Monday, April 23, 2012

It's been a busy time around here since my last entry.  This past weekend we had the open house for our new Jackson County Government Center where I work.  We spent all day Friday getting everything looking great for our visiting guests.  I volunteered at the open house and took care of making sure we had coffee and cookies for the visitors.  We had a great day showing off our new building to the citizens of Jackson County.  We moved in at the end of February and are working at settling in.  It's absolutely beautiful and I am so happy to have such a great place to work in.

I have been busy learning to scour (wash) my wool fleeces, pick them and card them in order to be ready for my next trip to Storden.  I want to have plenty of it ready so I can sit and practice spinning.  I thought that I would show you how the fleece starts off and what it looks like when I finally have it prepared to sit down at MaryB and spin.

I was fortunate that Connie and Norm had sheared their sheep and Connie shared the fleece of LuLu with me.  LuLu is a Corriedale sheep with beautiful white fleece.  This is what Lulu's fleece looked like after it was sheared from her and brought to me.

I then learned the fine points of scouring the fleece....can we say sheepy smell when wet!  lol  I diligently made sure my water was HOT HOT HOT, put the fleece into mesh laundry bags and added my Dawn dishwashing soap to the water and ever so gently added the bag of fleece so that it didn't feel it was being agitated and felt on me.  Left it soak for 30 minutes and repeated with another HOT HOT HOT bath.  After the second bath it was time to rinse it in a tub of hot water,  to which I added a good cupful of white vinegar.  By washing the fleece you are removing the lanolin and dirt and other undesirable items.  Then I ran it through a spin cycle in the wash machine and this is what it looked like after it had dried.

Amazing what a hot, soapy bath will do!  As I picked through the wool I wondered how in the world I was going to remove the VM (vegetable matter) which is grass, hay or whatever else LuLu decided she might roll around in, out of the wool for me to card it.  I did card some and it was very difficult to get it all out in that manner.  So I took to the internet for some research and came up with what else?....a wool picker.  What is a wool picker you may ask?

This is a version of a wool picker.  There are much larger, more dangerous and expensive wool pickers out there but this one had good reviews made by someone in Oklahoma so I ordered one.  Those are sharpened nails set at an angle in there as well as the piece with the handle when you lift it up has the same sharpened nails.  You put the washed fleece on the left side and slide the top piece back and forth across the wool.  This separates the fibers which helps to release the vegetable matter and fluffs up your fleece for carding.  Here is what the fleece looks like after it has been picked. There still is some vegetable matter in there but it can be picked out when I'm carding.

Fluffy like clouds in the sky!

Next I break out the hand carders.  They look like large dog slicker brushes.  Many sharp little teeth in them to align your fibers.

While carding the fleece I remove the remaining bits of grass and or hay and remove the fleece from the carders and make a rolag which is a little log of fleece.  From the rolag I pre-draft the fleece by pulling it into a thin, see through length of fiber about a foot and a half long.  Then I wrapped this around my hand and made what I would call a bird's nest.  Here is my basket that I have been working to fill with fleece that is now ready for me to spin on MaryB.

Beautiful white, soft as silk fleece from my friend LuLu, the sheep!!!  Thank you LuLu for kindly sharing your warm, soft fleece with me!!!!

I've been working hard to learn the finer points of the process from washing your raw fleece, to carding it in preparation of spinning.   Eventually when I can spin some presentable yarn that can be warped on my loom and made into something I have made from from the fleece of a sheep to a finished project I will cherish it for years to come.   I have a long way to go, but I find much joy and relaxation in creating something with my own two hands and that is what keeps me on my quest to learn.

My hope for you who read this is to weave your own dreams whatever they may be.  Thanks for stopping by and come back soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After my day at Storden, I returned home armed with a list of items I would need to continue on my journey into spinning.  I went searching out on the internet for a Niddy Noddy and a yarn swift.  I ran across the directions to make both of them from PVC pipe and excitedly printed off the pattern and the supply list and went to show my hubby.  He said he could make them for me.  So the next day he went downtown to pick up the supplies.  And here is what he made for me!  He tweaked the pattern somewhat so that I can move the arms on the swift in and out.

Much to my surprise he used a piece of wood that I had branded with my buffalo branding iron that I use on my wood furniture for Rendezvousing.

Today my package arrived from The Woolery and it included my hand carders, my bobbin winder for weaving with my boat shuttles and a few new bobbins for my spinning wheel.

The other night I sat with my spinning wheel and new words....pinch, pull and ride it down, pinch, pull and ride it down.  I think I was talking in my sleep that night saying those words over and over.   lol  I found if I pre-drafted my fleece a lot I didn't have so many lumps and bumps along the way.  I am hoping that eventually it will become a motion that I won't even have to think about as I continue to learn to spin.  That's about it from my little world, I have fleece rinsing as I type and it's time to go and take care of it.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my latest adventures and come back soon!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Saturday I spent the day in Storden learning to spin.  What a wonderful group of new friends I found.  I met Connie at the New Ulm Trade sale and expressed my interest in learning to spin and she told me of the group she and her sister Candy had started;  Storden's Stitch in Time.  The group are local women dedicated to traditional fiber arts and sharing their knowledge.  Connie told me if I would like to come to the group she would teach me to spin.  I was so excited to find someone and a group at that, where I could go to learn to spin and to talk to others who shared my interest in weaving and other fiber arts.

MaryB and I  had the most fantastic day with these ladies!!!!   MaryB came to live with me and be my companion as I enter the spinning world.  She did her best with this new green student and I'm sure she will become a great friend as I strive to become a spinner.

Connie started out by introducing me to  MaryB's parts and what those parts would do.  Then I practiced how to treadle on the spinning wheel.  Connie's sheep Lulu kindly gave her fleece for me to get started with and Connie explained to me how to process raw wool from the washing process to carding the wool in preparation to start spinning.  Connie did a lot of prep work by washing some of Lulu's beautiful white wool for me and it was delightful to work with.  I then learned how to card the wool.  Next it was up to me and MaryB to get acquainted and start learning how to spin.  Connie and her sister, Candy are wonderful teachers showing me how to get started and offering encouragement and suggestions as I struggled to draft and spin the wool.  I'm hoping by next month's get together I can successfully join on new pieces of the carded wool in a smooth fashion as well as having the fiber look more like yarn on the bobbin instead of a bunch of lumps and bumps!!!  lol  Everyone there assured me that it will come to me but I have always been the kind that struggles taking the baby steps when  I would like to be jumping and skipping before I know how to walk!  I do know now, that I have caught the bug to spin.  The feel of the fiber sliding through your fingers and seeing it go onto your bobbin and knowing that when it becomes fiber to weave with is just amazing.

I would like to thank Connie and Candy for their patience and sharing of their knowledge, I know with their mentorship I can do this!!!!!  

Here are some pictures of yesterday's adventures and new friends I made.

Me and MaryB

Betty spinning her beautiful green fiber

Brenda and Candy spinning

Drafting and spinning