Thursday, January 16, 2014

Some things are quick, others slow

Despite the lack of blog posts there has been lots and lots of fiber play around here. A week or so ago I finished washing all the raw fleece, and since then have been flicking to remove all remaining vm (vegetable matter) carding, and recarding. This has been good, boring but good, and now I have a much better handle on the carding process. At the same time I've been working on a one-skein project, a new ballet cardigan for younger cub.

All set up


Most days I set up the carder across one end of the dining room table, and laid out the washed fleece, the tools and set to work. I watched a lot of online history documentaries, mostly BBC reinactment ones, Green Valley Farm, Tudor Monestory Farm, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and WWII Farm as I worked, while time consumer carding isn't intellectually demanding. It was good, even though I was working at a hobby, a pleasure pursuit, I did feel a connection as I worked at processing local fleece into a usable product and watched as the historians and archeologists did the same on screen with crops, building, textiles and food.

On a good day, a full day starting when Bear left for work at eight am and working through till five pm I was able to trim the bleached tips from the locks, flick, card, strip into smaller batts, thin those out and reccard nearly 200 g of fiber. There was one sad mistake of a day when 160g went from table to bin after I realised what seemed like a great idea to firmly hold a brush in place just above where the small drum met the larger drum - resulted in tons of neps and tangles - that I didn't discover until I split the batt to reccard it. I attempted to remove the neps and such - but there were to many and there were to deeply seated within the batts. Many days I did much less than 100g. I'm in total awe of those who do this for a living, or for supplemental income. I know that to earn money at this one would have a dedicated space, and much larger equipment ... processing fiber takes a goodly amount of time, processing it to a high standard takes even more.

With my newly improved drum carding skills I took a break from carding the dark natural fiber and worked on some merino and perendale combed top that I had dyed some time ago, some that I was not happy with. Two passes through the drum carder and the fiber was much improved, no longer blockly chunks of colour,more of a tweedy blend that was visually nicer.

I've also been spinning th carded dark natural -

And now have three bobbins full and ready to ply. I've been watching and re-watching The Gentle Art of Plying with Judith Mackenzie, which my Apple TV lists as GAP - that threw me for a while, I went back and forth from computer to tv trying to work out why I couldn't find the video I owned. And because Judith says its a good idea I've been rewinding the bobbins in preparation for plying, later today I plan to try plying her way, with my hands maybe more in control of the twist and plies as the strands come together. The past two yarns I've plied have had much more twist, as suggested by Judith MacK, and I've liked them more. So for now I'm happy to trust her suggestions, and after putting so much time I to cleaning and preparing the fleece -MIT seems right to put as much time into this part of the process.

When I've not been processing fiber ready to spin, I've been knitting. Just after New Years I cast on a wee shrug style top, that was to be knit from one skein. Summer days by Elena Nodel. I didn't do a gauge swatch, this cardigan is knit in a mistake rib which is very elastic, and for a growing girl, so I tempted fate by just knitting with the recommended needles. I very nearly made it, I had this much yarn left and three rows of rib left to work.

The major problem was the yarn was a second, a limited edition and I had no more and no way to get more. I did however have an emergency plan, plan B.

There was a simillar, not exact but simillar if you half closed your eyes and didn't look to hard colour in my Christmas cub box from Vintage Purls. Sugar Plum Fairy, is a lighter and more even purple - but has some shading that is simillar to the original yarn.

I knit the pattern pretty much as written, but did work the front bands and neckbands as a continuous section, with metered increases at the center front neck corners. Even though the plan B yarn wasn't exactly the same -it provided a rather interesting glowing edge to the cardigan. Bear described it as nice, but not really noticeable. The heart buttons are shell, and were from a sock yarn club.

I lined the front bands with ribbon, as in a close fitted cardigan the bands often gape open between the buttons. Now little cub is a slight wee thing - and the last thing she needs is to look like her bust is bursting out of her cardigan. On the button hole side I stabilized the ribbon where the button hole was to go with fabric glue and then cut the button holes to match those I knitted, I stitched the ribbon to the bands along the edges and also along the button holes.

The glowing edges show up more clearly further away, and even though this was made as a ballet cardigan - I suspect it will see use outside the ballet classroom.

I love the neat fit, and the way the shoulders and sleeves are formed (contiguous pattern shaping at work here) little cub loves the puff sleeves, I'd happily knit another, but maybe longer in the body and having two skeins of sock yarn on hand.

Well . .. I'm back off to card more fiber, and ply ...once that is done I will have more interesting things to blog about.

Na Stella



Terry said...

I'm amazed as I look at your pictures of carding and spinning. I have a wheel and am a very beginning spinner. Any suggestions on how to go about learning more about spinning? I would like to learn to spin a consistent yarn like if I want to spin a fingering weight for a particular project how to do that? You stuff looks great! Thanks for the inspiration.

Knitting Linguist said...

The sweater is lovely (as is its wearer)! And I, too, am wildly impressed by your fiber preparation. I tried my hand at carding for the first time a few weekends ago... Let's just say it was not a wild success. Much more practice is needed!