Fun with blending boards

Good morning and Happy Independence Day! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have outdoor plans this afternoon, they will likely involve an umbrella. Rain has never stopped me from grilling up some tasty food though. Whatever you’ve got planned for today and tonight, please make sure to keep your pets safe. Brad Shear’s blog post from the other day talks about the dangers of fireworks for dogs, and provides some great tips for keeping them safe. A lot of the tips are certainly applicable to cats who may get a little freaked out by the noise too.

Last week I mentioned that I was playing with a new-to-me type of fiber preparation, and the tools for this are new to me too. A few weeks ago I got my first blending board (on the left in the picture below) made by Skip Watt of Watt Heritage Fiber Tools , and just last week I got a second blending board. This one came from Fancy Kitty using the the gift card/coupon code I won for my gradient yarn.

I hear some of you asking why the need for two blending boards. Well, need is a very subjective term, says the man with five spinning wheels, close to a dozen spindles, and a growing collection of various looms. There is a distinct difference between the boards that makes them better suited for different tasks. The Watt Heritage board has a 72 TPI (teeth per inch) carding cloth which is on the coarser end of the spectrum, so it is capable of handling thicker fibers, chunkier locks, and add-ins such as bits of yarn and other things that make highly textured art batts and rolags so much fun. The Fancy Kitty board has 90 TPI carding cloth, which may not seem like all that much difference, but when you’re layering on different types of fiber you do notice. The finer cloth makes this board more suited to smoother art batts and rolags with less chunky stuff in them.

Here’s a great Youtube video from Beth at Blue Mountain Handcrafts demonstrating textured rolags using the Fancy Kitty board.

I spent some evenings this past week playing and experimenting with both boards using bits of different colored roving, sparkly bronze Angelina fiber, tussah silk, and some natural colored wool and alpaca, all from my stash of fiber for carding projects. The rolags I made are very experimental, as the techniques do require a bit of practice to master. What type of fiber you use, how you layer fibers, and how much fiber you use, combined with how you remove it all from the board, can make rolags that spin easily, or rolags that are too tightly rolled and don’t draft well, like most of the ones that I made.

Textured art yarns have started to have more appeal to me in the last couple of years. Many of my attempts at things like coiled yarns and corespun yarns have had varying degrees of success, just as my attempts at textured rolags with the blending boards. As with any fiber related craft, it will just take practice.

The Tour de France kicks off today, as does the Tour de Fleece. I will be a member and co-captain of Team Spinning Bunny again this year, and as with past Tour de Fleece challenges, Susan of Susan’s Spinning Bunny has come up with a special TDF colorway for this year called Queen of Sheba.

I have 8 ounces of this awesome colorway in a beautiful blend of BFL and tussah silk that I’m going to start digging into this morning. Since it is likely going to be gray and wet for most of the day, I should be able to get a good start.

That’s it for me folks. I have been on a little spinning hiatus for a while now and I’m anxious to get back into it. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

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