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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Yarn Along - Preparing For The Iknitarod

This year's Iknitarod has already been a long strange trip...and the race hasn't even started.  I'm going to try to hit the highlights (so far) here and I'll re-read it all in the morning and if something doesn't make sense I'll try to fix it and fill in any missing details...

It started innocently enough - yarn for a Liddy shawl.  After so many months of terrible knitting, I needed something sweet and soothing, like Liddy herself.  A shawl fit not only because she and I had knit two shawls together when she was a baby, but also, if I messed up the gauge, it wouldn't really matter for a one size can fit anyone shawl.

Little did I know that not only had my knitting and weaving mojo jumped ship, but my spinning mojo was gone as well.  I sampled and sampled and sampled and never produced a yarn I was happy with. I seriously contemplated giving up the whole fiber deal.  It's been a long year, pretty much since last years Iknitarod "fail" with Baaxter.  

I finally got one yarn I thought I could live with and spun my first skein.  It was nice...but realistically wasn't a shawl yarn and I knew it. Liddy is smooshy and fuzzy and stretchy and perfect for hats, mittens, a warm snuggly sweater.  Shawls should have some drape and flow.  

One rule I try to always follow is don't set yourself or your dog or your horse or your sheep/child up to fail.  If Liddy doesn't want to be a shawl, don't force her to be a shawl.  No one wins.

Is there something I could do to help my sheep/child succeed?  Well, let's see...  If I have a "down type" (sort of your traditional picture book fuzzy sheep wool) fleece and need it to be less smooshy and stretchy and clingy (these are some words I'll come back and fix in the morning I'm guessing ;-) why not mix in a little "long wool" like, say, some Cotswold?

Two samples in and bingo!  The skein upper right is the original 100% Liddy.  The bottom bundle is about 1/4 Cotswold and the upper left is around 1/3 Cotswold.  Notice the samples have some shine to them? A little more open and drapey?  Much more shawl-like.

While I probably would like the upper left the best, factoring in that this is a Liddy shawl, I felt like the yarn should still truly reflect Liddy.  Liddy with just a little help from Buddy :-).  We finally had a workable plan...I was pretty sure.  Ideally I would have knit a swatch to make 100% sure.  

I'm going to fly through the rest of this.  It's almost 11 and it's been a Long Day.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!!!

Buddy on the left and Liddy on the right.  I did the best I could to weigh each amount, but my scale doesn't weight micro amounts well.  

Liddy on the left and Buddy on the right.  Hopefully you can click to biggify and see that even though they are both sheep, they are very different sheep.  Different breeds produce different types of wool.  Liddy is fuzzy and Buddy is curly.

I loaded about half the Liddy onto the coarse cloth carder.  There is a handle that cranks to turn the drums as the wool feeds on.

Then I added the Buddy.

And then I added the rest of Liddy.

Then you pull off a big batt of fluffy wool - this needs some added explanation.

See Buddy sandwiched between two layers of Liddy?

I then divided the batt into sections (insert mad scientist notes on how many times and combinations) and then pulled it all back into thin "ropes" (again, this is going to make no sense, sorry) and ran it all back through the coarse cloth carder a second time.

Repeat the division, pulling out into thin strips and this time feed onto the fine cloth carder.  Coarse and fine refer to the number of wire poky things (I really need to go to bed) per inch.  Maybe you can see how much smoother this last pass looks.  

Again, hopefully you can click to biggify and see the small fuzzy curls of Liddy contrasted with the big loopy curls of Buddy.

Two more blended batts, ready to spin.

My book this week has been The Story of Dr. Doolittle, which somehow I never read as a kid.  How could I have missed that?  

Joining in with Ginny...  And I'll be back with a fresh(er) brain in the morning to make sense of all this and tell you a little more about the fun I have planned for the next two weeks.

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