Sunday, August 10, 2008

A very Spinnery Weekend!

After what feels like years of rain, we had a perfectly lovely, sunny, DRY, weekend... so things got a little... fibery ... around here.

There was something fiber-y in a pot in the kitchen sink

(Trevor's BSJ being coffee-dyed!)

There was handspun drying on the porch

There was handspun hanging from the mailbox

There was yarn from the Portsmouth Farmer's Market

(If you are every near Portsmouth, NH on a Saturday morning you MUST go to the Farmer's Market up by the Police Station and you MUST stop in and say hello to Ingrid. Her yarn is amazing and she is a delight to talk to.)

And... there was something amazing in the back yarn

Yes, it is. It's a wheel of mine very own. It's an old kit traditional, made in Finland (that's what it says on the bottom) but no maker's name I can figure out. It was a gift from the every-thoughtful and ever-generous Blogless Alpaca Kathy, the same wonderful fiber enabler who has let me borrow her Fricke for all these months. This gem was apparently sitting in someone's garage for aeons when Kathy got it, so it needed a little love, to say the least. I took it to spinning where the every-patient and helpful Seedstitch Cheryl puzzled over it for a good portion of the evening, trying to figure out why the drive band kept jumping the track. We finally decided that a new driveband from Cheryl's bottomless bag o' goodies and a shim under the axle would likely set it right enough. This morning I got up early, took the wheel all apart and laid her in the sun to warm up. After about 3-4 coats of Butcher's Wax, a touch of tinted wax, and a little bit of wood glue, there she sits in all her glory in the flower gardens. Not only is she now looking much happier, but I spent some time fiddling with her and watching how she moved and I made a couple of adjustments that's got the mechanism running much more smoothly! Yay me! ;-)

I spun on her a little bit this afternoon and she treadles like a dream. I'm still fiddling with the whole direct drive equation, but it's a very cool little wheel and I'm just thrilled. This actually all came about at the perfect time, because something else fascinating arrived this weekend...

My first installment of Fleece Study!

Linda Williamson Hodgkins of the Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild in NY has come up with this great program for learning all about the fleeces of as many sheep breeds as she can gather up. My first package came with all you see her - study guide (which I'm revamping with color photos - pm me if you are interested and I'll share the PDF with you when I'm done), all sorts of samples of wool washes, a little lingerie bag for keeping the fleece segregated while you wash, and TWELVE one-ounce samples of fleece to play with. I've talked about wanting to do this since I started knitting, nevermind spinning. There are so many breeds out there, I've always wondered what they each feel/smell/spin/knit like and now I'm going to know! Part one has the following breeds: Cormo, Texel, Polworth, Columbia, Rambouillet, Corriedale, Black Welsh Mountain, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Romney (my personal favorite sheep), and California Variegated Mutant (CVM). I like that the samples run the gamut from fine to coarse and include breeds that I've never heard of before like Texel, which weren't even bred for their fleece. I do realize that I have to go out now and get a set of hand carders which are dismayingly pricey ($50/pr and up), but I know it will be worth it to go from raw wool to finished yarn for each of these breeds. I'll be posting here as I run through them, so stay tuned! If you're interested in playing along, you can reach Linda on Ravelry as fleecestudy and order your very own Kit One for about $35 (postage costs vary). Linda has said that she will continue providing more breeds as long as interest keeps up.. which means she'll be selling me little packets of fleece for the next, oh, 40 years or so. ;-) Hooray!

1 comment:

The Gadabout Knitter said...

What a lovely sight, all that fiber! And your wheel is absolutely gorgeous!! Have you named her?

Um, yeah so now I have to join Fleece Study... I hope the husband won't mind more fleece in the house. ;)