Open Day at the organic farm.

This Sunday the organic farm where I get my eggs and meat and the occasional fleece was open to the public, to celebrate organic farming.

I was there with some wools and tools to show the visitors how I process the fleeces from the organic sheep and what useful things I make out of it.

It was a lovely day. Next to me were people preparing a Nepalese food called momo, using the various meats from the farm. Momo are delicious! They are steamed and sometimes fried too. The nice lady was so hospitable, she kept offering them. She was also very fast and skilled folding the momo in various shapes, to keep track of which flavour it was.

Here’s me eating a chicken one:

The farm is Laan van Wisch in Hengelo, Gelderland. It’s run by a husband and wife team and for them quality of life is the first priority. For themselves and for the animals. That’s a very refreshing business model! Rewarding too.

All animals have enough space and plenty of diversity to make for happy lives. This makes it easy for the cows to keep their horns: they have the space to figure out their hierarchy without wounding their herd fellows.

The cows at Laan van Wisch live in a herd with adults and “teens” so the teens can learn from their elders how to be a cow and not try and rear themselves and invent all kind of weird behaviour. It makes for relaxed and confident cows.

On Sunday they all gathered at the meadow gate closest to the farmyard, because of the music!

Another example is that the chickens get to keep their beaks because they are not bored or put in such close quarters that they turn on each other as is the case in farms focussing on large production instead of quality.

The chickens at Laan van Wisch have a large piece of land with a part made of gravel (to strengthen their feet), a part with sand (to scratch around in and take dust baths), a part with grass and herbs (to look for bugs) and a part forest (to go on adventure). And their coop of course, where every chicken has a separate sleeping/laying boot. The temporary farm hand, Thijs, explained all this to us. He was so knowledgable and enthousiastic!

There’s one rooster and he’s constantly calling the chickens to point out something tasty here or there. He has magnificent plumage.

Next to the chickens are the pigs. They live the good life too! Two sows and they had their piglets earlier this Spring:

This is them last Sunday:

ba

All animals on the farm get to live to adulthood before slaughtering is even thought about. For some animals slaughtering is never thought about and they get to die of old age.

The farmer gave tours on Sunday and spoke about one of his favourite cows who lived to be 21 years old. He got teary eyed just talking about her.

There was an artisan making bread in a wood stoked oven: Ben from Ben’s Houtovenbrood:

People could climb the large apple tree, aided by professionals:

It was a grand day!

Living a life of quality instead of the constant want for upscaling just might be the smartest business move of all.

most pictures in this blogpost are copyright Laan van Wisch

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Finished: woven blanket

I finished it at the Fair, in the very last minutes before closing time on Friday night. I took it off the loom today.
It’s 2 meters long and 60 cm wide.

I wove it on my rigid heddle loom, a Glimakra.
I put some Lang Yarn Alpace treads through the reets. Because I was going to weave with thick yarn I skipped slots at a regular interval.
You thread the thread through the slots with a little crochet hook, double threads:

Once all the slots are filled you wind up the back thingamajig.
When it’s all wind up and you have a bunch of loops at the front you cut the loops and thread half of them through their appropriate slot.
Then you tie them to the front thingamajig and you can start weaving:

I changed colours every so often. The thick yarn could not go on the weaving stick for many meters anyway. I had 5 colourways that I changed. Often I would weave in just two rows of a contrasting colour.
It was great fun and all in all went pretty fast.

The handspun organic sheep (which I call “ecoschaap” in the tags and on Ravelry) is soft and lovely. It’s from organic farm De Laan van Wisch that really cares for their animals.

The Alpaca did get caught on something and stretched. The blanket is a bit out of shape because of that.
The weaving police will never know!

Taking about weaving police: a woven cloth is not officially finished until it’s washed. But I have a special purpose for this blanket and it doesn’t need to be washed for that. I’ll show you in time. Also: this wool doesn’t full so I see no purpose in trying to finish this blanket properly.

Besides: I take crossing my finish lines in instalments and celebrate every accomplishments I can. I call it finished!

changing Mixed Weave Rug

Last year I knitted Mixed Weave Rug and I use it often. It is long and narrow and heavy and warm. I’ve been sitting under it all winter and Lillepoes loves sitting on top of it (and me).

But it’s too long and too narrow to be practical. I cannot tuck it under comfortably and cats do not fit under it when I’m already under it.
So I changed it. While I was in the city the last couple of weeks. Where I didn’t have appropriately sized needles. So while I was there I parked Contiguous Blue Cardi and used its needle to alter the rug. Now it fits comfortably around me (and a cat).

It’s much shorter now. In fact I ripped it back a bit too far so after I adjusted the width I re-added a bit of length too, until I ran out of yarn. I’m pleased, with this shape I will get even more use out of it.

Since the addition was knitted on smaller needles than the original, the addition is a bit stiff. I’ve brought it with me to the cabin and hope to block the living daylights out of it while I’m here. Then back to the city house it’ll go. With hopefully more drape.

Now that I have experienced how much use and joy a heavy woolen blanket gives me I’m more serious then ever to knit one for the couch in the cabin too. You’ve seen me dyeing and spinning the yarn for it last year, based on the blanket from my grandmother.  It’s organic sheep from the local organic farm, De Laan van Wisch. It is so soft!

It lacked some white and green but now that I have wool left over from Sprig sweater and found some white handspun I’m ready to knit a nice blanket for the cabin also.

Where it not that I’m on a tranquil colour run the past few months. I lean more towards white and greys and soft greens. Birch not Bright!

We’ll see. I still have the other soft ecowool on the wheel and it gives big hanks of superbulky yarns. Surely that would give an awesome and tranquil coloured rug. And I can probably use two extra blankets anyway.

Oh! I unexpectedly finished spinning it yesterday!

I want to weave with it so there’s no need to soak the yarn. It’s really finished the moment I take it from the wheel!

  1. 210 meters of 50/50 brown/white, 330 grams;
  2. 165 meters of white, 250 grams;
  3. 78 meters of brown, 100 grams;
  4. 68 meters of white-with-a-bit-of-brown, 110 grams;
  5. 65 meters of brown-with-a-bit-of-white, 150 grams.

Such a rich texture. And soft yarn! I’ll catch this fluff in a warp that’s sturdy (but soft). I have to think of an approach, colourwise…. a design.

where the WIPs at?

Let me check the state of all the WIPs I have going on at the moment.

Nothing was done at Spring Brioche Shawl. I know where it is though.
For Deco Cardi I did the necessary research. It’s now time to apply theory to the wool.
All of the socks are pretty much where they were when I photographed them on Wednesday.

Pumpkin Ale saw some serious progress in two days:

I’m knitting in Fingering weight while the pattern states Worsted. (There are two sizes between those: Sport and DK. It’s absolute ridiculous that I get a worsted gauge (21 st/10 cm) in a fingering yarn. On sock needles.)

My row gauge differs from the pattern though, so I’ll probably work way more rows than the pattern says. This is 12 cm long and twice as dense as the examples of others.

This week I’m spending many hours lying flat on the couch, (I’m having a relapse in health), and knitting on an interesting project prevents me from going out of my mind with boredom. This Ale Cardi is perfect.

Lots of strange things happening this week. Somehow the mirror in the cabin refused to function any longer unless I did something about the WIPs that I’ve been claiming to love so much. I couldn’t look myself in the eye anymore!

So I picked up Sprig pullover and within a few hours had completed the body:

Ahh, knitting with handspun is such a nice craft to perform.

When ill it’s also good to have a project that does not require attention, where you can just knit in the round and the round, while your brain marinates in whatever juices this stupid illness produces. (ME/CFS/SEID)
But now the marinating is done because the next step is working on the yoke, which is done sideways and features a branch:

detail from pattern Sprig by Alana Dakos

Here too I’m working at a different gauge so I have to understand the pattern thoroughly before knitting it in my yarn and on these needles.
For the numb brain knitting I have my various Skews.

When I was able to sit upright for a while I did some further spinning. I’ve now spun away two of the three boxes of Hollands Spotted Sheep, the organic sheep from organic farm Laan van Wisch:

This is one half of the white on the bobbin. There’s already a skein of half white/half brown and two smaller skeins.

This needs a few more hours of spinning white and then I can attach a new leader to an empty bobbin for the dark brown. The dark brown will take longer than the white because its staple is shorter. That means I have to do much more hand gestures per inch than with the white. And it’s way more fiddly to make the fleece grab onto the thread and cover it completely. I’m not looking forward to it, to be honest.

The next picture gives some clues of how much I’m not looking forward to starting the brown fleece… (or for how often I got to sit up and spin this week). That’s all the Skews and the Coexist sock right there. Conveniently at reaching distance from the couch.

Corespinning on the Countryspinner.

this morning:

One basket gone. One bobbin full.

The fleece was scoured and put through the wool picker last year. This meant that the locks are teased and it’s all nice and fluffy. But they still were discernible from each other and the colours were not mixed.

I corespun them around a thread of fluffy alpaca (Lang Yarn Super Superlight). I could also have used mohair. I made sure the core was covered with fleece every inch of the way because the core is red.

I keep the red thread in a certain way to ease the tension, the wheel has quite a bit of pull and the thread was digging into my skin. I did hack the Countryspinner spinning wheel so its pull can be reduced but this corespinning technique requires minimal twist hence adequate pull.

Also…. my shoulder is piping up. With all the small handmovements corespinning surely is competing with Skew knitting when it comes to shoulder inflammation. I keep better posture while spinning though. So I’m still looking interested to the other two baskets of wool.

Thread from the right, fleece wrapping around it at a near right angle from the left:

Pip, the countryhorse for spinning, gobbling up fluffy yarn:

I plan to keep it as a single and weave it with a warp of white Lang Yarn Alpaca Superlight. Weaving it tightly will keep my handspun from pilling. Because this is a lofty yarn and this fleece wants to break free (doesn’t felt at all).

Lang Yarn Alpaca Superlight is a lovely yarn. It’s a lace but with a halo, you knit it with needles 4 mm or more. It’s one of the few alpaca yarns I don’t sneeze at.
But somehow I do not knit easily with fluffy lace yarns. Nor do I wear the knitwear much.
Which I only found out after I purchased 20 balls of the stuff when it was on sale.

I did try though:

alpaca

narrowing down for Wintertrui 2014

I made some choices:

  1. It’s going to be the minty smurf blue handspun and I don’t have enough of it to make something with sleeves so it’ll be accompagnied by the white Donegal Heather. (I can buy new. I can buy new.)
  2. I want it to be winterfairytaley. Gletsjer magic.
  3. I don’t want it frilly. It needs to be a bit plain because this garment will be supporting other focus points such as a shawl or jewellery.
  4. good wearability by choosing wearing ease. Must be wearable over a longsleev.

I’ve looked at patterns and zoomed in on these:

  • Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier, to be knitted with long sleeves and less bell shaping. I made this one before, it’s a good pattern.
  • Drops’ Eskimo Shrug. To be knitted with stockinette stitch back panel and elongated into a hip long vest. I’ve done this before and love the result. Could do that again, with the blue in the main body and the white in a big collar. And add sleeves.
  • Askew by Cheryl Kemp. This would be nice in blue with thin white stripes in garter stitch. Fairy tale ahoy!

All three have their challenges.

Buttercup demands a bit of lace knitting and I’m not very fond of lace knitting in big needles. It often looks bumpy and unsophisticated.

But I love that neckline! It’s so feminine and fairy tale. I made it before and took care to position the neckline lace precisely, making it into some sort of a sweet heart neckline:

I’ve made it before and it looks smashing on me. I don’t have a picture of me wearing it but this picture gives some idea of the shaping I’d put into it again, both at the bust and at the waist. and you can imagine how it would look. Smashing!

But how to incorporate both yarns? I don’t like stripes very much. I think I’d go for colour blocks. The top in blue. The bottom half in white.

Or the top in white since the lace will look good in the round 3 ply Donegal Heather.

Eskimo Shrug wants you to know the gauge up front. And I don’t know it. But I guess I could find my way around this. It starts with a panel for the back and I could make that to size by starting in the middle and just knitting until I reach the desired width, just like Concrete Shrug does:

pattern: Concrete by Nicole Feller-Johnson

But not exactly like Concrete does because these squares don’t say “Snow Princess Fairy Tale knitted pullover” to me. More “Urban chick”.
There are other options though, to knit a panel to size, such as a flower. Or even a snowflake design:

A hat with a crocheted snow flake that I made for my brother. The pattern is Let it Snow Snowflake Hat by Alison Shuman

But here you see my objection to lace in big needles illustrated. It’s bumpy. And not very warm with all those big holes. (Oh! I could make it a double layer of fabric: one snow flake on one plain block. That would be warm! Would it be too bumpy? would I still sit comfortably against a chair with snow flake bumps on my back?)

Askew has been made by quite a few people who report problems with the sizing. It runs too small and relies too heavy on severe blocking. So I need to swatch and find out my gauge and then interpret the pattern so I can guess which size is best…

But you’ve got to be careful. You can’t just go and enlarge a design in bias. It will result in a big flappy point in the front and still not enough fabric in the back to cover the top and the bottom (which is where I feel the cold). I’ve experienced this in Petra, which I do not wear for warmth (or pleasure). Bias knitwear keeps creeping up. You can’t block it to shape.

pattern: Petra by Julie Weisenberger

Askew relies heavily on blocking as negative ease is needed for a form hugging shape. The design itself also relies on certain proportions. The front piece has vertical on the sides: these are sideseams. But at the top it curves to the front to make for the arm hole (without shaping I’m guessing). If you enlarge it without planning these points will come higher, throwing off the overall design. You’d have too high side seams in your arm pits and too much fabric folding over the breasts.

And I’d need adjustments at the back to make sure that’s wide enough and meets the side seams at both ends. And high enough because people wearing it show it doesn’t cover the back very much.

Besides, the efficiënt knitter in me would want to knit the front in one piece. Preferably with the back attached immediately. That’s a lot of knitting gamble in one chunk. Chances of having to frog and restart are high. And I’d have to know gauge for that one…. gauge is tricky in bias design… Chances of frogging increased.

I love bias. I love the point at the front and the neckline it brings at the top. It would make a marvellous fairy tale like garment. But I’m a bit weary of all the variables… I just want to knit, I don’t want to knit and learn and frog and reknit.

Conclusion:

* Eskimo Shrug would knit the easiest, as you can add fabric as you go.
The vest I made from this pattern before is very much a Frankenstein-knit-as-you-go garment. The armholes were too big in the back and I had to “shortrow” them closed. The vest didn’t close in the front so I just kept adding borders to the collar. In elongated stitches because I was running out of yarn. In the end these big yarny holes turned out to be very good button holes so that was nice.

It’s a great vest. I wear it with pleasure. I handspun the yarn myself, from an organic fleece from a very nice farmer, Francis. The wool is very soft.

Knitting Police haven’t bonked on my door, demanding answers. I could do this again I guess.

Issues to ponder:

  • how to insure a Princess Snowy image in this vest? (embellish the white collar with cable thingies? Snowdrops perhaps?)
  • how to make that back panel? (snowflake?)
  • is the Donegal soft enough to be made into the collar and be worn next to the skin in the neck?  (not really…)
  • how to colour the sleeves? will there be enough yarn left from the body to have some mint in the sleeves?
  • what border to choose at the bottom, to prevent flipping up? (it should be in accordance with the border of the collar)
  • button holes?

I’m sitting here writing, with one of the balls of Donegar tucked into the neckband of the sweater I’m wearing at the moment. To check for next-to-skin-softness.

It’s not. Not really.

  • give the collar a soft lining?

 

Finished: mitts for Francis

They are so soft!

I wrapped them up with a bow and took them with me to the organic farm shop Francis runs. But she wasn’t there, she was at the shop at her own farm De Laan van Wish.

Both my husband and the girl who does work on this farm said it would be much nicer if I gave the mitts to Francis myself, even though it might be a couple of weeks before I get to see her again. So I didn’t leave them at the shop but took them home with me again.

Weird Wool Wednesday: WIP in style

the Works in Progress (WIPs) are coming along splendidly.

The mitts for Francis are nearly finished. On needles 4 mm and with that sympathetic handspun they practically knit themselves.

Fact: handspun knits faster than commercial yarn.

The needle felt needles arrived yesterday and I assembled them in style: with apple pie.

It yields a fierce tool!

Happy to report I only stabbed the wool, not myself.

The act of needle felting intertwins the fibres. It physically forces the fibres of the upper layer through and into the bottom layer.
In the picture above you see little specks of green and blue sticking through the white bottom layer.

In the next picture you see some prickling from the surface:

Soon I’ll aid this process with a little wet felting. And then: the washing machine.

But first I’ll have a stroll into the city.
I’m getting new glasses. After seeing double for over two years now I’ve decided the optometrist doesn’t get any more time trying to figure out what’s the problem. I’m just putting it down to age and now I want some proper glasses to quiet my vision. No more of this foggy stick on prism. And some proper reading aids too.

I want to see my knitting again. In single focus.
I’ve put off stranded knitting for two years now and I can’t bear it any longer. There’s the Woodland Sweater in my head. And those darling owl mittens!

So off to town I go!
I’m bringing a sock on the go (yarn held double, bigger needles) because you never know when you have a little waiting time. I bring it with me in my stylish WIPbag:

1

This one’s made by my friend Vronica, she’s so clever! It has a square bottom and you can fold the top down and than it stands on its own, like a little yarn basket.

I so love this bag and its fabric that I made a skirt to go with it. It’s just a tube with a zipper. It doesn’t even have a lining. And it’s also not sewn very sturdy: last week I burst through the side seam while trying to kick open the gate.

So this week I ran the sewing machine over the seam a couple of time, I think it’ll hold. And otherwise I’ll feign bad eyesight and deny everything. Including any wrinkles. There are none.

I gots style!

2

In from the rain. (long post)

The week of nice weather and sunshine is over. Me and all the woolens had to come inside. The rain started yesterday and now we’re all cooped up inside, trying to get dry.

Luckily I finished some socks to wear while cocooning:

Green socks! Yarn held double, needles 3,25 mm. 44 stitches in the round.

Just let me show you some things drying around the living room at the moment:

On the back of my sewing chair is the felted fleece, it’s still drying. The long locks with their bases hidden deep in the fleece are still wet and damp, at those bases. Haven’t sat on it yet, haven’t picked out all the vegetable matter that’s still in there.

On the horizontal part of my sewing lamp hang my happy orange socks, drying. I took them into the shower the other day. (Together with the washing cloth that’s also drying on there, inside out, that’s why so untidy. It’s from Norway.)
Efficient, I say, to take your socks with you into the shower. They need to be handwashed, you’re in there having soap on you hands anyway. I’s a genius, I say.
Other times I bring my bra.

On the wall at the right hangs some organic handspun. I washed it very hot to get rid of the grease. I want to knit some mitts for Francis, the farmer who provides us with organic eggs, butter, meat and veggies. And the occasional fleece from her Hollands Bont/ Dutch speckled organic sheep.

These fleeces are magic. They don’t felt. And this one in particular is ridiculously soft. You can see it in the white parts of the yarn in the close up.
I’m asking for another fleece next year, especially now that I’ve tried out a woolpicker. That tool makes processing a fleece so much easier! And I love spinning fleece. Especially from a sympathetic source.

Here’s the sympathetic source in this case, with her two lambs:

The good thing about organic farm De laan van Wisch, by the way, is that they do not sell meat from young animals. All animals get to live to full adulthood before slaughtering or selling is even an option.
And they chose breeds and animals that are healthy and can deliver their own babies without much risk or need for assistance, which is getting unusual in industrial farming. I love that. Healthy animals, happy animals.

Look at their cows, the have the most amazing colour variations! It seems like the farmer decided to collect them all. All kinds of greys and blues and reds. Wonderful!
And: all with horns.

None have the perpetual surprised face expression that all industrial raised cows sport:

pic by Patrick Nijhuis

(This high fore head is caused when the horn is burned at the base to stop it from growing. That somehow causes build up of bone under the skin, giving industrial raised cows high foreheads and surprised looks.
They are prevented from having horns because the farmer doesn’t want them to figure out their social rank using their horns and perhaps damaging each other. Industrial cows are kept too close together for them to be able to move out of horns’ way. Unhappy cows not allowed to be cows.)

Knitting mitts for Francis will be a lovely project for the coming week. It’s on fairly big needles, 4,0 mm, and the wool is soft and a delight to work with. The pattern doesn’t require much thinking and the sheep provides all the colour changes.
I’ll be knitting it in the city, where I’ll spend next week.

Also drying under the lamp is a small skein I made from these rolls:


27 grams, 66,5 meters. I started it years ago and picked it up and finished it at Spin Group last Tuesday. I’m finishing and gathering all kinds of little handspun skeins to combine in one project.

Maybe something like this:

Petal Cowl by Xandy Peters

Yarns with more texture, like the one drying right now, invite me to weave them.

Ahh, so many wonderful plans I have!

For example a plan for the brown orangy throw for the couch here in the cabin. And the blue green one for the couch in the city. Which I’ve actually started.
The fleece that felted so readily in the washing machine made me felt-confident. All I had to do was lay out the felt, full it a bit and let the machine do the hard work!
So I spend all Wednesday laying out the throw I want to felt for the living room in the city.

Laying out all the bits and bobs took a full day. I wasn’t expecting that but it was a lovely day, with the sunshine and birds and mice running around the undergrowth, so I thorougly enjoyed it. Truely a lovely day. Albeit not very efficient, wool wise.
I managed just about to lay everything out, sprinkle it with soapy water and roll it up in plastic before nightfall.

The rolling to and fro, to get the bits to stick to the wool base layer, would have to be done the next day.

So on Thursday I rolled it a bit. But it was a weird day, Thursday. Everything went wrong. I had been chasing sleep and mosquitos all night and first thing in the morning I broke the coffee vessel which I needed to make coffee for my parents who were about to visit. Usually this vessels holds the whipped cream I have for lunch every day (with chocolate ganache, hmmm!) so both my parents and I had a problem.
Later on I tried to bake an apple pie but had no eggs which I only discovered when all the apples, batter and oven where ready and done. And in the afternoon I burned some wool while dyeing and it smelled awfull. I lost my grip on a glass full of dye in the panic of trying to stop the burning wool from smelling so bad that the smoke detector would get involved and scream its head off. So I tie-dyed the kitchen and burned wool and missed out on pie and whipped cream and got my period 5 days early.

That’s when the blogging halted, as you probably noticed, and that’s when I also didn’t feel like rolling a 2 m sausage of wet felt around very much. But I did roll a bit because I knew that all I have to do is roll. After the rolling comes the washing machine, doing all the hard work.
And it was still a day of good weather. Excellent for working outside and enjoying nature.
So I rolled a bit, lied on the couch a bit. Ate a bit of chocolate and yearned for apple pie and whipped cream. Got up and rolled a bit more.
A weird day it was.

On Friday I didn’t feel like rolling at all.
And then the rain started…

So now I have this woolen thing in my garden. It’s been wet since Wednesday and is already starting to smell “compositional”…

Today I had a look at it… it doesn’t full so quickly. As in: not at all. There needs to be a whole lot of rolling before I can give it to the washing machine!
I might have to resort to fulling by hand, with real hot water. I rolled a bit today, in between showers. The rainy kind.

So here it is, late Saturday afternoon:

it’s draining it’s soapy water in a bucket, so I can fold it up, put it in a bag and bring it with me to the city tomorrow. Where I’m sure I have no time to full it at all … but I keep hoping. There ís a washing machine in the city. And it ís destined to go on the couch in the city.
Those are two of reasons why this throw could be ready by end of coming week. In theory.

There’s one more thing drying in the cabin today and that’s a new spinningwheel!
It’s an old one. A Louet S70 I found abandoned at the thrift store. It’s in a bad shape:

The foot connector is broken and it has been left out in the rain by its previous owner(s child): lots of water stains on the old oak.

But it was once purchased and used with much love. There’s still wool on the bobbins and it’s spun craftily. It’s greasy wool, probably dating back from when this was all the rage: in the ’70s and ’80s of last century. It was bought back then (and it was an expensive wheel then) by someone who desired it and saved up for it and loved it. And then used it a lot.
Afterwards it was taken by someone who knows nothing about wheels and probably stored in a shed somewhere. But it’s still a S70.

The S70 is a solid oak wheel and was produced by Louet as a festive commemoration between 1983 and 1985.
I have a healthy version myself and it’s my favourite wheel. I can spin anything on it, except Longdraw rollags. But lace or bulky are no problem. (Just interlace the leader for spinning lace, just like the way I hacked the Ashford Country Spinner🙂

I’m glad to have found another S70 and I’ll see wether I can nurse it back to purring.

I have no idea when I’m going to do this though. Next week I’m in the city and the week after that I’m preparing for the Annual Spinners’ Weekend.

Besides not fixing up the wheel and not fulling and felting the throw I’ll also not be able to spin the yarn for the brown orangy throw I want to knit for the living room in the cabin.

I dyed all the wool.
I woolpicked it all.
I put it into bags and boxes according to colour. It’s all so fluffy!

I did a little spinning test and it’s better if this wool is carded first. For that, I have no time….

But I need to make time because the various colours are hogging up all kinds of containers. Including my paper tape model (I bought two pieces of fabric 2 weeks ago, for skirts. I can sew a skirt in two days. I only need two days. Twice.)
And the bag I need to take with me on the Annual Spinners’ Weekend. So I’m hoping against reasonability’s advise here that somehow in the next two weeks I get to at least card the wool that’s in the bag so I can bring the bag to the Weekend. And preferable bring the wool too so I have something to spin.

The sunshine of the past two weeks gave me so much confidence and optimism. About what I can do, woolwise, in an amount of time.
But it seems Summer is now over. Autumn is here. The rain has come.

It’s raining so hard, it’s raining sideways. We all need to shape up, face probabilities and make contingency plans. You too, Lillepoes. Probability is creeping up on you:

(under the chair a box with hazelnuts. I gathered them on a parking lot in the village. They will make the squirrel here very happy, come Winter)

Finally learned about washing fleece

This fleece is pretty clean but still has quite a bit of lanolin left in it. It was washed in cold water and wool wash detergent and rinsed with vinegar, some time ago. This got rid of the poo and the piss but not the lanolin.

It’s been in my wool room for years. Because I don’t know what to do with it. It’s too greasy to card, to spin, to knit or to wear. I should know because I made this shawl from a fleece just like this one last year:

and I never wear it. Having greasy wool touch your skin is ewww

But I visited a friend today and she explained how she washes the grease from a fleece and I came home and within the hour the porch looked like this:

Squeeky clean, truely white fleece. Inside looked like this:

The washing station.

This is the process of washing a fleece, for non-fine wools:

  1. fill the big green dyeing pan with hothotHOT water. Put it on stove, just to keep it warm.
  2. fill the small blue bucket with hothotHOT water and lots of washing up liquid.
  3. put on sturdy dishwashing gloves. The sort that allows you to put your hands in scolding water.
  4. grab a handfull of fibre. I took about the size of an A4 and 10 cm high. Dunk it in the hot soapy water. Swish around.
  5. take it out of the soapy water and wring it (this fleece doesn’t felt so I can manhandle it. But most fleeces are ok with this treatment. Not the fine fleece such as Merino and Shetland though) and put it into the clean water in the pan.
  6. Grab another piece of wool and repeat: dunk in soapy water, swish, wring, put in pan.
  7. By now the liquid in the blue vessel is too dirty to use one fresh fleece. Put it into the white bucket. Fill the blue bucket with new really hot water and soap.
  8. grab new handful of fleece and put it in the white bucket, to presoak. Swish around, wring the water from the wool and put it into the fresh soapy water of the blue bucket.
  9. Now grab a new handful of fleece and put it in the white bucket.
  10. wash the wool that’s in the blue bucket, put it in the pan.
  11. transfer wool from white into blue bucket. Put new wool in white bucket. Wash what’s in the blue bucket and transfer it to the pan. Carry on like this -remember to change the water in the blue bucket every few washes- until the pan is full enough. Its purpose is to rinse the wool so if it gets too full or the water too dirty or the water is no longer HOT stop your routine. Time for the yellow bucket.
  12. fill the yellow bucket with hothotHOT water. Its purpose is for rinsing. Transfer wool from pan to bucket and swish wool around. The water should be pretty clear. Just rinsing off the last bits of soap.
  13. Bring an empty bucket to the centrifuge and place it under its … faucet(?). Take yellow bucket of wool to the centrifuge. Put still hot wool in centrifuge. Spin till nearly dry.
  14. Put damp wool onto a rack for drying. I used the clothesthingy. Don’t handle the wool too much. It’s cooling down and prone to felting. Just spread it out and let it be.
  15. ooooh. aaah. white wool! no grease! Ready for further fiber prep (carding perhaps?) and spinning

The blue bucket with fresh soapy water. Wool is presoaking in the white bucket. Sturdy yellow gloves.

This is the pan I usually use for dyeing. The light indicates the stove top is on, on moderate heat. Just enough to keep this water 68 degrees celsius or over

And I have a cross stitch of a Gaai over the stove. It’s mandatory for living in little wooden gnome cabins.

Bringing the pan to the sink for wool transfer into the yellow bucket. That’s how dirty the blue bucket gets, it was just about time to change the water. You can see that the water in the green pan is fairly clear, you can see to the bottom. Just a bit of soap residu on top. All the grease and left over dirt stayed behind in the hot soapy water.

Transfer of the hot wet wool into the yellow bucket was successful.

17. bring extra towels for strategic placement on spontaneous occurring puddles. It happens, especially in gnome cabins.

Next, I brought the bucket with wool to the centrifuge. Put hot wool into centrifuge still wearing gloves.

The wool was so wet that the centrifuge drained even before I turned it on. (Always keep a towel near the centrifuge).

Now it’s evening and the buckets are still on the kitchen counters. In the middle of the room is the clothes drying rack, covered in wool. On the coffee table there’s wool spread out. And upstairs the guest bed is covered in wool.

It smells delicious here! Clean wool and soap, hmmmm. Smells like spinning spirit!