Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All fluffie angelina

Started on a new fleece - of Fluffie, whose big white fleece was washed last June. Want more wool to make a cabled hat to go with a pair of Evangeline fingerless gloves I knit and dyed brown for my daughter to wear in cold NY. She returned to NY 4 days ago and I miss her but I'm glad she is well situated. The dog, of course, doesn't know this and spend a few days looking for her rather mournfully. He seems to be over it now - I'm glad to say.

Wanted to add a bit of sparkle to the brown so it won't be too dull. I have a small amount of Angelina finer - sparkly, strange stuff that reacts to heat - and realized I had to blend it with some wool before spinning - which in turn meant dying it as fleece rather than spun wool (as I've done so far). I was nervous about this - what if it turned into a matted felted mess? Well, it didn't no did the gloves I put in the dye pot along with it get all tangled up - it's an advantage to have wool that's harder to felt sometimes - in fact, often. 
Fluffie is a rather furtive mid-sized sheep - so it won't be as easy to get her "portrait" into my (her?) wool stash as it was to that of her get her flock mate, Frekkie.
Am looking for info in blended angelina - not much so far so I just jumped in and it looks nice.

I'm beginning to think that dying the fleece before carding and spinning puts a better sheen sheen on the dyed wool. My small experience suggests that dying the spun yarn or knit piece, while it's simpler in many ways, can leave the wool less lustrous.
Anyway, better take my chance to sit in the porch (on this beautiful autumn day) and get some more fluffieAngelina done.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A solution

I've got a solution to ensure I have some knitting when my knitting group session comes around. I'll knit another pair of fingerless gloves - this time for my daughter - with matching hat and then dye the set chocolate brown to match her warm jacket!
My stash is going to deplete plenty.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Smug Saturday

I dosed the sheep against fluke yesterday so that's one worry I no longer have. They all looked bucksome (not at all like they had any illness let alone fluke) and the wooly ones have their fleece coming along nicely - they feel so nice. Heard myself caution them to stay clean until May next (looking it??).
A little disappointed as I've not got hold of my Galway sheep fleece yet - despite a sinceer promise by the shepherd. Maybe he's going mad choosing a good representative one - after all, several other shepherds are aware of the promise too. 
Despite this minor thing, it's still smug Saturday as I uploaded photos of two little hats I knitted using a box stitch (and indeed wore during some cold evenings this week) and I've completed one fingerless glove from the Evangeline pattern. Problem is, I'd like to finish the second one too - but if I do that, it'll be spinning time again and I'll have no knitting for the knitting club next Wednesday. This mismatch keeps happening - pity I can't bring carding or spinning along - but I think the people in the adjacent restaurant tables might object.
However, perhaps I'll curb my knitting greed and do spinning instead as I like the knitting group and each time I've been there, I've learned something - 
Some things I've learned:
single spin yarn tends to twist/list clock or anti-clockwise (depending on the spin) when nit up - while balanced, plied yarn stays straight! Dha! That's why they kept mentioning balanced plying at a spinning course I did. 
How to Navajo ply - which i sort of knew but did not until provoked to consider it, why it's used to maintain blocks of color in yarn spun from a series of different colors.
There I saw the fingerless gloves knit up and this prompted me to try my hand at these cables beauties- and so far succeed.
I've had my first "internet death" though - the little dog (Henry a 15 year old Jack Russell) shown sleeping on one of my knit rugs on Ravelry, is no more. He was indeed skin and bone and his time had come but I still think I hear his bark - then remember he is gone. Not gone are Oisin (wholse wool is also in Ravelry) and Huddie - the wonderfully mad, red border collie.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How long is a piece of string and only 2 dogs

I think I'm going to knit a sweater/jumper (big deal to me) - I have a pattern, the wool looks similar - now I need to know how much more yarn I need to spin - so I asked on Irish Knitters.
Meanwhile, the Crafters Basket in Sligo posted me a set of DPN (very quickly too I might say) so I can knit some fingerless gloves - and even bring them along to a knitting group in Mullingar next week - all things being equal.
Only 2 dogs now - my 15 yr old Jack Russel managed to escape the property one night - I couldn't find him anywhere in the dark when I went to put him to bed - and, since he was almost totally deaf, I had to give up. He was found by someone who brought him to an animal shelter after 2 days and there the vet decided he was in advanced organ failure and put him to sleep. This was a shock for us to find out when we called the shelter but he was aged 15, with sight and hearing loss and given to standing in corners for hours and drinking water endlessly so I expect his time had come anyway. However, given the speed with which he was dispatched, I've made sure my other 2 dogs have tags on (as well as their microchip).
That's the end of another era. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Building some order

I've added my spun yarns to my stash in Ravelry. Great to have some way of tracking what I'm doing. They are in there as are my knitted rug photos. 
The woolies out in the field will need some dosing soon - so much rain recently that I'm concerned about the fluke worm. Weather report says scattered showers - and so it is, with nice sun in between - but I know the next scatter will arise when I set out to round up my little flock.
They are mixed lowland sheep - 50% Texel and then 25% of other breeds including Cheviot and Suffolk - so some have long white (and surprisingly soft) wool while others have shorter, more Down-type fleece. 
Ironically, I decided to get some self-shedding sheep last year after shearing 19 woolies and I have such a ram and 5 ewes (origin is Iolo Ownes Welsh flock via imports to Ireland some going to Meath, some to Tipperary and Kerry). I want to breed these girls and create 3 fresh ram blood lines over several years but the woolies will stay - as I now appreciate their fleeces. 
I'm about to get some Galway sheep fleece from a local man with a bigger flock than mine. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Post

I've reached a certain point with the wool craft - a collection of bright colored knitted rugs made with last years tentative shearing, spun into thick irregular yarn lie about the place and several skeins of soft lofty white double ply are hanging up in the porch. 
There's been a lot of learning since I took the shears to the ewes last year - and between the roughly spun wool in the rugs and that soft yarn. I want to remind myself of the things I learned since summer 2007 - and the things I'm going to learn - so the posts will probably be backwards, catch-up posts for a while - mixed with progress - I hope.
Time to sleep now though .