I’ve finally gotten to the point where I want to take my passion and form it into a working business 🙂 I mean, I’m always dyeing wool, I’m always working on one pile of fluff or another– why not share?
I finally invested in a drum carder! (For the moment I’m referring to ‘him’ as Jack Carder.) So over the weekend, as I waited for the drum carder to arrive, I washed and/or dyed Jessica and Daisy’s fleeces, plus the unnamed fleeces, plus some wool from Magpie,
plus had an interview with a local alpaca farm (and made a deal about next shearing day) and took home a fleece and a half from them, too (specifically, from a medium brown alpaca named Shadow’s Dancer, and a medium grey alpaca named Stonington).
Right now my process for washing (both for wool and for alpaca) is first shake out some dust (I wrap about 1 to 1.5 pounds at a time in tulle and shake the dust out), then hot soak for about fifteen minutes, then re-fill the basin with hot water + the appropriate amount of Scour (I need to re-do some of my math, it seems; some of the wool still seems just a touch lanolin-y, although I don’t think it’s enough to re-wash for), and then… well, if I’m going to dye, I go start right to dyework; otherwise they get one more hot rinse and then go through the spin cycle on the washer, and are laid out or hung up to dry (depending on the space I have open). But I think I need to edit my process justttt slightly to get a more clean result; I work on it 😉
Yesterday I worked with the dry wool (whatever I did Friday was dry; everything else is still varying levels of damp) and started learning to card:
I still need quite a lot of practice, but I’m happy with my early progress 🙂 I started with the wool I plan on using for myself, and as I get better I’ll card up the wool I hope to sell. I have this somewhat idealized plan for buying only locally-raised raw fleeces, washing and processing them entirely by hand (with an aim to minimize environmental impact), and selling them in local wool shops and via Etsy (and possibly at various fiber events along the East coast). This means perfecting the process to use the least amount of water possible while still getting clean fleece, and only using soaps and such that are eco-safe (which the Scour is, from what research I’ve done). I’ll keep working at it 🙂
In the in-between times from all of this washing and dyeing and carding, I did two other things–
I now have an ‘Otherdex‘ list for all fibers that do not come from animals 😉 (I was going to call it the ‘Planydex’, but some don’t come from plants).
Otherdex #5: Tencel:
I bought two ounces of dyed tencel at the festival; it’s just so gloriously shiny and silky! It has a really heavy, dense texture, and a feel similar to bamboo, but seems to have a longer staple length, and spun very easily. I would happily spin tons of this stuff 😀
2 ounces became 84 yards of two-ply sport-to-dk weight.
Second, I re-visited processing Icelandic fleece, as it’s a common breed around here (although not one I could card on the type of drum carder I bought, as I chose the ‘Fine’ drum and Icelandic would do better on the Medium or Coarse). I processed a full lamb fleece way back when, but I wanted to try it again. I was given eight ounces of raw recently (which for some reason I never took pictures of), which I washed and dyed and such, and then spun–
I made basically the same mistake as last time, washing according to the needs of the tog rather than the thel, causing the thel to partially felt (which makes drafting incredibly difficult). I did make it through, and got 148 yards of worsted-to bulky (more along the lines of worsted, with just portions of bulky). I like the resulting yarn a lot, I just need more practice with washing double-coated fleeces, I guess ^.^”
…well, I guess that’s it for now. Now to go track down and buy the perfect doffer brush, ‘cus I forgot to order that, and the swift drum needs cleaning -_-” (for anyone curious, on a drum carder, the large drum is the swift, and the little drum is the licker-in. The swift gathers the batt on it, while the licker-in pulls in and distributes wool, and removes the short bits.)
Catch y’all soon! 🙂