Sunday, May 17, 2009

I love Judith MacKenzio McCuin.  She taught me to spin, weave and dye 25 years ago.  She continues to inspire me with her books and articles.  Others obviously feel the same way as there is even a 'Daughters of Judith' fan group on Ravelry. More recently, she has helped to remove my guilt about my boxes and bags of wool hidden in the loft.  Nay, she encourages stash. 
Stash g- put by or away as for safekeeping or future use, usually in a secret place (usually fol. by away: The squirrel stashes away nuts for winter.
2.a stash of gold coins buried in the garden.
3.a place in which something is stored secretly; hiding place; cache.
4. a supply of hidden drugs.

Hmmm, note the reference to hidden drugs.  They might as well have said '...or fibre both of which provide a high.  A sign of addiction.'
Right up front in her book, Teach Yourself Visually Spinning, she actually devotes a chapter section, and I quote "Start a Stash - Every spinner has a stash--that wonderful collection of fibres that are just waiting for inspiration." 
So.  I continue to collect more stash.  Yesterday I bought 1/2 lb of washed mohair from a lovely woman who raises a few angora goats and recues and fosters greyhounds, endangered San Clemente goats, mistreated goats, and even a great granddaughter.

I have noticed that spinners and related fibre people have developed a mass of acronyms.  A whole new language.  Here's a sample from ravelry's list, just the u,w & y's:
UFO UnFinished Object (usually a WIP that has been abandoned or neglected) 
WIM Work In Mind 
WIP Work In Progress 
WoTA Wool of the Andes (yarn) 
WPI Wraps Per Inch (number of times yarn will wrap loosely around ruler or similar tool in one inch; more wraps indicates thinner yarn)
yarn barf (yarf?) a big lump of yarn that accidentally gets pulled out of a new centre-pull ball, when you’re trying to find the end 
Yarnie independent dyer or spinner with a small business 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shellfish Fibre
Thursday we launched the new Centre for Shellfish Research boat the Cheltlo - Chinook jargon for Oyster.  The Chetlo is being blessed by Ray Peters, a Quw'utzun (Cowichan) elder. Uncle Ray (as he is known) is using cedar and introducing the boat to the water.  In the Coast Salish culture, it is important that boats and people are introduced to the water.  On the Tribal Journeys, a 12 day canoe paddle, we, and the canoe, were introduced to the water every day before starting to paddle.

Having a twisted mind, chetlo/oysters  reminded me that mussles create very strong threads in order to attach to rock.  These threads need to be very strong to withstand the pounding of wave action but also very fine, so fine they can attach to a single grain of sand.  One species, the Pen mussle (pinna noblis), produces shiny golden threads, was used to make fabric Byssus--the silk of the sea, also less  gloriously known as '"fish wool".  One theory possits that the 'golden fleece' was referring to the golden threads of byssus.  In his novel  "20,000 leagues under the sea", Jules Verne wrote '...I felt so great a heat that I obliged to take off my coat of byssus!'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tools of the Trade
I forgot to mention the 48" Loom I subcombed to.  I discovered and the Vancouver Island Fibre Lovers Group, and, well, one thing led to another and I now have a 48" counterbalance loom.
About that fleece.  I read and read about preparing fleeces.  Some say the water has to be hot to get rid of the sinut and/or the lanolin, some say cold water to get rid of the vm (it took me days to figure out that vm meant vegtable matter) and to keep the lanolin in. Judith M-M says to soak some fllece for 7 days and hold your nose, others agree that this is like magic but unfortunatley very smelly.  Some say agitate and others say do not agitate or you will have felt.  So in a moment (hours) of panic I washed in hot, tried not to agitate and left it for a day.  And then read that I should have sorted first.  Oh well.  But it did work, most of the VM seemed to dissapear, the wool was white no longer cream and I couldn't find any of the what-could-have-been-mud-but-could-have-been-other-uky-stuff.  
Then I read about combing and making wonderful slivers of top.  Then, I found that good combs cost $100-$200!  Before I splurge on that I decided to see what else I could do and quickly realized that dog combs come in many types and I spent $30 on a couple that didn't quite do what I thought needed to be done.  Then I discovered horsecombs ($2.99) and bought three.  Two to use as combs, transferring combed fleece from one to the other and the third to be used as a hackle for creating a sliver (predrafted thin roving where all the fibers are in parrallel...think worsted...think smooth yarn) by using a diz (I used a large button).  I used my knees to hold it while I added the wool.  Mark, quickly made a comb holder which can be clamped onto a tble or held much easier between the knees.  It is a great way to blend fibres.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How fast we sink
I sank deeper into the fibre mania this week. It all started innocently with a day off in the middle of the week and an urge for a fleece.  A perfect opportunity to go visit Knotty by Nature a relatively new store in Victoria that specializes in spinning.  Run by two young eager spinners who seem to embody a new style of entreprenuerialism where not only is something being sold and a good service backing it up (classes, knitting needle exchange, play area for kids, a seating and reading area, breast-feeding friendly, helpful advice, community knitting eg hats for homeless, etc.) but they emit and promote values to support the local community.  Think 100 mile fibres.  I don't mean preachy, but very supportive.  And Ryan can spin coils, wraps and beehives that leaves you breathless, while she (oh dear, I forgot to ask her name...maybe AJ?) spins creative artistic creations that make most of us feel, weel, almost prudish in our, well, my, attempts to get a perfect medium thin commercial look-a-like yarn.
In any event, as soon as I walked into the store I asked if I could take my coat off and leave it and my pack by the couch, "I think, I may be here awhile."  I ooohed and awed and drooled all over the store checking everything and I mean everything out.  She offered me a basket but we both looked at it and the pile I was already carrying and realized it would be too small.  I created a pile (aka stash) on a table and kept adding to it.  Blue Faced Leister which everything i had read said it was a dream to spin, Marino top, bamboo, books, corridale roving I didn't realize a pound was so much).  In the midst of all this I had to borrow a quater to plug another 90 mins into the parking meter. 
But no fleece.  She had some local texel  fleece which would make wonderful light but warm Cowichan style yarn.  But I wanted something with more lustre for worsted yarn.  I want to be able to spin worster to really feel I have that technique down pat.  Then, I will move onto woolen long draw.
Within an hour, that thought was out the window when I walked into The Loom at Whippletree and saw some fine almost Merino fleec right at the entrance.  I asked for a bag to put some in.  "Oh, no.  You have to buy it all.  $25" Sold!  So here i am with 10 lbs to clean, dye and spin.
Inspired by all this 

Monday, May 4, 2009

From Fleece to Batts
Encouraged by the dyed roving, I moved to the ten year old fleece.  Sometime in the past I must have sorted and cleaned it as it was in good condition.  So I just soaked it in hot water, heated up a pot of water and mixed some dyes in a few jars.  Then I found a brick of tussah silk and decided to dye that too.  For each colour, I added a batch of wool, some tussah silk and some mohair rovings (did I tell you  I had a stash!).  Once dry, I started to learn about drum carding and decided to card each colour into a sepeate batt.  I was careful to take each lock of wool and tease it apart.  Once I had done the pile I carefully placed each lock tip first into the carder.  Then once the carder was close to full (which I discovered on this carder that meant about 1 oz of fleece) I took it off, split it into four and recarded the batt.  Each batt I carded twice and twisted the batt into a bun for storage. Later, I can mix colours and fibres.  So here's some pictures of the silk and spun rovings drying, and the various stages from dyed fleece to batts.

Dyed Rovings
It has been a busy week between work and pleasure.  The pleasure of spinning colours had me back up in the loft digging into a basket holding a ten year old fleece, then into the laundry room, up onto the new washing machine and reaching up into the top shelf to retrieve old dyes, praying that I wouldn't lose my balance and end up colouring the laundry.
I started with some alpaca roving and read up on how to dye roving with many colours.  I followed the video from Rexenne on YouTube and the directions for the dyes I had.  Basically, squirt the dyes onto the roving, fold the roving up in kitchen wrap, place in a steamer and steam heat the dyes to set them.  It worked.  
The photo above shows the roving done in pinks and blues.  I also learned a new word: 'colourway'.  And colourways need names, so I named my colourway 'Sunset on Georgia Strait'. Here's the finished product, 2ply.