Archive for October, 2013

As well as battling with my ouessant fleece, I’ve been working on some other craft projects.  I just got my craft corner set up properly in the bedroom, so have been making the most of having a decent workstation to do everything in.  First up, my most recent finished project – a quick rainbow merino skein.

DSCN1208I was gifted a lovely sample pack of merino fibre in a whole rainbow of colours.  I think the pack was meant for felters – certainly there wasn’t enough of any one colour to make anything with – but since I haven’t yet taken up felting, I decided to find other uses for it!  The resulting skein is a single, spun from the fold, not predrafted, and worked out somewhere between a lace-weight and a light fingering.

IMG_5821I’m hoping the skein will be enough to make something like a lace cowl with, and am debating gifting it to my SIL, who also knits and who could probably make better use of something this gorgeous than me!  My cats are less impressed with it, but that might just be because I posed it on them while they were trying to sleep so I could take cute pictures.

DSCN1116I’m also around 90% done with another gift for my SIL.  Her daughters have outgrown their adorable old school uniform of purple and white jumpers and purple gingham dresses, and she asked me to make them each a keepsake poppet using the leftovers.  The poppets are done (not pictured, the above poppet’s nose), and I’m just now working on patchwork quilts for the poppets to be put to bed in at night.

DSCN1114The girls each got to choose the pattern they wanted me to use for their poppets, and I’ve endeavoured to fit the school logo onto each poppet somewhere.  These were really fun and satisfying to make – so much so that I’m debating starting up a business making them to order.

DSCN1197Another WIP I’m enjoying a lot is these little Yule decorations I’m working on.  The first lot I’m doing are little hanging Santa/Tomte in felt.  The little dude just above is the prototype, just made up plain so I could make sure the shape and appearance works with what I had planned.  Below you can see the first batch in progress.  I do need to streamline my technique so I can make them a bit faster than this, though.

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Phew!

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At long last, they’re here.  Four bags containing two lovely fleeces shown from a couple of ouessant sheep.  They’ve been stored in bags a few months, and appear to have been pulled apart somewhat before being stuffed in the bags, so they aren’t in as good a condition as they could be – the lanolin has turned sticky with age, which means I can’t spin in the grease, and some parts are matted.  I still expect to get a goodly amount of usable fibre from them, of course.  I just need to give them a gentle washing and combing first.

DSCN1157I’ve been pulling out some of the nicest-looking locks.  Would’ve loved to spin these in the grease, but the lanolin is far too old and sticky for that now, so I need to scour them and then obtain some hand-carders to fluff them up with.  Ouessant sheep are a small breed – they typically reach no higher than your knee – and have a primitive fleece, which means it contains a mixture of all the different fibre types sheep are bred for in varying amounts.  In contrast, merino sheep have fleece that is almost all the short, fluffy undercoat, for example.  The primitive fleece makes for a challenging spin even with a fresh fleece that was rolled and stored properly, so I’ve got quite a challenge for my first raw fleece project!

DSCN1153The bulk of the fleece looks like this – grassy, matted and in need of some TLC.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out with proper care.  I definitely can’t do anything with this until I get some carders.  Those things run at ridiculous prices though, so I might try a cheat – I’ve heard you can card with a pair of large paddle dog brushes.  I’ll get a couple as soon as I can and give it a try.

DSCN1175As I said, not suitable for spinning in the grease, but I had to attempt it with a few locks just to see what the fibre looks like spun.  It’s rather pretty I think, and I plan to overdye some of it to see what colours come out of that beautiful natural black fleece.  Even sticky with lanolin, grass and farm muck, the fibres are really quite nice to work with.  They are rather brittle though, which is a worry.  I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I suspect this will need to be spun to no less than worsted weight.