This HUGE skein is made from the softest Falkland wool combined with happy colours and a cozy feel. All 8 oz will make you a selfish knitter, but that's ok :D
This week's fibre is Superwash BFL. You can depend on this yarn regardless of what project you plan on making. BFL is one of my favourites. Click the above picture to be taken to the listing
I met Carla in my Learn to Crochet class at Cindy-Rella's. Her fun attitude and genuine interest to learn new skills was very encouraging. She also took a spinning wheel class from me and was very determined to give it her best shot. She did awesome. She bought a wheel from our friend Susan and took off running. She joined the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild and we have been hanging out at many of the monthly Fibre Nights as well.
Carla is about to have her baby any time now. I wanted to make her something nice for her son and knew the perfect handspun to use. This yarn is a superwash Corriedale so it will be easy to take care of yet will stay durable and last until long after her baby grows out of it. The colours are baby blue, light green, orange, gold and a sage-y green. Great boy colours.
I chose to knit a vest because it is a great layering item, and it will keep her baby warm without being too hot. The pattern is called Pebble by Nikol Lohr. It's wonderful project to showcase handspun because it is a simple looking pattern with a garter stitch border and yoke. The vest buttons up down the side and on one shoulder so it will be easy for him to get in and out of. My friend Hilary made one of these for her son when he was born and it just looked so cute on him! It's an easy pattern and you can adjust the size pretty easily.
It is super nice to give a handspun, handknit item to someone who really appreciates it. Can't wait to see the little cutie wearing his new vest.
Today's shop update is for a wonderful blend of Merino/Bamboo & Nylon. This is a nice, 3 ply worsted weight yarn that will work for both men and women. Click the picture above to be taken to the listing.
I am spinning for Ed Tabachek on one of his wonderful Tibetans. He was a superb person and I am very happy to have met him and his wife. I'm very proud to have all of his spindle types in my collection. They are prized and extremely well made. He was a true craftsman and a very friendly, easy going man. In his honor I am spinning "Golden Treasure" and thinking about the hardwork and dedication that went into his work and life surrounding fibre arts.
Today's Fibre Update is for a super soft skein of Polwarth. It's called Scheherazade because the colours are rich and exotic much like the stories she told. Click the above picture to be taken to the listing for more details.
So you found an amazing fleece at a wool auction or fibre festival, awesome! Sometimes processing a fleece can be daunting but it doesn't have to be. It is very rewarding to work a project from start to finish.
Some times your fibre can be pretty rank when it's full of - sweat, lanolin, manure, dirt and vegetable matter. The first thing you should think about doing is washing your fibre. In this tutorial, I will show you how I wash my fleeces.
To start, gather all your necessities:
- Laundry Bag
- Wool Wash
- Fibre Spinner (aka salad spinner)
- Raw Wool
- Sink/bath tub/basin
The fibre I am washing is from a Babydoll Southdown sheep. If you can see a fair bit of vegetable matter (VM) in your fleece, give it a shake outside to get rid of as much of it as you can.
For wool wash, you will want something specific to your needs. Dawn works great because it cuts through grease and it is easy to find and fairly inexpensive. I use Pour Scour because it works amazingly well and it is made especially for dirty, raw fibre and washing is a breeze.
Laundry bags help keep your fleece together while still letting the water and wool wash flow through your fibres. You can find these bags at the dollar store and they come in many sizes. They also make it easier when you are lifting your fleece out of the water, you can grab the bag and not handle the fleece as much.
For your first wash, fill your sink or basin with very hot water. Ideally, to melt lanolin and other waxes you will want you water between 140 - 160F (60 - 70C). This is where your thermometer will come in handy. Add your wool wash. Follow the instructions for your particular wool wash. Power Scour suggests 5% of your fibre weight should be added to the initial bath. You will want your sink filled with enough water that your fleece will be covered and have room to float freely.
Since my sample is small, I will be using the strainer that comes with my spinner which makes it super easy to lift out of the water and drain.
Place your laundry bag (or strainer) in the water and let it sink on its own. Try to handle your fleece (especially when wet) as little as possible. Felting occurs when you mix heat, soap and agitation, so be careful.
Let your fibre soak for about 20 minutes. You don't want the water to cool down too much between washes and you don't want to shock your fibres with dramatically different temperatures. Lift out your laundry bag or basket and let gravity help the water flow out. I gave mine a spin to get rid of as much as I could without squeezing the fibre.
For my second bath, I want to use the same temperature water as I did in my first wash. 140 - 160F but this time slightly less soap (3% instead of 5%) I got my second bath ready just before my first bath was finished. Put your fibre in your new water and let it sink down. Wait for another 20 or so minutes. This time lets the wool wash do its magic, reducing tangles, cleaning your fibre and dissolving any solid matter like lanolin and other gunk that gets caught in the locks.
Lift your fibre out of the water after its soak. You will see that your water is less dirty than your first wash. Excellent! Two washes is usually enough. We will be rinsing next and once you spin your yarn, you will be washing your skein and after you knit your project you will likely be washing your fibre again to block. Much of the VM will come out during the combing stage too. Two washes is usually enough but use your best judgement.
Let your fibre soak for 15 minutes or so and lift it out of the water. Rinse as many times as needed until your water is clear. As you can see this water is pretty clean. Perfect, looks like a good job! Lift out your rinsed fibre and give it a spin. Now you are ready to let it dry.
If you can do this outdoors your drying time will be cut in half. I rigged up a little drying rack using a laundry bag and some dowels in a frame that I set over my bathtub. I have since found a couple decent sized screens that work perfectly. Use what you have on hand. Open up your fleece as best as you can without handling the locks too much. Once your fleece is dry you are ready to comb, or card your fibre to prepare it for the yarn and project you have in mind.
If you are washing a whole fleece at once, I suggest using your bath tub or a basin large enough to cover your wool. If you find it more manageable to section your fibre off and wash your fleece in small batches then that's perfectly fine too. Whatever is easiest for you and works with what you have in your home is the best option.
If you aren't going to process your fleece soon after washing, store it in a plastic bag, and keep it in a cool, safe place away from pets and other curious critters.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. This is the way I wash all my fleeces. If you have any questions just let me know. Maybe you have a tip or a hint that you use that makes washing your fleeces better, share it with me and I will add it to the notes with your name.
Maker: Ed Tabachek
Weight: 37 g / 1 1/4 oz
Length: 11" Shaft
The sample I spun was comprised of Merino, mill ends and angelina from CrochetbyKa in the colourway "Snow Day".
I purchased this spindle at the Manitoba Fibre Festival last year and I was very happy to see Tabachek spindles for sale once again. Despite my iffy feelings on Russian spindle, this one really called to me. As you can see the wood is really quite eye catching and I thought it was really unique, not to mention I didn't have a Tabachek Russian in my collection and I HAD to have one.
These concentric circles are a signature of Tabachek spindles.
Ed usually uses very unique woods in his spindles. Whether you love natural grained woods or colourful combinations you can find both with Tabackek. He is very good at choosing combos that work well together.
The length is just perfect, it's comfortable to spin while sitting. You can pack on quite a bit of fibre without feeling like you have too much to handle. The shaft doesn't feel like it is so thin it will snap on you but I would be careful when traveling with it or throwing it in your bag without a hard case around it.
The tip has been tapered enough to make spinning off its point pretty easy. It's not so sharp that bits of the tip will break off and you don't risk stabbing yourself. Again, I would still be careful when packing it, and make sure you have protective tubing around the tip - but mostly that is just a good habit to get into with any spindle.
The wood has quite a beautiful shine to it and when tilted in the correct lighting you can really see it. It's a nice contrast against the dark grain. There are also very tiny holes in the wood that make it look like a walnut shell. I like that.
I found there is a bit of a wobble on it when it is bare but once I had some fibre on it the wobble disappeared. The shape of the bulb at the base of the spindle seems to be the right size for the length of the shaft. The tip spins smoothly on both wooden and pottery bowls.
This spindle is lightweight, but still feels dense enough so you don't have to worry about it going flying from your lap when you give it a good spin. Depending on your fibre preparation, you could definitely spin a very fine yarn on this spindle.
Length of spin: 7.8 seconds (average of three tests)
Fibre storage ability: Quite good
Looks: Very stunning
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
If you love to knit lace shawls and you love to spin your own yarn then consider a Tabachek Russian. You would be able to pack on a decent amount of yardage without feeling overloaded. I can guarantee that you will have people walking by asking to see both your work and the beauty of the spindle. Another reason I bought this spindle is because I walked by a woman spinning on hers and I stopped to ask her what her opinion was on his Russian style spindles. She said she loved them and then looked at me matter-of-factly and said "they're the best".
This was my third year attending the Grasslands Sheep & Wool Show in Drake, SK. I always have a really great time because the weather is always nice, the drive up is scenic, the pie and the sausage are worth the trip and the sheep are just too cute to miss. I enjoy seeing my friend Val Fiddler each year as she usually heads up the "Wool" portion of the show and I have been helping her out with both the wool show and promoting wool and its benefits to the sheep producers and the other people attending for the weekend.
Val was the wool judge this year and I was helping as her scribe and Wool Show Coordinator. We had 9 fleeces entered and saw several cross breeds and medium breeds common to Saskatchewan. My friend Janet whose farm I was at earlier this year had one of her Corriedale fleeces entered and won a second place ribbon! Click on the gallery below to see some pictures from the show.
There is a lot to see an do in Drake besides the wool show, there is Sheep judging as well and you can purchase sheep on the last day of the exhibition. There is a Wine and Cheese on Friday night and a wonderful banquet on Saturday night. There are several vendors there as well and one particular fibre artist caught my attention. Arlette Seib from Watrous is a superb felter and her work was just - wow. The details she provides in her skies, the shading in a sheep's face and the colours are really quite eye catching.
Jeremy and I met this handsome fellow when we arrived. Hamish is a Lincoln sheep and he was going home with Val. He was probably the most affectionate sheep I have encountered. He quite enjoyed the chin scratches, neck rubs and all the attention we were giving him.
You should mark the Grasslands Sheep show on your calendar for next year. It's a great way to spend a weekend.