Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-08-2012
Hubs and I went to the Dover Fair this weekend, which has the fancy title above but is not much fun to type. I entered two of my knit items into the arts & crafts “competition” and won TWO first prize ribbons! Most everyone won a blue ribbon, but that didn’t detract from mine at all. We also saw LOTS of adorable animals. Pictures below.
SSMS by Wendy Johnson, knit in Highland Handmades Sugar Maple Sock in “Half Shell”
- Girasole by Jared Flood, knit in undyed sheep’s wool yarn.
Smooth faced sheep…
Wooly faced sheep!
Smooth ear cow …
Wooly ear cow!!
Much fun was had by all, and I managed to snag two bags of my favorite maple-sugar cotton candy. All was right with the world!
Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 20-03-2012
Spinning Navajo-churro may be something many people enjoy, but I have to say that I am not one of them. I decided to spin this very long, hairy fiber as a thicker single with low twist; I was worried that too much twist would make the ends of each fiber poke out too much, making this already prickly fiber even worse. Above is the single, all wound up for plying.
The fiber drafted from the combed preparation fairly well, and the fibers slid past each other fairly easily. But the feel of the fiber in my hands was very much that of over-treated hair. It was by turns crunchy and slick. The fibers had a pretty consistent length and diameter, as much as my hands could tell me.
It wasn’t long before I’d spun up the entire sample. Unlike the Southdown, which likes to be spun thin, the N-C fiber enjoyed the thicker single (and I enjoyed having it out of my hands sooner). As I plied the single ends in the opposite direction, I ended up with the 2-ply you see above. You can really see the halo that the fiber has; even spinning it loosely, there are a lot of ends poking out. I ended up with 34 yards, which is a third of what I got from the Navajo-Churro. The finished yarn is interesting, but it isn’t very fun and I don’t think I’ll ever purchase an N-C fleece for my own use.
The next fiber I’ll be studying is a new one to me: Oxford!
Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-02-2012
The cleaned N-C fiber weighed in at 37g after I took out the weird little bits that were different odd fibers (see part 1). I lost 23g from the pre-washed and picked fleece. That’s much more significant than I’d expected, especially considering how little lanolin I noticed. There must have been a lot of dirt and sand in this fleece to account for the difference!
I got out my Indigo Hound Viking combs to process the N-C locks. This fiber is exactly the type of fiber the combs were made for. I slid several locks onto one comb, tip out:
After combing, the fiber looked much more uniform in color and crimp:
However, once I dizzed the fiber, I noticed that the combed top still had remarkable color variation. I really enjoyed the effect. It remains to be seen how this fiber will look spun and plied up. I gently wound the top around itself to make little nests of fiber. Aren’t they cute?
There was a lot less noticeable veggie matter (VM) in this top as compared to the Southdown. The fiber wasn’t crimpy enough, I think, to hold a lot of VM within the fleece. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining!
After removing the waste bits from the combs, I ended up with 27g of combed top. I lost just over 1/2 of the original weight of the fiber. Even so, what remains is MUCH more pleasant to touch, smell, and look at than the original was. It still feels very much like human hair and looks like a bad faded-to-gray bleach job.
Stay tuned for Part 3 – Spinning!
Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 17-01-2012
On to the second fiber from The Spinning Loft’s fiber sampler. This fiber is very different from the last. VERY. Here’s what the experts have to say about Navajo-Churro sheep and fiber:
Pic from Navajo-Churro Sheep Association
- N-C sheep are descendents of Churra sheep brought to Mexico from Spain between 1494 and 1540.
- The sheep were raised by the Navajo people, and in the late 1800s the US Army slaughtered thousands of these sheep in an effort to control the Navajo tribe.
- N-C sheep are hardy, adaptable sheep that deal well with periodic doubts and meager vegetation. They are also parasite and foot-rot resistant.
- Because of the unusual characteristics of the wool, the N-C breed helped develop the textile traditions of the Southwestern native peoples.
- N-C sheep are double-coated and have a lot of variation within the breed. They range in color from white to tan, black, brown, gray and even spotted.
- N-C sheep can have up to two sets of horns; a curly pair that hang below their ears and a longer, larger pair that curl less above the head.
Pic from Slow Food USA
Navajo-churro fleece is considered to be suitable for “mid-range garments, outerwear, and rugged outerwear, depending on the grade.” That means everything from mittens to rugs. Quite a range! This is due to the relationship of the two types of fibers in the fleece. The downy undercoat, the softer of the fibers, makes up about 80% of the fleece weight (which can be up to 8 pounds!) and has a micron count between 10 and 35. 10 microns is finer than merino! High 20 micron counts begin to become prickly. The remaining 20% of the fleece is “guard hairs” or outercoat. The micron count of the outercoat begins around 35 microns and goes up. Once resource did say that up to 5% of any N-C fleece may be very prickly kemp that comes in at 65 microns and up. This is, clearly, not ideal.
Fiber in the Bag
The fiber that I received from The Spinning Loft was less than ideal, for sure. Not the quality of the fiber; that seems to be consistent with what I’ve read about the breed. But the SMELL of the fiber was absolutely repugnant. It reeked of urine. Now I understand that I am dealing with raw wool – I have no problems with “sheepy” smells or even poo smells… it comes with the sheep. but the smell of this fiber nearly knocked me over. As soon as I got it out of the bag and photographed it, in it went into the hot water/Dawn dishliquid combo. When it was clean and dry, here’s what I had:
60 Grams of Raw Fiber
This fiber is long, hairy, and had very little lanolin in it. It almost felt dry to the touch. It feels smooth and hair-like. There are a number of different fiber length and types in this little bit:
The little dark and light bits in the near above photo were weird. Totally unlike the rest of the feece; these bits had no outercoat, were a different color and had different crimp and feel. I wonder if they are from another breed that accidentally got in the bag or if they were near an area of the sheep’s body that had a different need (the belly or elb, for instance). I took the weird bits out and tossed them. I wanted to deal with the traditional N-C fleece only. The majority of the locks has a small amount of curly crimp and changed color from medium gray at the base to a bleached tan at the tips. The tips were narrower than the base.
It smelled much better once it was clean and dry. Thank heavens!
The fiber mass
In Part 2, I will process the fiber for spinning. Stay Tuned!
- The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius
- The Knitter’s Book of Wool, by Clara Parkes
- In Sheep’s Clothing, by Nola Fournier & Jane Fournier
Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-01-2012
When the fiber was all combed and wound into nests, it sat in a bag for a few days and cried out to be spun. I’ve heard that short stapled fibers lead to thick yarn, because otherwise the yarn singles drift apart. I decided to put my wheel ratio to the highest setting (17:1, I think) and see what happened.
What happened was that this Southdown spun finely and evenly like a dream. Like an absolute dream. I was helped by the small amount of lanolin left in the fiber, which enabled the very fine fibers to slide past each other smoothly. I did put a lot of twist into the singles so that when plied, the fiber wouldn’t drift apart. After spinning all the singles, I let it rest a day then wound it up into a center pull ball to two-ply it.
At every step of spinning, winding and plying, more veggie matter fell out. I did still have to soak the finished yarn in very hot water to remove the rest of the lanolin and some more of the VM. What I ended up with was this:
It's so FLUFFAY!
98 yards of an incredibly fluffy, smooshy, squishy goodness. I love this sproingy yarn! I did notice that because of the crazy directions of the individual fibers, the yarn plies are not very clearly defined … the overall yarn doesn’t have a lot of definition. It’s not really *fuzzy* as far as halo, but it can be hard to identify the two separate plies the entire way through. I haven’t knit it up yet, though, so I’m not sure how that will look when it becomes fabric.
Can you pick out the plies?
So final thoughts: This fiber was so much more lovely to work with than I’d anticipated. I’d heard it could be troublesome, but it was lovely. The next Southdown fiber I get will have to have less VM in it, though, because the fibers grab and keep hold of the VM too well.
Next up: Navajo Churro