Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pleasure Principle (Habu, Mini Combs, Cormo and Goldregen)

I'm no Spring Chicken. I'm at the point in my life where I want my leisure activity's to be as pleasurable as possible as my "pull date" looms closer. I've found that knitting lace and spinning are wonderful, relaxing and rewarding activity's and I have great fun experimenting with supplies and tools. See above the center for "Goldregen", another Herbert Niebling pattern from Burda E 903. I'm knitting it using Habu orgazine degummed indigo dyed silk (NS-18J, 21d/10x2). A skein contains 1,400 yds for 2 ounces. I'm using US 0000 needles and I'll try to get a better shot once I can get enough stitches to go onto circular needles. The silk is slick, a little crispy in texture and it's best not to drop a stitch as it wants to slither away. Beautiful stuff. However, if you want to get any I suggest you pay the extra money to have it wound onto a cone since it is very difficult to wind into a ball and wants to unwind itself into a tangled mess. Having washed about 2/3 of the Cormo fleece I bought at Dixon, I have a new appreciation for anyone willing to clean it for me, not to mention color it. I purchased the pretty Blue Cormo Lamb fleece from, The Fiber Denn. While the fibers are not as long as the fleece I purchased from Cormo Sheep & Wool Farm they are very soft and should spin up nicely. But first, I have to prep the fiber and that brings me to my new tools. Up until now, I have been using a flick comb to tease a lock at a time to spin from. While it works, it's a little tough on my hands and the amount of fiber I can prepare this way at one sitting is pretty limited. See above the mini combs that my sister bought for me as my birthday is in a few months. Made from Cherry wood(though you can pick whatever wood you like best) , they were made to order from The Wheel Thing and are constructed by a gentleman named Alvin Ramer who lives in Canada. These combs come with a stand that holds the combs safe and secure when not in use. The stand can be clamped to a table and there is a slot where the stationary comb can be inserted, held in place at different angles with a pin so that you can easily comb locks. This set comes with a tool to straighten the tines if one ends up out of alignment and two sea shells with holes drilled into the center to act as a diz. As for how to use these combs, I have looked at a few videos on U Tube which illustrate how to use them. One in particular from Manda Crafts was very instructive though it's on the use of English Wool Combs rather than mini combs. I haven't had time to try out the new toys yet but I'll get a few pictures and let you know how it works out :-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Salmon Queen (Another UFO Bites The Dust)

Just a quick post to show you pictures of Salmon Queen. This hung around for a long time waiting for me to have time to finish it. I'm really trying to finish off my UFOs so I won't have so much guilt over new projects. The blocking shots look darker because the doily is still wet from washing. As usual, I finished off with steam to set the doily as blocking while wet without use of starch just won't hold the shape. To re-cap. Flora 50 with US 000 needles, Herbert Niebling pattern. The last few shots are of new acquisitions. The roving is a Merino/Alpaca from "Black Bunny Fibers" as part of the "Team B" fiber club, the wooden wrist distaff (by Tom Forrester)and rosewood needle case/inch gage are from "The Wheel Thing"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Washing Cormo (and washing, and washing and...)

Not a lot of lace knitting going on here but lots of washing of fleece while it's warm enough to dry the stuff. We are having issues with drought and so I was looking for an alternative to using a washing machine to soak/spin my half Cormo fleece. It's been years since I've tried to wash a fleece and I have no experience with Cormo in my past. All the information on the Internet told me that I would have to wash it more than once and with very hot water since Cormo has a heck of a lot of lanolin in it. What I found is a great method for small amounts of fleece on a blog called "The Independent Stitch" that involved using a kitty litter system that has a nesting "sieve". No agitation, just soaking the dirt away. I did a total of three washes with 20 minutes of soaking (you can't let it cool or the lanolin re-deposits back onto the fleece). I used a combination of hot tap water and water I boiled on the stove and Dawn dish washing detergent as the surfactant. Two rinses with hot water and drip/dry using a two tier sweater drying system I got at the local Chinese dollar store for $4.00. I must say that the fleece came out really nicely and it has just enough lanolin left in it so the fiber doesn't feel dry or lifeless. If you don't agitate it, the structure of the locks is maintained and you can then either flick card or possibly use combs. Now I don't happen to own any combs but I had my eye on a set of mini-combs that might be very nice to try out. I'd consider larger combs but let's face it. If all I'm spinning is lace weight yarn, there is not really any reason to buy 4 pitch English Combs which are the "Freddy Krugers" of the spinning world. Only 8 more rows to finish the "Salmon Queen" doily so I hope to show that on the next post. Good evening to you all :-)