Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Brother's sweater

I finally got a picture of the sweater I made for my brother.

The roving is a merino-romney/rambouillet-finn mix that comes from a hogget fleece. I bought the roving from Linda Jacobs at Jacobs Art last year. It is really soft. My brother hates cables (actually, I don't know of any guy who likes them) and I refused to make him a plain sweater. So the above was the compromise; a textured sweater. It's basically a simple combination of purl and knit stitches. I got the pattern from my friend Matt's mom after I saw him wearing the sweater she made for him. I will try to post the actual pattern reference soon. I did change a bunch of things about it though since I wanted the sweater to fit perfectly and my brother likes raglan-cut sleeves.

And as a bonus, my brother also sent me some pictures of my cats! So here they are. I formally introduce you to

Cayman, who's been in a couple of pictures here already. He's a real big cat whose lean weight is 18 lbs. But let's not talk about his weight right now, we're working on his diet. He's very aggressive (but still very affectionate) and loves water. We think he's part wild cat.

And this is our Spooky. He is the youngest and smallest one (though still a normal sized cat, he just looks small when he stands next to Cayman). He's very sweet and always says hi with a big kiss. He's very shy though, so you'll probably not see him in many pictures.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Moorit merino fleece

Yesterday we went to the Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival despite (again) the bad weather forecast. But lo, not a drop of rain fell on us or our fleece. I think the festival was well attended and there were lots of kids. The angora rabbit booth was a hit with the children who got to hold them for as long as they wanted to. And there were lots and lots of sheep to pet and watch. The 4-H kids did an awesome job shearing their sheep--some looked like perfect peach fuzz!

I scouted the entire festival for a good fleece and indeed I found one very early on during my search. This is a beautiful moorit merino fleece. Not even the prize winning fleeces at the festival come close to this one. I am quite enamored of it. Here are two pictures: one of the rolled up fleece and the other of a bird's eye view of the fleece:

that's Cayman up there, one of my two cats. He loves sheepy smells!

The fleece comes from Foxhill Farm in Lee, MA. They told me that their fleeces won 7 prizes at the Maryland S&W Festival, including (I think) the grand champion ribbon. They also have a lot of very nice cormo rovings and yarn, which I had to stop myself from buying since the fleece was very expensive.

Anyway, back to the pretty moorit merino fleece. It is super soft and very crimpy. I tried to take photos of it, but because it was night time, I don't think the pictures do the fleece justice. But here goes:

and here's a close up picture of some of the locks:

As I always do, I immediately washed a few ounces of it once I got home. And today, I combed about 30 grams for spinning a sample skein.

I am thinking I'll probably spin this lace-weight since the wool is so crimpy and then make a lacy shawl. We'll see what happens. I keep day dreaming about what to do with it.

Speaking of lace-weight yarn, the reason I haven't spun up a sample skein of this wool yet is this:

a 70:30 merino:silk combo. I love this merino wool too (though not at much as the one above). It is custard moorit color, which once I washed matched really well with tussah silk, so I combed the two together and now I am staring at a shimmery creamy yarn. This will most definitely become a lacy scarf, especially since I only combed enough for that. I ordered a fast bobbin and whorl too, so hopefully once I get it, I won't take so long to spin this stuff.

Hope yall have a good long weekend!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jacob fleece

As I mentioned in yesterday's posting, I got a fleece at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. The whole event was a little sad since the weather was harsh and very few people showed up. It was especially sad when I looked at the vendors' license plates and saw that folks came all the way from Michigan, Missouri, etc. Knowing how the profit margin in the sheep & wool business is so slim, these events really count if they are successful and really hurt if they're not.

I did my little share of shopping however. I bought a soft and crimpy Jacob fleece. It's about 65% white and 35% black.

Since the weather was so cold and wet that day, I really could not feel the fleece too well in my fingers. And even though the nice sheep lady offered to unroll it for me, I cringed at the thought of a nice clean (almost no VM) fleece touching muddy wet ground. So I just poked around in the bag in which it sat and tugged a few staples to check for any weakness. The fiber seemed good. So I bought it. It was only a couple of pounds anyway.

When I got home I immediately washed a few ounces of it (yes, ounces, since we moved to Cambridge we had to sell our nice washing machine and now I have only a big sink to work with... if any of you have tried washing wool in a portable washing machine--i.e. those that hook up to the sink faucet--please let me know how that worked out, I'm thinking about buying one).

I did notice that there were bits of stubby kempy hair, not too much, just sporadic clumps here and there. Anyway, here are some photos of the processed fiber. I apologize for the poor picture quality, but alas, the lighting and camera need tweaking and there's no time for that right now.

The staple length was very short for combing, but I really don't enjoy handcarding that much, so I combed the 2.5" staples, which is very annoying too, btw, but at least it goes faster.

Jacob wool is very interesting because the spun up yarn always fulls nicely and becomes stretchy and squishy, but still holds its shape well. Jacob is not next-to-skin soft, but I think it would make a great outdoor cabled sweater. Since there's only a couple of pounds of it, I'll probably make something for a little person--hmm... who could that be?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The big move is done!

So my husband and I relocated from one little town in Connecticut to one busy city in Massachusetts. I'm now trying to get used to loud traffic noises in the morning while at the same time enjoying the benefits of city life. Basically, I can now walk to the grocery store, to the vet, and to the train station as opposed to having to drive to all of those places.

I've also been working very hard on my thesis, which is actually the reason why nothing has been posted here for over a month. But two weekends ago I did go to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, despite all the flood warnings and got a fleece. So tomorrow I'll post a few pictures of the before and after processing of it.

Oh, BTW, I did finish a sweater for my brother (made of homespun) during this absence period, of which I unfortunately took no photos, hoping instead, that my brother, the photographer, would to take some nice pictures of it for me. Well, time has gone by and no pictures yet... so another thing I'll do is bug him about that.

Sorry for so much writing and no pictures for today... I promise that tomorrow's posting will be better!