Monday, February 16, 2009

Knit one, two, three...

I was straightening up my room, and I managed to gather up all the knitting bags into one pile:

This is eight projects that are actually cast on and being worked, plus four that I want/need to cast on this week. (The line between want and need tends to blur for me.) And the pile is actually conservative, since I left the yarn for another five sweaters in the bin.

I really need to win the lottery so I can afford to quit my job and stay home to knit!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's been a Fiber Weekend

I spent yesterday spinning at the Farmer's Market. Today I've been cleaning fleeces. I much prefer the spinning to the cleaning, so if anyone would like to clean some fleece in turn for having half of it spun for you please let me know!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Becka and the Band

I had to share this picture of Becka and the band. This group was totally amazing. They're from Scotland, and I wish I could have made it to all of their performances.


It's Ren Faire time! I love dressing up and going to the Rennassaince Faire. My daughter and I joined some friends of mine who happen to be members of a re-enactment group. My sister and niece also met up with us, and we all had a great time.

This year I treated to henna tattoos. I love mine, and am seriously thinking of having it made permanent. (It'll look better, once the sunburn fades a bit.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Taking a spin during a green weekend.

Michelle and I (and Faith, although she wasn't listed by name) have attained our fifteen minutes of fame as spinners. We made the local paper (The Jupiter Courier, 1/28/2009) after our first appearance as "featured artists" at the Albacoa Green Market.

Today was our second appearance at the market, and even though we still haven't sold any of our handspun yarn, we plan to become regulars at the market. It's a lot of fun, lets us educate people about spinning (something sadly lacking in the modern educational system), gives us a chance to expose people to the fiber addiction, and (most important of all) is an excuse to sit and spin together.

Friday, February 06, 2009

This one's for ewe...

Two weeks ago (has it really been two weeks already?) Great Balls of Yarn held a local Sheep and Wool Festival. For nonknitters and anyone not familiar with Palm Beach County, Great Balls of Yarn is the local yarn store. They have some really wonderful stuff, like the cashmere yarn I've been using to knit my daughter's gloves. (That yarn is like working with a dream, it's so soft and wonderful!)

Anyway, one of the managers of Great Balls of Yarn happens to also be a spinner. (She's a member of my Boca Knitting Group as well, and she was one of the first people I met who actually spins. I'd blame her for my obsession, except that I bought my wheel before I knew that she was a spinner.) Marnie's neighbors/friends have sheep, and she had a bunch of fleeces that she was given. So she decided to have the Sheep Festival to share her knowledge and expertise with other south Florida knitters.

The process of making yarn starts with fleece. I'm stating the obvious, I know. This was the first time, however, I've seen raw fleeces. Marnie had several black trash bags filled with the raw fleece (and I got to bring one of those bags home with me!). The sheep are outdoor animals, and they are not given any sort of a bath before being shorn. So the fleece has some veggie matter (and poop, too, although that doesn't sound as nice as saying "veggie matter"). So the first thing to do is to wash the fleece.

Marnie used a plastic tub filled with hot water, and added a little dish detergent. You need the mild dish detergent rather just soap because of the lanolin that's present in sheep wool. The dish detergent will cut through and eliminate the grease from the fleece. It is possible to spin wool with the lanolin present (it's called spinning in the grease, I believe), but most processed rovings are relatively lanolin free.

The fleece was put into the hot, soapy water and allowed to soak until the water was cooled off. Then we drained the tub, and gently squeezed out the fleece. The tub was refilled with clean hot water, and the fleece was put in to rinse. After two or three rinses, the fleece was spread out to dry.

Marnie had previously worked up some of the fleece, so were able to go on to the next step. I figure that normally, it's going to take about three hours to clean the fleece, not counting the time for it to dry. So that bag I have will take an entire day, minimum, to wash.

Once dry, the fleece needs to be pulled apart so that the fibers can be spun. This can be done by hand or on carders. And actually, once you've pulled it so that the fibers are separating, it's possible to go ahead and start spinning the wool.

Marnie had English combs, so she demonstrated the hand carding. These particular combs are very sharp, but otherwise it's like brushing hair. The point is to separate the fibers and get everything going in one direction instead of being a tangled mess.

Then the combed fibers were loaded on the drum carder, which further separates and straightens the fibers.

At this point, the roving is looking very nice. You can still see some nubs, but a couple of times more through the drum carder took care of that.

The finished roving is ready to spin, or to be dyed if you prefer.

Marnie used the newly carded roving to demonstrate her wheel. I had my wheel there, too, so I was able to do a little spinning. I also showed off the drop spindle, and wow'd the crowd with my newly acquired ability to walk and spin at the same time.

The second part of the Festival as dying the roving and yarn, but I think I'll wait and tell you about that tomorrow.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday Photo Theme: Container

Last week, this wonderful box full of yarn was delivered. It's the prize I won from Ravelry's Special Olympic Scarf project. Coats & Clark offered several gifts to random scarves, and I was one of the winners. Actually, I got two prizes since I was also a moderator.

There is yarn for a sweater for each of my girls, yarn for socks, and lots and lots of baby yarn. The baby yarn was going to be for the charity baby hats, but with this much yarn I think I'm going to do a couple of sweaters for charity as well.

I've been enjoying just fondling the yarn, since I won't let myself cast anything else on until I finish a project or two. And counting the yarn that was already in my stash and queued for projects (which means that I'm not counting sock yarn, since that's not for specific patterns yet), if I could assume that it would take me two weeks to knit each project (as if I really could knit a sweater or a lace stole in just two weeks!), I could knit until this time next year. If I add in the sock yarn, I'll be knitting until my youngest graduates high school.

This, by the way, may explain why there hasn't been many posts lately -- I'm too busy knitting!