Alpaca Fleece Scouring and Carding

A chestnut alpaca fleece drying

I’m privileged once again to have some alpaca fiber to process into yarn! It’s very exciting because it’s been over 5 years since I last had a whole fleece. I washed the chestnut alpaca fleece on Friday and have started carding it.

It took about 20 minutes to run up 2 batts rea

I washed the dark brown alpaca fleece today. It took quite awhile because this particular creature had a penchant for rolling around in hay, straw, and cockle burrs! It’s not as fine as the chestnut, but will card up nicely.

What are you waiting for? Get busy and do something!

What tools are really needed to spin handspun yarn?

I recently received a comment regarding the cost(s) of fiber spinning. It went the way it usually goes when one’s knowledge is quite limited concerning the fiber arts and been misled. If you believe it’s expensive to spin yarn, then you need to sit down awhile and mull it over a bit because it’s a lot of work that happens to have huge rewards that are worth the time and effort!

A spindle, two handmade nostepinnes, and a paddle spinner

When I started out, it was at edge of the shearing floor, swiping scraps of wool deemed unfit by the sorters and trying to spin it on a rock spinner I’d made. I was 8 years old. Grandpa saw me and asked if he could see my ‘yarn’. He smiled and told me to keep at it. I felt glad knowing he liked it so I spun a few more yards by dinner.

Two Navajo spindles I made from oak dowels and wood cookies about 15 years ago.

A few days later I was sweeping up the shearing floor and was putting the bigger pieces I thought I could spin into my pockets. Grandpa told me to come to the workshop (the keep in the barn) when I was finished. He’d handmade a wonderful wood spindle for me and the cost was the few yards of yarn I had spun with the rock.

A paddle spinner made by a dearly loved, departed friend; Icelandic lamb fleece

Fast forward several years. The tools needed to spin yarn need not cost anything, except the time and resources available around you. You don’t need anything expensive. You don’t need fancy. You can make most of the tools required. The fiber you want to spin can be acquired for low cost or free. It may not be optimal, but if you’re willing to put the effort into working with it, it will be a worthwhile experience.

A spindle made by a wood turner in TX, a maple nostepinne I made 20 years ago, and a maple nostepinne I made today

I spin on spinning wheels I’ve restored and/or repaired, as well as, many types of spindles. There have been times throughout my journey, when I’ve sold the wheels to pay bills or to add to savings for special purposes or needs. It’s part of life. I can always spin because I know how to make spindles. I know how to use a pair of inexpensive dog slickers as carders. I know how to make hackles from scrap wood and old nails.

A pair of 10 year old dog slickers I’ve been using to card super fine Icelandic lamb fleece

All that said, it’s a lot of work sorting and scouring fleece, carding it, dyeing it before it’s spun or after it’s been spun. Yes, I enjoy doing this. I know where the fiber comes from, what it’s being washed/dyed with, and I’m happy and proud to be able to.

This is not the end. Get busy and make somethin or do something!!! It can be anything….

I Love Carding and Creating Art Batts to Spin Into Luscious Yarn!!

Today was one of those damp dreary days without color. It’s on these days that I create my own colors and blends. I wanted to dye fiber,but I also wanted to be working in my studio. I love how these turned out and can’t wait to spin them into yarn!!

Red, Pink, and Burgundy batts waiting for their turn to be spun.
The Art Batts Being Spun
Green, Gold, and Other Sparkling Fibers Ready for Carding
The Carding Process 1
The Carding Process 2
Ready to Doff and Twist Into Loose Knots
Doffing in Progress
Eight Batt Knots Ready to Spin!!

What are you making/ creating??

For those who don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, here’s a photo of my beautiful dog.

Beautiful Dog Nose!

Happy Soctober – Part II

I like educating people about how many pairs of socks they should own. Sometimes we have one pair we love so much that we wear them out in a very short amount of time. The fact is you should have at least 10 pairs of socks, for every season, regardless of your preferred fiber. Natural fiber socks are best but there are a lot of people who are allergic to them and need to wear synthetic fibers such as acrylic.

Some people don’t know the difference between wool and acrylic or cotton and acrylic. Some believe the socks they’re wearing are acrylic when they’re actually WOOL. Some think they’re allergic to wool and have never worn wool in their lives. Some are allergic to cotton and linen but can wear every synthetic fiber made. Regardless of fiber allergies or preferences, handknit socks are best.

Whichever type of socks you prefer, the ones you wear the most will eventually wear out! The most common place for handknit socks to wear out is the heel, followed by the ball of the foot. The most common place for mass manufactured socks to wear out is at the toe, followed by the heel. Either way, if you’re trying to save money or just love that pair of socks so much that you can’t bear to part with them, you can always repair them and should repair them.

The two main methods of repairing holey, worn out socks are: Darning, duplicate stitching, and reknitting. I will partially cover darning and reknitting. Darning involves stitching an anchor box around the hole and then weaving from the anchor stitches, over and under, and back and forth, until the hole is filled in and sturdy. I prefer to herringbone weave 2 over and 2 under; and then cross back over to make it all sturdy.

A reknitted heel involves picking up the stitches at the top of the hole and the bottom of the hole, and knitting a heel patch (toe patch, or patch for the ball of the foot) while picking up the old stitches at the sides of the hole, and then using the Kitchener Stitch to graft it all together so it looks nice and neat.

Sometimes, you need to pick up stitches in the middle so you can graft (kitchener stitch) them to the reknit portion during the repair. See the photo below.

Other times, you get very lucky to be able to just grab a few inches of yarn and just sew or weave the hole closed. This works best on holes smaller than a half inch.

There are many different ways to repair your favorite socks. It’s your choice. Do some research. I’ve shared the ones I’m currently working on because I was asked to do so.

*** NOTE: I rarely ever have any of the yarn left over from anything I’ve knit because I tend to use the leftovers in other things after about two years. ***

A Happy Soctober SOCK Update!!

Two pairs of finished socks and a pair of socks on the needles!

I love knitting danged near anything, but socks are at the top of the list because they’re easy and a quick knit (unless they’re a men’s size 13-1/2 EEE). Socks are a very convenient way to use up leftover yarn and create some very colorful socks that go with anything.

A bag of leftover handspun yarn and commercial yarn

I knit most of my socks, as well as the socks I list for sale, from my handspun wool yarn that I’ve dyed. A lot of the multicolored and striped socks are knit from leftovers from both my handspun yarn, and wool yarn I’ve bought, for client projects, from Indie dyers like Atomic Fiber Co.

I knit acrylic socks and cotton socks for customers who are sensitive to wool or have wool allergies. The two pairs of color block blue socks below are knit from the same skein of Lion Brand, mandala OMBRE acrylic yarn. These yarn cakes are 344yds of softness that feels like chenille and can produce 2 pair of medium sized socks, or a small/medium hat and a pair of small/medium mittens from one skein, when knit using size 4,5, or 6 knitting needles.

I knit both pairs of socks in the photo on the right, with yarn that I spun. Do you see it in the yarn stash, in the photo on the left?

These two pair of socks will be added to my Etsy shop today!

I hear people telling me they wish they could do a lot of different things, from sewing to woodworking. I believe that if you have the spare time and the impetus to do something, stop talking about it and just do it or try it! It can be ANYTHING!!

*** Notice: I have not received any incentives, perks, or freebies from Atomic Fiber Co. or Lion Brand Yarn Co. This blog post was whipped up on a whim.
I will suggest you find my Etsy shop and buy some SOCKS!!! Happy Soctober!