Tag Archive: fleece

Time Weigheth Heavily

Well, it’s not so much the time that weigheth heavily as it is the seeming lack thereof. (Daily dose of Old English has now been administered.)

As for me, well, I’m up to my elbows in a pile of spinning projects. Lovely projects, for lovely people, but there seem to be tons of them.

First off, I’ve been working on spinning up some Aussie fur for a good friend. (Yes, dog fur.) It’s really soft and fluffy, and has been washed. Definite bonus. I’m spinning it on a spiffy new gadget I’ll have to tell you all about in a future blog post.

Theoretically this yarn will end up as a two-ply fingering weight, although there will be some DK weight bits in there, given the nature of the fiber. I carded the fur into batts, but it’s so fine that it spins more like a cloud, which results in a lot of difficulty keeping things even. And there seems to be different lengths of fur in there, which also makes things interesting.

All in all, it’s spinning up to be an interesting taupe color. Almost like sand.

Alpaca Socks and Looking Backwards

It’s a rather gray day outside this morning, besides the few patches of snow here and there. There’s rain on the way (more than usual) and the atmospheric pressure is resulting in a lovely sinus headache. Plus it seems to be sapping the energy out of me. Even to the point where I don’t want to curl up and knit! Size two double points? Far too heavy.

But, I have made some rather good progress on my second alpaca sock, and I have found the secret to finishing a never-ending pair of extra-tall socks! The key is to go and stay in a rather chilly house for a few days. Take the sock knitting, and just barely enough pairs of regular-height socks. By the middle of the first day you’ll find yourself huddled on the couch watching old, instant-stream TV shows off of Netflix and knitting for your life in the hopes of warmer toes.

Unfortunately this knitting streak didn’t cross over to the other pair of unfinished socks I brought along, or the Emily Dickinson shawl that I had hoped to start again. However, I did have a lovely time resting, reading (three whole books!), and movie-watching.

A Week Of Fiber Carding

Well, my time with the drum carder ended yesterday, but not before I had carded somewhere in the vicinity of thirty-four batts. Not a bad amount, considering I had the carder for a week.

After the wooly mammoth hide experience (see last post) I did some online tutorial hunting in the hopes of coming up with a way to make less blended, but still great batts.

I came across a very helpful series of video how-tos, although I’m loath to post the links to them, as they’re rather hyper and there is a bit of language. Suffice it to say, I went back to the craftroom revved up and ready to go with my fist full of very helpful notes.

Here is the result. My lovely Rose Garden batt.

I found the success very inspiring. Especially because I could sing the song from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. “Up from the ashes, grow the roses of success. . . ”

January Whizzed Past

I really hope the rest of the year won’t decide to follow January’s pacing. At that rate I won’t get much done!
I mean, we’re already almost through a twelfth of the year. Yikes! It would be so much easier if I had only one, or even two hobbies. Then I could focus on them solely and really get stuff cranked out.

But would it be as fun? Part of the fun of hobbies is to be able to do different things and keep them fresh. If it’s not interesting, why do it? Now, granted, I’ve taken hobby-gathering and turned it into an extreme sport, but I only keep the ones I enjoy. The trouble is that I enjoy a few too many to maintain with sanity.

The solution? Rotate them out as the mood strikes, and try not to leave any unfinished projects. The first part is easy. I’m still working on the second part. Although I am proud to report that I still only have one knitting project going, despite a red sock yarn’s constant pleading and a shawl pattern’s lingering glances.

An Influx of Projects

Alright, I feel a little explanation is in order. After my stunning resolve to not go for more than a week without posting, I promptly up and left for almost thirteen days. The reason? I was in Texas. In Texas with fellow yarn and fiber lovers, running about to various yarn destinations and generally shooting my budget. So, I shall attempt to summarize the many and various things I bought and did.

First off, I took along the indigo-dyed merino and a spinning wheel, hoping to get a bunch more spun. Unfortunately, I didn’t spin quite as much as I’d planned, but I was able to teach a friend to use the wheel, and two others to drop spindle. Now the goal is to finish the indigo merino well before Christmas.


I didn’t spin as much as I had planned because I was working away at my latest pair of socks. The first one is done, and the second is well on its way to the end. I’m now in the “knit until sock measures x length from heel” stage. A little on the boring side, but it needs to be done so I can get to some of the stuff I bought.

Dyeing Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 5

Wool is one of the easiest fibers to dye. It responds readily to Kool-Aid, commercial dyes, natural (plant- or animal-derived) dyes, and even food coloring.

There are dozens of different ways to color wool, and, as I’ve only tried a few of them, I can’t give you detailed tutorials for everything, but here are some of the ones that have helped me along and given me some really great results. I use Jacquard Acid Dyes for most of my dyeing, with the odd natural dye thrown in. The Jacquards are really nice because the only chemical you need to set the color is vinegar!


If you’re a knitter you have probably heard the term “kettle-dyed” before. It pretty much means that the yarn will be mostly the same color, with a slight shift in intensity in some areas. This is achieved by cooking the yarn (or wool roving) in a pot of dye solution. The actual process will vary depending on what kind of dye you use.

Choosing Between Types of Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 1

Why Choose?

When I first became a spinner the sheer number of wool types available boggled my brain. Was “Merino” or “Romney” a better choice for a beginner? How about “Rambouillet”? And what on earth did “staple length” or “crimp” mean? Did it really matter what I chose?

I wanted a complete list of every kind of fleece available and information on how it spun. To the best of my knowledge a list like this did not exist (yet!), so what I ended up doing was scrolling through the fiber websites looking for something — anything — labeled “good for beginners.” In my first months of spinning I found a few favorites, maybe branched out a bit, and wound up only spinning certain types of wool because, well, the others might not turn out nicely.

Thankfully this attitude of wool ineptness left after a while. I’m now willing and eager to skim the offerings at fiber fairs and on websites. I can pick a wool with confidence because I have a good bit of head knowledge that tells me how a type of wool will behave.

This article is designed to equip you with the knowledge you need to look at a type of wool and say “Perfect!” or “Run for your life!”

Beginner’s Series: Wool

Hello, everyone! There’s going to be a second Beginner Series on Maiden Yarn.

I’ll be focusing in on wool types and working with fleece. I’ll go into picking the right type of wool to use and how to choose a raw fleece, wash it, prepare it, and dye it. I’m so excited about these new posts. It’s a lot to cover in one week, but we’ll have a good time.

Posts start September 9th.

As always, these articles are intended to be wildly helpful, so please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment if something needs clarification or elaboration. These are for you and others who love learning. Share your knowledge.

Round Two

Hello, world! I still exist. :) Last month was absolutely nuts with traveling, housesitting, visitors, and a cold, so I’m just now getting my feet back under me. But before I went off to Colorado for a writers’ conference I got to do another indigo vat!

IndigoLite And if there’s anything scarier than doing a natural dyeing pot, it’s doing it for the second time. Because things can go differently. And this second pot of indigo decided to change whatever could be changed. The indigo didn’t dissolve as nicely, the bloom took longer in forming, and the actual vat decided to get oxygen in it a couple times. I tell you. It was crazy.

Well, it still behaved fairly well. Although it seemed a lot stronger than I’d planned. I wound up with a nice medium chunk of fleece.

Wool Gathering

Believe it or not, I haven’t fallen into a fiber-induced coma and vanished off the face of the earth. I’m still here trying to make time for spinning and fiber in a rapidly filling schedule. (While juggling a change of work, vacation plans, writing, and getting ready for a friend to come visit.)

Every single scrap of Iowa fleece I have left (except for one chunk that had lots of VM) has been pre-soaked twice. All of it. Excuse me while I go collapse.

I spent I don’t know how long outside in the backyard hauling pots of water, wrestling fleece, spinning out the excess water, and shooing away any curious insects. It wiped me out. I have this feeling that the neighbors think I’m some sort of odd person — constantly lugging pots out there, whirling around spraying water in every direction — yeah. Well, if they want some wool they can have it. I just want to get it all washed by the second of August.

Why the reason for this sudden haste? A certain special friend is coming to visit next month, and she’s bringing a toy with her. Something very beneficial for those who have lots of fiber to process. Any guesses?