Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yummerino goes on . . .

Tonight sees the second batch of Amy all clean and drying. I decided to do something besides falling asleep in my chair during Wheel of Fortune (sad, eh?) so cranked the water heater up when I got home from work. Two laundry bags of Amy and three lingerie bags with some other merino I'd already washed and drum carded. The batts still felt greasy, so I thought I'd try giving them a hot soak along with Amy. It worked just fine in the lingerie bags. I unrolled two of the batts and left one rolled up. I was careful not to agitate or shock them. I am always afraid of ending up with felt. Lucky so far. The batts look fine and not greasy any more.
One more session should see my wool all clean. I've one more laundry bag of Amy to scour and four more merino batts to degrease.

So here's a goofy project I found on's free patterns. The scan is a bit wonky, but it's going to be a scarf. The center section is seed stitch and each side has squiggly bits made by casting on and then binding off. I've seen similar scarves before and thought they were cute. Anyway, my friend Jennifer gifted me this skein of yarn some time back and I've been trying to find a pattern the would show off the texture. The yarn is Shaeffer "Elaine" in the Diane Fosse colorway. I've started and frogged 3 different patterns so far, but this one's a keeper. The yarn is a delicious muddle of jungly greens and the texture is thick 'n' thin bulky spiral. Today marks the halfway point of the 300 yard skein. The scarf is looking to be 4 + feet long -- a nice manageable length -- and promises to be warm and cozy. I recently did a scarf search when the weather got really cold.

  • One lovely lace (Docouer -?- et soie). Not exactly warm and cozy. Also too long and skinny.
  • One I wove several years ago of ??? yarn. Probably a mix of whatever I had at the time, acrylic, wool, whatever. Scratchy to the max and stiff.
  • And one nice velvety faux cashmere that's lovely but not an everyday scarf.


That's pretty sad for a fiber junkie. I've gifted several scarves, but don't have one for myself. This is gonna be mine, all mine! So now I'm gonna go knit and watch my wool dry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yummerino II

This post won't be as colorful as the last, but it was an adventure.
As I said, I began scouring the Amy fleece yesterday. Now it occured to me while I was filling the bathtub (where I do the majority of fiber cleaning) that the water didn't seem as hot as it ought to be. I went ahead and washed the first parts of the fleece anyway. I had changed from Dawn dish soap to Era laundry soap and thought it ought to do a good job on the fiber. Well, it DID do a wonderful job -- at getting the DIRT out -- but after spinning in the washing machine I put my hand in the fleece and found . . . lanolin! Considerably less than at first, but still a lot. To add to the fun, I noticed the water had been getting less and less warm as my wash/rinse sessions went on. On DH's suggestion I checked the water heater in the garage and found it to be on the "vacation" setting. We don't know why; perhaps it got bumped when the garbage or recycling containers were being shifted around since the water heater is right next to them. In retrospect I remembered my showers for the last few days and how I had to crank the hot water up higher than normal. At the time I thought it might have been due to the extremely cold weather we've had recently, though it had warmed up a bit by then. Anyway -- forgive my digression -- here I was with all my laundry and lingerie bags full of clean, greasy WET wool. I turned the water heater way up but hesitated to put the wool back in hot water while it was still wet for fear of shocking it into a felted mass. I know what happens when you put cold water on hot wet wool and didn't want to chance that it might work the other way, too, especially with a highly feltable fiber like merino. So I spread the damp wool out to dry and we went to a movie.

We saw "The Wrestler" starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Excellent and all too realistic.

Out for dinner also (County Grill & Smokehouse in Yorktown/Grafton. Outstanding BBQ ribs & chicken!) and by the time we got home scouring fleece was out of the question.

This morning I filled the tub and regathered the fleece into the bags. A capful of Era into the water and in with the wool.

The milky cloudiness in the water is -- LANOLIN! Yes, the screaming hot water did the trick. I screamed when I put my hand in the water to push the bags down. No, I'm kidding about that part. I used a plastic bin lid to submerge the bags. A brief soak produced the results you see above, then a final rinse and into the washing machine to spin out. Back to the drying table and now there is soft, clean and NOT greasy fiber!

The flash didn't do justice to the color or texture of this fleece. It is as black as natural wool gets and there is no white or grey in it as the photo seems to suggest. Although as I write this I am reminded of the indigo bunting, a miraculously bright blue bird whose individual feathers are perceived as black. Nature always has a few tricks up her sleeve. Do some of the hairs appear white because of a lack of pigment? In natural light do they reflect the black of the hairs surrounding them while the camera flash reveals what the human eye cannot perceive?

YAG! I scare myself sometimes with the random and abstract musings! I will give up for now and go fondle the dry bits of fleece while I decide how to prep it for spinning. Did I mention combs? Heh.


This was in the mailbox today. I was on Ravelry one day and the advertising graphic caught my eye for Fat Cat Knits, an etsy store. Who could resist cats-with-wings graphics? So I clicked on the ad and was transported to a world of fibery eye candy! It was a temptation to buy one of each, but my pocketbook shreiked audibly at the thought. Then I noticed the fiber club offering. 4 ounces a month for three months. Hmmm. Affordable. Two coordinating 2-ounce fibers each month. Variety of fibers. Variety of colors. Saves me the trouble of choosing, and by the looks of the fibers on site, I couodn't go wrong. Hmmmm. SOLD!
I am not disappointed; in fact I am delighted! The fiber is 60% merino and 40% bamboo and soft as a kitten. In addition, Ginny included some "Bling" (her description) to spin in with the yarn, a little packet of glitz fiber, dyed to match, of course! Forgive my scan;it's a bit darker than real life, but I was in a hurry to show you!
Oh, now the agony of choices again! How shall I spin it? Singles? Plyed? Bulky? Worsted? Fine? AAACCKKK!!! It might help if I had an idea of what I'd like to do with it, but I find my main interest is in spinning rather than making things from the yarn. It occurs to me that I might weave something on my RH loom. . .

And then there's the other project of the day -- Amy.
Amy is the latest sheep in my life --er ---stash. I found her a couple of weeks ago when I attended a weekend spinning retreat (another topic for discussion, coming soon). Actually I don't have the sheep, but I do have her hogget fleece. (Hogget is the term used for the first fleece shorn from the animal.) Amy's fleece is luscious, inky, sooty black superfine merino. It's a smallish fleece at 3 1/2 pounds, but hardly any trash. I'd been waiting for a nice day to take the fleece out on the deck and see what it looked like. Today's temperatures hit the 50's and I rolled a table out and went to work. I was pleased to find very little in the way of tags or VM and very few second-cuts. Amy was coated, resulting in no sun damage or VM for the vast majority of her fleece. There was some tipping around the edges of the fleece, but the fiber was of a decent length. I pulled off the edges and put them in some small zip-type mesh lingerie bags. They'll be separate from the yummy part, which I divided into quarters and will wash in bigger mesh laundry bags. The wool is squishy-soft and so full of lanolin it makes my hands feel dipped in lotion! Scouring the first batch of the wool proved to be an adventure. I'll elaborate next post, as it's getting late and I'm tired.

More stuff (and pics) next time. . . .
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