Sunday, July 24, 2011

Festival Spinning

It was a very busy weekend for me at the Colorado Renaissance Festival.  I don't think I have spun this much yarn ever in my life even with breaks.  Alas the cotton fiber didn't get worked on too much as it was hard to keep a rhythm with visitors and shop life.  I actually spun on two different wheels this weekend - on Saturday an Ashford Kiwi (double treadle wheel) and today an Ashford traditional (single treadle wheel).  I was quite impressed that I was able to develop a rhythm on each fairly quickly and created several skeins of yarn.  I made the Louet hank below on the Ashford Kiwi - it is 217 yards and a single ply (my first).  Although the bobbins on the Ashford look far smaller than my Louet bobbins it did hold 4 oz of spun fiber very well.  I also learned how to make photo collages like the one below this past week too.

The Traditional produced a single ply alpaca tricolor yarn and a single ply CVM/Yak blended yarn.  I will be double plying the alpaca later this week and still have some CVM to clean and create rolags for.  My mixture of CVM/Yak is about 90% to 10% and I still have a lot of yak fiber to spin.  I am thinking the remaining yak will be blended with some alpaca roving in the future.  Several fleece portions arrived this weekend to and all are cleaned sheep fiber.  I am still very sad about the dandruff on the one fleece and we had some good discussions on how to spin it this weekend.  One of the artisans owns sheep that can get dandruff in their fiber and they clean it and let the flakes fall out as they spin.  I brought a portion of the cleaned but still dandruff laced fleece to show them and had a lice comb suggested as a method of loosening the flakes from the fiber so that I can spin it.  Off to the grocery store later this week to test out this concept.  The fleece is very soft and has a good lock structure so it is so sad about the dandruff.

Today marks the last day of the Tour De Fleece which was very enjoyable although I don't think I should combine it quite so much with Renaissance Festival days.  I made two hanks of Lincoln wool (one single ply and one double ply), a hank of alpaca yarn (made from cloud fiber), a hank of alpaca tricolor yarn, two sample Romney hanks and one worsted spun Romney hank (214 yards), merino/silk yarn, spinning CVM/Yak yarn and spun some raw cotton from bolls.  It has definitely been 4 weeks of intense spinning and scouring of fibers which I truly enjoyed!

Next year at the Renaissance Festival I will do half a day spinning and half a day knitting or learning to weave so as to not burn out on the spinning.  One of our artisans actually does tatting which now that I have seen it up close looks really cool and I really want to learn it.  We had a couple of artisans that weave and one works on inkle looms.  Best of all our two males were knitters/spinners .  One of guys knits in leather and the other makes great yarn from a bottom whorl spindle.  It was cool to see guys asking and learning about the fiber crafts and of course it is always special to share the crafts with kids.  I had two little boys yesterday spinning on the double treadle machine and then one of them really took to weaving.  Youth will aid in keeping this skills/crafts alive for generations to come.

It looks as if a few fiber items and some yarn has sold at the fair but no knitting.  As we have had 90 degree weather I am not surprised that the wool and alpaca items have not sold.  Next year I think I will look into making cotton and linen items for the fair and in lace designs so that they breath.  I have so much fiber to spin including the bamboo rovings from the fair so my year will still be busy and my knowledge of various fibers shall expand in the months to come.  Well it is time for bed and back to the office tomorrow - I am hoping to get some volunteer hours in this week while gradually easing back into spinning some yarn.  Have a good night.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tour de Fleece

We are in week 3 of the Tour de Fleece challenge and I must admit that I have been spinning everyday (including rest days).  I put a lot of alpaca fiber on the drop spindle it looked so full.  Alas once I made it into a ball and skeined it - not so much.  The fiber was smooth as a single but became coarse as I twisted it.  I am thinking this yarn is not for close to skin wear maybe a hat or something.  It is a pretty brown color but just not as soft as Sophie Mae's cloud fiber.
Alpaca Cloud
The Lincoln wool top has been partially spun into yarn.  This is my first true long wool and it took some time to get a rhythm on the wheel to take up the fiber smoothly.  I had the same take up issues with plying but I am hoping the bath smooths things out.  It definitely has a cotton candy sort of look to the yarn and I still have half of the top to spin up too.
Lincoln wool

Romney fleece
The Romney fleece has been divided in half and scoured (cleaned).  I tried a new method that I have been reading about on Ravelry which is to soak the wool in cold water overnight to loosen the dirt.  Once removed one can scour the grease off the wool much better.  I must say that it did remove alot of the overall dirt and sand from the wool my only problem was I just stuck the fiber in the cold water without in thought of preserving lock formation.  It was a little difficult to scour locks once they had opened up onto one another but not too bad.  This batch will be spun worsted on the Louet - I have 2 1/2 baggies full of clean fiber to spin up. 

Merino/Silk yarn
My LYS want 400 yd of homespun yarn - I do not know if my wheel can deliver such yardage in the fingering weight class.  The merino wool/silk blend top when plied had the bobbin nearly full to the rim and it only yielded 240yd at 22 wpi with a worsted spun method.  The yarn is shiny and beautiful but no where near 400 yd and I used 4oz of top to create it.  I am thinking of striving for 250 yd of fingering weight on a consistent basis and believe if I go lace weight I could definitely get 400 yd due to the thinness of the fibers but plying lace weight is labor intensive.

I still have not blocked the scarf or doily as of yet perhaps today.  On the business front I received the check for my first wholesale order - must take a photo before depositing.  I need to check on how to endorse it into the business account too.  I will be at the Renaissance Festival next weekend and will try to get an idea of what items (yarn/fiber) have sold thus far.  I am excited to spin cotton in public and she has 3 wheels for me to try out for spinning fibers too.  I am going to demonstrate on Saturday and Sunday as I am sure the crowd make up will be different on both days.  I will clean the rest of the CVM wool so I can make rolags with the yak fiber as part of the demonstration and spin that on a wheel too.  The Romney will probably stay at home as it is a white/ivory color and I don't want it to get a lot of dirt spun into from being outside.  Hoping our afternoon/evening thunderstorms will be over by next weekend but we shall see.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yarn, yarn and more yarn

I was quite productive today and spun a lot of fiber.  The Romney locks have been spun into a worsted single play and a woolen single ply.  The worsted single was very smooth and straight on the niddy noddy but once off it was the highly twisted yarn. 

 The woolen single has less twist factor than I would have thought. 

Both are yellow toned from the stained tips even after a second washing.  They are drying and will be plied (center ball technique) this week so I can get an accurate gauge of how a 2 ply yarn will look.  I don't really like the yellow toned fiber so if the next cleaning batch is similar than I will cut the ends of to get a pure white yarn.

I then carded the CVM wool with some yak fiber into rolags and have started to spin them too.  In spinning the rolags I think they contain too much yak so the next batch will be less yak and more CVM.  Yak fiber is very short while the CVM is about 2".  I am spinning it semi woolen style (lots of air added into the fiber) and have encountered patches of pure yak which require more twists than those combined with the wool.  Of course it could be my carding process but we will take this in steps to determine the best blending method and progress from there.

Still having problems with my internet - I hope to post photos of the CVM later this week.  On to try to post on Ravelry for the Tour de Fleece competition.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tour De Fleece Challenge is Here

I am spinning my Romney fleece for the Tour which mirrors the actual Tour de France race but has been adapted for spinners.  The goal is to spin fiber everyday of the tour while taking breaks on the days that the tour takes breaks.  I am on 3 teams and have to convert the fiber into yarn by the last day of the tour.  I think creating the yarn will be the most challenging for me as it requires plying my yarn.  The center pull ball technique should aid in the plying but we shall see how the Romney fleece works with that method.

I have been doing lots of research on Ravelry and the web on how to clean and spin Romney.  Looking forward to putting the advice into practice.  I have cleaned about an ounce of raw fiber and it turned out so lovely!  Here are links to some pictures:  Raw Romney fleece, Clean Romney Locks and Spun Romney.

Picked up my fiber and yarn and they are so nice.  The yarn store placed a wholesale order for 10 oz of the roving and I think I will give 4 oz to the Renaissance festival too.  I have agreed to trade 4 oz of the fiber for 5 oz of raw llama caramel color fleece.  My 24 ounces of roving is quickly disappearing so I think that Montana's fleece will have bamboo fiber added to it to meet the demand.  At this point I am not going to spin any of it up to keep up with the demand - which is an awesome place to be from a selling standpoint.

I met with the soon to be shop owners of Wild Yarns today to discuss what they are looking for in the needs of hand spun.  Pretty much the same conversation I had with the store in Lakewood.  Need to seek advice from my fellow ravelers on gauging yardage/weight of spinning fiber to get a 400 yd skein consistently.  At this point I choose a fiber, buy a few ounces, spin, ply and wash and this gives me a wide array of yardage/grams.  As the shops are looking for specific yardage I will need to research and test how to make this happen.  The new shop is looking for 5 to 6 skeins (400 yd each) that are similar.  It is a good thing I have lots of roving coming and the Tour challenge so I can begin prepping for their September opening.  This is a never ending educational process which definitely keeps the brain cells sparking. 

Back to spinning for the challenge!