About this blog space

This blog space is a place for me to primarily put all my wool gatherings, adventures, experiments. I am now a mum of two astounding daughters, and I used to be a DIY musician and co-ran a tiny independent label (Slampt), so this punk can-do attitude plus feminist analysis and Art school experience somehow informs my wool work! I am also deeply moved by GREEN, trees, weather, colour combinations in nature, and texture. I aim to source wool from round the corner or at the very least UK grown and processed, and to create no toxic waste. This means I get to see sheep as often as I can, sometimes at wool fests.
I am on Ravelry and Etsy as FatHenWildWool and Facebook as Rachel Holborow.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TDF Finis: Coils!

The week started great with me spinning plenty of dyed by me high twist singles in a pleasing pinky, golden colourway. But then it came to actually plying the coiled yarn, which was excruciating. Hard to work out which way you hold the yarns... Hard to find the right yarn to ply onto... Hard to not get completely twisted up into knots...Hard to work out the right way to ply it...Well, this was my Tour de Fleece Challenge...
In the end what worked best for me after much fiddling about was: using an old singles, spun in the same direction as the high twist singles I was going to coil with and wound onto a spindle, which I could dangle between my knees. This spun around merrily as I coiled away, with the high twist singles on a lazy kate a little to my side so as to not tangle with the spindling singles. The spinning spindle took off some of the excess twist ( sometimes too much, making yarn fall apart!), so the resulting coiled yarn will not be too kinky once it's rested FOREVER on the bobbin.

I still feel there's something I'm not getting about coiling, and it's really intense work too, with limited application of the finished yarn! Great for viewing and fondling but no use for soft fluffy or flowy items. Could it be used for rugs? or bags? I may try it as an initial panel for a bag, or maybe a knitted felted pot Dragonarse style....

I also had a couple of days this week where I was SEPARATED FROM MY SPINNING WHEEL! As a result I took my spindle about with me to 2 parks, and on a train journey too. Plenty of Spinning in public oportunities... I was sampling some yak down that I picked up from Willo Alpacas at Woolfest which is gorgeously fluffy and very short stapled...Not really worth rolaging or any other prep unless you wanted to mix it with another fibre. The lady on the stall actually recommended mixing it with another fibre slightly, which I tried initially with Moorit shetland, but I preferred it without. I think if I carry on spindling it, it will be fine, but it may not stand up to the faster pace of the spinning wheel so easily...
The last photos are of me spinning on the last day of the TDF in my yarden and the final complete TDF stash.

 I loved doing the Shetland Wander last week, but also had the chance to sample fibres and methods I might not usually try, with the other yarns.
My husband curiously didn't seem to notice I was taking part in the TDF.. I said to him," You'll be pleased to know that the Tour de Fleece finishes today." He said "Why? you spin every day anyway...."

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tour de Fleece week 2

In the end I've spun one ply of  different moorit shetland shades, and one ply of  blends of  naturally dyed + tussah silk and a slight dash of copper triloban. The overall impression is one of coppery brown ( the colours are slightly browner than the way the photos are showing up) with orangey yellow, pinkish, greenish sections: Natural dyestuffs used include Eucalyptus ( my first time dyeing with it as loads of Eucalypts had a bad winter round our way and lots of friends are getting the dead areas lopped off, to my benefit : Thanks Jo, Sam and Theolyn!), lac, madder, goldenrod and indigo. The skeins are still drying, but weighed 92 grams when finished, so I must've lost a fair amount of fluff on the way as it weighed 98 grams before spinning.... Certainly the moorit I prepared was horribly flakey, which I felt the need to tug out as I went along, in truth it was a pain to spin, and a lesson learned. I will not buy flakey fleece ever again. ( I didn't check this one properly...Serves me right)
However, that prepped by me moorit was only a quarter of the total yarn, my blended batts were delicious to spin, as was the commercially prepped moorit, and I mostly spun the yarn from the fold longdraw, except where flakes hindered me.

I do love the colours and how they work together, I expect they will give a "heathered" textile when knitted up, a kind of brown with largish flecks. ( I am currently hoping to venture into a Jane Thornley inspired freeform shawl in autumny colours...)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tour de Fleece week 1

Goodness me! Such a week of spinning and allsorts going on in the family! Ill girls (hand foot and mouth! 5 ulcers on the tongue sound like fun?), birthday girls, party time, last week of steiner school Summer term ( an intense time of festivals and plays and celebrations ). I also read "The Journey" which promises to be life changing and discovered that maybe what I really want to do is free form knitting!

And aside from all that I spun one of the hardest yarns I've ever spun! On the face of it not so hard: I was just using the scraps I got from UK Spinners Scrap Swap into a rainbow sequence and then Navajo plying it. I slightly struggled with spinning from the fold longdraw, which got so much more natural and easy as I went along, but the major problem was that I was using SYNTHETICALLY dyed fibres! I really struggled with enjoying the colours because they were so bright! No doubt there were other more esoteric reasons bubbling under in my subconscious too... But here it is: Sea Rainbow, because it has a tendency towards Sea colours with a rainbow above and below the seascape. It's the yarn for one sock, there's another similarly sequenced equal amount of fibre (80 grams) awaiting spinning, for the other sock. It worked out well for what it is, and my spinning is good, but it was such a struggle!

Anyway, I need a break from these bright colours for now so I've drum carded and started spinning something I'm calling "Shetland wander" a combination of natural moorit Shetland fibres and naturally dyed (by me) British wool fibres in oranges, pinks, random dashes of other colours with some tussah silk and copper trilobal fibre for a bit of bling lift: It's a relief  to spin it, but I can't seem to resist longdraw at the moment, partly because it's a whole body activity....