It’s been really cold outside, which makes for a really good time to work on fiber projects. We’ve got less than three weeks to get the chicken coop built, but doing it outside in single digit temps just doesn’t sound like much fun at all. We go out and feed the critters in the morning, check water in the afternoon, but other than that, we’ve been working on indoor projects, and today, mine was all fiber, all the time.
Oh, speaking of the critters and feeding them, we got a hundred bales of hay delivered on January 8th, and here we are a month later, and we still have hay. Amazing! We are down some sheep with the Shelties gone, but it really looks like the hay feeders have made a huge difference in the amount of waste. I think we’ll need a delivery again in a week or so, and should remember to call Keith.
Back to my fibrous Friday. I’ve been really enjoying spinning, and while this is probably only my sixth bobbin ever, it’s not bad at all. Practice really helps. I’m starting to experiment with things like a long draw, which never made sense to me before. We still haven’t unpacked the right box to find the plying head for my spinning wheel, so I broke down and bought one from Toni at The Fold. I called around everywhere local, and no one had one in stock, sadly, but Toni had one out in no time. Perfect.
So I plied the singles of the llama fiber that I’d spun. I’d really screwed up one of the bobbins, because the yarn broke when I was spinning when it got too thin, and I couldn’t find the end for love nor money. It was so frustrating! How could it just disappear? In picking at the spool looking for it, it all started to get all frayed and icky and it was ruining all my work and, yeah. Frank to the rescue. It was a mess! He pulled off pieces and fed them to me while I plied, and I got really good at blending in grafted on pieces! He was my human Lazy Kate.
I really like the way this came out. He made a crack about it looking like macramÃ© yarn, which I found insulting, but I think it’s really cool. I like thick and chunky yarn, and when I’m buying it, it’s really expensive! It’s really soft, and the only rough bits were the pieces of hay that were still in the yarn, no matter how many I picked out while I was spinning.
So after googling around on the net some more because I can’t find all of my fibrous books yet either, I found an article specifically about spinning llama fiber that really helped. I followed her directions for washing the skein, and it worked out really well. Man was that stuff dirty! I have got to find a way for these girls to stay cleaner. (Mary, I’m talking about you! No more rolling in the dirt, please.)
One of the things that was confusing about that article, though, is that she contradicts what Tom from The Mannings taught me in the two spinning classes that I took. He said to ply in the opposite direction that the singles were spun in, which is what I did. Then I read that article, and she says
You must always ply in the same direction as you have created your singles. So wind the singles from your spool on the spinning wheel into balls. Now you will be starting to ply from the same direction as you spun your singles. The plies will happily interlock. If you do it any other way the singles repel one another and make for a much less desirable finished yarn.
So, I need to find someplace local to figure this stuff out. I’ve been looking for a spinning guild, but there doesn’t seem to be an active local group. I’m one of those people that really needs hands-on teaching. I can only do so much through books and the internet. Oh well.
I spent the rest of the day carding more llama fiber, and then spun up most of what I got carded. I think I spun for about two and a half hours before my back and shoulder gave out. I was only able to spin for about an hour last time, so real progress there. This last bobbin I’ve been working on is much better. I haven’t had a break in the yarn yet (knock on wood), and it’s much more consistent. I think I’m getting the hang of the long draw, but it is trickier.
I haven’t decided what I’m going to make out of it yet. I love natural-colored fiber like that, and if I made an article of clothing for myself with it, it would fit right into my closet. I have a vest almost exactly that color already. Frank spent most of the afternoon emptying boxes, and found some of my spinning books, yay. The one I’d wanted the most was Color in Spinning, and I think trying to dye some of my Icelandic roving is next on my project list. I’m going to finish up the llama first, though. The last thing I need is (yet another) half-completed project lying around.