Thursday, November 19, 2009

Newly spun wool

The process of taking raw fleece and ending with a wearable item is fascinating. Alpaca fiber is a wonderful soft and luxurious medium to work with. And the end result is a warm hat or pair of cozy socks. I am limited in what I can knit (4 toothpick needles for knitting socks is terrifying to me!).
I am not sure what I will make with the spun yarn in the picture above. My spinning still lacks uniformity. Actually I prefer it this way but not sure a customer would.

For now I will continue to spin and work on my technique.

(BTW I apologize for my photography..Sam did not take this photo..obviously).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wool Preparation

Today I spent washing second cut wool in ivory soap and rinsing it 3x in warm water. Then I laid it out on a screen to dry in the tack room. I think it would nice to dye White Lace's fiber in blue or red. I also set up the wool carder on the kitchen table to experiment with making batts. I have been watching You Tube videos on drum carding and reading lots of articles on the topic. The videos make the whole process seem quite easy. So of course when I try on my own it is a mess. There are two wheels on my Louet drum carder. The first one is called the Licker wheel and takes up the fiber and, in theory, puts it onto the larger wheel. Well that is not exactly what happened. I tried several different tactics to get the fleece to cooperate. For example I teased the fiber out more before loading it. I used less fiber, or turned the wheel slower. Nothing worked. The fiber just kept working its way onto the licker wheel. I searched the internet and could not find any help. I even called the local yarn/knitting stores to no avail. Hum. I watched the 2 of the videos again to see if I was adding to much fiber in the initial feeding. No. Grr.
On a brighter note, the amount of fiber that did make it to large wheel I deftly pulled through a homemade diz and created my first bit of roving! YeeHa. The diz is in the picture with the roving. I made it from a calcium supplement lid. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009


Successful spinning takes a lot of practice and a lot more patience. I started spinning last fall by taking a course at a local yarn store with the determination to spin my alpaca roving into beautiful and perfectly uniform yarn. Ha! It is not an easy task to accomplish and I decided I did not even prefer this type of yarn. I love bulky, chunky, slubby fiber which I can knit fun and unique hats. The problem is that once the spinner has perfected fine fiber, it is difficult to create slubs. Therefore I have decided not to strive for flawless yarn. The brown hat is made from my first skein of fiber. I attached a felted alpaca ball on top. The white and dark brown are alpaca. The main part of the hat is made from sheep wool. There is not much twist to this fiber and it is quite slubby. The blue/black/gray hat is fiber from our alpaca Nightengale. The blue is dyed sheep wool. I love the feel of this roving as I spin it. It is quite soft and the wool gives some elasticity to the yarn. The stitches of the knitting slant slightly to the right because I have too much twist in the yarn. I like it and prefer its imperfections. I am still working on synchronizing my foot pedal and drawing the fiber out.
It would be nice if I had more time to practice...maybe when it snows three feet and it is too cold to be outside.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Expo

Yesterday Via Verde Farm was one of 50 booths at the Women's Expo at Forest Hills Eastern. It was great fun and quite a bit of work. We sold socks, hand knitted hats, and roving. I have posted a few photos of the booth and items that I knitted out of cria fiber and hand dyed wool fiber. The blue variegated hat is from cria fiber and the pink and brown cap is sheep's wool dyed in poke berry and walnut husks. I really like this hat. I shared the booth with Catherine who brought her beautiful murano glass beads. She has created elegant, colorful and stylish necklaces and bracelets.
She brought me mid day a chai which was much needed and appreciated!

Noah created a new business and has named it "Generation N" jewelry by Noah Attal. He received many raves for his earrings and bracelets. Several of his friends purchased items. See the photo of his creations above.
Overall we did fairly well although attendance was down by at least half probably due to the gorgeous weather outside. I don't have enough stock to attend another fair at this time but perhaps I can work on some items for the spring. I have several new ideas to add to the business and will post the pictures when I get some products made.