Friday, January 30, 2009

Fleeces and Sweaters

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it.

I haven't been slacking, though!

Recently, I ended up ordering an Icelandic fleece. I was so inspired by Kim's experience working with Icelandic fleece that I wanted to try some! So I looked for a local farm, found one in northern Oregon called Dolce Farm, and emailed with Annie, the very nice owner there. (She subs on bassoon in the Seattle Symphony, as well!) Since we couldn't coordinate an in-person meeting, she sent me the fleece in the mail. Her lamb fleeces are $1 / oz, and this one was $20 (20 oz) + $5 shipping. I think I can handle that. :)

I received the fleece on Wednesday, and noticed that the fleece was remarkably low in lanolin (compared to the Gotland I had begun processing a few months ago). Thursday afternoon, I managed to finish washing the fleece in my washing machine, spinning most of the water out of it, and then laying it out on a towel to dry before I had to go work out.

Here is a photo of the fleece as it arrived:

The plastic sandwich bags contain samples of other Icelandic fleeces Annie has up for sale.

Here is the fleece, laid out to dry:

I was surprised how quickly the fleece dried. By Friday morning, it was dry! I packed it in a bag because a construction team was at my condo, and I figured they might get construction dust all over my clean fleece.

After work, I came back and started playing with it. I followed the tip Kim got off of Ravelry, and gathered small bunches of locks, held the tips, and let the drum carder pull off the thel (downy undercoat) from the tog (lustrous outer coat).

I decided to be anal, and placed the tog in a box, all lined up in the same direction.

I then kept adding thel till I could roll off a batt from the drum carder.

I don't know how much I actually processed, but it feels like a lot. Maybe 10 oz? There is definitely VM interspersed through the fleece (as one would expect), but it's not too bad. Annie did a great job skirting the fleece, I think I've only come across one really small clump of what could possibly be sheep poo.

The fleece is also very soft. I noticed what looked like neps (little "balls") forming in the thel when I ran it through the drumcarder a second time, so I decided to not do that anymore, and just run it through the one time, as it gets pulled off the thel. The fibers are very short and fine, reminiscent of cashmere's staple length. I will probably spin the thel off of the drumcarder batts, and treat them as giant rolags so I can spin perpendicular to the direction of fiber organization. The tog I will run through my combs once, and probably hand-pull a roving to spin from that. The fibers feel softer than the Gotland fibers I have. It will be interesting to see how the two different fibers spin up!


In other news, I bound off the bottom edge of the body of my Wisteria sweater!

I'm going to pick up the stitches for a sleeve tonight or tomorrow morning. I'm so excited that it hasn't taken me a year to make this! :)


I also received my January 2009 RSC kit! Gorgeous dark turquiose / teal colors, a pattern by Sivia Harding, and it's beaded! This will be fun. :)


Connor's Mom said...

Well, I have no idea what most of the things are that you are talking about, but it sounds way complicated and super cool.

Your sweater looks awesome, too. Go Mel!

Piggilicious said...

Let's race on the socks! Same conditions apply: whoever loses, can't wear socks until May!

Quatzical said...

Nice! (The fleece and the sweater.) Yay for icelandic. It is a lovely wool. Do you know what you're going to do with the tog? That's my problem since I'm spoiled with super soft fibers. I think I'm going to end up making a rug with my tog. Saw a great Navajo weaving demo. I did drumcard some icelandic both tog and thel in with some recent crazy batts...adds nice character and the long tog really does make it easy to put less spin in the singles. btw, watch the mail... :)

Mel said...

Thanks everyone for the great comments! :)

Jess - we'll have to get together soon!

Dawn ... Hm... I think I'll get hoof-rot if I don't wear socks till May! ;)

Kim - YAY! I love the package! Also, my tog is actually still fairly soft - I'll have to send you a sample. I wonder if it would work for socks? The fiber is so long and sturdy...maybe if I blend it with something? Or maybe I can spin it bulky and knit a bathmat or something (I really want one of those moss bath mats!)