Friday, May 21, 2010

Rooing wool, bread and hen update

As the weather has been very close (humid) this past week or so I've had to get on with shearing the few woolie sheep I have left. They are first-cross, in this case a cross between commercial woolie sheep and an Easy Care shedding ram. They all have their mothers fleece but one it seems is shedding after the first cross (which can happen).This causes a bit of a conundrum as one of the PB Easy Care hoggets sheds later like her mother not finishing shedding until June so that now, in May both she and the woolie cross are both at about the same stage - an look almost identical!!

I did anticipate this an put some blue dye on the head of the woolie one and a short bout of rain immediately all but washed it off. Her twins are quite distinctive though - being the only ones with evident color so I think I'm on safe ground classifying her a first cross. Anxt does set in though and I'll watch the later shedder carefully to make sure she IS the pure bred.

So, keen to protect this valuable mother from fly strike (she has two lambs depending on her) I tied her up for shearing. What I found was that instead of shearing her I had a better time rooing her. Rooing is pulling this years fleece growth off without cutting and leaving just the guard hairs in place.
The nasty leg/rump stuff fulled off easily and added to the mound of daggs in a big bag while along her shoulders back and sides the longer better locks were saved - about 300 grams if it. She became restless for her lambs before I'd pulled off all the side parts so I let her off to finish the process in the field by herself. Her rump, belly and neck are all quite clean

Shetland sheep may roo too so I had a look for info on that and found it on:
This links to some photos of the process too.
I can't add any at present as the camera is otherwise engaged.

This fleece has medium type fibers. I collected some previously from the field - higgeldy-piggeldy - to see if I could spin it. Well of course I could - it's hard to find stuff that won't spin but the yarn produced varied. The stuff I collected early in the year from barbed wire etc was longer and softer and made a small amount of pretty nice 2-ply yarn. The stuff I picked up later was more mixed, some of it very short indeed and some with more guard hairs - probable reflecting it's variable sources - mixtures of older and younger sheep, different parts of the body and some of the rams stuff mixed in too. This had to be hand-carded and spun long-draw really and it made a thinner, coarser 2-ply - but still quite usable . I'm currently knitting a sample - just a little scarf in it's natural color.
Hope to get some photos of these samples to remind me.

After Anna Browne's bread lessons last Tuesday in Mullingar I've baked (and almost completely eaten) one very nice sourdough round and one no-knead round which is underdone in the mid-to-lower regions and overdone on top (but still almost completely eaten :0 ). I had some assistance with the eating from husband but the eating,like the baking was almost all my own work too :).
Sourdough bread
Discussion next week with Anna about how to tame my oven to improve the no-knead.

Atilla the hen struck again last month.
I tried to slowly introduce the red hen to her domain bringing with her veggie and other food treats. It seemed to be working so I prolonged the coupling a little more each time. Things seemed to be setting down between them until I left them together for over 20 minutes whereupon I saw Atilla sharpening her beak on the chickwire and scraping her nails in the dirt and before I could react, she'd taken a whack out of red hen's scalp again! Out with the bandage and antiseptic again - Grr. I suppose I'll have to give up the idea of them sharing one nice big open space. They have to stay in their respective runs. The last thing Atilla did after I removed red was to pick up a small red feather in her beak and slowly consume it in front of me!!
Fortunately red is healed up again and is growing steadily so maybe, one day she'll be ready to take on Atilla who by the way does produce an egg or 2 (yes, two) 2 out of 3 days, so she has her good points too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spun single experiment - details

Frekkie 09 fleece is made of longer (6") fibers, with shorter fibers (3" or less) round the base. It's composed of medium sized fibers (maybe 25 microns average I guess) and pretty white. It's crimp varies but approximate 8 waves per inch (roughly). The individual fibers are rather silky but if spun haphazardly would be prickly.
So - I set about making a system to prepare it so I would end up with two different types of yarn - a worsted spun single that is: thin (fingering or less), doesn't split, strong, has a firm, strong core with a soft outer part, not too scratchy, even - for use on my rigid loom or for lace knitting and a second, softer thicker 2-ply for knitting or as weft on the loom.
Frekkie 090007
SO, I figured both mechanical and chemical manipulation might needed - to make a silk purse out of this sows ear, so to speak.
First step (with the previously washed fleece) was to comb locks to separate the long fibers from the shorter. Combed long fibers were drawn into long strips and coiled for worsted spinning, the short left-over fibers were ut on the drum carder and made into light, open batts.
The worsted spinning was done on the wheel - spinning ratio 12:1 over 1", S direction - this gave a very over-twisted yarn at about 16 wpi. This curly-wurly single was hanked, tied figure-of-eight in 4 places, washed in washing up liquid, conditioned with a little Panten hair conditioner then snapped while wet, then dried on the swift. When dry (next day) it was spun off the swift to the wheel, Z direction, making sure the fiber ran over the edge of the orifice and to add extra untwist to the sections that were over twisted. THEN, it was hanked back again to the swift, tied off as before and soaked in a little warm water and conditioner again. This last effort left to dry and it gave me a nice 18 wpi single without much bias apparently. I'll check for this with swatches later. I now have over 1,700 yards of the stuff.
Frekkie 090005

Frekkie 090006

The short carded stuff was spun soft on the Turkish spindle then plied from the center-pull ball making a chunky white - marshmallow type yarn.
Frekkie 090009
Frekkie 090001
Sacrificed evenness for squishyness!
Frekkie 090003
Sin é go fóil.

I still have more fleece (Frekkie is a generous gal) and I'll probably 2-ply this in a more usual way.
Before embarking on these manipulation, I thought "are you a lunatic?". But then I read several accounts of how people had managed to create yarn from all sorts of unlikely sources such as - well hemp for example and several other plants/weeds and thought "it they can go to all that trouble to get yarn from these difficult sources, why not make the effort with your abundant much-maligned, inferior sheep fleece?
Well so far I'm quite pleased with the result.
BUT - I forgot about the water GRRR. The water here is hard and full of iron. I'm coming to the conclusion this is not so great for wool - I should have used the rainwater from the barrel - ya big twit!
Next time (that's assuming the rain barrel has enough - it's been very low lately.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Sunsets are back :)

Welcome back sunsets!

Sunset May 2010-2

Sunset May 2010-3


Mid May - Where did April Go?

Maybe the less said about April 10 the better. The year of the rotten lambing! Attacks from crows (they deserve the collective - "a murder of crows"!), accidental death, mismothering, poor grass etc, etc. Having said that, the Anglsey Easies were indeed easy with very good performance despite all the adversity - that is until this week when one precocious lamb started leading the flock through gaps in the hedgerow into the neighbors field, gaps that appeared as the weeks and other wild stuff didn't materialise - largely due to the dryness (yes, dryness) of the soil generally.
Some plants died (a constantly flowering Wallflower bush for one) while others benefited - so few slugs and snails that the Hostas are having a holiday.
The raw Alpaca fleece arrived finally due to the good will of Irene, Mary and Joan but it it a daunting project indeed, even more so than last year:
Alpaca raw fleece 2010
But some progress is made:
Alpaca raw fleece 2010
Alpaca raw fleece 2010
This accounts for about 1/2 the usable stuff (a lot is going into the waste) - the rest hangs there waiting.
One good thing - it seems less smelly and dusty this time which is good as I recently had an allergic sking reaction to lamb's pee pee - the little devil relieved herself while I was carrying her across my chest. I suppose this is a form of ammonical dermatitis - aka nappy rash. It's gone now I'm glad to say.

My Falling Leaves shawl returned along with the Alpaca and I was finally able to add a picot edge to the neck and front sides. It works well 'though the photos are not great (as usual :).
Falling leaves shawl
Falling leaves shawl

Rocket flower yarn is back in action as I decided to make the Miss Potter fingerless gloves with it (the rest of this yarn went to a shawl and a scarf). Decided to make them 2-ply so had to run the single back through the wheel - S wise - then ply Z wise;
Miss Potter Fingerless
Only one done so far.

Meanwhile, continue to spin Frekkie 09 fleece - worsted single from the long part and fat 2-ply from the short stuff. Got about 1,600 yards of the worsted, much less of the woolen so far - probably for a woven project - but not sure yet.

Anyway - more stuff later if I get a chance.