Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Spinning Border Leicester Fleece

Border Leicester sheep are a long wool breed, with plenty of crimp in their fleece. These are skeins of the finished handspun yarn... lots of luster and very strong. Below is a series of the many steps needed to bring it to this state.

First ... all  vegetable matter such as hay, grass, small sticks and various other things that sheep may get into are picked out... then it is washed in hot soapy water after a good long soak..  that may happen several times to remove all the dirt.  It all depends how much lanolin you want to have remain in the fleece when you are done as to how hot the water should be. I do use quite hot water but I don't mind some lanolin left , as it helps the wool spin easier, I find.

here shows the pile of dry fleece and a lofty cloud of teased fleece ready to be carded. Teasing makes it easier to go through the drum carder. and since I had so much fleece I decided not to use the hand cards this time.

This shows teased wool going into the carder, some already on the drum and finished batts to the right.

the batts were mounting up... I usually put my carded batts through the drum carder 2-3 times... it lines up the fibres even more nicely and the wool draws out smoother when spinning

the cloth bag sitting on the floor is the teased fluffy fleece ready to go  into the carder

It started to feel like a woolen mill in my small studio

more was stacked in my sewing room... these have all been carded twice.

I pulled the batts apart lengthwise and drafted them into long thin rolls to make the spinning go smoother.. and decided to spin them semi-worsted 

finally...  spinning in progress... yay.. this is what I've been waiting for!!!!!
This is an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel made in New Zealand... it has 3 spinning ratios to accommodate spinning fine, medium and thick yarn

much spinning and many bobbins are filled up

When it was nice I just picked up my wheel and fleece and sat out on the back deck to spin.. loved spinning outside with the birds singing and the dogs sniffing for things and John working away over  to the end of the deck building the woodshed. 

felt so happy to have filled all these up

This was the last bobbin I filled before I had to start plying the wool... this is single ply. You can see the 3 different size ratios on the flyer just to the left hand side.. I'm spinning on the middle one.

The single ply bobbins are held on the Lazy Kate with a little rod. I will be making 2-ply yarn so only need 2 bobbins on the Kate.

First full bobbin of 2-ply yarn ... Yay...
if you look close you can see two plys twisting around each other

Here are a few all skeined up... bobbins are empty now

 Then the skeins are washed in hot soapy water again. 

 Then rinsed... remember to rinse in the same temperature water so as not to felt your wool.
... the skeins were then placed into the washing machine on "spin only" cycle, to spin them out as dry as possible. 

Since this was now a colder day in November by the time I did the washing of the skeins,  I hung them on 2 broom sticks between 2 chairs in the same room as the woodstove... it dries pretty quickly but I let it hang there for a couple days as I did not want to put it away damp. It was a pleasure to look at it and realize all the steps it took to go from raw fleece to finished yarn. I believe there was about 25 skeins there... each one was a little over 2 oz. 

I just Love it!!!

All Finished...

Now to knit some socks... and possibly a sweater!!

This is how I enjoy winter!


^.^ said...

Hello from one Winter Land to another, friend Gwen ... smiles ... Nice to have you back in here ... I so love go wandering through your blog ... The wool you spun is so beautiful ... and, yes I would order some socks or even a sweater ... smiles ... I had 3 sheep once when the kids where little ... one was white face and the other two had black faces ... their names were Minnie, Molly and Mona ... anyway ... I will always cherish your earrings as well ... cat and girl ... sun and moon ... musical notes ... boy and girl ... I even kept your postal envelopes cuz of your art work on them ... smiles ... Wishing a very happy Winter, friend ... Love, cat.

Gwen Buchanan said...

You are simply adorable Cat!! ... and love the names of your little sheepies... sweet.. I used to have a tiny dog named Mona. I had sheep and angora goats when my children were young, and that was so fun. although carrying water in the winter wasn't.. ha . The winter is in its deep sleep.. sometimes melting with rain then filled back up with ice and snow.. I love summer but the closed in nature of winter does let me indulge in handwork that I love. take care xo

Guillaume said...

For a moment I thought you were posting about Leicester cheese. great pictures and I love an old spinning wheel.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Guillaume, now I have a craving for Leicester Cheese!!!

WILDSIDE said...

Gwen, so happy you updated. Wasn/\'t sure you would, but kept checking back of late. A hypocrite because I'm not currently truly blogging, but loved to hear your update! I am so excited for your opportunity for creative sabbatical!

Many years ago I borrowed a spinning wheel for hom & spun some shorn wool gifted to me & had a great time. Always had hoped to get back to that yarn making (& get some sheep!) but not to be. As yet.

So... I hope you are enjoying it all.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Wildside, It has been a busy month and very cozy. Loving being back at spinning.. I really hope to have a quilt in the frames soon as I have several quilt tops made up from the last few years but not quilted. was waiting for the right time.. seems it is here.

So cool that you are a spinner too. Recently I have been gifted with some Alpaca fleece.. oh my is that ever nice to work with... plan to knit a pair of mitts for John... said his hands were freezing in his gloves when clearing the driveway and we can't have that.

Perhaps you will get a hold of some roving or mixed fleece and find a spinning wheel and get back at some spinning.. it is very meditative and it just feels plain good to do. Love it. Hope all is well with you. xo

BumbleVee said...

oh, wow....what a ton of work Gwen! And, I've heard it is kinda stinky washing the wool the first time but, it all looks so beautiful and white even at the beginning.... and, then...so fluffy and cloud like .... amazing..... how pretty it is.

LaceLady said...

I've been checking quite often to see if you were blogging again, and wow, are you ever off to an exciting start, full of passion and "je ne sais quoi"! I love every bit of this "fiber to yarn" saga, and your fabulous photographs!

I'm ever so curious what you will be doing with this beautiful yarn...and even more curious to see what fiber-y goodness is next!


Gwen Buchanan said...

oh Hi Vee, so good to hear from you... I love it , one of my favourite things.. seems so long ago now, when I used to have my own sheep and angora goats. that was sweet having them.. they need care tho and a place to live but I'll let someone else do that now and just work on fleece.

Hi LaceLady, I have been working with the plyed yarn and doing some socks... a very long time since I did that and had to learn all over again. Do you spin, or work with fiber .. do you have a website or FB page? as I could not see a profile when I looked you up. Where are you from? I'd love to know

Sharmon Davidson said...

Gwen, this is SO impressive! I can't believe you spun all that yarn! Please tell me you didn't raise and shear the sheep yourself, too?

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Sharmon, I dearly wish I still had my Sheep and Angora goats but don't have them anymore.. This is fleece I had stored for quite some time and now finally have time to give to spinning again.. Loving it!