Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's All About the Wool

Here's a piece that I just finished yesterday afternoon. It's based on a project in a wonderful online course, Sumptuous Surfaces, that I took with Sharon B, author of the blog Pin Tangle, this past fall. We were charged with using monotones for this piece so that we could focus on texture and design. I chose to use several hes of brown, natural-colored wool, both felt and yarn, as well as some cotton chenille, cotton and rayon weaving yarns and three coconut shell buttons. My goal was to gradually build up the texture the center of the smallest circle.

I'm happy with this piece and will be hanging it in my home so I decided to use a blanket stitch to embroider it to a piece of felt, again from natural-colored wool. There's a pocket, created with blanket stitch, through which a dowel will be slipped. All the wool in this project was shorn from my sheep. I am many weeks late in finishing this project, but that's the speed at which I operate and that's why Sharon's online classes ( and those of a few others) work so well for me.

I had some unanticipated free time Friday afternoon, and had been notified by Jeremiah at Twist of Fate Spinnery in Portland CT that my latest batch of fiber had been carded and was ready to pick up. So I gathered up all the fleeces that I'd skirted and sorted for the next round and packed them into my back seat. When Bud saw that a road trip was in my plans he stationed himself by the door. Here we are, with bags of wonderful-smelling (really!) dirty wool and ready to go.

After washing my fleece in several rounds of very, very hot water in order to remove all traces of grease, the fiber is processed through their carder, below.

Here's Rick with some freshlly-carded fleece. They line tall buckets with long plastic bags and the roving from the carder settles neatly into the bag. I really like this arrangement because when I open the bag to prepare the roving for dyeing I can find the end easily and it feeds out without tangles or breaks. The bags also store well, either vertically or horizontally. They even leave a small piece of the roving hanging out of the bag before tying it shut. This enables me to evaluate the feel of a given bag of roving without actuallyl having to open the bag.

When I open a bag of roving I find the end and then pull roving out into a container until I have the weight that I need for a dye job. Then I usually skein the roving and secure it with ties so that I can manage it easily through the dyeing process. It really helps to have the roving feed out so smoothly without breaking!

I have not yet had any yarn spun at Twist of Fate but I probably will at some point. Here's Rick next to the spinning machine, in use.

Below Rick is skeining some freshly-spun yarn. To his right is the equipment that will wind yarn on cones if that's preferred.

Bud is cozied up to the thirteen or so bags of clean, soft fleece ready for my dyepot. Jeremiah and Rick also use special equipment to produce large sheets of needle-felted wool for me with the wool that's left after I sort out the best quality for roving. It's this felt that I use for my embroidery projects including the one above and my Stitchlets.

I think that's enough for today; I apologize for being so long-winded today!

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