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Baa Ram Ewe..To Your Fleece Be True

The rain has returned, an I have been able to enjoy some time behind the wheel (spinning wheel, of course) lately. And that is great. But right at the moment, I’m actually enjoying doing fiber prep more.

I’m working on that dark brown (almost black) romney ram lamb fleece from the “Shearing on a Stand” demo (see previous post), and it’s really nice.

romney wool muffins 02-27-08

Sitting and flicking out locks and pulling fiber bunches into strips of roving really gives you time to think about the wool, and how the processing affects the final product. I really think that the best thing you can do for the wool (and the finished piece) is to process it only as much as absolutely necessary to remove dirt, debris, short bits, etc. The more heat and chemical agents (dye, etc) you apply, you more you take away from the natural beauty of the fiber.

Wool is a marvelous, malleable raw material and can be made into all sorts of things that are funky and fabulous and highly stylized, but I personally prefer to produce yarns that feel closer to the source, and let the best characteristics of the wool show through.

Romney Fleece 01-19-08

This wool has a lot of character. It’s dense and strong, crisp and springy. Not to mention the beautiful deep color. I love the caramel colored tips, but unfortunately they will not show up much in the finished yarn.

This would make a nice 2-ply sock yarn if I gave it a lot of twist, but I think I want a heavier weight, more lofty end product from this, so I’m going three-ply. I plan to do a “real” three ply once I get the third bobbin loaded, but in the meantime, here is a sample that I Navajo-plied as a test-drive:

two yarns 02-08
It’s the one on the right- Of course you can’t tell how nice and squishy it is from the picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ve been using it as my “thinking ball”. I just walk around holding and squeezing it.

More to follow-

Teaser Spring Continues, Denise Too Tired to Spin

Whew.

This weather is killin’ me.

It’s lovely, yes. But I’m dog tired. So tired that I’m not even inclined to spin this evening.

Really.

This weekend it was compost. To be specific, composted goat bedding from Gothberg Farms, a friend’s goat dairy in Bow. Saturday the man and I went over to pick up a trailer-load of “the good s***” and visit with the girls. No kids yet, but we’re told they are expected within the week.

So, I spent the rest of the afternoon unloading the trailer and distributing the goods over the garden beds. It’s all done now. And I’m done too.

The man continues to work on the new-to-us JD riding lawnmower (which will hopefully make my life easier this spring and summer), and perhaps once he’s done with the rebuild he’ll be able to shift gears and devote himself wholly to the goal of producing wool combs for his sweet Denise (hint, hint).

The sweater vest is coming along nicely (picture tomorrow, perhaps) and pretty soon I’ll have to do a try-on to figure out when I’ve arrived at the underarms so I can do the necessary armhole shaping. I do love this yarn, and all the lovely colors randomly distributed throughout.

There is something so satisfying about making an item completely from scratch.

That’s it for now. I’m fading away.

February Sun

First off, many thanks to the presidents that made this long weekend possible.

Meant to post sooner, but the weather has been beautiful (amazing, even), so we’ve been mighty busy. This was pruning weekend. Time to get the fruit trees and berries all tidied up and ready for another growing season.

Pruning is a lot of work (as is hauling away the prunings), but is awfully rewarding- and is actually fun in a creative, artistic kind of way once you get a handle on the basic principles.

This is year two in the rehab program for our big apple tree, and he’s looking pretty good:

Apple Tree Feb 08

The other little trees out back are coming along as well. We are doing our best to keep them open and spreading- discouraging any straight upward growth.

Orchard Feb 08

I hope this will be a good fruit year. We’ve got apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries and raspberries. And a little quince I planted a couple years ago that hasn’t fruited yet. Nothing better than fresh fruit right out of your backyard (unless it’s fresh fleece right out of your backyard!)

Anyway- I am still making good progress on the new sweater project- It’s starting to look like it might be something, but inches come slowly when I’m working on size 5 needles.

That’s ok, though. I’m going to love this sweater. It will be light and smooth and drapey and warm and soft and go with almost everything I own. That is the plan, anyway. Here’s the latest pic (with valentine flowers):

02-18-08 buffet

And next to it a small mountain of freshly washed wool .

I’m still waiting on those wool combs that were supposed to be here for Christmas, but have come to the conclusion that thinking about them is not going to make them get here any sooner (apparently, the Indigo Hound people have had some weather-related difficulties this winter and are terribly behind in production of the combs).

So, I’ve asked the man to put his super-genius builder/fixer-guy mind to the task of making me some combs. I have no doubt that he is up to the challenge. However, this time of year, the projects start coming pretty fast and furious, so I hope we can turn them out before they get pushed way down the priority list.

Wish me luck.

See Denise Knit

Knit Denise! Knit!

Yes, I have finally cast on for something other than a sock (not that there’s anything wrong with socks, mind you). In fact, I am still making progress on the second unmatched pair (“Sock of Destiny” and significant other):

Sock of Destiny and Guest

But it is kind of a relief to have cast on for another project.

So, without further ado, may I present the new project:

Vested InterestVest cable detail

I know it doens’t look like much now, but before long, it will take shape into a lovely (albeit simple) tunic-y vest. Mostly stockinette,  just a bit of cable interest in the front and at each side, and some shaping at the waist.

I had been undecided for quite a bit about what kind of sweater to start, and then it finally dawned on me; I should knit what I need in my wardrobe. Fairly obvious, I know. But these things don’t always occur to you at first when you are planing a project. You can sometimes get swept away on the wings of  clever techniques and glossy magazine photos.

This vest is mostly about the yarn and it’s natural variegation. I love this yarn:

Alger Shetland

This wool came from a guy who lives just north of me in Acme. He’d placed a craigslist ad for wool. $5 a pound for shetland, $1 a pound for all else. So how could I resist?

I called, he gave me directions, and I drove on out there to check it out. This guy has a lot of wool, but it’s all packed in feed sacks up in the loft of his barn, so he goes and gets a ladder, and I climb up there to evaluate his stash by flashlight. There’s a lot of scottish blackface, and some romney, but then I came upon this yummy stuff.  Ah- there’s the shetland! What I didn’t realize right away was that there was two years worth of fleece on this sheep.  But once I got if home and spread it out on the driveway to see what I had, I basically separated the first years bleached dreadlocks from the silky brown and gray underneath, and still walked away with a lot of really nice wool. It is very convenient in this type of situation that a lot of shetlands naturally shed (or partially shed) their coats each year. The break in the wool between the two coats was easy to pull apart by hand.

Wish I’d met the sheep.  She must have been a beauty.