Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fleece Study: The Long Wools and Novelty Locks

Remembering way back...I've been working on a fleece study over the past year where we use samples of wool from different breeds of sheep to learn about how they differ and how best to use each. We did the fine wools first, and now I've just finished the long wools. I started out spinning them all "plain vanilla" like I did with the fines. This was a fine approach for fine wools, as that's how I'm most likely to use them, but I got bored of spinning evenly and consistently and Navajo plying each sample. Luckily I remembered that many long wools are uniquely suited to making boucle. Why not use a sample as a chance to also learn new spinning techniques?

I found conflicting information among my books (and one video) on how to make a boucle. I tried at least two before it worked. The sample on the left shows my first rather awkward efforts. On the right is a much more successful sample of boucle. I spun a few of the long wools as boucle, but couldn't take it any more. Man is boucle a pain to make! The first plying step, where you make the loops, is very time consuming as you carefully push up one ply to make all those little loops. Now I know I'll probably never spin enough boucle for a sweater, although it would be a nice accent, maybe as collar and cuff. After a few boucles I took a class at the finger lakes fiber festival. It was on spinning dyed locks, which are usually either long wools or mohair. Perfect! My favorite technique learned was to incorporate a lock at a time into a two ply yarn by placing it between the strands while plying and letting the twist lock it in. I love the look of this yarn. Here's what I did in class:I'll be interested to see how something like this knits up, with a few thick fuzzy stitches every so often. I did a few study fleeces this way too, but they aren't as visually interesting because they're all one color. My favorite of the boucles, and possibly of all the long wools was the Wensleydale x Cotswold.
It's long and shiny and soft, but still has the right texture to curl into boucle. This I might make enough of for a little something, maybe a scarf. Also, I've been meaning to show my exciting new tool. I found this in Delhi, south of Cooperstown, when I was out there this summer.
It's a squirrel cage swift--like any swift it holds your skein of yarn while you wind it into a ball. The skein is held vertically and the cages turn while you unwind. It's so smooth, and it's beautiful to look at, and I got it for a song. Hooray! Makes me want to do nothing but wind balls of yarn, but I'll have a new tool for winding yarn balls to show off soon.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

The Legendary Squirrel Cage Swift!

After hearing about this for so many summers, I can't believe I finally get to see one!

Mary Ellen said...

How does a knitted item look when you use the yarn with the spun-in dyed locks? I'd love to see a sample.