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Posts Tagged ‘wool’

The number of ways I can find to annoy myself is amazing. This is the latest way.

spindle spinningYes, that is a Tibetan spindle, its bowl, and a whole lot of unspun merino wool. I’ve managed to have a whole 4 seconds of proper spinning where everything was clicking just right. It made my soul sing. However, I’ve not repeated those seconds.

I am teaching myself by reading and watching spinning videos how to do this. I’ve made progress too. It now takes me only one hour to get an empty spindle started as opposed to a half a day.  Once I get some “spun” wool (I use the word spun very loosely) I try to make a temporary cop. Then I try to slide that down the spindle to make a permanent cop. Almost everything will slide down to the permanent cop area near the whorl. Everything but the wool I used to start the spinning. It’s wound so tight it needs some serious tranquilizer prescribed for it. So I am making little cops near the top of the spindle until I can relax my starting style. I figure that might take a year or so.

When I went to purchase the unspun wool I didn’t know how much I’d need, but I figured it to be a lot since I have no faith in my ability to learn this craft. The online retailer offered wool in ounces, pounds and a whole sheep or two. My cursor really hoovered over the whole sheep choice. I mean, once I bought them and they were delivered what could The Skipper really say. Instead I went with something close to a pound of unspun wool. I know me and I know I need a ton of practice at this.

The rubber met the road, so to speak, on my spinning journey when the unspun yarn arrived and had to be introduced to Yarn Rascal. He knew something was wonderful and different the minute I hefted the bag in. Thank the spinning gods the package was Yarn Rascal proof because he went bananas. When I told The Skipper what I bought he said a number of things, but eventually he said it was going to take the two of us together to introduce Yarn Rascal to unspun yarn.

I decided to open the yarn package on the dining room table while The Skipper held Yarn Rascal so he could see but not touch the yarn. Remember in the 1960s when women wore kerchiefs on their heads and when they’d take them off their whole head of hair would pouf out into a large aura around their heads? Well, breaking open the package of yarn was much the same experience. Unshackled it was a lot bigger and a lot more yarn than I had imagined. Yarn Rascal went ballistic, jumped out of The Skipper’s arms and ran right on top of the table at the beach ball size thing of yarn.

Now unspun yarn needs to be handled gently in order not to felt or stick together or otherwise become unspinnable. A salivating, tongue hanging to his little ankles, wild eyed, screeching Yarn Rascal in no way bodes gentle handling. So I did the first thing that came to mind. I threw my body over the table and on top of the nice big beach ball pouf of yarn flattening it to within an inch of its life. This quick action has exacted its toll. Every time I go to spin some “yarn” (I use yarn in the loosest sense of the word) I have to predraft the fluff and air back into it.

Yarn Rascal was introduced to a small piece of unspun wool once we calmed him down. He is very interested in it and whenever he hears the spindle and bowl click together he comes running from whatever he’s doing to watch.

At some point I am going to put the “spinning” ( I use the word spinning in its loosest sense) down and finish the second sleeve of the Carbeth sweater, but right now I can’t  seem to keep my hands off the spindle.

 

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yarn bumblebee acres farm corriedale sock yarn

The Skipper’s sock yarns are on the way. In the meantime my little treats for myself have arrived.

These little darlings are from Bumble Bee Acres Fiber and are Corriedale wool.

I’ve always wanted to try Corriedale. It has a nice long staple, it’s suppose to be a bit more sturdy than merino, and it is still relatively soft—though not as soft as merino.

The Corriedale breed is the oldest. It is a cross between Lincoln and Merino breeds.

When they arrived, Yarn Rascal was bemused by them. Before they were out of the package he knew it wasn’t his merino, or merino with cashmere, or Shetland yarn. He sniffed them all over. Poked them with his nose, this is the real acid test of whether he likes a yarn or not, and then stepped back from them and looked at me as much to say “What the heck did you buy?” I explained Corriedale to him, emphasizing that merino was one of the breeds that made up the yarn. He was having none of it.

When I put them away in the Yarn Vault I put them in the bin with the straight merino wool. Yarn Rascal, who is nocturnal, plays in the Yarn Vault and the bins all night long. When I awoke the next morning I saw the three Corriedales deposited in the hallway, far away from the merino yarns he had been playing with during the night. I picked everything up, as usual, and put them all back in the same bin. At that point I didn’t realize Yarn Rascal was sending me a message about the way he felt about the Corriedales.

Next night Yarn Rascal was in the Yarn Vault again. In the morning I found the Corriedales left on the stairs going from the hallway to the living room. Still being dense, I picked everything up, put them in the same bin with the merino and back into the Vault.

The following night Yarn Rascal was clearly busy and unhappy in the Yarn Vault. There was much moving around of bins, little yips and grunts and a lot of running up and down the stairs. In the morning I found the Corriedales partially buried under the fleece blanket draped over the sofa. I got the message: he wanted the Corriedales to have their own separate bin away from his precious merino.

That night I put the Corriedales in their own bin. Yarn Rascal spent an evening of bliss in the Yarn Vault, ending with him rocking himself to sleep in the rocking chair with his merino wool around him. He never touched the Corriedale bin.

Not to worry Yarn Rascal! The Skipper’s yarns that are due to arrive are pure merino. Who knew a dog could be this fussy about yarn?

By the way, the colorways in the picture above from left to right are: Luncheon In London, Ladies Tea, and Winterberry in Coquette Sock.

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It’s that time of year again when the yearning to buy a few sheep, some alpacas and a couple of small horses is upon me. I collect real estate listings of farms near and far that are up for sale and casually leave the good ones on The Skipper’s side of the dining table. This will last until the end of November.

In the past, we have actually gone out to see the places. But because of one downside or the other have chosen to stay put instead. This year is different. Because of my mastectomy and breast cancer I need to be near doctors and facilities that can monitor me every three months. I trust the doctors and facilities I now have and I don’t think moving away from them would make me comfortable.

Still, I wish for the small sheep farm I’ve always wanted, only now fully recognizing that it may forever stay a dream. Unbeknownst to The Skipper, I am looking into the zoning code of our land to see if we can have sheep and how many. I’ve collected a few pictures of the different breeds that will find their way onto his side of the table. A new tactic. I could be content with two sheep and an alpaca.

All this looking at different breeds has led me to wanting to try yarn that is not the standard merino. Yet when I did a search for yarn other than merino, there is very little on the market in the US. I would love to work with wool I have never used before. Corriedale, Columbia, Rambouillet, are just some of the breeds I’ve come across that I’d be interested in trying.

Since their properties are a little different than merino, my research led me to reading about the best way to spin each separately or the best way to combine them with other fibers. Ladies and gentlemen there is a whole world of wool out there beyond merino. While each has it’s own downsides, I still want to experience them.

So once I’ve finished Dad’s blanket–I am almost done knitting the last strip and in the meanwhile have sewn up half the completed strips–I am going to experiment with wool beyond merino. After all, maybe I can’t have the sheep, but I can treat myself to their wool where I find it.

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At the moment, I am having a different kind of knitting experience. After much dithering I am knitting a blanket for my father that I hope to finish before his life ends. He is always cold lately and I thought a knitted blanket was a nice solution. I’ve made one crocheted afghan so I know the time and energy that goes into a large project like this. After I completed that afghan I felt done with ever doing another. To think of knitting an entire blanket was beyond what my mind could comprehend. Who in their right mind would ever consider such a project?

After Dad’s recent hospital stay, I overwhelmingly felt he needed a knitted blanket. Part of my mind rejected the idea of knitting it and said go out and buy him one. The other part of me felt that wasn’t the point at all. The buy him one side posed a valid argument that I don’t know how much longer Dad has and was I willing to start a blanket knowing I might not complete it in time? How would I handle that failure? The other side said that’s right I don’t know how much time he has left so I better get knitting.

Usually when I am knitting for someone the hours are filled with thoughts of them enjoying and using the item over time. It’s reaffirming a continuation of life. The hours spent knitting this blanket are not like that. Projecting forward in time brings me to placing it in his casket so it will always be near him. It’s a very different knitting experience. I see how I have associated knitting with hope and life and a continuation of positive things going forward. The connection between knitting and hope is, perhaps, the strongest for me. The act of knitting means hope and pushes away the feeling of despair.

While I have not fallen into despair knitting the blanket, the knitting is more solemn. Just to be on the safe side, I’d like to complete this blanket by September. So that’s where I am right now: at the hottest point in the summer, knitting a blanket made with bulky weight wool.

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