Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Fleece Prep

I received a package in the mail yesterday from Ferris Farms in Arthur, ON. It contained a fleece I purchased sight unseen. I was anxious to open it, as I love getting packages, but I didn't know what to expect.
As I opened the box and pulled out the bag there was that now familiar smell of sheep fleece; to a spinner that's not a bad smell. I laid it out on my large work table out in the barn and loads of green feed kept coming out all over the table - wee itty bitty pieces.  The dung tags had been removed and the strip down the back had mostly been removed though some was still there.

I pulled out a staple, which was about 4" in length, gave it a snap by my ear and it proved to be sound. The crimp in the staple is 7-8 crimps per inch. Pulled out a few more from different areas and all proved to be strong.
The tips on the fleece are good, though I don't think it will wash to a bright white, but that's okay, I don't mind some creamy colour.

I started sorting the fleece into piles of different qualities. The cleanest and best; wavy, but still very good that I will prepare and spin worsted; shorter for carding; and quite seedy, but with nice crimp. I had two large stacks of very nice fleece.

My choice for dealing with the loose feed in the fleece was to take a handful and shake the loose stuff off. I spent a pleasant afternoon doing this. What kept me going was the goal of a very nice crimpy fleece I know will be a joy to spin.

Type of fleece? It is a Dorset cross type and weighed just over 7 lbs. before I started shaking it.

I soaked it overnight in mesh bags just in cold water; took it out and spun it in my front load washer.
I then put a few large pots of hot water on the stove, added some Dawn dish detergent, added my fleece in the mesh bags. Kept the water on a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Spun in washer; rinsed in warm water; rinsed again; then soaked for 5 minutes with a little vinegar in the water. Spun it out again and then laid the sorted fleece on old window screens outside.

I have had to vigorously shake the fleece again and I am still getting a lot of stuff falling out. I think when I card this I will still have lots falling out and probably will still see more when I spin it up. Still the fleece was worth the trouble. It is a nice fine crimpy Dorset type that should make up into something very nice.

Here are the pics.
Fleece out of the bag

The vm and little second cuts.

Sorted stacks.

A few locks I just had to wash to see the 'after' state of affairs.

Cold water soak overnight

A few locks spun. Will knit a small sample. 2 ply. 9:1. Draft 1.5":1 treadle
After the scour

Some of the crimp and vm

This I will comb and spin worsted for something like a stitch patterned pair of mittens.This is not as fine

Nice crimp.

Grey with vm

Nice fine crimp. More shaking to do.
I just added a little knit sample. 2.5 mm needles.Less than 20 sts.

I am convinced it will be lovely when I am finished. I really need an ivory cardigan. But I love the fun of dyeing. Oh the difficult choices I must make...

Would I buy this again? Right now I'd say probably, but next time wouldn't it be a treat to see what a coated sheep fleece is like? Anyways, almost everything I do is a learning experience.

I should be outside tending my gardens; but instead I'm going to harvest some rhubarb and make a pie. The first one of the season is always the best!

And from the leaves I will get an oxalic acid solution to aid in some nature dyeing. More on that another time.

New Pink Socks

Blue Faced Leicester/nylon superwash
These are some socks I recently finished. A nice pattern made using the book by Charlene Schurch called Sensational Knitted Socks. A great format for a sock knitting book. Choose many designs by the stitches per inch in the pattern repeat and fit your sock to your foot by the gauge you knit with your yarn.
The yarn is a Blue Faced Leicester / nylon blend (superwash) purchased from The Fibre Garden in Jordan, ON.
I custom dyed it at the Oxford Weavers and Spinners Guild event one afternoon a few weeks ago. That was a fun thing to do and I just love the results. Thanks to Yvonne N. and the Guild for having this event. Yvonne provided all the dye supplies and guidance.
I first took the undyed skein and rewound it into a 20 foot length and securely tied it frequently so it wouldn't tangle; soaked in a detergent solution; then a citric acid solution. Next I spread it out on a large table covered with plastic wrap. Prepared dye solutions were applied by sponge brush; then the dyed yarn was wrapped in the plastic and placed in a steamer for 40 minutes.
I left it sit overnight before I gave it a wash and rinse. Results were very pleasing for me.
I also did one in greens and blues I will make up for my hubby.

I'm still working on the green socks. It's a very interesting pattern. I will get a lot of satisfaction when these are completed. This is the second sock; one is done.
Basket Weave pattern