Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Washing the fleece

I washed the fleece in mesh bags. I referenced two articles on scouring Icelandic fleeces (as well as several posts in Ravelry's Fiber Prep group) and decided to try it out in my washing machine.

I did decide to do it in mesh laundry bags to keep the different parts separate even though I'm not planning on spinning from the lock. I wanted to do it in small batches to avoid potential disaster. I will say that I'm not sure it's totally scoured, so I may end up redoing it. I used the hot setting on my machine, but I didn't take a temperature to see if it was hot enough. The next time I fill it up, I will take a reading. If it is too low, I may do it in the machine again but boil some water to add to up the temperature. I used a half cup of Dawn dish detergent. I've heard great things about Unicorn Power Scour, but I thought I'd try what was on hand first. If it turns out that the fleece wasn't scoured but the water was hot enough, I'll try the Power Scour next.

 As a reminder from the last post, I color-coded the bags with zip ties. I decided to start with the red (skirting) and yellow (legs and belly) since, if I did end up felting everything, it would not be the end of the world. I could tell this was dirty! Katy did say that Pan didn't like to wear a coat and that wearing one would have made her felt since Icelandic is very prone to felting. This first picture is of the red and yellow bags when they were done with a 15-20 minute soak in Dawn water. I used the spin setting to take out the water, making sure to skip the rinse setting since the cold water would have felted the fleece immediately. I didn't let it finish the spin cycle since it seemed most of the water was out and the machine started thumping around. I was also worried about it felting at this stage. (Well, at every stage.) It left a dirt ring around the edge of the barrel. Yuck! It's possible to card or flick before spinning and then to do the scouring with the setting of the yarn... But I'm glad I'm getting this out before working with it.

Done with Dawn

Dirt ring left after spinning out

 When I added the Dawn, I did so while the water was pouring, so it sudsed up a bit. I did two rinses, both hot, to make sure the Dawn was out and to get more dirt out.

After first rinse
After second rinse
I still had a bit of a dirt ring after the second rinse, but it wasn't so bad. It might have been partially due to the bags holding water (and some dirt?) and because I didn't let it do the full spin cycle. I then spread the two sections out in our sunroom on some mats which I use for blocking and turned a fan on them. I used a red and yellow mat on each one to remind me of the color coding. I turned each one a couple of times, which was good since the bottom was moist. The skirting still had some dirty clumps, and I wonder if I packed it too tightly. For the dirtier sections, it might not be a bad idea to soak them in some cold water before scouring so the detergent can really get in there without the dirt coating some of the fleece. There was definitely still a lot of VM in the red, but I anticipate that coming out in the carding.
 Once they were dry, I put them into paper grocery sacks, which I labeled red and yellow. I bought a couple of Queen/standard 100% cotton, zippered pillow protectors, but I wanted to save them for the nicer parts of the fleece since I only got two. They were each about $7.

Separating out the fleece

I am just now writing this down, but I did the process on June 10. I think I probably should have written it down immediately or taken better notes as I have forgotten a couple things as well as exactly what some of the pictures are. The first thing I did was take the fleece out of the bag and lay it flat to shake it out. Not that much shook out since it seems like the VM was pretty sticky. The middle seemed to be thinner, and I don't know if that's a breed thing. I determined what I thought was the head and other parts, though I second guessed myself halfway through. I don't think this was skirted, so that affected my decisions.

Full fleece
I assumed that what is to the right of the green can is the head and that the extra stuff on the right is belly. After I'd separated it almost all out, I started to wonder if it was actually backwards. Hmmm. In the end, I generally did the separations based on fiber length of tog and thel. The parts with the medium-length black tog was together, whereas the longest and brownest tog went elsewhere.

There were some stickers and larger VM that were fairly easy to pick out. (I just put my hand down on fleece to feel the bumps of the stickers.) I also noticed that there were what I assumed to be second cuts. Katy did say that she sheared Pan herself and that she was learning to shear.


As I separated out each part, I put it in a mesh laundry bag for washing. I quickly realized that it would be all too easy to loose track of which bag was which, particularly for the sections that weren't that different. I got some of the smallest zip ties from the garage and used them to color code by putting them on the zipper pull.
  • Red: Skirting? If cleans but too short to spin, may use for cat bed. 130 grams prior to scouring? Weighed but forgot to record at that time.
  • Yellow: Legs and maybe belly. Very little or shorter tog. 85 grams prior to scouring? Weighed but forgot to record at that time.
  • Clear: Back. Short fibers, fleece was thinner in that area. Also removed some to the side that had similar texture
  • Green: Shoulders and maybe head. Longest tog.
  • Blue: Head.
  • Large bag to be washed last: What was left. Medium-length tog.
Here are shots to show the progression of the fleece as I took parts away: 

Skirted, with legs and belly removed as well?

Back taken out

Shoulders and some head removed

Head removed

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Spinner's Book of Fleece notes

Here are my notes from The Spinner's Book of Fleece (ISBN 9781612120393).


  • The different parts of the fleece can be separated before processing to avoid uneven staple length and quality. (Neck, front legs, chest, belly, rear legs, rump, shoulders, and back)
  • Scouring: I will probably, like the author, avoid scouring in the washing machine so that I can have more control, particularly as Icelandic can felt very easily. I will probably stay in small batches so it doesn't take too much space to dry, so I will also use 2.5 gallon kitchen dishpans, which can hold about 8 oz. of fleece. She recommends Unicorn Power Scour by Unicorn Fibre. I've seen it recommended on Ravelry as well, so I'll need to order some. 
  • Storage: Best is cloth bags like pillowcases, but paper bags also work. Plastic trashbags not optimal as it traps moisture.
  • Singles: A rule of thumb when spinning an unfamiliar breed she picked up from Anne Field's Spinning wool: Beyond the basics is to start of with the same twists per inch as the fiber has crimps per inch. Some twist will be lost in plying, so aim for 1.5 times that in a single. 

  • Working with multicoats: 
    • Can separate coats (if desired) before or after scour, though may separate more easily if clean. Blending coats makes harder wear. Can separate using a comb as an anchor or by hand. To do by hand, hold cut end of lock and pull out the longer fibers; line up in pile and can spin worsted straight from that. The cloud of short fibers left in the hand can be carded or spun from the cloud, which will result in a more disorganized fiber.
    • Spinning undercoat alone: Can be soft enough for next-to-skin items, lace, and undergarments. Unorganized crimp lends itself to woolen spinning. Use moderate amount of twist since shorter.
    • Spinning outer coat alone: No crimp, so will be dense and hard-wearing. Lends itself to worsted spinning. [I've been considering using some of this for warp.]
    • Spinning coats together: Preferred method is woolen and using handcards to make batts or rolags. Short draft of worsted can separate shorter and longer fibers.
  • Icelandic characteristic summary:
    • Origin: Brought to Iceland by the Vikings between 870 and 930 CE
    • Fleece weight: 4-7 lbs.
    • Staple length: 4"-18"
    • Fiber diameter: 19-31 microns, over both coats
    • Lock characteristics: Long, triangular
    • Color: Wide range
  • Lopi: a medium wool made from loosely spinning two coats together, which is good for outerwear and felting.
  • 3-ply blended coats: Can be finer or denser. Would make durable socks. 
  • 2-ply outercoat: She sampled with 35 degree twist in the plied yarn, which would be good for carpet warp but not necessarily garments to wear.
  • 2-ply undercoat: Super light, medium twist, no prep after separating outercoat (so less elastic than if woolen prep). She would spin 3-ply for fine-gauge sweater or baby things.

Oops, I bought a fleece

My family went near Albuquerque for a wedding about a month ago, and we had a great time. While I was there, I went to the Yarn Shop on Nob Hill because they were having a summer lecture series. I also wanted to explore their yarn and get souvenir yarn that was unique and would remind me of my trip. I ended up getting some yarn that was 60% Churro wool, 40% wolf hair
Churro wool raised locally, mill spun yarn from Mora Mill, wolf hair sourced from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary (by Liane Brown). How unique is that?! I also got some Frabjous Fibers Sunset silk hankies. I've only done a hankie or two, but that has taught me how many snags I've got on my fingers. Man! I have to rehydrate my hands before doing more.

While I was there, I ended up in the backroom with a group of spinners. I've only done a bit of spinning, so I thought it would be helpful to watch them spin. The conversation was great as well. Two ladies were spinning, and one was flicking locks of her sheep's wool. The conversation came around to how the shepherd had two fleeces in her trunk. One was white, and one was a black and white Icelandic. I had only just finished a shawl using Icelandic wool yarn, so I was intrigued by the idea of working with the fleece, especially since it has two different coats. I also liked the way Katy described the Icelandic ewe's personality. This is Pan's 2017 fleece.

The white fleece was definitely way too much for me to work with for a first fleece, but the Icelandic was a smaller fleece. The thel is an inky black, and the thog has brown and white hints. Long story short, I bought it! I've been thinking a lot about how I will be processing and spinning this fleece and doing a lot of reading. I will be making posts to keep track of my progress.

Here she is with her coat still on! (She's the mamma.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Second weaving project: Scarf

Last edited: 4/12/2015
Project: Log Cabin Toddler Scarf
Source: Woven Scarves: 26 Inspired Designs for the Rigid Heddle Loom by Jane Patrick & Stephanie Flynn Sokolov.

Attempting to adapt this pattern to be a toddler scarf with a differently-sized yarn. What could go wrong with doing that for my second weave ever and the first on my own on a new type of loom for me? Ah, well, they don't call me Craft "Danger" Mouse for nothing. Here are my calculations . I guess we'll see once I start weaving how well I did my math.

Desired size: 5" x 36" (30" w/ 3" fringe on each side)
*Rounding up when required

  1. Calculating length
    1. 30" -- Desired finished length
    2. +3" -- Test sample
    3. +6" -- Fringe
    4. +3" -- Shrinkage
    5. 42" -- Length to weave
    6. +4.2" -- Take-up
    7. +6" -- Loom waste (Am I being too conservative here?)
    8. 53" -- On-loom length [/36 to get next measurement]
    9. 1.5 yards -- Total loom length (yards)
  2. Calculating # of warp ends
    1. 5" -- Desired finished width
    2. +0.4" -- Draw-in and shrinkage (10%)
    3. 5.6" -- Width on loom
    4. x10 EPI -- Set
    5. 56 - Total ends [Calculated to make this # of ends since there are 14 ends/block. Will give me 4 blocks of the pattern.]
  3. Calculating yardage
    1. 1.5 yards --Total loom length
    2. x56 -- Total # of warp ends
    3. 84 ends
  4. Calculating weft yardage
    1. 10 picks/in. -- Picks per inch [Weaving a plain weave, so should be same as EPI, I think. This is assuming I figured the sett correctly in the first place.]
    2. x30" -- Length to weave
    3. 300 picks -- Total picks
    4. x5.6" -- Width on the loom
    5. 1,680" -- Total inches
    6. 47 -- Total yards of weft fiber required

Friday, March 21, 2014

Baby costume - Jack o' Lantern

Back in October, I sewed a Halloween costume for my baby. I was a pumpkin for my first Halloween, so I wanted to make her a similar outfit. I ended up making a fancier outfit than I had first planned, but it was less ideal than I consequently envisioned. Evidently, my mom had just hand-sewed a piece of fabric she had laying around. She's kind of amazing like that.
Me as a baby
First, I measured her head circumference to ensure that the neck would fit over her head. Next, I measured the circumference around the bottom. If I were to do this again, I would make it much larger. It was kind of fitted, which would have been fine if it didn't go below the waist or she was standing the whole time. Otherwise, it bunched up. My third measurements were for the armhole: distance from neck to edge of shoulder and distance from top to bottom of arm.

I took the total neck and bottom circumferences and divided them by six so that I would have three orange pieces in front and three in back in order to imitate the sections of a pumpkin; I added an inch to each piece for a 1/2" seam allowance on each side, top, and bottom. I cut out a pattern piece on a piece of cardstock from a cereal box. I stacked the fabric to cut out all six pieces at one time because I LIVE DANGEROUSLY! Seriously, it's a better idea to not cut out more than one piece at a time. I'll have to check, but I think I used less than a yard of the orange fabric. It was a quilting fabric from Joann's, pumpkin-colored. The liner fabric was a pretty green I had laying around that reminded me of the stalk. I cut two pieces so that I wouldn't have to cut openings for the arms.

I sewed the front three orange pieces together, then the back three. I ironed down the seams even though that's super tedious and one of my least favorite parts of sewing. I was going to make my baby's outfit look as good as I could. At this point, I had to make a concession. I was planning on putting batting between the outside and liner. I would have sewed the quilting down between the six pieces to emphasize the separation, making it go down between pieces like a real pumpkin. However, it was waaay too narrow add padding. I had to forgo this step. Instead, I went ahead and appliqued the jack-o'-lantern face so that the threads in the back would be hidden by the lining. I cut pieces of felt and attached them with a machine-applique stitch. I love my electric sewing machine!

Next, I sewed the front and back together, leaving the armhole open. (This required attaching from the top down, cutting the thread when I got to the armhole, starting again at the bottom of the armhole before continuing to the bottom.)  I then attached the front and back green pieces, repeating the armhole process. With right sides together I attached the orange and green pieces with a 1/2" seam allowance. I turned it so that the wrong sides were together and ironed the top flat. Then, I sewed a casing around the neck for the elastic. I wanted it to be tight enough to not fall down her shoulders but large enough to go over her head comfortably. Lastly, I closed up the armholes and the bottom with topstitching.

Me with my baby

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beginning quilling

Last night, I started using the quilling set a friend got me as a gift this past Christmas. I got half of the sample card done.

I'm not sure which of the tools I prefer yet. When loosening the rolls to make the shapes, I have trouble keeping he integrity of the core while having enough swirls to make the shape. Hm, I wonder if instead I would get more of the shape if I started with a longer strip and if I made the initial turn really tight.