Friday, April 17, 2009

A Corrie-Tale

My silence has been mighty, and for that I apologize. I have no excuse, other than the "perfect" blog post that I've been writing in my head for 2 months, but which hasn't seen a pen or paper or keyboard. So I will temporarily give up that ghost, and focus on other non-ghostly white fluffy things.

What I most want to share with you is my biggest spinning project to date, that I haven't posted about since it was in its beginning stages. The spinning is long done, and it deserves a blog post of its own.

Several months ago, I bought a few pounds of a wonderful corriedale fleece. I scoured it, combed it, and spun it up into a sweater's worth of yarn. I know I posted some photos of the early parts of this project, and here is a short photo essay of some other parts of the process, starting with beautiful clean locks, and ending with a mighty pile of handspun yarn.

the last of the locks
The last of the locks, ready for combing. This was a somewhat nostalgic photo for me, as it took so long to comb all of the wool. I enjoyed the process, and was a little sad to see the end of it.

Spinning Central
A photo of my combing workspace, looking neater than it usually does. You can see my combs (Alvin Ramer Super Mini Combs) clamped to the table on the left, a small basket of combed top on the right, and a lineup of full bobbins of singles in the back.

Combing Wool 1
These are locks, being prepared for combing. This is about how much I would put on my combs at once. I used the yellow camping towel (very absorbent) because I sprayed the locks with water (and a bit of wool wash with tea tree oil), to help prevent static electricity while combing.

Combing Wool 2
Locks lashed onto the comb, ready for combing.

Combing Wool 5
Locks after 3 passes of combing, ready to be pulled off the combs into top.

Combing Wool 8
Using a diz to pull top off the comb.

Combing Wool 10
The leftovers -- short bits that weren't long enough to come off the comb as part of the top. I erred on the side of leaving more behind, for a higher quality yarn with fewer nepps and short fibers.

Combing Wool 11
Hand combed top is a lot airier and more delicate than commercially prepped top. It's a pleasure to spin.

It may be impossible to have too many photos of this stuff!

I kept my bobbins organized in chronological order, so I could mix them up in an organized fashion when I plied the yarn.

the whole thing
The (almost) final product. Six big skeins of 3 ply corriedale, worsted to aran weight. I am sending it off this weekend to be dyed, because I don't trust myself to dye this much yarn all in the same shade. (I just don't have a dye pot big enough!) What color will it be? Hmm, perhaps I'll keep that a surprise. But I have a little sample skein, and it's going to be awesome. More on that when it's done!

I am in love with the process of going from raw fleece to beautiful fluffy handspun in a quantity large enough for a sweater. So in love with that process, in fact, that I feel pretty dedicated to doing it a lot more in the future. I have already acquired two more fleeces -- a romney lamb's fleece in variegated colors, that I've almost finished scouring, and a CVM fleece in a brownish grey that will be up next for scouring. I'm hoping to acquire more raw wool at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool next month, and/or by ordering online from trusted farms. I don't plan to give up completely on commercially prepped stuff dyed in gorgeous colors by talented fiber artists, but I do plan to cut back. This Spring's fleece acquisitions are meant to sustain me for much of the next year, primarily for sweater knitting, but perhaps also for smaller projects. I've always admired gardeners who have the patience to plan for months and years ahead. I don't know if I'll ever be a great gardener, but harvesting these Spring fleeces feels much the same.

More soon, my friends. I promise.


Blogger Liz said...

Thanks for photographing the whole process. I tend to spin from commercially prepared fibre (the idea of a whole fleece kind of scares me) but seeing your process is very inspiring.

4/17/2009 8:07 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

So pretty and fluffy!

The batts came the other day--they're absolutely gorgeous. I posted a little bit about them at my new blog.

4/17/2009 9:06 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

Lovely! I, for one, really enjoy seeing the whole process come together. And I'm looking forward to seeing you process my "sister fleece," especially since mine is across the border and out of reach for the indefinite future.

4/17/2009 9:28 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I've been following your progress over on Ravelry and have been so impressed from the get go. I'm excited to see what you do with the yarn once it's dyed!

4/17/2009 10:08 AM  
Blogger Pumpkinmama said...

Looks divine! Can't wait to see what color you chose.

4/17/2009 11:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awesome! Can't wait to see! I'm up to a pound at a shot, dyeing.

4/17/2009 12:06 PM  
Blogger jen said...

How wonderful! Very nice to see your progress. Looking forward to seeing the colour it will be!

4/17/2009 1:14 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Those photographs are beautiful - thanks so much for walking us through the process!

4/17/2009 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Danièle said...

Fleece is addictive isn't it ? You did a wonderful job of it all . Gave me more courage to scoure the lovely shetland fleece I received this morning !! Thanks

4/17/2009 2:10 PM  
Blogger aija said...

Gorgeous! I love the idea of spinning a white yarn and having it dyed-- I never buy white fleece since I don't like the idea of a white sweater but very cool!

Are you sending it to a dyer..?

4/17/2009 4:12 PM  
Blogger Siew said...

Oh my, that looks so incredible. The whole process is fascinating. One I don't think I have the patience to ever go though but what a gratifying feeling you must have.

4/17/2009 9:01 PM  
Anonymous JP said...

Wow. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your process. It is really inspiring for a beginner to see your work. Are you still planning a post on combing and carding?

4/18/2009 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love getting to see the whole process...thank you so much for sharing! The yarn is gorgeous.

4/18/2009 6:20 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

MAN! Look at the crimp!

4/18/2009 11:55 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Wow, you are becoming a master! Please write a book. :)

4/19/2009 3:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing your process. Inspirational. I just purchased a fleece and can't wait to give it a go myself.

4/19/2009 4:07 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

i'm wondering if you're lashing butt end towards the handle, or tips to handle? did you cut the tips off? hey look square.

thank you for yet another amazing post.

4/19/2009 4:48 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thats amazing spinning, especially to get it so consistent. I am still earning and am still on a 100g of fibre I started ages ago! I think that it is one of my goals one day to have the stamina to spin a sweaters full of yarn :)

4/20/2009 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, that's gorgeous! What a big project! I can't wait to see what color it'll be. I just got a spinning wheel a week ago and am having a hard time imagining I'll ever be that good!

4/27/2009 1:38 AM  
Anonymous julianna said...

Great post! I loved all the pictures and description of fiber prep. This looks like it's been a really fun project. I can't wait to see what it looks like dyed and then knit!

4/28/2009 2:55 PM  
Blogger MRS MJW said...

Uh, that looks sooo soft and yummy.

5/08/2009 11:07 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

This looks great! I love seeing the photos from start to finish.

5/10/2009 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Jolene said...

When I do my own fleece washing at home... it never comes that sparkling white! do you use a special soap? or just many many repetitions?

I love watching what comes out of your imagination!

keep it up! (and blog about it!)

5/16/2009 9:07 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

How wonderful to watch that entire process. Gorgeous photos and lovely yarn- I can't wait to see what you'll knit with it!

6/01/2009 1:13 PM  

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