Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Cangora or DoggieDown is what some call the fluffy undercoat that is shed by certain dogs who have double coats for added insulation.

When I brush my Border Collie ( redhead called Connie), I often save the softest brushings and put a handful in a little net bag (off fruit) then wash with Fairy Liquid and leave it to dry.

I had built up enough to spin a fair amount of two-plied singles. I then went in search of a pattern that might suit this soft fuzzy yarn.

As it was next-to-delicate-skin type yarn, I looked for some type of neck warmer such as a cowl.
Low and behold, I found just the thing on Ravelry, Absolu Keyhole Cowl by Stephanie Steinhaus.
Her pattern on Ravelry:

The yarn even looks similar to Coagora

This is howdy Cangora version it looks:
With a broach:
With Corcks in the garden!

Feels Lovely.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Alpaca Spun

SO, spun the Alpaca.
Takes up a lot less room now - but not sure what it will eventually become.

Three LONG hanks and one smaller one.
The long ones make up 513 yards of approx. 8 twists per inch.
There are of course some thin bits (this being home-prepped and hand-spun).
There is also a smaller hank that I've not measured
The colors is sort of milk chocolate.
It feels soft and is draped rather than bouncy.
The reason for the long (and eventually inconvenient although visually alluring) hanks - had to do with possible weaving - but I"m not sure now.
Ah well!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Spin or Bin - Alpaca

As I referred to in the last blog post here, I have quite a lot of raw fibre - sheep and alpaca fleece - stashed in the attic and other presses.

It is taking up space and I have to make a decision as to what should happed to it.

None of it is either exotic or fine enough to offer to another spinner so it comes down to spin it or bin it.

I have already disposed of several small samples of different fibre in a mixed batt which was fun to make. It is spun into singles and plied with Logwood dyed singles to make a bulky yarn - which takes up much less space as a hank than the raw fibre did and it may well find itself in a new knitted or crocheted rug.

Next, I have a rather ugly sheep-feed plastic bag full of raw uncleaned russet-coloured Alpaca fleece, donated to me by someone who themselves had it from an Alpaca owner, quite a few years ago now.

I decided to drum-card it, draw off rollags and spin woolen-style on my Ashford Traveller. I've spun something similar before but used combing and worsted spinning and got a fairly harsh yarn. I don't know if this was due to the fleece that time being coarser, or whether I had not selected from it properly, leaving in too much leg hair for example but anyway, I want this one t to be softer and "squishier".

Initially I took locks, teased them and removed noils,  nibs, second cuts and dirt and then drum-carded a batt. The batt came about 3/4 ways up the tynes of the carder. I then drew it off using a dowel rod I had forming a pretty large role!! Large indeed - much too big and dense to spin easily.

Turns out it weighed about 29 grams - much too big.

After some testing, I settled on carding 4 grams of cleaned and teased locks and drew it off on a small rolling pin to create a much more open role.

This spun pretty easily into a single which plys back on itself with 4 - 5 twists per inch. I've kept a sample for further spinning and will work my way through this over the coming week.

I note old Border Collie, Hudson, above in the photo. At 18 years old, he is rather limited in his abilities yet he manages to show up wherever the action is and like his younger step-sister Connie, can obstruct that action including bringing the spinning wheel to a halt with his hinders.

The 4 gram roll being drawn off:

More to come in time.

Logwood and Wensleydale wool

After 9 months in our Wexford home, I still have not sorted out all my crafty stuff - although there is a designated area to store most of it and work on projects.
The tiny attic is filled with washed fleece from my previous flock in Ardnacraney and there are several bags of fleece, unprocessed or combed or carded hanging around and I cannot remember why I selected them and placed them in mysterious bags.

I decided I must either prep. and spin these latter or, shocks and horror , throw them out!!

So, prep and spin it is - for now.

I drum carded several different types of sheep' wool together with bits of silk, bamboo and Angelina and spun the batt into a single on my Ashford Traveller, freely but prioritising  softness  over evenness.

DAU* Texel cross, Jacob, Doggie down**, silk, bamboo, tonsil all mixed up.

*Droim An Uan.   Border Collie undercoat

I planned to spin another spool of singles dyed in a darker colour compared to those in the batt.

Hanging about is a bag of Logwood chips and a rather stained stocking also containing Logwood chips - probably pre-used.

 The dried chops are in the zip-lock bag and the previously used chips are stored after use in stockings to be used again.

These were given to me several years ago by a good friend and I was rather fearful of trying to use them until I had done a dying workshop at Irish Fibre crafters in Ardrahan last December.

I looked up the method of dying with Logwood and proceeded.

Of note, my hands became quite blue after working with the dyed fibre.

The Logwood dye seemed not to be water soluble, but rubbed off with a nailbrush and washing up liquid. Then I realised that this dye is Haematoxylin, much used in bio laboratories to stain cells in histology and microbiology so it liked my skin but not the water!

The final yarn plied up as a super-chunky "Logwood and multi" yarn  - about 97 yards

The three singles in centre-pull balls from left to right show the result of first Logwood after-wash dip, full concentration dye bath and second after-wash dip on the alum mordanted wool singles.


Almost as a reaction to the chunkiness, I find myself spinning lighter weight yarn from Wensleydale carded fibre.

The 1798 Spinners are planning to display various sheep breeds' locks, spun and swatched at the Tinahely ag. show this summer. Being prone to self-torment, I decided on the Wensleydale as my example. I stought to find a source within the Republic of Ireland. (I  tend to try to keep my spending as local as I can i.e. in the ROI and, failing that, within the EU. The latter is not easy as the search engines seem to be loaded against this, favouring UK and US - but that's another days work).

Anyway, I did find just one Wens. flock in the ROI - which has since dispersed but the former flock owner was able to furnish me with some deep green dyed locks first and then about 450 gms of carded locks. All very nice indeed.

I made a b*l*s of spinning the green locks I think although I may later incorporate them in a shawl or some such but they do illustrate the way these long locks retains their ouster after dying. Plus, it was great fun to do.

Now I'm testing how to spin the carded fibre and have settled on a low-twist (only about 4 per inch softly plied. I'm using 4 - 5 inch backward draw slowly twisting and with little tension. The "trick" will be to ply it stable so as to avoid a yarn which is too lax to knit comfortably. I'm planning a weight around 9 - 10 wraps per inch and then dye the two-plied yarn with a sequence of four colours.

I have dye made up in bottles for some time so I plan to use these with the addition of some citric acid to aid binding.

I decided to spin the singles on the eSpinner and then ply them on the Ashford Traveller spinning wheel.

Tried to keep hands well apart but as you can see, I was in and out dealing with various thicknesses and then testing a length for "twistiness". If too twisty, drawing back until it reduces then run onto the spindle.
Looking for a finer yarn width but tried not to make it too firm/string-like.

Dye bottles, tested on some kitchen paper - I wanted bejewelled colours if possible.
I added a bright yellow to the set.


I wound four hanks in a continuous sequence and dyed each hank separately on the stove.

The final long hank with rather vivid colours.

In accordance with what one might expect from the long-locked Wensleydale breed, the yarn drapes rather then bounces and has a fairly good sheen after dying.


Weight: 185 grams/6.5 oz
Number of yards: 241
                             of this, 22.7 yards are yellow,
                                         54.6 yards are blue
                                         63.7 yards are green
                                       100.2 yards are violet
Wraps per inch = 9 - 10.     worsted/DK
Yards/pound = 593.7

Next project addresses the pile of fleece sitting in bags in my craft room cupboard and the little attic.
I'm calling this the Spin it or Bin it project - either it gets spun or it heads for the bin.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ten weeks in Wexford

I feel so lucky that I came across the 1798 Spinners here.
They spin in The Irish National Heritage Centre  ( ) once a month and various other places in addition.
They are a lovely group and I've been spinning away with them since - of note, we went to the Tinahely Agricultural  show ( ) as a group in the woolly corner (along with a variety of sheep and fleece) which was great fun not least as the lunch served there was of very good quality.

Huddie (now 17 1/2 years old) found his spot on one of my old knitted mats

and Connie ensconced amid the clutter

All the biggest house renovations have been completed and the place is quite lovable now - though the garden is a mess and we've had no luck finding Landscaping assistance so far. However many of the worst elements have been tackles.
Great to be able to walk to Wexford fort in minutes.

Sheep fleece is now residing in the very small attic and I do have a fine craft area to spin and prep fibre in without always having to clear everything away owing the the presence of a second table around the corner in the kitchen area.

We have a very short walk to the shops and only a little further to Wexford Harbour. Short drives to Rosslair beach and Curracloe beach are regulars for me and Collie Connie. There a many other places to visit and walk (Johnstown Clatle and grounds, Ferrybank etc).

 The Faithe Window Boxes July/August 2019 (more of a thing for loveTheSeasons really).

The weather has finally changed this September 22 'though we can't complain after the pretty glorious summer we had.
Anyway, I can get on with crafts in my NEW CRAFT AREA :).

I'm on the second sleeve of a top-down knitted cards using my maroon hand-spun Merino.
It looks as though it might Fionn Mac Comhaill when complete yet it seems to kinda fit when I try to on me. Ah well - we'll see.
Adding more ribbing at the end to balance out the heavy top part of the card. - One very good thing about top-down garments, it is possible to provisionally cast off at the bottom and revive the stitches to add more rib later - unlike the situation when one casts on and goes rib-up.

Two of my knitted rugs were sold from Irish Fibre Crafters in Ardrahan, Co. Galway, ( ) where I left them under the auspices of Sandra, the lovely creator of same. Very glad they were found to be attractive to another and gone off into the world - so I can go right ahead and make more with a clear conscience :).

Irish Fibre Crafter ladies at work

IFC hand-spun yarns;

\IFC Loom:

That will do for now

Reminder of spinning in Wicklo

Before I forget our time in Wicklow earlier in the year (Wexford likely to override previous events having been so hectic), I want to plant a little video of spinning outside the house there. It was exceptionally lovely weather and perfect for outside spinning.

The yarn spun here will make a pair of socks and a knitted cardigan/jacket among other things

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Settling into Wexford and plans for craft room!

Just over a week in new place in Wexford. So far so good - emerged from a festoon of cardboard boxes 'though several still around and mysterious.

Washed fleece arrived hidden in the under-bed drawers - don't know what the movers thought when they caught a glimpse.

Drum carder required assistance - got a bit bent-out-of shape but running well now thanks to OH and youtube.

Attended the market day at Babbles retreat in Tipperary yesterday -( ). Very pleasant - lots of fibre chat and small market. Plus the weather was glorious.

Several hanks of the German roving now complete but plan to start on my rug yarn ASAP now that the drum carder is complete. It will have to compete with house and garden renovations though. Thinking about my neighbour's flock back in our pasture in Ardnacraney. Wish them well - maybe get more fleece at shearing time? NO Catherine, finish what you've got!

Pics later I hope.