Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Not that I would ever be as crass as to post about presents after Christmas, but I would like to share just one thing.  This is somehow my own fault, as my list could be interpreted as to include this item, although only a genii would interpret it that way.  It’s also my fault for having a little brother.

 Garden gnome riding a rabbit
Yes, it’s a garden gnome riding on a rabbit.  And yes, I immediately installed it in the garden, even though I’ve been taking gnomes out of my summer shade garden as quickly as Jacqui can put them in.  I do think this wonderful ridiculous item looks quite fetching in the snow.  Apparently it’s part of a whole series of gnomes riding different creatures. 

 Garden gnome riding a rabbit
My brother has been living overseas for the past few years, so we tend to exchange (and wrap) our gifts through Amazon.  So far this has been small rectangular items like cds and dvds, which Amazon wraps in dark blue paper with a grey grosgrain ribbon wrapped around it.  The gnome came in a rather large box.  Instead of being wrapped, the whole box was in a big blue sack with green grosgrain drawstrings.  Not one to turn my nose up at useful stuff, I put it right to work as a fantastic wool bag.

  Grey wool drum carded 

I had bought two different natural grey wool rovings this summer with the intention of making a Central Park Hoodie.   

 (Romney?) Roving from Dutchayr Fibers

 Shetland roving from Shadeyside Fibers

Happily, I had some project time over my Christmas break, so I spent some of it blending the two wools together with my drum carder.  The drum carder is still very new to me and I’ve had trouble finding much information or advice on using one.  I have The Ashford Book of Carding, which doesn’t say a whole lot about drum carding before wandering off to color blending.  I went through my spinning books, from Lee Raven’s introductory Hands on Spinning to Alden Amos’ Big Book of Handspinning.  They have almost nothing specific to the drum carder.  So far drum carding has been largely a matter of trial and error.  Each time I use it, I make a new discovery.  Last time it was that most of what ends up on the small drum is short and undesirable fiber.  I was really excited about that one.  This time it was that carding oil, besides making carding easier and preventing fiber breakage, actually allowed me to make larger batts than without the oil—not hugely larger, but I did get noticeably more nicely carded wool onto the drum with oil than without.  My other realization was that I’m a dummy for trying to push how big a batt I can make before doffing it.  If I get greedy, the outer layer of the big batt isn’t very well carded.  If I doff the batts when they’re still a little thinner, they’re much nicer and more thoroughly carded.  I shouldn’t be so surprised; I discovered exactly the same thing with hand cards years ago.  So far, I’ve only blended on the drum carder.  I have a longer term project in mind which will involve dying and carding the fleece I bought 2 falls ago, and then blending it with some other nice things, all using the drum carder, but I’m still waiting for my dye stove to get hooked up in the basement.  Maybe by next Christmas break.

1 comment:

Wade said...

So glad you're enjoying the gnome. Nice to see him in action!