Friday, November 30, 2007

Spinning but not yet a spinster.

One of the reasons I was interested in Sonya's spinning wheel, was last May, I acquired some fleeces.

(don't bother to look, I didn't blog about it!) And I have a good hope of acquiring more fleece from the same source next May. It only made sense with all this free wool around, I would want some way of turning it from raw fleece into spun wool.

I proceeded, in the early summer to wash/scour the wool with no directions.. (except—don't agitate, Use lots of detergent, and warm, but not hot water.) I now know there are things I can do that will result in easier to spin wool--but another spinner reported that she once washed a fleece in a washing machine in a laundromat—so I wasn't obsessive about how I scoured the wool the first time I tried—my bad!

I have no idea of what breed the sheep are.. (they are just sheep)

I am a city girl, born and bred with in NYC's 5 borough's.. What do i know of sheep? Actually I know one breed.. Jacob's sheep. (a breed that looks like sheep described in the bible.) These can be found in the Children's Zoo of the Bronx Zoological Gardens.. The only sheep i know, are zoo animals!--(likewise, I only know cows)

In NY State, (both on Long Island and upstate) there are plenty of dairy farms, and there are cows..(I suppose there is an occasional bull, but mostly what you see from a car (going past fields at 60 miles an hour) are she cows.

It is udderly clear they are she cows! Same is true for most of New England, and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Every once in a while you pass a farm that has a sign, “Angus Cattle” (they are short legged, stocky black cows) and I know Angus is a breed that is used for meat, but in NY State, herds of Angus are herds of cows!

Dairy Farmers often have Notices.. “Pure Bred Angus” on this farm,(black cows), “Pure Bred Jersey's”(reddish cows)on an other farm, or “Pure bred Holsteins” (black and white cows) elsewhere, but sheep farms are less common--and “Pure Bred X” (where X is a variety of sheep!!) are even less common!

My sheep (possessive aren't I?) are communal sheep. They live a life of leisure, eating grass, apples, (there is an old apple orchard where they live-- and they get to eat all the wind-falls) and sweet hay. There primary occupation is to entertain children. (Well they might not think so.. they think it's to eat and have fun.) When they die, they die of old age, (not at butchers!).

The down side? The pastures are sometimes weedy (there is a lot of burdock in the fleece!) and the fleece are filthy. (I easy washed several pounds of sand out of the one fleece I washed, (plus vegetable matter, and all sorts of sheepy things (lanolin, 'dandruff', etc), though the fleece were pretty well skirted (and there wasn't too much dag). (-->first attempt!)

So starting with my home scoured, and simple carded, and not the best wool in the world to work with, my first attempt at spinning is, well not very well spun!
(<--details of first attempt)

I am still learning How to:
Consistent, evenly treadle (in the right direction!)
How to adjust the tension –so the fly wheels whizzes, and the bobbin follows at a slower pace
How to draft.
Watch not only the draft, but the bobbin.

Right now, I've spun all the wool I've carded, and I have to go back and find some good lock of wool, and card them (and clean out the vegetable matter) and try again!

Come the new year, I think I'll take a spinning class--and buy some roving. I am sure better materials will help! --Not that practice isn't needed! But I suspect my home carded wool would be challenging for an advanced spinner.

In the meanwhile I have 2 more fleeces, that still need to be washed, and combed, and carded and I think I'll follow Yarn Harlot's detailed delicate process for these----I will still be working with an unknown variety of wool, but it will be easier to work with, if I treat it better!

(<--second go)

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