Tag Archive: wool

Fiberfest Friday

Today was a bit different for me. FIL took my drum carder off last night to try out what he is calling “Plan F” to get it motorized.  Since I didn’t have a drum carder, and no wool needed washed, I decided to spend the day spinning, plying and watching fiber videos.  I watched the Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. I enjoyed learning the teachers perspective on drum carder and wool combs. Very informative. She was also from Mebane NC, which is where we lived before we moved to OK. That was neat. 

After that was over, I watched you tube videos by BlueMountain Handcrafts. I really enjoy her style of presentation, and she’s very informative. 

I also did a lot of plying and yarn finishing 

All in all, it was a great day. I think I’m the future, every Friday will be Fiberfest Friday. It was a great way to end the work week. 



Ever since I have got back into the fiber arts, I have really been sad that we had to move my loom out of the house for a while. Until one of these kids move out, we just don’t have room for it in here. I really have had the urge to weave so bad though, and I have been looking at various looms online. I have requested a rigid heddle loom for Christmas, and I am keeping my eyes on the Craigslist and Facebook sales pages for my area, in case a smaller loom becomes available, but that doesn’t fix my “I Must Weave NOW!” urge.

So I started looking at pin looms.

Pin looms are small hand held looms that you wrap with yarn in three layers and then weave the last layer. You can find the vintage Weavette and Jiffy looms on Etsy or EBay, but Schact has released it’s own version of these little looms called the Zoom Loom, and ultimately, that’s how I decided to go. I had read that Schacts design made the little loom easier to use because of the scooped out edge on the inside of the loom that helps you get the weaving needle in the correct place. That seems to be true. That little scoop catches the needle and slides the needle up to the pins. I can see that if that piece of plastic was squared off it would be hard to get the needle to make that little step to get to the pins, as the weaving progresses.

There are lots of resources for using pin looms, because they were very popular in the 40’s and 50’s. There were many pattern booklets that can now be published for free on the internet because the copyright has expired, I suppose. One of the sites that I like the publishes these PDFs is eLoomnation I love the booklets that have different weaving patterns. Some of the clothing patterns are outdated, but might give adventurous fiber artists a jumping off point. Another site that has a lot of information about weaving with pin looms is Adventures in Pin Loom Weaving. Talk about just a treasure trove of information! I read a little bit there everyday as I try new patterns and techniques.

So far, my favorite yarn for weaving on the Zoom Loom has been hand spun. It is perfect for using up small bits that I made while sampling different fibers and blends. My absolute favorites were a Gotland 2 ply and a Gotland/Angora blend 2 ply. Both wove up just beautifully into the most wonderful little squares.

The least favorite so far has been a square I wove using a commercially produced cashmere that I got from deconstructing a sweater. It is two thin singles held together and knit as one. I had to double that to get close to an appropriate weaving weight, and it was still very delicate, and you had to be very careful that the weaving needle caught all the threads. The resulting square, while soft, was very thin as well. It just didn’t seem to be worth all the effort. Maybe I will spin that yarn into a plied yarn, set it, and then try again. I really did like the softness of it, just not the fiddlieness of the weaving.

All in all, this has been a lot of fun. It has satisfied my weaving itch, for now, anyway. I also think it will be helpful in my etsy shop, as I can spin up a sample of each of the fibers I have on offer, and then knit and weave a small square of each so potential buyers can see how the blend works up, for me, at least. I do a few squares in the evening while I am spending time with Sean after he gets home from work, and a few squares at a time quickly multiply into enough squares to make something. At least they will once I stop just playing with yarn and texture, and start working on an actual project! ]

If you have the urge to weave but no room for a loom, or if you just want to see if you might enjoy weaving, this little loom is just the ticket!

Dye Day

This morning was the day I had set aside this week for dyeing some wool batts. Most of them are 100% Corriedale, but there were a few mixed breed rovings I had made that I threw in different pots just to see what might happen. 

Small batch, hand processed and hand dyed Corriedale batts

I had learned a lot about dyeing here at my house today. Previously, I had thought I was just really bad at it. My colors were always muddy, or too pale.  I figured out today I just need more acid than normally called for in dyeing instructions.  1/2 tsp of citric acid does not get me the bright sharp colors im looking for; however, bump the citric acid up to 1 tsp and Wow! I am much happier, and looking forward to dyeing many more batts in the future. 

Love this Spicy Red and Amethyst rovings.

Fiber Christmas was good to me!  I had a wonderful time, my classes were fantastic, and Sean spoiled me the entire weekend!  The only down side was I was just getting over a mild case of pnuemonia and Friday after my class I was exhausted. I had to skip the dinner and the guest speaker, go back to the hotel and sleep. 

My first class Friday afternoon was Fiber Blending with Judy Crouch. She did a fantastic job teaching us why we might want to make a fiber blend, and how to get good results. We were encouraged to use all the fiber tools available to experiment with our own fiber blends. I used 5 pitch combs to blend teeswater (I think) with angelina, hand cards to blend wool top with silk noil, and my drum carder to make an art batt out of wool, silk roving, and other things. I don’t remember what all was in there. I learned a lot and can’t wait to start blending some of the angora I have from my rabbits with other things. The knowledge I gained from that class will surely serve me a long time.

 My second class was Solar Dyeing, taught by Dawn Riden.  It was meticulously taught. Her mastery and instruction of the subject extended to regular dyeing as well, I think it will really help me get better results in all of my dyeing. We got to prepare three dye jars with fiber to take home. 

All the jars made by students of the Solar Dyeing class. Pic by Dawn Riden

Then of course it was cloudy and cool for the next several days and I could not get the dye to strike until yesterday.  Finally, though, results! 

From left to right, Cherry Red, a combo of Honey Mustard and Saffron Spice, and Hot Fuschia

Sean bought me way too much stuff while I was in class. The first day, we got back to the hotel and I found these two batts waiting for me, on top of the spindle he’d already bought me while we were perusing the vendors.

Then the next day, we came upon a wool picker. It was practically brand new, and the price was reasonable. However, when we went back to look at it after class, it had been sold. Oh well, there were lots of plans for pickers on the internet, and we were sure we could build one ourselves, given enough time.

Then I went to get my stuff out of the back of the van, and there was the picker! Sean really likes to pull off surprises and he really succeeded that time!  Look at the beautiful cloud of fiber ready for carding! 

This picker does not have a makers mark that I can see, but looks exactly like a Fancy Kitty swing picker. They haven’t made this model in 7 years, but this one looks brand new.  

I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back next year! 

Well, there is not going to be a baby goat here at the Garretts this year. i have to admit that on top of everything else that had happened in the last couple of months, I let that throw me for a loop for a while. It wasn’t just the baby goat, it was that there wasn’t going to be any milk, and I was going to be feeding a goat with very title return for over a year. I love JarJar, she is practically a pet, but I really was not looking forward to spending all that money on feed and hay and having nothing to show for it in return.

Then, about a week ago, I got a call from my friend Tina. Her mother had a doe they really didn’t need, a first freshener. She was weaning her baby, but if I wanted her and thought I could get her milk production back up, they would sell her to me! So I called Sean. It really shows how much he loves me, that he agreed we could get her, even though it meant that he was going to have to build more fence, and he hates to build fence. So on Saturday, Tina and Bob brought my new girl, Sally, over.

Now, JarJar has been alone since I got her from Tina last year. She isn’t the most social of goats. She is big, and she demands to be the boss, so we knew we would have our hands full. Sally had been the boss over at Tina’s Mom’s house, so a struggle was inevitable. However, Sally is maybe half, generously, the size of JarJar. So after a little bit of head butting the fight for dominance was over. JarJar is the queen bee. By the next day, they were a herd. We clip the lead to JarJar, open the gate, and off they go. Where you lead JarJar, Sally follows. I have to milk Sally first though, or my hands are so tired I can’t get them both milked. I wormed her on Saturday, so today was the first day I could use the milk. I got a half a gallon of milk this morning! They are both climbing in milk production, although if JarJar would end the false pregnancy, I’m sure she would fully come into milk and I would have a lot of milk. It just isn’t happening though, and I am so thankful that I have Sally.

Here is a picture of JarJar on the milk stand. I LOVE the milk stand. No one is head butting me, or trying to escape mid milking. I trimmed hooves yesterday, and the milk stand made it a breeze!!

Here are the girls together.

I thought I’d throw in a couple of pictures of the garden as well. It is really coming along well with all the rain we have had this spring. I don’t ever remember it raining this much in the spring before, but I’m thankful for it.

Romaine lettuce in the cold frame.

The tomatoes

All that white at the base of the caged plants is from a bag of wool that someone kindly gave me. It was too short and dirty to spin, but it made great, great mulch. I wish I had about 6 more bags of it. It has felted together with all the rain, and it keeps moisture in, and weeds out. Plus, once tilled into the ground, it will decompose and enrich the soil.

The first banana pepper. I didn’t have much luck with peppers last year, but they are doing great this year. I have planted at least 5 varieties; hot banana, cayenne, sweet cherry, hot cherry and anaheim. I also think that there are some yellow bell peppers down there somewhere.

Well, that is about all going on on the home front. I have big design news though, hopefully I can post about that tomrrow.

not much

I haven’t been up to a lot of knitting lately, although I continue to work on the sock I have been taking with me to Chad’s art class. I’ve just turned the heel, so I’m happy about that. What I have been working on is fiber prep and spinning.

When I first got my carder, I wanted it mainly for the blending capabilities, and it did that well. However, when I used it to card clean raw fiber, I was disapointed in the amount of noils in my fiber. At first I thought it was because of the fiber I was using. THe only fleece I had to card was the fiber that we had sheared off of Ivy and Tootles, and everytime I tried to card it it just ended up horrible.

So I haven’t used the carder in a while, it has sat in my room and I have even thought of selling it once in a while and just buying another pair of hand cards. With all this angora fur sitting around though, I began to think that maybe I needed to give it another try. Angora fiber used by itself here in OK wouldn’t be very wearable except for the coldest of days. So last week I got it out and took it apart and cleaned it really well. I oiled it, and put it back together, and then started carding. This is what I have learned.

In order to blend the two fibers (Ivy’s wool and angora fiber) it worked best if I first carded a half the total wool I was using for each batt. Then I would card on the entire amount of angora for the batt, then the other half of the wool. This sandwiched the fly away angora between the much easier to handle wool. Then I would split each batt in half, and then half again, and feed each 1/4th onto the drum slowly. After peeling that off again, I would repeat the process. Each batt was carded three times.

Then, as I was reading during a coffee break (with all that cranking, I needed a coffee break!) I saw a comment that in order to blend the color of the wool and get uniform color throughout, you should blend a part of each batt into one batt. So I took the four batts I had made, split each into fourths again, and then carded 1/4th of each batt into one uniform batt. Then I repeated the process 3 more times before I was done with the carding and ready to start spinning.

I have been trying to break myself of the habit of spinning super fine. If my fingers are left to their own devices, that is exactly what they do. They spin a single that is so fine that even plied it is going to take forever to knit something with it. I wanted this yarn to be a sport weight, but I still think it is too fine. I’m hoping it will really bloom when I wash it, and be much thicker than it looks like it is going to be.

I will probably dye this once I have it all spun and plied. I did not like the results I had when I dyed angora before it was spun, it really snarled things up. I don’t really have a project in mind for this yarn either, but I am getting quite a collection of natural colored yarns that I have spun, and I am thinking it might be nice to have something made out of them. Maybe a shawl made on the tri-loom? Still thinking about it.

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