Thursday, August 4, 2016

Suint Method for Cleaning Fleece

Several years ago I was gifted several fleeces, some of which had been in bins, unwashed, for 6 years or more.  Most of it cleaned up beautifully, but the last one was particularly nasty.  Greasy, dirty, and mostly cotted.

I was going to toss it, but decided to try the suint fermentation method of cleaning dirty wool.  I read a lot about it and it seemed like just the thing to avoid actually having to put this wool through multiple baths.  A mini suint experiment was designed to see how it all worked out.  Using a small ice cream bucket and tap water (rainwater is recommended because chlorine can affect the process)  A large handful of really greasy wool was put in the bucket and left for about 10 days.





 Now this stuff is supposed to stink and you are supposed to do it outside away from neighbors and friends.  Well, I expected stink, but it went way past smelly to raunchy and nauseating, but it worked!  After a soak in Dawn followed by rinsing and a soak in vinegar water to restore ph, then more rinsing, it was very clean.  I put it in baskets then out into the sun to dry.  After a few days of sun the smell finally went away.  The people who use this method talk about drying completely to eradicate the smell. (Later i found that soaking in vinegar water for a several hours really eliminates the smell right away)   Hopefully when it gets wet again the smell won't return.  The remainder of the fleece was left in the suint for between 3 and 5 days, once the fermentation gets going, the process works much faster.

This is the clean fleece ready to spin.   There is a bit of yellow in the tips, but it looks beautiful.  The picture below is some of the fiber that I combed and dizzed off my home made hackle (which works great).


I am spinning the fiber from teased locks to make 
a bulky two ply for a spinning activity with the Shepards Talk Spinning and  Knitting with Naturals group on Facebook.Shepards Talk


Eventually this yarn will be combined with some other chunky yarns I have spun lately to make a wrap,  still trying to decide knitting or weaving???

The remainder of the fleece is badly cotted and I doubt it is worth cleaning and trying to separate, so I may just try to felt it on the bottom and use it as a rug.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rhinebeck

I just came back from the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival with lots of wonderful new fiber for spinning and felting.  This has to be my favorite weekend of the year, stocking up on supplies, visiting with friends, the beautiful fall colors of the Hudson Valley, and great meals.  
This is my haul, including cones of tencel for weaving, the most awesome silk/merino hand dyed top from Lisa Souza that is amazing for nuno felt, some hand dyed lace weight yarn for weaving, a lb. of clean soft teeswater locks from Delly's Delights, a big bump of charcoal merino, a bit of yak/silk top to play with, merino tencel top to spin with, handmade soap by Betsy Ketola Snell, and that big bag of merino fleece.  Everthing is so lovely that I can't wait to work with it. 

I jumped in this week with washing the merino.  I bought it from a friend who had purchased quite a bit of it at a good price, she sold it to me for twice what she paid,  so far so good.  See how nice it looks in the picture above?  Well, shame on me, I took it at face value and didn't open it up.  Imagine my surprise to find this, rolled to the inside, and this is the cleaner part.
It is crusty, moldy, and full of feces and urine stains, and my guess is that it has been in that bag for years, as the lanolin is all hardened onto the fiber.  I picked out more than half of it to just throw away, and tried to wash some of the better parts, but it is just nasty.  The second picture is after multiple washes, ends still stuck together, and tons of small vm that is so difficult to remove.  Even though the price for the fleece wasn't high, I never expected to have to throw it all out.  The cost in time and  labor of trying to flick and comb this mess is more than I want to pay. 

 So lesson learned, always, always open up the bag and examine the wool.  I know that this 
was unintentional on the part of my friend, who is stuck with several bags of this stuff.  She planned to take it to a mill for processing.  Hopefully they can salvage some of it for her.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wet Kitten Handwarmers and Wrap

This is a wrap I completed recently.  I purchased some lovely merino silk super wash singles yarn called Aria from  Propanicus Moon  It is hand dyed by Sarah in her Wet Kitten Colorway.  I used a double strand to weave this wrap on my 3 ft triangle loom, then added leno strips in the back for texture.

I crocheted the top edge of the shawl as I removed it from the loom, then crocheted around the perimeter with single crochet, then a row of double crochet on the sides.  Using a circular knitting needle I picked up and knit on the sides using the border from the Nearly Mindless Shawl that Sarah at Propanicus Moon designed, finishing up with a picot bind off.  After blocking, the border looks great.
There was quite a bit of yarn left so my thought was to make some fingerless mitts to go with the wrap.  I searched ravelry for the perfect pattern and tried to knit some simple mitts.  After about 5 frogs I threw in the towel, and looked for a simple crochet pattern.  I found the perfect pattern,  Season's Change Fingerless Mitts by Deborah L. Berger on Ravelry 

Not being the most experienced crocheter, it took a few tries to get two mitts the same size.  I kept holding the yarn tighter and tighter.  After four tries there were two that were almost the same.  Due to lack of perfection I am including them with the wrap which is for sale on my Etsy Shop shop.  The mismatched pair is for me, and I love them!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Collage Nuno Felt Tutorial

This is a piece I finished this week using a collage felting technique.  I turned 60 in January and am finding these large felted pieces to be more of a challenge.  So I have been doing the work in stages.  The first day was spent planning and gathering up all the wool, silk, and bits of yarn that went into the piece.  Day 2, ironing, cutting, and laying out the piece on my work table.  Thinking about the final shape of the piece is important at this stage  I wanted a rectangle and didn't want wool around the entire perimeter of the piece.  I used the serged edges of some of the silk and the selvedge of others for parts of the outer edges, this creates a ruffled edge without having to seal the silk with wool.

 Day 3, the beginning of the layout with a little wool added.  I start with the silk pieces face down and layer bits of merino over all the places the cut silk comes together and along any raw edges on the perimeter.  The layout is on a piece of white plastic over a piece of pool cover.
 More wool added.  I think about the placement of the wool fibers because the shrinkage affects the shape and size of the finished piece.  I used merino wool, mostly ugly stuck together bits left over from other projects.   The fibers were pulled apart and I ran the mix through my drum carder, creating a nice multicolored batt that drafted easily.  When enough wool has been added to the back side of the scarf I wet it with warm soapy water and cover it with a sheer curtain, rubbing all over to begin the felting process.  I use the lid of a tupperware container, the kind with the push button handle in the center and a ridged inner surface.  It works like a felting stone or one of those wooden felting tools, only plastic and inexpensive.


When it starts to stick together a bit it is time to remove
the curtain and cover with another sheet of white plastic.  I rolled up the pool cover and gave it about 800 rolls.  Unroll, and flip over to start laying wool out on the top side of the scarf.  I use white plastic so when I flip it over I still have white underneath the piece, makes it easier to see what you are doing.
The picture on the right shows the front side with all the wool added along with bits of novelty yarn, torn strips of silk, locks, and a contrasting silk wool blend fiber.   Wherever there is wool on the back side, I add more on the top.  This will cover your seams and ensure that the piece is structurally sound.  Wisps of fiber will secure your embellishments.

After all the pieces were in place I re-wet the scarf, covered it with the curtain and rubbed it all over for about 10 minutes, removed the curtain and covered with clear plastic.  Rolled back up in the pool cover for another 800 rolls.

The  picture to the left shows the piece after rolling, with the clear plastic still in place.

Details of the layout below.  I used hand dyed silk chiffon, and silk from three blouses.  An iridescent silk, crinkled print silk, and a silk rayon devore.













At this point the wool had felted enough so my designs were no longer able to move around, so I removed the clear plastic and began re-wetting with warm soapy water and rubbing gently by hand on all the wool sections.    I use a piece of plastic canvas under the piece and rub some of the detailed areas more aggressively. When the piece started to pucker up a bit I moved to the fulling stage, throwing gently at first, then harder, making sure all the seams are stable and all the embellishments are fully adhered.  I added wisps of silk to the back side to control the shape and the amount of pucker in the silk, particularly behind the circle designs to make sure they gather up evenly and don't bubble out from the surface.  I had hoped to finish the scarf, but Downton Abby was on so I quit and went up stairs to watch tv.  Day 4, fulling completed, the piece was rinsed and given a mild vinegar soak to restore PH.  I like to soak my pieces in Eucalon as a final treatment, they seem softer and it helps to keep the static down in the winter.  Day 5 will be cleaning up the mess in the studio, when I get around to it.

Find this scarf or other felted confections in my Etsy Shop


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learning Bead Embroidery and Kumihimo

I have been beading for a few years and I love to capture stones in a beaded bezel.  Making the chain is part of creating a necklace so learning some new construction techniques have been part of the challenge.  Viking knit has been my favorite for a while, but this year I added Kumihimo.  Loving it!  Simple tools and not hard to learn.  Beaded Kumihimo is relatively quick and makes a colorful and comfortable necklace from which to suspend your beaded pendant.  Bead embroidery has really been catching my eye lately.  The way the beads are sewn to a background makes it possible to add all types of elements, textures, and borders.  I started small with a quartz beach stone and learned many lessons on this first piece.
The chain is hand beaded, incorporating the same beads as the pendant.
The second piece was made with a half of a Thunder Egg or Septarian Stone.  The stone is asymetrical and it took me a while to work through this piece.  There is a row of freshwater pearls and a nice sort of scalloped border on this pendant.  The chain is beaded kumihimo worked with size 8 seed beads.
The third bead embroidery necklace was made with an ammonite fossil.  I found these stones at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, they have boxes and boxes of interesting rocks and fossils.  This necklace has a row of faceted carnelians which work so well with the color of the stone.  The pendant is hung from a strand of stone and glass beads that balance out the weight of the focal.
Here are a few pics of some of the beaded kumi necklaces that I made. Being unable to master bead crochet, Kumihimo feels like a gift!