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Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm Spinning Caramel ...

...but it's not what you think!  Sorry, no candy recipes today.

This is Caramel.  She is a Romney ewe living in Montana.

...and this is her fleece which she kindly shared with me.

And these are her locks.  I washed them carefully to preserve the lock structure and now I am spinning them, one at a time.

I used an expensive fiber processing tool (aka dog slicker brush) to flick open one end of the locks ...

... then flicked open the other end and spread out the fibers.

Then I rolled them up into little rolags ...

...lots of little rolags.  Here is one where you can still see the crimp in the fiber.

Today I am spinning the rolags on my Hansen MiniSpinner.  It is making a soft, bouncy yarn.

I will share more photos when the yarn is finished and in the dyeing stage ...


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fleece Washing ... Big Batch Version 2.0

I started a post a while back about fleece washing in big batches.  I never finished it because the skies darkened and the rain came down; not exactly fleece washing weather.  Yesterday I tried again with a new set of photos ... so of course it's pouring down rain today.  But I think I might have enough pictures to cobble together a post ...

This is the summer fleece washing set up ...
3 marine coolers
camp stove
water bath canners
garden hods
detergent (more about this later)
drying rack

I fill 2 canners with water and start the burners.  I use this same set up for canning later in the summer ...

This shows one of the garden hods packed with some Romney to maintain lock structure with tulle netting between the layers of locks.

I fill the first cooler with hot water (160-180 degrees) and add the first hod full of fleece.  Hot water only in the first bath (prewash).

You should see the lanolin start to melt right away.  This is a Shetland from Sycamore Farms ...

I leave the hod in the prewash for about 20 minutes while I heat another batch of water and pack another hod full of fiber.

This is the prewash water after one use.  This bath be used over and over again, just adding more hot water as the wash day progresses.

I fill the second cooler with hot water (160-180 degrees) and add some detergent (Dawn and/or Unicorn Power Scour).  I will discuss detergents in an upcoming post about washing specific types of fleeces.  I vary it depending on the type of fleece I am washing.

I start another batch of water heating, fill the last cooler (the rinse) with hot water only and pack up a couple of strainers (I only have 2 hods).  I add a drop lid to each pot to keep the fiber submerged (Otoshi buta (落し蓋, literally: drop-lid) are Japanese-style drop-lids for use in Japanese cooking. These round lids float on top of the liquid in a pot while simmering foods. They ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and reduce the tendency of liquid to boil with large bubbles. This reduces the mechanical stress on the food and keeps fragile ingredients in their original shape.)

From left to right ... rinse, wash and prewash.

This is the wash water after 2 uses. Most of the lanolin and a lot of the dirt is removed in the prewash so the wash water can be used several times.  When it gets too dirty (2-5 uses depending on the fleece) I empty the wash water and add detergent to what I have been using as the rinse water.  Then I refill the empty cooler with just hot water and it becomes the new rinse.  I save time, energy and water be reusing the water and keeping it hot in the coolers.

After rinsing the fiber goes onto a drying rack.

It was such a nice day that I moved the racks out to the dock (before you ask, the dogs are watching a salamander in the lake).  

That's about 20 pounds (3+ fleeces) in one day ...time for a glass of wine :)


Time Out For Rainbows

I'll get back to my "Color From Nature" Series soon.  I hope ... we had a week of nice weather so I moved my dyeing set up out to the deck overlooking the lake.  So of course we are back to monsoon season and I'm back in "late winter" mode ... sitting in my chair with my spinning wheel, watching the rain come down.  And every so often ...


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Color From Nature ... Alum and CoT Mordant

My dye extractions are ready!  Now to mix up a pot of mordant ...

I poured off my extracts into jars ...

There is still color left in the dyestuff.
Cover it with water and let it sit overnight again to extract more color...

About 100 grams of fiber.  I'm going to mordant with alum at 10% WOF and Cream of Tartar (CoT) at 5% WOF.  This is about the least amount of mordant I can use with logwood and still get a good colorfast dye.  The percentage in the pot will actually go up as I continue dyeing ... you will see why...

10 grams of Aluminum Sulfate (alum) + 5 grams CoT

Into the pot and stir to dissolve.

Soak the fiber in water that has a few drops of a mild detergent added for about 20 minutes.
This will allow the fiber to absorb the mordant evenly.

The fiber is added to the pot of mordant and brought to a simmer of medium heat.
Simmer for at least 1 hour.

Coming next: Time To Dye!