Cormo Afternoon

Not much to report this week. The weather was not fleece washing friendly, so I only got a few bits done.

Here is an ounce or so of carded Cormo that I used Unicorn Fiber Rinse on after scouring. It was not noticeably softer than the previous sampling.

It would be smart to practice spinning and plying for softness. I seem to be making wire again as if I was brand new at spinning. Boo and hiss. 


New Fiber Frontier

Someone wise said, never say never, because you never know.
Two years ago I am pretty certain that I uttered anti-drum carder sentiments. A never was thrown in for good measure. 
Today, I eat those words with Splenda on top. There's a Clemes & Clemes drum carder in my house!

It's going to make carding the Cormo fleece so much easier. While there is still physical effort, drum carding doesn't hurt my shoulder and wrist the way that hand cards do. 

Firstly, I'll need to find out how to use this gadget. My first spin was with some really short Cormo. Not worth the effort. Tossed.
Then I tried a slightly longer staple, which worked out much better. The roving is still wolf-like though. I added some purple BFL to half and kept the other plain, then miserably chain plied each. Pictures of my chain plying are not fit for the Internet. 

Here is the wolf:

For a splash of color, I also put a couple handfuls of dyed Finn locks through. 
It produced quite a cheerful little batt. What I'll do in future is flick open some of the tight locks. They can create havoc and break your toys. 

Drum carding was truly fun. There is much to learn, but I'm going to put it away for a little while to catch up with other projects. Craft overload is threatening to overtake me. 


Coopworth. Who knew?

Part of my spring cleaning included a brief foray into the fiber stash for WIPs. There is the odd few sample ounces of this or the second of an intended two-ply which has languished, undisturbed for ages.

This afternoon, I stumbled upon 4oz. of washed Coopworth locks. All my previous experience with this breed had been negative. It was usually a coarse, roughly carded or stiff and uninspired roving that I only purchased for practicing on, not an actual project. 

This sample must have piqued my interest. I'm sure it was long ago.
Look at  the cute locks! The big shock to me is how soft it is! 

Since its not a lot, this will be dizzed and spindle spun into lace.

Surely, I see more raw Coopworth fleece in my future. Who knew.


Bath Time

An extended opportunity of time approaches to wash and dry some wool. I'll be focusing on the less desirable Cormo sections and finishing the rest of wee Romney sheep.

For now, I've got one bag of locks and one bag of carded fiber going. 
Both probably amount to about 8 ounces, I think. It's a start.

Here's a few sample swatches from the Cormo. The brown (bottom right) is a mixture of the tips and main gray color of the fleece. I do not find that shade fetching. At all.
My mind is fixed on a solid gray color (bottom left).
Sadly, there will be a LOT of waste when I cut the tips and brown off each lock to achieve it. Not happy about that, but will make lemonade by blending the gray with a color like this third swatch. A splash of purple made for an interesting tweedy look. Lots of experimentation and practice in my future...



What's the Rush?

At some point the sun will shine and heat up the days and nights of the weeks to come.
When it does, my raw fiber shenanigans needs to be transformed into a more focused endeavor. 
There may be about three and a half to four months left of warm weather to process what is now a nearly eleven pound stash. Gulp.

As I make my way through samples of the Romney and Cormo Cross, conclusions are becoming more evident as to how to proceed with the bulk. But really, each attempt at processing is like a science project. I am enjoying taking notes and researching how other spinners are working with their fleeces. It seemed to make sense to flick locks first and card all the seconds or tangled locks that were left over from that process. I'm happy to say that there is very little waste from that order of operations.

Truth be told, wool fumes and soothing lanolin aren't the only stimulating aspects.
Distraction alert!
Shopportunities abound!

This set of two dishwasher baskets was only $7 and accommodated three layers of locks each quite handily. (Still using scrap plastic mesh in between.) I'm thinking several more layers would fit in since when wet, the volume reduces greatly. The plastic is lighter than my initial coated wire basket set-up. I placed a bottle of shampoo on top to keep it fully submerged. When lifting these out of the water, two hands were required as the latches aren't that substantial. All in all, at two for $7, this is a winner!


In the spirit of progress, I've been diligent to finish dealing with my Romney samples. What ever locks that were still dirty looking after washing are now pristine. I used the pet brush to flick the tips. Doing so lightened them up immediately. Residual dirt and lanolin peppered my apron. Even still, back into a bath they went. This time, I used a bit of vinegar in the first of two rinses. We'll see the color once they are dried.

These Prince Lionheart baskets were a mistake. I was giddy for its height and did not consider their narrow width. It won't work for my Romney fleece. However, it will be perfect for the Cormo's staple length when the tips have been snipped. They are $7 each on Amazon.

Oxo makes this flat basket with flexible sides. It's ideal for washing just a lock or two for sampling. Also $7 on Amazon. 

It occurred to me that I was getting slap happy with the Power Scour and I only have half a bottle left. I'm going to use this adorable measuring set of Oxo's to better portion out cleaning agents, vinegar and to help measure dyes in future. Pricey at $10 from the container store.

The last gem of a find are folding sweater drying racks once again from our good friends at Oxo. Not only do the legs fold, but the entire thing folds in half! Shown here is one rack resting flat on top of the wet locks to prevent them from blowing away.

Primo product for space deprived circumstances. Much appreciated, Oxo. You've scored a substantial amount of my discretionary income. Well played.


Whaaat have I done?!

There is absolutely no doubt that I have caught fiber fever in the worst way.

Last Saturday, I attended the 40th annual Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival via Philadelphia with Rosie's Yarn Cellar bus trip. I am so impressed that they had two full buses! What a treat to have made the trek with this friendly group. In just about two and a half hours, we were on the fairgrounds. It was just enough time to nosh, admire God's creation along I-95 and catch some righteous Zzzzs before lunging into action.  

Even though it was my third or fourth time being there, it felt as though it were my first. I was in such a daze. Reason being, the shopping was all about raw fleece. Unfortunately, all I know is just enough to be dangerous and not enough care.
I set out for something special, a fleece other than BFL or Merino that would be clean and inexpensive.

Not once did I entertain all the beautiful hand dyed yarns and fibers. Well, maybe once. I did stop by Gnomespun Yarn's booth for some undyed Dorset fiber which he brought at request.

I am really grateful, too. There were no Dorset fleeces to be had by the time I'd gotten to the fleece sale.  Were there any to begin with? Le sigh.
Instead, my first stop was to see Sheila and Michael Ernst's booth to drool over their glass knitting needles.  These earthy ones spoke to me.

By the time I did arrive at the fleece sale, it was mostly a ghost town. Slim pickings were left unless you were looking for common sheep breeds. My bad. Next festival, I get on the first thing smoking and run directly to the sale. 
There were a few fleeces that I looked at wistfully, wondering if they'd be a good purchase.  Along came a super helpful volunteer to my rescue and showed me how to evaluate them.  
This is what I brought home. Its a gray Cormo Cross fleece weighing 6.25 pounds.

Upon first inspection, it appeared to be a beautiful medium gray color with an oh-so-soft hand. A peek into the bag revealed some brown tips that I'd just snip off and still have a wonderful fleece to work with. Now while none of this was ideal, I really wanted to bring home something so that I could continue learning.

When I got home and unrolled the fleece the next day...all I could say was, whaaat have I done! Look at all the brown! At which point I begin to get the vapors.

I am glad to work with coated fleece and not have to deal with vegetable matter, but one has to wonder if the shepherdess should have changed this poor thing's coat to a bigger one so that the felted tip situation would not get out of hand. That's just my novice questioning, but really. What happened? Is this normal? Whatever it is, its creepy looking. And its all mine. Eww.