Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Loop Spin-In and the Shetland Who Wants to Be Pretty

A couple weekends ago, a bunch of us headed up to the Loop studio for her monthly spin-in. It's always nice to have a chatty afternoon spinning with friends.

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I brought along a Shetland fleece that I had bought at Rhinebeck a couple years ago to have processed.

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It was a nice fleece from Longfield Farm, but I wasn't so inspired by it to really get into it. I've been finding that if I feel a fleece is just okay and nothing special, I tend to be unenthusiastic about doing anything with it and it just sits there. It's mostly gray with some brown spots and had a lot of cross-fibering- there were no real clean locks coming out and the fiber had the appearance that it had already been carded while the sheep was still wearing it. It's been hiding packed down in a space bag for over a year now and I've been dreaming of either making it beautiful or giving it away the next chance I got. So I dug around in my stash and pulled up a lot of silk that I had dyed in peaches and blues- both bombyx and tussah. A little more digging found something else I wasn't so enthusiastic about spinning- Angora rabbit fiber. This drastically reduced the amount of fiber I had in my big bag of carding scraps- bits of leftovers or dye jobs that I'm not happy with that I incorporate into batts when I am carding.

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Everything gets loaded up onto the belt of the carding machine and fluffed up. The fleece is on the bottom, the silk and angora on top. I actually did this in 3 batches, so this is just the first third of what we did.

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A touch of a button sets the machine in motion. All the different sized drums pull the fiber in, blend it all together, and then spit it out as roving.

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It's magic. What comes out is airy, so much softer and gorgeous. Steph the Loop Lady is really a glitter girl, so as an additional bonus, it picked up quite a bit of glitter leftover from previous carding sessions on the machine. Let's call it a patina and go with it.

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I brought this in to the studio packed into a space bag with all the air sucked out, but I left with it in a huge 20-gallon trash bag. It's so fluffed and airy, and it's really quite fun to spin as soon as the machine spits it out. In fact, I'm getting a little bit nostalgic thinking of spinning it right now while I'm stuck in the office.

The addition of silk really did me some favors here. Shetland can be very silky in texture, but if it's not a fine, soft fleece then it can be kind of "grabby" when you are spinning it. The silk added a subtle pop of color throughout the fleece and it now drafts like butter. I spun up a tiny sample and I'm in love. The total weight came out just under 2 lbs. Depending on my spinning, I could possibly squeeze a sweater out of this. The angora will give the final yarn a slight bloom. I'm suspicious of using any at all...did I ever tell you my purple angora sweater story? I will soon, promise....but just that tiny bit of it doesn't seem so bad at all.

It will have to wait though- I have much plying to do before I start another big spinning project. I have to free up some bobbins from both my wheels and finish a few other projects. I'm currently plying my gorgeous cormo from Foxhill Farm. That should take no time at all...I just need to sit down at home, throw a movie on the projector and get it done. Except I'm almost never home during the week, so plying time is a rarity. I also need to ply the final two bobbins of singles from my BFL fleece.

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I already have 3 skeins of it spun up and plied, all of them over 240 yards a piece. It's very rustic- lots of beautiful lumps and bumps with this yarn no matter how hard I tried. So I stopped trying and let it be, and I'm pretty happy with it. It's worsted weight, and once I have the final bobbins finished up, I will have enough for a sweater. I have a pattern in my head that I am in the process of getting down on graph paper. It's going to be warm and cozy, with a small amount of Noro worked in to give it just a small pop of color.

I also got something that UPS brought me last week that is slightly traumatizing me, but that is a story for another day...

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. Just wanted to say thank you for choosing to store your extra fleece in a Space Bag. As you know, the bags are airtight and waterproof, keeping your fibers safe from dust, pests and mildew. Feel free to visit Space Bag's online community, Space Savers, for other space-saving and organizing advice. Thanks again for choosing Space Bag!

    Best wishes,
    Space Savers community correspondent