It’s been a while

Good morning and happy Saturday! The calendar may say it starts on the 20th, but summer is here. At least for the next few days. I have plenty of outside work to accomplish this weekend but I am limiting it to the morning hours with a strict noon cutoff time. Earlier if I can help it. I’ll stay inside where it’s cool and comfortable and continue working on some indoor endeavors.

I have not spun any substantial amount of yarn in over a year. My Polonaise has sat basically unused in my craft room since last spring. What little I have spun has been more or less sampling a few things on various spindles. I was looking forward to the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat as an opportunity to start a new spinning project, but start it a few steps before the actual spinning.

In late September I washed the two Romney fleeces I got from Foster Sheep Farm in Schuylerville, and Ensign Brook a farm in Greenwich a couple of years ago. They had been stored in plastic bags in the basement since then. I was anxious to start working with it and figured since I had the time, I could scour it at home in small batches.

In the week leading up the retreat I dyed some of my copious amounts of Romney fleece to bring to as a carding project to work on for the weekend. Like pretty much every project I bring to the retreat, I never make as much progress as I thought I would. That’s not a complaint either. I made some progress and that’s good. What I most looked forward to was the space to work in. Lots of space with lots of good natural light in the daytime. I don’t do much dyeing, so every time is pretty much an experiment. This time was no exception.

I have had good results dyeing some of the yarn I have spun from gray Romney fleece, but this was my first time dyeing locks, and I wasn’t sure how the chocolatey brown would take color. That chocolatey brown, upon close inspection, is actually comprised of mostly brown fibers, with some silvery gray, and small amount of almost black fibers that when fully blended turns into a nice soft brown . The dyes are the Greener Shades line that I bought a few years ago. This is how much dyeing I need to do that this starter kit has lasted me so long. That said, I may start dyeing more, but that’s for another post.

The dyed locks looked better than I expected when they were dry. I wasn’t kind to the mesh bags I stuffed them with when they were in the dye pots on the stove and moved them around a lot. I’ll try to remember next time not to stuff them as full so I won’t feel like I have to swish them around as much. Still, the locks weren’t completely felted nor were they so stuck together that I couldn’t pull them apart enough to put them through the drum carder so i considered it a success so far. I may add a small picker to my Christmas list this year, as that would have made prepping the locks for carding a lot easier.

I didn’t get past carding the red locks fairly thoroughly and doing a first pass of the yellow locks at the retreat. As nice as the locks looked, I knew the carded batts would look much different once all fibers were thoroughly blended. I just didn’t know how different, and I was most curious about the yellow locks. I had a feeling they were not going to be so yellow when they were done and I was right. After the first pass through the drum carder the rough batt had a kind of goldenrod vibe, but that quickly turned into the weird greenish hue that I was expecting, and again, that’s not a complaint. I am digging this weird green, and I may dye just a small amount of locks with an actual green to blend into it just to give it a little lift.

I started working on the purple locks earlier this week when it was doing nothing but raining outside and I was also very curious about how these would turn out too since they were so dark. They look pretty damned good too. Much better than I was expecting.

Those red locks that I carded at the retreat just got more stunning with each pass. This was definitely a success and I am going to try more with similarly vibrant blue, green, and orange next. Maybe even a little more red because it is that awesome. I definitely have a lot more fleece to work with as what I’ve done here is only about a quarter of it. So these two fleeces are going to provide me with many more spinning projects after this one.

That’s all for this morning. I am going to use the remaining quiet time I have before Michael and the dogs wake up to try and do at least one more pass through the drum carder for each of the batts for each color. Once that’s done I need to head outside to get my work done while I can tolerate the temperature. I’m hoping to be done by 10. Have a great weekend!

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