Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Years Resolutions

I made two lots of resolutions this year - life resolutions, and fibre resolutions.
In the life resolution category, I resolved to make a budget, and stick to it, so I can get out of debt and start saving. So far, that is going very well.
In the fibre resolution category, I made a couple of resolutions:
1. Learn to wash and prep fleece - As you see in the previous post, I've started already! I've done one fleece, and I have another (a Corriedale) to do. This resolution was partly driven by the fact that I have about 5 fleeces coming to me from my cousin’s sheep (Merino and Texel) that I need to make room for.
2. Reduce The Stash - This means No Buying Of Yarn Or Fibre. None. This kind of works in with my life resolution because I am very bad at the impulse buying of fibrey goodness. Etsy, in particular, has been my downfall on many occasions. I am, however, granting myself an exception to the stash diet for the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show in July, but only to the limit of what I can save in cash till then. No credit cards!
My last fibrey purchase was 5 braids of roving from Stitches and Rows on the 19th December. Nearly a month, and no purchases! I give myself a pat on the back for that. I got a fibre fix in the mail today though - a gorgeous WC Mercantile merino, silk and sparkle batt which I won over at Phat Fiber. Free fibre - woo-hoo! It is so wonderfully soft, and the blue sparkles set off the browns perfectly - like the shimmer in the scales of a trout.

Pretty, no? And it was very nice to come home after a humid, sweaty afternoon in the dairy to something so beautiful.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fleecey goodness

I overdid it with the Christmas knitting this year (again), so at the moment I am having a small holiday from knitting/spinning/crocheting to rest my wrist and forearm. Which perhaps accounts for the rather cranky and maudlin last few posts. The people around me know I am a much calmer and nicer person when I can knit.
But I couldn't abandon the fibrey world completely, so I have made a start on washing some fleeces that I had in my yarn room. The first was a mystery fleece, gifted by a friend who discovered the sheepy smell of raw fleece made her extremely nauseous. It is coloured a mid brown, with the tips bleached to a dark gold. So after some googling I ventured into the world of fleece washing.
Here's a play by play on how I did it
  • I spread the fleece out on the kitchen table and went through it, pulling out as much VM (vegetable matter) as I could, as well as feathers and beetles and poo. I have to say, my opinion of sheep's cleanliness went down a lot. I present this photo of the dregs at the bottom of the first wash bath as Exhibit A:
  • Then I put 20 litres of hot, hot water in a plastic tub (later I used the kitchen sink, because it was easier than lifting the tub up and down), and added about half a cup of dishwashing detergent and swirled it around with a mixing spoon so it mixed with the water but didn't froth at all.
  • Then I put some fleece in a net bag and put it in the water. I pushed it under the water, but resisted the urge to swish it around, so I didn't felt it. I let it sit there for 15 minutes, then lifted out the bag and let it drain a little while I refilled. I made up another lot of hot water and detergent, and put the fleece in for another 15 minutes.
  • I repeated this process 2 more times with no soap. So, two washes, then two rinses. It was very hard to resist the urge to fiddle around with it, so I had to go and do other things and set a timer to tell me when to go back to it.
  • When the final rinse was done, I let the bag drain for about 30-45 minutes, then took the fleece out to my enclosed front verandah, where I had a very high-tech drying rack set up (an old screen door resting between an old washing machine and the edge of a table). I spread the fleece out as much as I could without breaking up the locks too much, and left the hot weather to do its thing. It took a few days to dry, which I was surprised about. I thought it would take maybe a day at the most, but it took the better part of three.
So now I have a large quantity of clean fleece, just waiting to be prepped ready to spin. After consulting the spinning goddesses over at LSG (Lazy, Stupid and Godless) on Ravelry, I started combing the fleece with my mini combs I got from Petlyn Fibre products at Bendigo '09.

Mostly I decided to comb the fleece because I had the combs already, but it was also pointed out to me that the kind of yarn, and even the knitted item that I wanted it to be, determined the way I would prepare the fleece. It is the first time I have felt that flow between all parts of the fleece's journey, and felt that I was in control of all the choices that could be made. It was a new feeling, but I like it!

Before:After:It is very slow going though. These mini combs are good, but I am imagining how much faster I would get through the fleece if I had some decent size ones. Unfortunately, these are well beyond the budget right now, so I'll just have to go with the mini ones.

Good news on the craft room front! My uncle, who will be doing the building, gave everything the once-over, and gave me a price, which I've started saving towards. I'll try to do a rough drawing soon to show you what will be happening. (EDIT: See my dodgy efforts below. You should be able to click on it and then zoom in to get a closer look) I'm very excited to have discovered that all the floorboards are Redgum! I can't wait for the work to begin. Depending on my uncle's other work, it may be as soon as Spring.
So much to look forward to this year.

All I had

When all I had
Was you and I
I cooked your food
I washed your clothes
I cried when you went away

Though you weren't here to know it

I filled my life
With you and my
Dreams became all you
I sewed my mouth
And bit my tongue
And mile by mile myself fell behind

But in that loss
I lost you too
The lies grew from the cracks in the road

One day you were mine
The next, hers
And the hills caved in around me

I don't wish you back - I've passed that by
I've gone back along the road
And I found I was just where I'd left me