Breed Specific Spinning

For several years, I have been accumulating a stash of breed-specific spinning fibers.  In looking back at my blog, I believe the first time I mentioned breed-specific spinning was in January 2015.  I wanted to do some breed-specific spinning to build my working knowledge of wool.  I started spinning to understand yarn.  In order to understand spinning, I need to understand fiber.

When I started buying breed-specific fibers, I was buying prepared fibers.  However, I realized that some fibers are not available prepared, which led me to purchase multiple raw fleeces and scour them myself, as I’ve written about in January 2018 and February 2018.

While I have continued to accumulate breed-specific fibers, I have not spun them.  I have, however, taken several classes at PlyAway and SAFF to help me in this process.  This includes classes in long draw, how to process fleece after it is scoured, and one of Beth Smith’s breed study classes.

This year, I’m going to be start spinning some of my breed-specific stash.  My friend Stacy will be joining me in this endeavor.  We haven’t worked out all the details of this yet, but we will both be blogging about our experiences with the same breed.  Sometimes we will be working from the same fleece or sample and sometimes we will be working from what we happen to have in our stashes.  If I process the fleece from raw, notes on the processing will be included in the blog post, along with notes on the spinning and finished yarn.

This blog post will serve as an index to all the other posts in this series.  I will go back and look through my prior posts to see if any are still relevant and if they are, I will link them here.  When we write posts about a new spin that is part of this study, I will also link to it here.  I will link back to this post from all the future posts on this topics so you can get back here easily, but you might also want to bookmark this post for your reference if you want to follow along.

The SassyBee Fiber I’m spinning is 100% Polworth, so Polworth may be the first fiber on our docket.  Stacy is checking her stash to see if she has any.  Since we haven’t worked out parameters, I can’t give you a specific timeline for when we will be publishing our first breed-specific post, but I know it will be this year  🙂  Stay tuned!

Goals

Here are any posts about goals or timelines or parameters of this project.

2015 Goals and Plans

January 2015 Plans

 

Inventory

I’ve posted a few times about Inventory.  I’m working on a spreadsheet with a complete list and once I have that finished, I’ll link to that here.

January 2015

February 2015

 

Processing and Purchasing

Orlando Distaff Day 2015

Scouring Fleece, January 2018

On My Birthday, February 2018

Spinning in Progress

Central Florida Fair 2015

WIP Wednesday, April 1, 2015

WIP Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015, Stage 10

Breed-Specific Blog Posts

 

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On My Birthday

My birthday was several days ago.  We got home from New Jersey only a few days before that.  I was tired and needed to get back into a rhythm at home.  I decided the best gift I could give myself for my birthday was progress on personal projects.  I made progress on three projects: (1) Finishing a loom and spinning wheel; (2) Scouring fleece; and (3) Spinning a batt.

Finishing

In early January, I wrote about the problems I have with the finish on my rigid heddle loom and my spinning group’s wheel.  My mother-in-law passed away the day after I wrote that post.  When we left for New Jersey, I left all the pieces out on the workbench.  I was at a bit of a loss of how to proceed because after five passes with the mineral spirits, some of the pieces were still tacky.  On my birthday, I took the loom and the treadles to our local Woodcraft store and explained what I had done so far.  They said I probably put too much Danish Oil on, which is why it never dried.  They said that continuing with the mineral spirits was the correct approach but that if that doesn’t work then I will have to remove the entire finish and start over.  I was using paper towels to apply the mineral spirits.  They suggested that I use a shop towel because the paper towel might be too smooth.  Over the course of the last several days, I applied another 5 or 6 rounds of mineral spirits.  Some of the pieces are no longer tacky, some have parts that are tacky and some that are not, and some are still tacky all over but are not as tacky as they were before.  We continue to move in the right direction!

Scouring

In early January, I scoured some fleece and wrote a long post about it.  That day, I only scoured a fraction of the fleece I needed to scour.

The day my mother-in-law died, I was at a friend’s house, about to scour more fleece.  My spinning group was holding our third annual retreat (I posted about the first one).  This year, we decided to spend the day at the home of one of our members.  These retreats are usually low-key, bring a project and do your own thing affairs, but this year several of us had fleece to scour, others had never scoured and wanted to learn, and our hostess has excellent space for scouring, so we decided to do a scouring day.  I brought all the fleece I needed to scour and all my equipment.

Since several of us were processing fleece and since I had several 4 – 16 ounce samples, I put all my fleece into mesh laundry bags.  Inside each laundry bag, I wrote the name of the breed on a tyvek wrist band (Amazon affiliate link).  I used these wristbands when dyeing and scouring because they will not dissolve in water and you can write on them with a Sharpie.  I had just finished putting everything into bags and was about to start scouring when my husband called to tell me his mother had passed.  I immediately packed up all my fleece and drove home, leaving my equipment behind since everyone else was using it.  I picked up the equipment after we returned home.

I still wanted to get all that fleece, plus additional fleece I had at my house, scoured.  So I spent the afternoon of my birthday scouring fleece.  Here’s all the fleece I put into laundry bags while with my spinning group.

My friend Nancy told us that she and her sister now do cold soaks of fleece before scouring.  I decided that I would try that method.  We have a plethora of 5 gallon pails.  We use them for putting water into our hydroponics system, for toting around tools, and for storing things in the garage.  Last September, we bought several more to use for water storage as part of our Hurricane Irma preparations.

TANGENT/

We filled the bathtub after I took this picture. Total water storage: 35ish gallons in the tub, 50 gallons in buckets, 6 or 7 gallons in the frig, 50 gallons of non-potable water in the rain barrel.

Copious water storage was an excellent thing because we were without power for 6 days, without water for 24 hours due to a water main break on our street, and on severe water restrictions (no showers, no flushing the toilet if you only peed) for a week because 85% of the lift stations in our county were without power.  Lift stations move waste through the pipes to the treatment facility.  If they can’t do their job, somewhere that sewage will seep into someone’s home.

Six trees came down at this house, including two that came through the roof in the middle of the storm, nearly hitting one of the teenagers. The family fled to a friend’s house. The roots of two trees pulled up through the water main, breaking it in multiple places.

 

No running water, no showers, no electricity, high heat and high humidity. This is how we kept clean.

 

When our power went out, the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes. After a couple of days without power, they really needed to be washed. I did it in the backyard, using water from our buckets. I did the three bucket method, with the last being a chlorine bleach rinse which meant I didn’t have to heat water on the propane camp stove.

/TANGENT

Sorry about the tangent.  As I was saying, we have a plethora of 5 gallon buckets.  I used those for the cold water soak.

No soap, no hot water, and maybe 15 minutes in the bucket at this point.

I liked the cold water presoak a lot.  It is amazing how much comes out of the fleece, simply soaking it in cold water.  I put the fleece into the pails to presoak, then finished setting up the rest of the equipment for scouring.  When I took the fleeces out of presoak and put them into scour, I dumped the water out, filled the pail with clean water, and put more fleece in to soak.  All the fleeces were in the cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Some were in there for an hour or more while I scoured others.  With cold water, I don’t have to worry about the water cooling and lanolin redepositing onto the fleece.  Anything that came out with just cool water should stay out!

I did only one scour with detergent on most of the fleece, followed by two plain water rinses.  This was effective for almost all the fleeces.  One particularly dirty alpaca fleece got two rounds with detergent and three plain water rinses.  One or two of the greasier fleeces needed more scouring and I will be doing another scour on them.  Stay tuned for more detailed blog posts on which ones needed more scouring and how I handled that.

I made one other change to the process I described in my previous post on scouring.  I added two more bins for scouring, so I had 6 going at one time.  When I was at the spinning group retreat, I discovered that my dish pans hold the same volume of water as the other containers I was using for scouring, so I set up two dish pans plus the containers!

With six bins going and the presoak doing a lot of work before scouring, I was able to scour 19.5 pounds of fleece in 4 hours.  I have one fleece left to scour, an 8.5 pound black Corriedale fleece that I intend to scour a lock at a time using Fels-naptha soap.  Stay tuned for a blog post on that when I get it done.

Spinning

My birthday was the day that NBC broadcast the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, so my parents came over and we watched that while I spun.  I worked on the SassyBee polwarth batt I’ve been spinning for a bit.

It was an awesome birthday!

Post Script

My parents wanted to spend a day with me and told me to pick what I’d like to do and that would be their gift.  The Tuesday after my birthday, we played an awesome escape game at Escape Effect

We had fabulous Indian food at a restaurant in the same plaza, then we went next door to Escape Effect and took the museum tour at the Chocolate Museum and Cafe.

Yes, this Taj Mahal is made out of chocolate!

 

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Falcon Heavy: The Preparations

My husband is a space geek.  He’s old enough, just barely, to remember when we landed on the moon and he’s loved space ever since.  We are both sci-fi geeks and Chris especially loves shows about exploration.  He loves discovery and adventure.  Naturally, all of this means he particularly loves Elon Musk and Space X.

Tomorrow, February 6, Space X is scheduled to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time.  Falcon Heavy is a BFD.  The stats on it are impressive.  Rather than reciting them, I’m going to refer you to Space X’s website.  The important thing is that this is the first launch of a rocket that could be used to put humans back on the Moon or to land on Mars for the first time.  And we are going to be there.

Falcon 9 will be launching from Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A.  This pad has been the origin of more than 90 missions to space, including the Apollo 11 mission that put men on the moon and many space shuttle missions.  After the shuttle program was discontinued and before Space X leased the pad, you could take a tour inside the fenced perimeter.  Naturally, we took that tour.

Chris and I with Pad 39A in the background, circa September 2015.

 

Chris listening to our guide tell us the history of pads 39A and 39B.

 

Our feet, right on the line which we weren’t allowed to step past. The bricks are the same kind used in kilns because they have to withstand the heat of the rockets.

Tickets for the Falcon Heavy Launch went on sale while we were in New Jersey.  We bought tickets to be at the Saturn V center, located 3.9 miles from the launch pad.  This is the closest that members of the public can get.  The launch is scheduled for 1:30 pm and our pass tells us we must be there at least 5 hours before launch time.  It’s a 1.5 hour drive from here to Kennedy Space Center, so we are leaving the house at 6:00 am to make sure we are there in time!

So tonight, I packed a little bag and in the bag I put:

  • 5 pairs of binoculars
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Eye drops (for our contacts)
  • Lip Balm
  • My Sun Hat
  • Benadryl and AviQ.  I have an anaphylactic allergy to fire ants, so if I’m going to be outside in Florida, I always bring these.
  • The set of lenses and filters I have for my iPhone
  • A battery to charge our phones, if necessary
  • And a knitting project, naturally.  We’ve got to be there early and the launch window is 2.5 hours long, so there will be a lot of waiting around!

I’ll post more tomorrow evening!

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74 Days

I’ve mentioned previously that I listen to a lot of podcasts (e.g. last February’s post of my Top Twenty Podcasts).  I don’t know that I’ve ever actually quantified “a lot.” I am current — for varying definitions of current, as the rest of this post will discuss — on approximately 225 podcasts.  Current means I’ve […]

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Random Thoughts

On January 13, 2018 my mother-in-law passed away.  We got the call that morning and were on a flight that evening.  We spent the first week we were here assisting with funeral preparations, attending the services, and visiting with the many family and friends who were here for the services.  My mother-in-law was a wonderful person […]

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Pillowcases for Kids in the Hospital

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and that is ask readers of this blog to contribute money to a project.  The TL:DR is my mother, friends, and I have been sewing pillowcases for kids in the hospital.  We’re looking for help covering the costs of materials and shipping.  Our goal is 600 […]

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Emergency Knitting, Again

Over the last several years, I’ve spent a lot of time doing emergency knitting.  I’ve knit at the vet while one cat or another was having an emergency exam or procedure.  I’ve knit in hospital rooms, while visiting with a friend or family member.  I’ve knit at home or in the homes of family members, […]

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Problem Solving

In October 2016, I went to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival (SAFF) with several friends.  A subset of those who went are members of the monthly spinning group I attend.  We found a good deal on an unfinished Kromski Fantasia and split the cost so that we could have a spinning wheel to use for […]

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Scouring Fleece

Last week, I posted about inventorying my stash.  The post included two pictures showing all the raw fleece I have in my office.  In case you missed it, here’s those two pictures again.  The main pile, with all the full fleeces, has taken over one of my four-harness floor looms.   This bin consists of […]

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