Monday, April 9, 2012

Time flies!

Can't believe the whole month of March went by without a post.   Not that I haven't been doing anything, because I most definitely have had a great few weeks with fibers.  Except for my cotton seedlings, which have all gone to that big compost heap in the sky.  A gust of wind knocked over my greenhouse while I was out of town and the plants that didn't freeze in a late cold spell dried up.  Going to start over after I figure out how to weight this puppy down so it doesn't happen again.

Biggest news -- (thanks to Uncle Sam for returning some of my hard-earned tax withholding) -- I ordered the cherry Hansen Crafts miniSpinner I have lusted after since the day I saw Judith MacKenzie McCuin using one last year.  It spins like a dream!  As much as I love spinning on my Joy, my spinning improved immediately with the Hansen and I can also spin just about any time, any place.  When the new eSpinner arrived, I got caught up in finding just the right batteries and just the right bag to carry everything.  Thanks to the Hansen Craft forum on Ravelry, I ended up with a bright red (what else?) Zuca bag (the top is flat and works as a seat - perfect as a tabletop for the spinner).  And for batteries - I ordered a low-priced battery pack from China that was highly recommended for price, size, and durability.  While waiting for it to arrive, found a Milwaukee tools doohickey at my friendly Home Depot that lets you use any of their 12v batteries as if it was a cigarette lighter socket - added bonus being that they're bright red.  I now have enough battery power to spin for weeks.

Started spinning right away with "Potluck Roving" from Ferndale Fiber in "Stormy Sea" and I love, love, love my new eSpinner.

This is after just a few hours' spinning time.  Between the ease of use of the spinner and the smoothness with which the fiber drafts, spinning has been a zen experience. And because the spinner can sit just about anywhere, I've spun at a table, in the car, and even sitting in my reclining chair.

Also used it to ply some yarn with beads for a triangle shawl I'm going to start soon -- plies beautifully and the product looks exactly like what I had in mind. The large orifice on the spinner and large loops on the Woolee Winder make it easy to add all kinds of inclusions to the yarn.

This is a minty green fingering-weight soft and fuzzy polyester plied with a finer white thread on which I alternated mint and clear Austrian crystals every 1-2 yards.  Hopefully when woven on the triangle loom the beads will show up randomly.  Still have to decide whether to weave with two more strands of the same green or add one or two different yarns.

Thanks to Ravelry, I ran across someone selling some alpaca fleeces and made the mistake of looking at the sample pictures.  I'm now the proud owner of five pounds of cria and adult alpaca fleece. 

 This is the fiber that captured my attention - it's a medium fawn color from an adult alpaca - two pounds.

This one is in variegated colors from an adult alpaca.  Ranges from a little "nearly" cream to a rich fawn brown.  Another two pounds.

And here is a pound of cria (baby alpaca).  Wonderfully soft and can't wait to start spinning this one.

Fortunately I have access to a drum carder to help with this (although my very own drum carder is at the top of my fantasy wish list).  First I have some studying to do -- I need to wash and tease the locks to get them ready for carding.  Found this really neat wool picker the other day - looks pretty lethal, huh?

Then, while doing some genealogy work, I came across some references to Manx  Loaghtan sheep and had to refresh my memory.  I saw some of these in real life while exploring the Isle of Man several years ago.   They're incredible looking creatures with (usually) two pairs of curly horns.  Like these:

Well, then nothing would do but that I get some wool of the types that might have been used by my Manx and Viking ancestors -- so thanks to World of Wool, I now have a little over a pound of top in each of these:

  (l-r) Dark grey Icelandic, mid-grey Icelandic, Norwegian, Manx Loaghtan.

Incidentally, the word "loaghtan" is Manx for "mouse brown."  Having  never seen a mouse that close (knock wood) I can't comment on how true that description is.  I myself would have called it "gial shocklaidagh" (light  chocolate).  The color is a very rich cocoa brown.

Oh, and while in San Rafael a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to visit Dharma Trading.  Their store in San Rafael has quite a selection of yarns not in their catalog, and a small selection of some, but not nearly all, of the items in the catalog.  Came home with a few silk and cotton scarves to dye, some sequined yarn (because I don't already have enough yarn), and a selection of dyes to add to my stash. 

Won't be running out of things to do any time soon.

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