Monday, June 16, 2008

Dog's Paw Shawl, Part 1

I feel like I can finally start this design, created by the lovely Jenny (aka Jeannine Bakridges, a lovely woman and regular contributing designer to Spin-Off magazine, who I had the pleasure of meeting via Ravelry). The design, as you can probably surmise, is called the "Dog's Paw Shawl". Jenny collaborated with another designer to create the shawl. I believe Jenny handled the fiber processing and spinning.

The original design calls for a blend of dog fur and wool. I noticed that my dog's downy undercoat resembled the unbleached color of tussah silk (also soy silk, sometimes), so I decided to go for a blend of 40% white merino roving, 30% tussah silk roving, and 30% dehaired dog down. I figured the colors would look great together, and the silk would lend some lovely shine to the finished yarn. I briefly considered using some Bluefaced Leicester that I had in the closet, but then I remembered that the staple length for BFL is quite long, and while it would probably be okay blended with the silk, the dog down staple is just too short, so I chose merino, which has a crimp similar to the wavy structure in my dog's downy undercoat (while she is not "woolly", per se, she has been known to chew a spot on herself and felt the hair in that spot, resulting in a spot-shave from my mom!)

I carded it on my new Strauch Petite drum carder. One thing to note: I followed the directions' suggestion to card a batt of waste fiber, in order to clean out any residual manufacturing dust. Boy, am I glad I did that! I used a bit of white Lincoln lamb locks, and when I finally picked the batt out of the drum, they had gone from white to silvery gray!

I then cleaned the drum thoroughly with the batt picker, the doffer brush, and I cleaned the licker-in drum with the other brush Strauch provided. I was ready to card! I decided to go in layers. First went the merino, then went the dog down, and the silk was on top. I made four very small batts, pulled them all off, and mixed them up (tore them in half lengthwise and width-wise), and ran those batts through a second time to make up two full-size batts. I am storing them in a shoebox so they don't get squished. I am particularly glad to see how shiny the silk is making the batt...let me tell you, it is So lovely and soft! :)

I then took the batt to the spinning wheel. I am using my Majacraft Susie wheel, and spinning probably at a 12:1 or 15:1 ratio (?)... my drive band is on the second outermost ring connected to the driveshaft. I have never spun laceweight before, but I kept in mind everyone's advice and increased the wheel ratio, and decreased the brake band tension - you can see the spring in the picture is almost fully relaxed.

I am guessing that the singles might come out in the 30+ wpi range? It's pretty dang fine. The fiber is a dream to spin, though - not too slippery, but it drafts OH so nicely! I would like to say that I am spinning semi-woolen, since the fiber has been prepared on a drum carder, and the fibers are not as parallel as they would be coming out of a combed top preparation. The singles are nice and shiny and soft, though.

As of now, I have spun up one batt. I plan to keep going until I run out of fiber. I would like to make a two-ply laceweight yarn. Ultimately, the dog down will be my limiting factor, but honestly, I have many sandwich baggies full of down that my mom has been faithfully sending me over the last few years. I have 8 oz of tussah silk top that was my "bonus gift" for buying the Petite carder, and even though I "only" have 4 oz of the merino roving from Weaving Works, I know they will have more should I need it.

I want to end up with a 2 ply, balanced yarn in the 20+ wpi category, which would firmly place it in the "laceweight" category. I would not mind at all ending up with some extra yarn to use for mitts or a lacy hat or scarf for myself :) Or maybe I could cable two 2-ply yarns and make a Koolhaas for my dad. I'm guessing two laceweight plied yarns, cabled together, would maybe make a worsted?

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