Monday, August 6, 2012

More Sheepie Fleeces! or Ba-Ba Brown Sheep!

Since I've been down after surgery, and loopy as all get-out (2 weeks & I'm still dizzy + a bunch of other mental & physical "junk"), I've been spinning to counterbalance what's happening in my head.  Not a fan of any of this, just so's ya know.  I miss my Singer, but don't want to run over my fingers because I'm zoning out; she's not the most forgiving machine in the world... and my hand-eye coordination is not yet good enough to hand sew anything.  I do not like not being sober, no matter how good the cause.

So spinning it is!

I  wanted to look at something other than "white" so I spun some pre-dyed fleece (goldenrod Border Leicester) and some black Shetland (love), but blew through that rather quickly.  Before this whole medical mess... or rather, in between the sick - in my hyper times - I scoured a Finn/Dorset 1st year cross & it came out lovely.  It's rather short staple, very fine & downy, and must be made into woolen as worsted simply won't work.  I may or may not have to ply it, but I'm leaning towards plying as I think it'll fall apart if I don't. 

Top of Finn/Dorset fleece
Underside of Finn/Dorset fleece
This is the lovely sheepie fleece,  de-sheepified (scoured) for the most part.  It's quite clean, being a first year, and very fine. 

From what I've learned, Dorset doesn't really felt well, so it's a forgiving fiber in that regard, but because it's a downy fleece, it is not easy to spin for beginners... had I known that, I never would have started spinning... nobody told me, that's all I can say.

Lock length
This is the staple length of the fiber (sorry, this format is automatically re-orienting my images & I don't know how to turn them the right way around).  You can see the length of the original lock, the natural split in the hair & how the tips are a bit weak.

You can also see how there is a color variation from base, to tip.  The undercoat is a lovely black, which lightens to a cream/white after the break, then to a nice brown & a lighter tan tip.

Clean lock
Once I pull the undercoat off & fluff out the tops, or cut the damaged ends off, the staple length ends up being about 2"-2.5" long.  Not impossible to spin, but it's a short draft fiber, which is not easy for beginners.  It IS easy to splice, thankfully.  There is a bit of VM left in the fiber, which needs to be picked out, but not much at all.

card loaded with locks
Just for fun, I've been laying the locks on the cards with the tips towards the handle... it just looks so pretty that way.  It really doesn't matter much, as when Ive passed the cards over a few times, the fibers are evenly distributed & tip to base no longer matter.  It's a nice mottled effect though.

I have been laying them out in 2 rows, and trying to keep the fibers evenly distributed.  This makes for a better rolag in the end & because I intend on plying, having approximately the same amount of fiber in each batch is semi-important... it will not work out perfectly, but it's better than total guess-work.

first pass
A few passes with the cards & my Dorset/Finn cross becomes a beautiful bat.  This is by far the easiest fiber I've ever carded, it just blends like a dream. 

Carded wool
Doffed bat
Here is the fiber, all carded & ready to be doffed.
Doffed bat.
(at this point, if I were loading a distaff, I'd stop & roll the bat onto that)

Rolling a Rolag
I like to roll my rolags right on the teeth of the cards.  I know a lot of people transfer the bat to the back of the card & roll there, but I find it easier to use the teeth to my advantage.  I roll in the direction the teeth are pointing & this helps blend the fibers just a little bit.

Carefully tucking the first edges in & then making sure to roll evenly will create a beautiful rolag with good "pull" from either end.  Sometimes I do choose what end to go from if one has a better draft than the other, but not often.

Finished Rolag... I put them in cardboard sweater boxes to keep them neat.  Many people put them in a basket, and they will keep fine there if you don't have a Rosie Dog who thinks they look like Her Toys.

I also find it easier to pull the next rolag out of the sweater box than having to fight with 6 surrounding rolags in a basket.  As a bonus, the sweater boxes can be broken down & tied up in a relatively small space when not in use, and they fold up & down quite well for a long time... when they break, just recycle!

This little Finn/Dorset spins very, very fast.  It slips through my fingers so quickly it's amazing. The final yarn isn't super-soft, but it has a good spring to it & overall has a good feel.

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