Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Supposedly, I knit and spin.

I haven't actually shown you any knitting or spinning production in almost 3 weeks, so I thought it was time to cough up some pictures to prove that I really do still do those things.

I finished the Storm Cloud Shawlette by ever green knits in Schaefer "Martha." I love this pattern! It's based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl, except this one is slightly more than a half-circle, making it very easy to wear. I start wrapping with one end behind my neck, then across the front, around back, across the front again, and the second end over my shoulder. One of ToolMan's shawl pins keeps it in place beautifully.

And the back is as pretty as the front.

Perfect size for spring, just enough to keep the chill off. And the color is really nice, soft blues and greens; I wore it for St. Patrick's. The Schaefer yarn was very splitty to work with, but is very soft and has a lovely bloom in the finished project. It's a blend of wool, cashmere, and angora - definitely hand wash, although the label said it was one of the children's yarns. I don't know any moms of babies or small children who have time to hand wash and block a baby sweater, let alone any who would spend $40 per skein for the yarn to knit children's' wear! And when will yarn companies learn that anyone who's knitting for babies or children probably wants a superwash for everyday items? OK, rant over.

I spun up some of the small fiber samples from Abstract Fiber that have been accumulating in the stash. From left to right, they are: Mood Ring, Shady Glade, and Sunset.

Susan's fiber is wonderful to spin, and her colorways are beautiful. I particularly liked the "Sunset" colorway (red's always been my favorite color); I had 3 samples of that one, so it might become a cowl to add to my little collection.

And I finished up the Pygora blend from Mt. Hood Fibers (Go look at Deb's website, she's got the cutest little goaties on there!)and plied it with singles from silk hankies in "Aztec Sun" that I got from Crown Mountain Fibers last year at OFFF.

I am particularly happy with this; it's soft, bouncy, and the combination of shine from the silk and halo of the Pygora is just beautiful! I don't know what I'll make out of this; for now, I'm perfectly happy admiring it like sculpture on the table next to my chair.

I finally started washing the fleece from Greener Pastures Farm. This is the first time I've every scoured and processed my own fleece, and frankly, I'm not sure I'll ever do it again. It's time consuming and dirty, but I am learning a lot about what to look for when I shop for fleece.

From browsing blogs about fleece washing, I know this one isn't particularly dirty or heavy in lanolin, but I was startled when I put the first two lingerie bags in the water and this immediately happened:

Holy cow, or rather, sheep! Just look at all the dirt and lanolin coming out! I used the hottest water I could get out of the tap; we don't have children in the house, so our hot water heater is set up high enough to steam right out of the faucet. And a generous squeeze of lemon dish detergent swirled through the filled wash tub so as not to make any suds.

I've had to store the raw fleece in my stash room behind two closed doors to keep Andy Rooney out of it. But when I started washing it, I seriously underestimated the smell of greasy wool in steaming hot water; he's practically wild by the time it's time to take it out of the soapy water. I didn't want the lanolin and dirt to settle back on the fibers, so I only let it soak about 45 minutes.

I used a couple of forks to snag the lingerie bags and plop them in the other side of the sink to drain while I emptied the nasty water and filled up the wash tub with hot water for a rinse.

A ten minute soak in hot rinse water showed that it was pretty clean, but a second rinse wouldn't hurt.

After draining and another ten minutes in the second soak, and the water's clear. Time to drain and dry.

I let the lingerie bags drain in the sink for about 15 minutes while I laid out some old towels on the guest bed and set up an oscillating fan.

I spread the wet fleece bundles out to dry and Inspector 37 put on his stamp of approval. I'm not sure why this picture came out so "contrasty"; I tried every setting possible, but there must be something about the contract between the black and gray fleece and the light colors in the guestroom that causes this effect.

And the fiber must be clean enough, because by the time it was dry Andy Rooney had no interest it. I'm storing it in a large shopping bag until I have time to card or comb it.

This is only about 1/3 of the fleece in the plastic bag that needs to be processed, so I'll have lots to play with. And how glad am I that I only bought 1/2 of a fleece!


  1. I'm going to try to get some washed today and finish stuff over the weekend. Tracy is renting the carder this week, so we'll have it next week for any carding that you'd like to do with your fleece. Duffy also decided last night that she'd like to use the carder, but she's number 3 on the list. ;^)

  2. Lovely shawl! We missed you last night at Haggen; I hope Tool Man is feeling better.

    um, yeah, fleece washing...while it isn't my cup of darjeeling, I am in awe of you intrepid types! You'll eventually have beautiful yarn in your stash that has a story to tell.

  3. VERY nice shawlette, great colors.
    And I'm still lovin' those glasses.

  4. Love that shawlette! Just beautiful.
    I've got 2 and a half wool fleeces waiting for me in my sewing room, and most of 2 alpaca fleeces in the living room. All of them need to be washed.

  5. I'll be heading to Fantasy Fibers with my bundles. I really don't have good places to lay out my fibers to dry. The basement's too prone to damp and most of the horizontal surfaces in the house are covered with fiber stuff. If I clear it, I'll end up with a cat making a bed out of the locks.

    We missed you at SnS. Hope Rod's doing better. I'll bring QueerJoe's scarf with me next week so you can get a live peek.


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