Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deeper and deeper she goes! Where She Stops, Nobunny Knows.

Okay, this is a natural step I think. I was flirting with a drum carder, but as always is a risk with me, I saw something shiny and got distracted.

I bought some combs. These are hand made by father/daughter team in Canada, where she's the fiber person who comes up with the specs from a user's standpoint, and dad is a seasoned woodworker. Beautiful combs, expensive combs. Sharp combs. Lethal combs. My first, and I'm inexperienced, but I have a feeling these will turn out to have been a great purchase.

These come in various woods, but I was taken by the Applewood ones. I found out, in corresponding with the daughter, that Dad is making the applewood combs from a tree that was felled in her aunt's yard. Once all the wood is used up from that tree, they may not offer applewood ones anymore. Somehow that made them all the sexier. They're inlaid with maple.

Meanwhile, I just had to try processing wool from scratch. It's the natural next step to spinning, except it usually comes later once a person has some idea of the different kinds of wool. I know only a few from spinning experience, but it's all good. Some's just better.

My LYS only has two fleeces, both going on a year old, but not dried out at all. I bought test amounts, even though they're not the breed wools I'd normally be working with. 0.7 lb. of Lincoln (it felt quite soft, though Lincoln apparently isn't) and 1/2 lb. New Zealand, which had 2+ colors in its basket. I got some of both. The beige will likely wash out white, and I have no idea how the brown will come out, it's varying shades all the way to quite dark. Now this wool definitely feels more coarse.

I test scoured about half the Lincoln today. Here's the raw fleece in all its smelly, greasy glory, just as it was shorn. I actually adored the pre-scoured color. This must be from the phenomenal amount of lanolin that's in it. Too bad the color goes with the lanolin, but it's something that's gotta be done. Scouring is what washing raw fleece is called.

Here it is in the pot. That's a big spaghetti pot with a borrowed deep fryer inset from another pot and the fleece in it. Almost-boiling water with a glug of Dawn Dish Detergent in it. That's to melt out and eat up the grease! You can see the steam above the pot. Yup, that's how it goes.

After that, into a pot of almost-boiling clearwater for rinse it goes. Then drained it, then stuck it in my salad spinner to whirr out all the excess water. Then spread it out on cookie cooling racks.

Et voila! Some wet ends...

I love this. Look at the color difference from the raw, unscoured fleece. Wowza! I hated to lose that color though. A dye pot just couldn't duplicate it.

In a different, less harsh light

So next is combing, then spinning. I don't have the carder (YET!) but I think I'd comb this anyway. It's a very long staple length wool, so this might be a challenge for my particular combs which are actually meant for finer fibers.

Here's the New Zealand. This will be a whole nother experience, for sure! Way more coarse feeling, and a totally different texture. Lots of it is like dredlocks. This will be very interesting.

Next is dye-ing. My new spin group that I'm joining is having "Fun Dye Day" in mid-July. I might tinker with some Easter egg dye though in the meantime. At this point, I'm mostly curious how this fleece combs and spins. I don't think I'll be able to wait until mid-July. "Mommie, are we there yet??"