Fiber Arts & Furry Critters

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Today is my birthday! Actually, I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure I want any more... My present this year was the retreat, which I enjoyed immensely. The kids had a few small gifts for me when I woke up this morning, too.

More on the retreat...

Claudia did a wonderful job with the scheduling, so it didn't feel like the classes were taking up all the time. We had 3 hours Friday afternoon, two 3-hour sessions on Saturday (with a 3-hour break in between, so I had some time to spend with family) and 3 hours on Sunday. On Friday we covered fiber prep - carding, combing (which I'm not so good at), washing fleece, picking, flicking, etc. Very interesting. I have all that stuff, and usually default to using my drum carder. I have (relatively) recently-acquired Valkyrie 2-pitch combs that I hadn't used until then, and Indigo Hound 5-pitch combs that I haven't used at all. They looked so easy when the person demo-ed them at Maryland Sheep and Wool festival a few years back! Now, with the refresher, I may need to try to use these more often.

Saturday we spun singles. Lots of discussion on getting the size you want, and interesting information on wheel tension and counting treadles. I managed to make a much fatter single than is usual for me, as well as some actual thick-and-thin beginner-looking yarn! Claudia said the goal was for us to work outside our "comfort zone", and I managed that quite well. Nice to know I can do it, and some decade I may want to go for the COE in Handspinning.

We also discussed all the properties of the different kinds of fibers, and "engineered" our own sock yarn. Claudia was extremely generous with her fiber samples. My sock yarn consists of about 80% black superwash wool, with a little each of alpaca (for softness), mohair and silk (for strength). Here it is so far:

Sunday we covered plying, as well as a variety of other topics. All in all a very interesting weekend, and I feel like I learned a lot.

My current project (besides the sock yarn) involved rounding up all the small bits of fiber hanging around (mostly wool, but also a little angora, silk, etc) and blending it all together. This stuff came from class samples, fiber from trades and small orders, the samples you get with a drop spindle in the mail, etc. Most of the natural wool was white; there was a small amount of brown and gray. Most of the dyed wools were in pink, purple or burgundy shades. I did take out a few things that I knew wouldn't work (silk caps, some green fiber) and didn't include other stuff (the yak fiber that came with a spindle and wants to be laceweight, for example) and am drum carding the whole lot. I was tired of coming across bits and pieces that weren't enough for a significant project. This will net me several pounds, and should be pretty nice, altho with the amount of stuff I'm blending it will have to go through the drum carder 4-6 times to be completely blended. That will take a few days at least.


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