Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Spinning of Romney

Back in the middle of March, I found a Private Message [in Facebook] from Pam Blasko [of Dream Come True Farm] , inviting me to be among several Fiber Artists to participate in the spinning of the some Romney fleece. This is the first round of hers and Virginia Scholomiti's [of The Yellowfarm]  new Breed Exploration series at Shepherds Talk. The intent of this study is,

"to work to keep the integrity and character of newly sheared fiber, with little or no processing."

Pam asked that we spin some Romney for them raw. She sent us 2 ounces, to be spun however we felt so inspired. 2 Ply, Art Yarn, Traditional, etc., Pictured to the left, are my three yarns--all spun in the grease.
Spinning Romney in the Raw
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Up to now, I have never spun a yarn from raw fleece; in the grease.  Even when I first learned to spin; back in the late 70s--early 80s.  So--- while I was somewhat apprehensive, but--- always one who enjoys learning new things, I accepted the challenge.
As I pulled the Romney fleece from the bag, I all but buried my face to take in the smell. Later, I spread it out on my worktable, and simply LOOKED at it for a few days; thinking.  Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

First, I needed to determine which spindle I would use. Ultimately, I chose my Little Meggie Kick Spindle [from Heavenly Handspinning]. I then needed to decide how I would spin my yarn. While I had not initially thought to spin three different yarns, I figured [seeing as how it was my first time] I would spin something more traditional.  With that decision though, came the idea to work with a pre-beaded technique. Something else I had never tried.
As I flick carded the 5-5 1/2 inch Romney locks, prepping small bits of the fiber with beads [via a crochet hook], a few questions came to mind. That there was little to no VM, I wondered if this had come from a coated Romney sheep. Do shepherds ever coat Romney sheep? Or--- is this practice saved solely for the more pricy fleeces such as Teeswater and Wensleydales? And IF so, since a coated fleece doesn't have to work as hard protecting itself against the elements, does a coated fleece produce less grease?

Special Note: Only after I shared my experience with Pam and Virginia,
did I see the Romney Promo video on their Facebook and Home pages
which answered my "Coated" questions.

I do love the feel of the lanolin on my hands.  In addition, it took a good yard or so of spinning before I got the feel for how I would spin my yarn(s).  I cannot claim that my first single was the most perfect I have ever spun.  Not only did I have the challenge of never having spun a raw fleece, I was playing with a beading technique [a different video option] that I might have better learned with a washed fiber.
I then hesitated--- thinking that winding this single into my usual center pull ball [how I've chosen to do most of my plying of late], that being both greasy, and filled of beads, it might not be my best choice. But--- I did not have the time to spin another single. [With health issues, I generally spin on a smaller scale; taking many breaks.] So--- into a ball it went.

What I will NOT do the next time? My plying spindle of choice, of late, has been my Navajo Spindle.  While I discovered I had no real issues with either the beads or the grease as I pulled and unwrapped from the ball, I do not believe I will opt to use this particular spindle for future raw fleece, as the greasy yarn--rubbing along the side of my pant leg--caught at times; slowing down my overall spin.

Approximately 25 yards
The second single [not quite a lace weight] I spun straight up traditional; though many might not see spinning from a kick spindle--- from a tabletop [to boot!]--- as being traditional.  But, I found the spinning of this single very meditative. This was a much smoother spin. And, I learned even more so with this single, that sweaty hands and lanolin do not seem to go together rather well. So--- there was a lot of hand washing.  But, after I got that single wound, into another center pull ball, it was time for more plying.

From the get-go, this yarn was destined for plying on the kick spindle. Especially since, I had intended to do a simple tweed effect.  However--- what I ended up doing was more of a series of little cocoons; done with pinches of Soffsilk.  Either way--- I LOVE it.  The tweed will just have to wait for another day. (~:
Approximately 35 yards
There was still a bit--not quite a third of the 2 ounces left--what needed something to do. I looked at what was left over for another day or so. I had already flick carded all those bits that looked like crinkle fries, so--- hand picking it into a cloud seemed the logical next step to me. And no. I do not own a real picker.

This was going to be my fun yarn; my hopeful Art Yarn. I both flick and hand carded the fiber, to remove what little VM still remained, and then I handpicked the fiber into a cloud. There was a LOT of picking going on. Once that was completed, I chose a coreless spinning method that I learned from watching Natalie Reading [via her old Livestream videos], and then I corespun my single. I chose a copper metallic thread with which to ply, and--- Voila!

While I am not happy with certain sections of my plying--- that being--- having done so much spinning in such a relatively short period of time, my fingers were not working as well as when I first started, and I was finding it difficult to maintain my usual hold.
Approximately 15 yards
Would I spin raw fiber again? From never having done so--- to feeling a tad apprehensive--- to---  Oh, yes! Most definitely.  Though, I do admit to wanting to spin a washed Romney, now, simply to experience and appreciate the difference. I also believe that if I have another chance to spin in the grease, I would like to pull out my wheel, and do a wheel-spun yarn for a change.
Thank you so much, Pam and Virginia [of Shepherds Talk], for your gracious invitation. This was such a fun opportunity, and truly a pleasure. Blessings~

Now--- as for what I might do with these yarns?  While I will definitely save the Art Yarn for Weaving, I would very much like to knit a Hat Band for my old felt Winter Hat. I'll update this post, when I get it finished. In the meantime---
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Bye for now, and Blessings~
And Happy Weaving!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ginning Cotton by Hand

The following image, from the following site, found amid whatever search result at the time, several years ago, is what spurred my interest in this method. And how fortunate I feel, to have been able to find an actual video on YouTube; during my last years of searching out different methods of ginning cotton by hand. And, as promised, here is my follow up post.
As I stated, recently, in My Study of Cotton post, I would love to own a Asian Hand Crank Cotton Gin; but--- I simply don't see being able to purchase one while living on such a restrained budget.  But, THIS I am able to accomplish.  THIS I am able to find suitable substitutes from among my household and/or humble studio possessions. And, so I did.
Once you get things prepped and ready, it really goes rather quickly. 
A Little of This-n-That
Special Note: Click on any photo for a Slide Show
Lest we forget--- Not everyone World-wide uses Hand Carders or Flicker Brushes.  While Teasel was used to full woven fabrics--of natural fibers, I will definitely be on the search for some this Fall, to experiment with my own cotton preparation. I'm thinking of using maybe just two or three teasel heads to make a small brush.

As I was looking for examples of Teasel Brushes [you are welcome to visit my Fiber Preparation Board--where I have pinned several examples], I could not help but ponder whether or not the old iconic Fuller Brush has anything to do with Fulling Brushes. Especially since the tradespeople--way back when--were known as Fullers. While I have found no connection between Teasel carders/brushes and the Fuller Brush Company, one could admit it is a very striking coincidence. Don't you think?
National Trust Inventory No. 117317.14
Fuller Co. Kitchen Brush

Wha-a-at for it----- (~:

And, thank you Sheldon and Penny, for that whimsical Newton Analogy. (~:
Imagine, however, using the dried jaw bone of a freshwater fish to card fibers as they do, to this day, in Ponduru in the district of Srikakulam.
"the dried jawbones are cut into serviceable sized pieces and anchored to a stick with string. These tools can be used daily for almost a year and a half before they have to be replaced." 
Textile Tour of India

This all said, here I am--- armed with my trusty Flicker Brush. (~: And, until I can find and harvest some of my own teasel, it will remain so. Though, if you are working with freshly picked Bolls--the fibers are nowhere near as compacted as that which has been baled or compressed for storage and/or shipping--you can loosen the fiber easily enough with your fingers.

Special Note: Think also of using any small slicker brush from any Pets Department .

The smaller individual bolls that I worked with--the Wild Uplands Cotton from Florida [Thank you ever so much, Amy Matilda]--have 4 to 5 seeds hidden away.  The cotton bolls fully-intact, still-on-the-stem, that I purchased from Cotton Clouds, have anywhere from 6 to 8 seeds.  Pictured to the right is one section of the Cotton Clouds boll opened up.

While I did luck upon the following YouTube video [while doing some research for my recent Study of Cotton blog post], I wouldn't necessarily call it a new method; as evidenced from above.  Tough--- it is an excellent visual; and, the perfect use for those liddy biddy Flicker Brushes.

Let's Play!

It really is nothing more than a quick, somewhat jerky, rolling back-n-forth motion. Think--- rolling out pie crust. 
You need a surface with a little bit of grab to it. Maybe one day I'll find the right brick paver or block of wood. I actually tried it on just the placemat itself; but--- there wasn't enough friction, or enough texture to the fabric--- the right 'grab' to make it work. I use this ceramic tile to set my iron on to protect my worktable.
And--- I didn't have anything around here that even remotely resembled that steel pin. But--- at one point, I eventually gave thought to using one of the dowel pegs from my old Warping Board. You remember? The one I used to display my Holiday Long Locks?  
A few of the pegs have been loose for YEARS, and I had already pulled one free [sanded it down and polished it up] to use as a Nostepinne; for the last couple of years. Maybe one day I haves me a prettier one! (~: But, for now--- I pulled another loose peg, and--- Voila!  It works just fine!
Once I had all the elements--albeit reasonable substitutions--I was ready to roll.
Oh, and one more thing--- while that ceramic tile has a piece of felt glued to the bottom side, I cut a square of rubber shelf liner to help keep everything from slipping, because there is a certain amount of force being exerted in this process.  Which is why--with my back issues--I can do only small batches at a time.
As I alluded to, it is pretty much like rolling out pastry dough.  And, once you get yourself prepped and ready to go, you will have little piles of fluff and seeds in no time.
Let's Get Started
To get the idea, start with the dowel in between the sets of seeds. 
Roll gently, but, firmly.
You can both hear and feel the fiber tearing away from the seeds.
Once those seeds are free, turn the fiber around and roll out the remaining seeds.
It actually cleans off the fiber rather well.
Just loosely prep the fibers away from the seeds; exposing the pointy tips.
And then roll.
I use the palms of my hands.
Just Prep and Roll.
You will be able to determine your own feel for how to do it soon enough.
I found that I could work both sides. Meaning--- I roll forward to work the seeds to the front of the roller, and then roll in reverse, to work the seeds on the back side of the roller.
Just roll, roll, roll forward, and then roll, roll, roll backwards.
Roll, roll, roll forward, and then roll, roll, roll back--- until you have the seeds worked free.
Just give it a try, and have fun!
You are now ready to Card or Bow your fiber [or lint] into rolags.
I should add to this--just in case anyone else stumbles upon it--I had ONE seed crack during my recent ginning session. 
So, that makes me ask, "Did I do something wrong?" or "Was it simply not a viable seed?"
Now--- The Real Thing! 

What you see above, is the post that [though largely about half] I have always intended to publish.  It was only within the last couple of months that I found the following video.  Had this not been included in one my numerous Cotton Study search results, my post would have ended here.  So----

As promised----
Video Resources

Cotton Bolls Opening
Plucking Cotton Bolls
Picking Cotton by Hand
Then again---- this entire post is rendered MOOT, IF one decides to spin directly from the Seed! (~: Enjoy.
Spinning Cotton directly from the Seed
Spinning Cotton from the Seed
More Spinning from the Seed
While a tad late--- Meaning, I missed the point of being able to update during National Crochet Month. That said, I have a more pressing need to share this next update.

In the meantime?
Leave any questions you may have in the Comments.
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Bye for now, and Blessings~
And Happy Weaving!