Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cream of the Crop

My spinning activity continues unabated. I've really got the bug at the moment.

Indigo dyeing was deferred on Saturday as the group was somewhat depleted by folk being off on holiday. Instead we had the usual good natter and a laugh and got a whole lot of spinning done.

I picked up a lonely Ashford Jumbo bobbin that was for sale on the Bring and Buy table. You can never have enough bobbins, that's what I say! It's always the way - you finish spinning two bobbins full and find you don't have an empty one to ply onto.

I was pondering recently about all white fleece being equal - colourwise - and I certainly thought so as my experience of prepared fleece has been Merino, Blue-Faced Leicester, Shetland and Corriedale. When I was spinning with Jane at Chale, she remarked on the honey colour of the Wensleydale, and at the time I couldn't see much to shout about.

Here are the two skeins of Corriedale I plied up last night next to the Wensleydale. The difference in colour of the Wensleydale really looks apparent next to the creamy whiteness of the other skeins. It would definitely be a shame to dye over it despite it being a bit scratchy.

Now I'm wondering if the colour contrast in my eyes is on the blink, or whether I'd just got tent-blind at the time - sitting in a marquee all day being invaded by the smell of garlic and cheese. (Don't ask me why we were demonstrating spinning in the food tent!)

Next on the production line is the moorit Shetland in fine laceweight, seen here in a very out of focus shot!

As I've been spinning for just over a year, I'm still getting a feel for all of the different fibre out there and trying to spin up as much as I can get my hands on to determine which qualities suit which application - ie knitting to be worn close to the skin - suitable for lace - hardwearing for a coat - easy to felt - resistant to pilling etc etc.

Next in line for the spinning experience is some Ryeland. While browsing, I read on an eBay auction recently that this fleece does not felt, which would be a good quality for a garment to have.

Jacky got talking to a chap at Chale Show who in previous years has shorn his Ryeland flock and burned the fleece!!!! Yikes...... I will be giving him a call tonight in an attempt to liberate this year's fleeces as I'm sure some of the newbie spinners like me would love to get their hands on some free fibre to practice with.

I've become really lazy already and have mostly gone for the easy option of spinning ready prepared tops. I need to get myself into a proper routine to wash and prepare my own fleece, as there is usually plenty around on the Island to be had. Some of it is from smallholders who have 'pet' sheep of indeterminate mixed breed, but this is still good to help perfect technique, and use for natural dyeing experiments.


On the knitting side, I'm still beavering away in my lunch break on the Freedom Spirit jacket. Slowly working my way up the sleeves.


This Saturday I'm planning a trip to Dorchester to Frank Herring & Son on the train.

I usually have a wander around and look at all of the looms and other equipment I'd like to be able to afford (and house!). Usually I console myself with a restrained purchase of fibre and dyestuff.

It's a really good store for all sorts of arts and crafts - choc-a-block with materials and specialist books. Highly recommended if you're in Dorset anytime.


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