I worked with were Falklands and ??-breed wools plus a few bits of mohair and maybe some Romney.  Mostly Falklands.  Quite a long time ago I had batts listed in my shop, but I haven’t gotten back to add more in a long time.  It would be fun to offer them again, however, I think I’d like someone to test spin a few and give me feedback.  Anyone interested?  Let me know and I’ll send them your way.

new batts

fleecing!

Maryland Sheep and Wool is THIS weekend.  And I’m a little late getting started on my master plan.  My original intention was to buy a fleece or two at Maryland and leave them with Zeilinger Wool Co. at the Great Lakes Fiber Show at the end of May.  I wanted to have the chance to wash them first since they price based on incoming weight and it’s less expensive if you wash them yourself.  However, I’ve never pre-washed my fleeces because I don’t trust my ability to sufficiently clean them.  After reviewing their website, I found out that they will not be accepting fleeces at GL, but they will at MD.  Now the plans have changed.

I dug around in my surprisingly large fleece collection and found two medium-sized fleeces (about 5 lbs) and one large one (12 lbs).  All the of them are unwashed. Unfortunately I can’t remember what breed they are.  Why don’t I label things??  One is Icelandic and I think the other two are both Romney.  I’m washing the smaller Romney and plan to take it to MD, leaving it with Zeilinger’s.  But I may take the larger Romney to GL and leave it with Ohio Valley Natural Fibers who is accepting fleeces there.  Also, they price based on outgoing weight so I might not wash it first.  It’s a monster.  I’ve never used them and I’m curious to see what they do in comparison to Zwool, with whom I am very pleased.

OVNF
Wash/Pick/Card = $12.95/Finished Pound
Pick/Card = $ 8.65/Finished Pound

Zwool
Wash/Pick/Card = 6 lbs or more  $7.60/pound
Pick/Card = 4 lbs or more $6.60/pound

That’s the difference in initial pricing.  I’d be saving on shipping one way at either place and paying for shipping home at both places.  And depending on how things go at MD or GL, I might take some to Zwool when we go to Rhinebeck.  Including the Icelandic below… or I might work on that one myself.  I haven’t decided.  But, oh yeah, we’re moving in a month.

icelandic fleece
Icelandic Fleece

 

back to the combs

I’m such an “oo! shiny!”…

Wanted to try carding, got carders, carded.
Wanted to try combing, made combs, combed.
Wanted a drumcarder, got a drumcarder, drumcarded.
Wanted to try flicking, got a flicker, flicked.

This sounds like I get whatever I want instantly, but that’s not the case. It also sounds like I have a 10 second attention span, which may be true. Lots of these different tools I tested in some form or another before investing serious money. For hand-carders I bought dog brushes and played with those for 3 years. Just last October I finally got real ones. When I decided it was time to try combing, Rich and I made a pair. The drumcarder was a fluke – found in the garbage at the university. And the flicker started as a cat brush and eventually I bought a real one.

Last night I took my wool combs to the Shire meeting to work on some Merino cross locks. I had been inspired to give it another try after taking an all day wool-related class on Saturday at Masque of Courtly Love. I sat with the teacher combing Icelandic wool and spinning on her nifty old Canadian production wheel.

combing merino

When we first made these combs, I couldn’t handle them. I combed some fiber, but just gave up really. Now, two whole years later, I pick them up again and have very little problem. I definitely believe some things just come in time. You need to gain more experience, confidence, etc. before addressing certain things. It’s always a learning process!