Posts Tagged “fiber”

Happy Monday everyone!

We’ve just arrived home a few hours ago. HWJF is already at work. :( I’m attempting to unpack and get organized to go back to work tomorrow. It was a wonderful trip, full of good food, great company and a whole lot of shopping. However, this:

christmas 2008 haul

Represents far more credit card damage than I care to acknowledge publicly right at this moment. I’m sorting out, and when I’m done you can be sure that I’ll recount the goodness for you. Until then, I hope you all had a Happy Holiday Season so far and I’ll try to dig out from under the yarn pile before the end of 2008! ;)

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Since there were so many comments on the last post asking where the after pics of Stitches haircut were, and since I didn’t take any (because I really didn’t think y’all would want to see a bunny that looks like a cotton ball that had a run in with a weed wacker again), here’s a current pic.

Stitches 12.9.08

She’s almost a month along after the haircut now. And for those of you that were worried about her being cold, I assure you that she wasn’t totally down to the skin and you will also be comforted to know that she’s an indoor bunny! She’s got it easy. Trust me!

It must have been the time off or something but I also decided during my Thanksgiving break that I should finally give some wet felting a go. I’m still dying for a pair of the felted angora mittens like the ones that Chris had the first time I met her. I found an article on how to do it, drum carded myself up some felting grade angora and went to work. I decided to use some undyed stuff first since I was anxious to get started and didn’t have enough dyed yet. Three hours later, I had this.

Felted mitten attempt

Ummm… can you say EPIC FAIL?!? That’s going to be one breezy mitten! I’ve got some ideas of where things went wrong after some further reading. Instead of just laying the drum carded batt out just as it came off the carder, I should have separated it into pieces and overlapped them so that the fibers were going in many different directions. The initial batt seemed to felt just fine, but any and all attempts to add in material to cover holes or strengthen weak areas did not work At All. For some reason, the new fiber wouldn’t join into the already felted fiber no matter what I did. That just seemed odd to me, but maybe one of you will have an explanation.

I’m tempted to try again, laying more angora over the holey parts but I’m reluctant to waste any more fiber. I’ve obviously got more where that came from, but why waste it?!? I may try some needle felting to fill in some spots, but I’ve also already invested a lot of time in this and I’m equally reluctant to waste more time on it, especially with the holiday knitting entering the crisis zone!

I think I need a felting class* or something.

I guess you can’t win them all, right? :(

P.S. Simba says:

Simba the inquisitive

I may not be a fiber beastie but I’m darn cute too!!!!

*If you are local and would be interested in a pair of felted angora mittens of your very own, I’ve e-mailed with Chris and have details about setting up a class with her. I would *love* to do this and can even host it at my place if we have enough people. I’d definitely be waiting until sometime after the first of the year. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you the info!

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Sorry for the unannounced hiatus from the blog everyone. I’ve been off from work since last Wednesday, don’t have to go back until tomorrow, and apparently decided somewhere along the line that my time off included time off from the blog. Whoops.

I hope those of you that celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a very nice day. My parents came here and spent the night so there was much cooking and fussing that first day I had off from work. Thankfully everything turned out ok including the turkey (thank you Boston Market on that one!), even if my pies looked terrible, and everyone was more than adequately fed. I do believe my parents enjoyed themselves, even if my Mom found it weird to be sitting down and relaxing on a holiday (I refuse to let her do it all any more when we are here for a holiday. It makes no sense.)! Mom’s dog Sandy even took the opportunity to show off her NJ appropriate attire.

Devil dog

How can you not love that?! ;) I was also very happy to find out that she has now decided to start wearing her sweater that I made for her earlier this year. :-D She may need another one methinks.

Besides, Thanksgiving, I’ve been getting some much needed rest and still managing to check things off the lengthy “to do” list I made for myself before the holiday. I’m starting to feel the holiday knitting crunch though. We’ll be going up to NY to celebrate my Mom’s birthday and Christmas with my folks on Dec. 13th, so my deadline approaches! The good news is that one item is finished. The bad news is that one is not and another just got started. Oye. But I guess the other good news is that I will have more blog fodder shortly when I can actually show you some FOs!

In the meantime, I can finally share another secret project that’s been going on here at Chez Zarzuela. A while back, Yvonne asked me if I’d be willing to dye a special colorway for the current round of Secret Pal! I was very excited to do so and after a bit of trial and error came up with this:

stary night skeins

The colorway is called “Stary Night”, inspired by the Van Gogh painting of the same name. And yes people, that’s yarn! Merino/tencel to be exact. But don’t worry, there’s fiber too.

stary night roving

Each bump of fiber will also be packed with 1 oz. of angelina (or firestar) to spin in with it as the spinner pleases. I’m very happy with how this all turned out. Big thanks to Yvonne for thinking of me when they were looking for a dyer!

So expect to see hand dyed yarn appearing in my etsy shop sometime in the future (probably after the first of the year). If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see me offer, let me know!

Also, for all those of you making your lists for Santa, check out the announcement for the very first Zarzuela’s Fibers Fiber Club! You’ll find a listing on etsy and a description in the Ravelry group as well. :)

So enough with the shameless self promotion! ;) More fiber content next time! And it won’t take a week. Promise! ;)

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Thanks for all the commiseration with my sock machine woes of the last post. Thanks also to those of you that pointed out the Houdini Socks. I’ve only glanced at the article/pattern so far, but it looks promising. I never would have seen it otherwise, so thank you!

I have yet to touch the sock machine again since last weekend. I know they say the older you get the faster the time goes, but I never thought it could be *this* true. I have no idea where the weekend went. We were cleaning for Thanksgiving, we went shopping, I did some dyeing (which I hope to show you soon) and then all of the sudden I was getting up for work! Huh?!? Guess it’s just going to be that kind of end of the year around these parts.

So it looks like this will be a post of many random things. I hope you’re ready because here it goes!

Random thing the first. My Dad went to Argentina recently by way of Chile. I asked him to bring me home an alpaca.

alpaca patch

He got close. ;)

Random thing the second. I finally got to wear my Annemor Gloves that I finished in the spring.

Finally got to wear them!

I’m usually far from the “matchy matchy” type but by sheer coincidence these happen to match the headband I made as my first Fair Isle project back when the first knitting olympics happened. And both these match my winter coat. HWJF tells me I’m cute. I’ll take his word for it.

Random thing the third. In between everything else I’ve got going on I’ve been working on cleaning the mohair fleece I bought at Rhinebeck.

mohair locks

I wish y’all had “Feel-o-blog” or something. It is taking quite a bit of doing to get these suckers clean but when they are? Soft and fluffy and just amazingly awesome. I can’t wait to start carding these into some sock yarn batts for the shop and myself!

Random thing the fourth. I had a local MLA chapter meeting last week and since my other knitting has too much patterning going on I decided to work a bit on my plain old stockinette socks.

I shouldn't be knitting this sock but I am.

Only the toe was done when the meeting started. I love being productive while listening to people speak, but part of me really wishes I’d been working on Christmas knitting. We will be having our Christmas with my parents early this year and I’ve only got about three weeks left to knit! EEEK!

And finally, random thing the last. I finished up another spinning order.

strawberry rhubarb yarn

Approximately 700 yards of fingering weight two ply merino yarn.

strawberry rhubarb yarn closeup

Strawberry Rhubarb Colorway. Squishy goodness. I really hope some of the folks that have been getting yarn for me will share what they’re making with it. I’m so anxious to see!

That’s about it from here. Happy Monday y’all. Think I’ll go watch me some football with the boy. :)

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This post will probably be less exuberant than it might have been as I appear to be coming down with something again. Combine that with needing to work on Saturday and you’ve got yourself one grumpy Jessica. Perhaps I can pull myself out of the funk by reliving my Rhinebeck finds. We shall see.

My shopping list was pretty specific this year. I really wanted to get a few certain things and get them early so I could spend the rest of the festival enjoying the sights and sounds with HWJF and the gang. I really wanted this Rhinebeck to be less about the “stuff”, but I certainly wasn’t coming home empty handed. :)

On the yarn front, I had a few specific needs for future holiday gifts. I was lucky enough to find these two skeins:

Rhinebeck 2008 (15)

Rhinebeck 2008 (14)

They are Oasis Yarns “Seduction”. One hundred percent silk and about 300 yards a piece. They are already on the needles but that’s all I can say since the recipient does read the blog now and then. ;)

There was some serious restraint in the sock yarn category this year. Only one skein!

Rhinebeck 2008 (55)

Aussi Sock, which I used for a pair of socks for my Grandfather for last Christmas. It’s a nice wool yarn with a good nylon content. It’s also intended for holiday gift giving this year.

The only other yarn I purchased was for myself. Seven skeins of this yummy stuff:

Rhinebeck 2008 (74)

That would be Green Mountain Spinnery Maine Organic. I do believe this will become “Portland” from “A Fine Fleece” sometime down the road. It’s a really lovely yarn and I’m glad I made my purchase early because it was all gone on Sunday!

There were two purchases for the benefit of my spinning wheels. The higher speed whorl mentioned in the previous post and this:

Rhinebeck 2008 (72)

The bug and the matchless should be nice and shiny when I get done with them with this stuff. And lord knows they could both use it.

Next there was the fiber. I must have carried one of my new drop spindles around in my hand nearly all day on Saturday looking for something I was dying to spin on it. After consulting with Christine, I finally decided to give silk caps another go.

Rhinebeck 2008 (56)

These two will get spun and plied together, mostly because there was a third one that was spun and became a victim of my first attempt at Andean plying. I got the plying going fine, it was the silk sticking to itself that made it a disaster.

I also picked up a two pound bump of a dyed wool at the same booth. Don’t ask me to tell you what it was at the moment or show you a picture because I just couldn’t seem to do it justice. HWJF and I both liked it so much that there may have to be a his and hers sweater from it. Maybe I’ll be able to get a better pic for next post.

I needed a couple of things for the shop as well. I bought a few bags of silk for dyeing and blending into future batts.

Rhinebeck 2008 (16)

I also found a good deal on some Corriedale roving.

Rhinebeck 2008 (35)

These will probably be going into my first fiber club. More details on that soon!

As you saw from the photos in the last post, I didn’t make it out of the fleece sale empty handed. I had gone in thinking I’d try to find a nice chocolate brown polworth for myself. Unfortunately, there was no polworth to be seen, but when I came back to this beauty three times I figured it was trying to say “Take me home!”

Rhinebeck 2008 (73)

Sorry for the amazingly craptastic pictures, but this was the best I could do with the time I had. It’s a Romney/Border Leicester cross (if I remember correctly) from a farm in PA. Very clean and very healthy looking. The color goes from a lovely black to a bit of a chocolate brown toward some of the tips. At 6 lbs. 10 oz. (despite the fact that some of that weight will be lost in the processing) I think it’s going to make a lovely sweater or two. Check out that staple length!

Rhinebeck 2008 (36)

That’s at least 4 inches if not more. And yes, despite the grand plans I had of dropping this and the two Shetland fleeces that I bought earlier in the year at a processor, I’ll be doing the whole deal on my own.

Going back to shop needs, at the end of the day on Sunday my mission to find some washed, undyed mohair locks seemed to have been thwarted. Until I decided on this:

Rhinebeck 2008 (54)

That would be a 5 lb. mohair fleece from the mohair fleece sale. I figured since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I’ll just do it myself. And since it had a second place ribbon on it, I figured I couldn’t go wrong! Even my Mom thought it was lovely. I think the color variations will be very interesting when complemented with some dye.

My final purchase of the day, as we walked toward the gates and I discovered there was a little cash still burning a hole in my pocket was this:

Rhinebeck 2008 (53)

Sairy had gotten one earlier in the day and I just couldn’t resist. It’s got a black sheep and a white sheep on it and a skein of blue yarn. What could be more perfect?

But of course, I have saved my first purchase and the very best purchase for last. The two Golding Spindles that HWJF bought for me as part of my Christmas present for this year! First up:

1st spindle

This is the Celtic Ring #2. It has a 2 3/4″ handcarved Cherry Whorl with a walnut shaft and weighs 1.3 oz. This is one of their more standard designs.

1st spindle and silk

It’s seen here on 2 oz. of dyed silk from Chasing Rainbows that I picked up at the Carolina Homespun booth along with my faster wheel whorl. It’s a fantastic spindle as far as I’m concerned and I’m really enjoying spinning up the silk on it.

But if you think that one is fabulous, take a look at this:

2nd spindle front

This is the Celtic Ring style with a vintage sterling silver ring. The entire spindle is handcarved from walnut and weighs 1.31 oz. What you see on it is my first attempt at spinning a silk cap since my previous disaster and before I ruined it. ;)

2nd spindle side

We talked to Mr. Golding as we were checking out and he said he’s only made one like this because of what a pain it was to make. The ring is set into the whorl and that space had to be carefully carved out for it to fit.

2nd spindle back

As you can see here, even the underside is beautifully carved. This baby likes to spin For-ever! It’s awesome! I adore them both and they will be the perfect memory of a perfect weekend for a long time to come. Yes friends, I’m finally a spindle convert! :-D

And now I must return to the real world rather than my fiber induced dreams. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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No really. I do. Who could ask for better friends than people who would leave their house before dawn, freeze their little bippies off, hang around all day, talk to the public and give free spinning lessons and go home covered in dirt at the end of it all for free? Certainly not me because that’s what happened this weekend!

The Garden State Sheep Breeders festival was definitely a success in my book and none of it could have happened without the amazing assistance of Kim, Sharon, Sairy, Cheeky, Kristy and HWJF.

HWJF and I packed everything up on Friday night and arrived with two cars at the festival around 7:15am Saturday morning. The sun was just up and holy cow was it COLD. We set to work setting things up and were quickly joined by Sharon, Kim and Cheeky. Many hands definitely make light work and before I knew it we were set up and ready for business. HWJF was nice enough to take some pictures for me and it was a good thing he did or I might not have any at all!

GSSB 2008
We somehow didn’t manage to get Cheeky in the shot. :(

I got many complements on the display throughout the course of the festival which I took as a major complement considering the only thing I purchased to create my display was two C clamps and those were bought with a gift card! Hooray for found objects and borrowing! It was nice to hear the ooohs and ahhhs over the colors and the fibers. That’s unfortunately something you just don’t get with an online shop.

GSSB 2008 (1)

If you want some even better shots of the festival, head on over to Deb’s post. She got some great pics which include her Mom wearing one of my rovings in a “no spinning necessary” way that I just loved!!

Eklectica’s spindles were a huge seller throughout the weekend. I was so happy to be able to offer them for sale in my booth. They made a perfect pairing with the fiber and I do believe there are a few new spinners out there now because of them. Sharon and Sairy each bought one and Cheeky got to help them along with their spinning a bit. Yes people, I’m enabling my friends just as much as my customers these days and I loved every min. of it!

I learned so much about so many things this weekend, both related to selling my wares as well as spinning and people and relationships. Cheeky and I had never met in person before Saturday and now I feel like I’ve known her for years! Her experience was absolutely instrumental in my success and I couldn’t possibly thank her enough. And then what did she do? Not only did she buy up a bunch of my fiber herself, she also gifted me this:

GSSB 2008 (2)

I had been debating buying some of this from a vendor a couple of booths down from me (I bought some lovely soap from him last year) and when I wasn’t looking Cheeky bought it for me! Thanks again Cheeky! I’m so glad we were able to get to know each other more this weekend!

A couple of times during the weekend people came up to say hello because they recognized me from the blog or were in SOS. I feel terrible that I can’t remember all your names (I found Susan on Ravelry this morning though! Hi!), but thanks so much for saying hello! Considering the state of the world these days, it definitely made me feel wonderful that you would have the courage to do that. You made my day!

Another highlight was a younger girl who is so obviously infected with the fiber bug that her enthusiasm just lit up the place. First, she and her Mom bought some fiber. Then they came back for a spindle but they didn’t have the cash (“Mom, don’t you have money in the car?!”) so I set it aside for them to buy through etsy, then the girl came back happily waving cash. Then she ran off again only to return to ask me to help her getting started. When I related this story to HWJF later and told him that I could see the flash of fiber love in her eyes, he said something about knowing what that looks like. ;) Later in the day Sharon and Sairy saw her happily spinning away. Another one hooked! Yay! :-D

The final highlight? On the way home as we discussed the goings on of the weekend HWJF told me that if I was to do something like this again, he’d be taking the whole weekend off to be there with me because he wants to and that he’s really looking forward to Rhinebeck. Maybe it was this bug I can’t seem to kick or the exhaustion, but tears of joy were shed.

There were so many other moments this weekend that I could go on forever. My only regret was that I wasn’t quite feeling myself because of this damn cold that is still hanging on, but I couldn’t have been happier with the results of the show both in sales and in the people I met and the friendships that were formed or grew. I really can’t thank those of you that helped me enough!! You are all amazing!! I’m definitely looking forward to doing this again next year if I can and I may even investigate other opportunities to do some vending.

For those of you that couldn’t make it and are jonesing for a fiber fix, never fear! As soon as I recover a bit and get myself organized I’ll be posting plenty of new items in the shop. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what goes up here.

In the meantime, bring on Rhinebeck!!!! ;)

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… how’s about I tell y’all about Maine!

It was awesome!

No wait! There’s more! ;)

Despite leaving after work on Wednesday we didn’t actually get into Maine until Thursday morning. It seems that we must have officially reached “old” or something because the prospect of getting in at 1am or later did not appeal to us this year. We stayed with friends near Boston Wednesday night and were on our way Thursday morning.

portland lighthouse

First stop was Portland. There’s something so very charming to me about this city. Perhaps it’s the smallness compared to my daily fight with NYC, perhaps it’s the smell of salt on the air that instantly makes me crave steamed clams and lobster, or maybe it’s the people who totally dress like I would want to dress on a daily basis and don’t seem to notice that they’re special. Either way, I just love Portland. And this time around I finally got to go to Tess’ Designer Yarns! Every time we’ve tried before it hasn’t been open but this time we were lucky. I was so excited I didn’t even get a picture, but you better believe I got yarn!

tess' superwash merino

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I ended up with these two skeins of their Superwash Merino. It’s so silky and the colors just imidiately grabbed me when I walked in the door. There is a touch of buyer’s remorse with these only because I probably should have gotten a third skein. Now that I’m back to Ravelry access, I find that the sweaters I had in mind need a touch more yardage. I may just call them to see if I can get more though. I also bought sock yarn for HWJF which has become the yarn of choice for his Ravelympic socks.

Sock progress

I didn’t start them until Saturday because I wanted to work on the Morning Surf Scarf first (more on that another day) and I wasn’t too sure how they were going to work out, but they’re starting to grow on me. I decided to go with this instead of the handspun that I had originally planned when I discovered the gauge was going to be way off otherwise. HWJF seems to like them so far and that’s all that matters to me.

We almost literally tripped over another yarn store while we wandered the city, Central Yarn Shop. This was a really cute store with a wide variety of yarns and some really interesting samples, not the least of which were some with a serious lobster theme that we saw in the window.

lobster knits!

We picked up another skein of sock yarn there. This time Berroco Sox.

sox

HWJF says that I “hog all the blues” so this one is for him too. :)

We made several other stops including a couple of record stores, an asian grocery (hello Pocky!), L.L.Bean outlet and a Stonewall Kitchen to stock up on our favorite Sunday breakfast, but I think HWJF was most happy when we found out we could take a tour here:

shipyard

While the video was interesting the “tour” was less than stellar. They basically took us into the packaging room to show us all of this:

beer

Which was kind of cool to see all the bottles going around but less than what we were expecting. But hey, it was free and there was a tasting afterward. I’m not a beer girl so I gave the boy my samples. Obviously, we went home with a couple of beverages. ;)

Then it was on to Freeport for lunch at Gritty’s which was Oh.My.God. amazing. Try the lobster bisque if you’re ever there and the pulled pork over sweet potato fries with cheese and maple sour cream. Sounds gross but was amazingly delish! The food was so amazing but we ended up scarfing it down because it was 3pm and we found a brochure for an Alpaca farm nearby that closed at 5pm! Meet the alpacas of Winters Gone Farm!

Winters Gone Farm Alpacas

We only had 30 min. before they closed by the time we made it there (who knew there was traffic in Maine?!?) so I didn’t want to keep the owners, but I did manage to score 8 oz. of the softest spinning fiber ever! Expect to see that spun up sometime soon!

Our day ended by going back for the mandatory stop at L.L.Bean (it’s a state law according to my Dad ;) ) and then heading home.

On another day we also made it to another yarn shop that I hadn’t been able to get into before, Pins and Needles. It was a really lovely little shop with a great selection of different types of yarn, most of it from Cascade. We picked out this skein of Cascade’s new sock yarn, Heritage.

heritage

Since this was sort of HWJF’s birthday trip, most of the sock yarns ended up being for him. :) But one ended up coming home for me:

jknits

This time it’s J. Knits which is another yarn I’ve not yet knitted with. We picked this one up at our favorite stop in Waterville, Yardgoods. We also had to visit our favorite lunch place in Waterville, Big G’s. The sandwhiches? Insanely huge!

big g's sandwhich

And totally yummy. :) Of course no trip to Maine would be complete without a stop at Gifford’s either, especially when our favorite flavor (Pumpkin!) was available.

gifford's

Yeah. Totally raining and cold. Did we care? No way.

We also managed to take in a concert at the New England Music Camp in between the raindrops.

NEMC concert

Note the handknit socks and the new shoes. :)

There was also a visit with HWJF’s father’s turkeys.

HWJF and the turkeys

And the hilarity of HWJF trying to find eggs for us for breakfast one morning.

HWJF tries to find an egg

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. Only we decided to make a little detour. HWJF’s parents were nice enough to give us two bikes to bring back to NJ, so we decided to stop and try them out.

Kennebunkport bridge

I’d never been to Kennebunkport and I must say it is a very cute town with a lovely beach.

HWJF at the beach

Of course, I can only look at the water from a distance, so I made HWJF go find me some sea shells. :)

Unfortunately it was 5pm before we knew it and we were still in Maine! We didn’t get home until 11pm and well… you know the rest.

Someday I hope we can live in Maine. It just seems like it would be a good fit for us in so many ways. In the meantime, I’ve definitely added to my list of places I want more time to explore!

Did I mention we’re driving up there for Christmas?! ;)

Sailboat

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A very happy Holiday wish to all those in the U.S. today as we celebrate our country’s birthday!

Fireworks

Since HWJF has to work today (yeah. Seriously. I really hate his company sometimes) I’ll be spending my day with these

Happiness

in an attempt to get next month’s inventory for the shop started. Thanks so much to those of you who have already purchased something from me! I eventually hope to have a gallery here of what you’ve made with Zarzuela’s Fibers, so do send me pics when you get around to it. :) Some of my plurk buddies have given me some interesting new dyeing ideas, so I’m planning on having a lot of fun today.

If I’m real lucky, I may even get some time to work on this:

Smooshy won

SOS’08 Sock number two is Express Lane in DIC Smooshy. :) It’s already much further along than this pic shows. It really is a fast knit.

I hope your weekend is filled with fiber, fun and maybe even a little sock knitting too. :)

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…but a little bit to start.

The SOS’08 Cafepress store is running strong! Thanks to all that have made a purchase so far. I’ve recently added several products including Plus Size T-shirts, Notecards and Jr. Raglan T-shirts and a Tank. Go check it out if you haven’t already!

There was a small typo in the pattern that Wendy wrote for us. She was kind enough to send me a corrected file which I have uploaded to replace the old one. If you think you must have the corrected copy, you can find it at the same exact link that you were e-mail with last weekend.

When I haven’t been dealing with SOS stuff I’ve been hitting the dyepots pretty hard lately.

Dyeing drying

There’s about two pounds of fiber there. It’s mostly superwash merino with some Romney and some Wensleydale. Most of that was dyed last Friday on my day off, but I have figured out how to work dyeing into my week when I’m working too, which is a good thing indeed.

Along with the dyeing there’s been a fair amount of spinning too. I finished a second bobbin of Mocha the other night:

Mocha wool bobbin 2

And a first bobbin of more Cloverleaf BFL whose colorway I can’t seem to remember:

Bfl bobbin 1

I’m very much looking forward to doing more spinning amongst fiber folk at the Hudson River Knit and Spin (.pdf) this weekend. Who else is going to be there? Me and the Ladybug will be there spinning some freshly dyed fiber if anything dries by then.

And finally, I must admit that I am addicted to Plurk. Want to join me? I can send you an invite if you like. It’s a ton of fun. I can finally blog all the crazy little things in life without boring the audience here that might not be interested.

You know. Things like seeing a guy with bewbs tatooed to his shoulder yesterday. Yeah. Seriously.

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Part one of many (no doubt).

But first, thanks so much for all the nice comments on the Bog Jacket in the last post. Your kindness has really bolstered my spirits with this one. I may even wear it out of the house again. ;) It’s amazing how the perspective can be skewed when you are “too close” to something and it takes the eyes of (somewhat) neutral parties to make you see again. It isn’t a horrible sweater. Just not what I expected. So thanks for making me see it a little bit differently.

Second, I want to share some finished spinning. The merino-silk I was working on finally got plied up last week. Here’s the finished skein:

Red Merino-Silk

And the closeup:

Red Merino-Silk closeup

I’m quite happy with how this came out. I just wish there was more of it. I only ended up with about 226 yards, but I’m sure I’ll figure out something to do with it sooner or later.

But the real subject for today is that I’ve begun my journey into fiber processing. You’ll remember that I bought my first fleece at Maryland this year, a beautiful 6 lb. cormo that I’ll be processing myself from sheep to shawl sweater whatever I decide to make with it. Before I started washing the fleece I figured it was high time I learned to use a drum carder. Luckily Risa happened to have one she wasn’t using and has been so very kind enough to let me borrow it for a while. It’s a Fricke finest and is quite a nice machine.

Drum carder side

For those that don’t know a drum carder actually has two “drums”. One that brings the fiber in and one that cards it. **Disclaimer** I am not expert in these things. I’m only relating my own experiences here. **End Disclaimer** I believe the smaller one is called the “licker in” and that holds the fiber as it drags across the big drum, carding the wool. You can see them a little better in this picture:

Drum carder top

There is a metal shelf where the wool is sitting, then to the left is the “licker in”. You can also see from that angle that there is a brush that sits on top of the big drum. This serves to push the fiber down as it is carded so you can put more into a single batt. What you also see here is rather improper treatment for preparing wool to be carded. I decided to do my first experiments with this BFL that I had dyed sometime last year. It was “black” BFL (which is actually a kind of light brown color) that I over dyed with red. The color didn’t distribute evenly (something that is good when kettle dyeing depending on your desired result) so I thought I’d let the carder redistribute and blend the color for me while I learned.

My first attempts weren’t too great as I was attempting to put way too much wool through the carder at once. After a couple of viewings of this video on Youtube (they seriously have a video for everything there, this one is pretty “interesting” in more ways than one) I had a lot more success. In the end I ended up with these three lovely fluffy batts:

First batts

I’ve managed to spin one up so far and hope to have the resulting yarn to show you sometime soon. Who knows. Maybe I’ll be able to make my own fiber blends for sweaters like the ones that are found in this book sometime soon:

Fine Fleece

Because I seriously want to make almost every single thing in there. One step at a time for now though.

The next adventure will be fleece washing!

P.S. Final registrations for the Summer of Socks ’08 topped out at 1582! If you aren’t on the Ravelry group, you really should be! It’s amazing what’s already been going on over there!

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