Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013 - Stage 2

I've been scouring the house seeking my spare Ashford bobbins.  I know they are around here somewhere, but all I can find is the one lonely bobbin sitting on the wheel, fastly filling up with alpaca.  You think that would teach me to clean up the house... but you would be wrong.

So for the most part I've been focusing on my spindles.  The nice things about these is that they travel everywhere.  I in-hand spindle in the car, drop spindle in the shop - which unfortunately, I did quite literally several times - and I can spindle while I do just about anything.

Although there is one major drawback to modern day spindling, where to stash the fibre while you are spinning it.  Wrapping it around your wrist is all well and good, on a cold day, but it tangles.  No matter what I do, the fibre just gets muddled, which makes it more difficult to spin.  So I suspect a distaff is high up on my list of things to make this summer.

Something like this would be nice, complete with giant hen:

In fact, I'm quite tempted to try my hand at some medieval spindle reproduction.

Washing fleece outside proved to be challenging today with the wind kicking up and blowing out the portable stove I was using to heat the water.  More and more, I'm beginning to shy away from the lambswool and thinking of washing up the rest of my jacob fleeces instead.

Carding went better.  I decided to spin the alpaca fibre without washing it.  Some people are dead set against this, and I agree their objections have some merit.  But for me, I'm careful how I prepare the fibre for spinning, and what small amount of grit that is left in the fibre when it's transformed into yarn doesn't cause any significant difference in how the finished object wears.  But I wouldn't do this with white alpaca, oh no.  I much prefer to clean that first before spinning, otherwise the finished yarn doesn't have the luster it should.

A few spindles, at the top is the alpaca fibre carded and twisted into top knots.  The white fibre is the lambswool in the grease.  The spun yarns are samples of Icelandic lambswool, flax and alpaca.  The grey fibre on the spindle is Romney.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013, Stage 1

The Tour de Fleece is one of my favourite events of the year.  For three grueling weeks, myself and many others, spin yarn in honour of the brave cyclists of the Tour de France.

The Tour de Fleece is an opportunity to challenge ourselves to spin every day while the cyclists ride, and to try something a little more daunting that every day fibre arts.

Day 1 is something of a warm up (with a small amount of spinning not pictured here).  My focus was setting up the washing and carding area.

 What a view!

The two fleeces I am planning to spin are both from our farm.  The first is from that lamb that was shorn a few days back.

The second is from Tyrone, our newest rescue alpaca.  He has lovely dark fibre, very soft and very long.

Both fleeces need to be carded, but the lambswool needs to be washed first.

A tempting idea would be to spin only on spindles instead of on my wheel... but then I look again at how large a pile of fibre there is in my house and I feel I should at least spin the alpaca on the wheel.  But, possibly, just maybe, I might spin the lambswool spindle only.

I don't know what teams I'll be spinning for this year.  My main focus is spinning something every day to get back in the habit of spinning and blogging.

And here's a photo of Harris.  He was supervising us set up the outdoor work area.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sheep shearing day

Summer came (for a few weeks anyway) and it was time to shear the sheep.  

These are Icelandic sheep owned by some good friends of ours.  The sheep are staying on our farm which is awesome.  I get to learn all about keeping and caring for these fluffy animals.  Well, not so fluffy after the shearing.

And this little fellow belongs to me.  He doesn't have a name and unfortunately he won't get one.  Eventually he will be going in the freezer, but first I have the privilege of giving him the best and most enjoyable life I can.  This use to really bother me, knowing my food while it's still alive, and it's still very sad when the time comes; however, the more I work with animals, the more I love them.  If I am going to eat one, I want to know that it had a good life and a gentle end.

The fibre is fantastic for hand spinning.  This fellow has a duel coat, longer hairs, which because of his age are as soft as romney, and an even softer down coat next to his skin.  Because it's so perfect as is, and there is so little lanolin in it, I think I might wait for a warm week and work this in the grease.

There he is all naked and shy.  Good thing it was a warm day.

Do you remember those goslings I talked about in the spring?  Getting bigger, but still not full size.