Friday, March 31, 2006

Unknown Depths
The last time I posted I was about to plunge into the unknown depths of washing sheep fleece. I have never done this before. The only knowledge that I have to this was taking verbal dictation from my spinning instructor, Mary Scott and from checking out the internet. I did my very best to follow their instructions and I am pleased to say, it went and is going very well.
This is a bit dark but you can see the bags in the guest bathroom tub.

I ran the tub full with the hottest water I could get. It was recommended 160 but I have no idea how hot our hot water heater is. I think it was pretty up there but it worked never-the-less. Before I put the bags in the water I added 1/2 cup of the blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and then laid the bags on the top of the water. I gently gave them a push so the wool would absorb the water. I was totally amazed how that little push produced this chocolate colored water.

I let the bags soak for 30 minutes then unplugged the tub. As the water was draining out, I picked up one bag and let it drain enough that I could put it into a container I had sitting beside the tub. Then I lift the second bag out and waited for the tub to drain. I rinsed it out with cold water to save the hot for soaking. Once it was drained and cleaned out, I redrew the water and started the whole process again. I did it three times with the soap. I did two more soakings each 30 minutes with no soap. I could see that water was clean when I picked up the bags. It only took 2 clean water soakings to get the soap out from the other three soakings. Then I took my container of wet fleece (still in the net bags) and put them on oppisite sides of the washing machine. I put the washer on spin (with NO water) and put my finger down on the safey catch so that I could leave the lid up while it was spinning to make sure no water sprayed on the wool. I let it spin until I thought it was dry. I didn't have any screens to dry the wool on so I got a large bath towel and spread it out on the dining room table. We hardly ever sit there to eat anymore since it's just the two of us these days. I spread all the wool out and then turned on the ceiling fan. I let it sit there for about 12 hours and then flopped it over to the other side. I think I did this process for about 2 1/2 days until I was sure the wool was dry. It was so much cleaner, better smelling, fluffy and soft. I had no idea if it was felted or not. I even did a word search on Google to see if I could get some pictures or some idea about what a fleece went wrong looked like; no such luck. So I prayed over the fleece.

Friday-March 3I

I am on the last two bags of the first whole fleece I started with. I had errands to run and dashed by Lowes yesterday. I went to the window screen section and picked out two pre-made window screens. They were huge. Too big, but just about the time I was walking off with two of them, a nice sales person came and asked me if I had found what I was looking for. I said that I wanted smaller screens and he told me that they had some smaller ones. We walked to another aisle and they were adjustable screens that were perfect for my little foldable dryer. I bought three because I thought it had three tiers and I got lucky! So this time no towel on the dining room table. Below is the rack with the new expandable window screens, I will be using for drying from now on. This is my sunroom. I thought since the weather is slowly getting warmer, drying inside the sunroom was better than the house. I would love to put the rack outside but after reading a section in the Yarn Harlot's book about a squirel stealing her wool, the sunroom it is!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wool Washing Time
I have no earthly idea what I am doing but I always plunge into most everything I do that way, why should washing a fleece be any different? Because you can really screw it up! So I checked my notebook from when I was taking private spinning lessons and then turned to the internet for research. My spinning teacher has washed more wool than I am sure she wants to remember but this is my first time and I needed more than one method to give me the mental comfort I needed.

I went out to Linens 'n Things and bought myself two of those mesh laundry bags. They weren't that expensive. I think $5.99 a bag and I know I will get a lot of use out of them so I didn't mind spending the money. I really wish now that I had bought 4 but I will go back and get the other two. I have two fleeces to wash and hopefully more to come.

So before I got too far ahead of myself and screwed up the washing of the fleece I used Google to do a word search for washing fleece. I got a great site right away. I think it said that the site was being moved to England but who cares, because they had some really great simple information on how to wash a fleece and about wool moths. I printed it all off and read it about 40 times. I really didn't want to screw up my first fleece washing. I had visions of giant balls of felt in each bag and then I would have to decide what new craft I would have to learn to use up all the felted fleece. Is there some use for it that I have yet to learn? I guess I should also being doing a Google word search for that too?

Armed with my bags, I went outside on a really dreary day and divided up the fleece and got enough in the bag to make sure it wasn't too over crowded and could lay flat. Then I took the two mesh bags of fleece back into the house and laid them back on top of the two bags of fleece and starred them down while knitting on my shawl. I didn't have the kind of dishwashing liquid the website recommended so I had to wait until today to get some. We did our grocery shopping and found the Dawn that was recommended and I bought the largest bottle I could. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out. I have the fleeces on the third soaking and I am dying to see what happens myself. Those of you who wash your own fleeces, please feel free to dispense some well formed advise. I still have one whole fleece plus about 2/3s of the first one to wash. So chime in any time!!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Howdy Ya'll!
I just wanted to say howdy to all of you who have come from Knitting on Trial. I was certainly surprised when I started reading my favorite blogs and saw my name mentioned! Seeing your name in someone else's blog works like coffee as a great eye opener. Thanks to Christine for the mention and the chance to try my new found knitting skills at making squares for Jef. It was fun looking through the closet at some yarn I haven't thought about in years and years! Now I think I have a project in the making while digging for blue yarn.

I will talk about that after I get done with my up coming sweater class. I am so excited to be taking the class at The Knitting Corner here in Virginia Beach. The timing is a bit wonky because by the time it gets done (and I will get it done if it kills me and makes my house fall down around my knees) late in the season (we are talking humid summer here) and I won't be able to really wear it.

So since Christine mentioned my four doxies I will post pictures from time to time. I love to show them in my lap while I knit. I have some larger sized wing backed chairs and all four dogs think they fit my my lap along with my knitting. It's a trick sometimes to figure out how to knit with some much in my lap! Here is what I mean...

Meet Edward. He is the oldest of the four doxies. He is getting a bit gray but is one of the sweetest dogs we have ever had. He is the father of two more of the four and lives here with his wife, Sadie.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Motherload!
I went to a meeting of the Southeastern Viriginia Spinning Guild last Tuesday night. It's a long story how I got there besides the drive, but in Jan of this year I joined. I thought since I was a new spinner that I should be emerced in all things spinning. I have met a lovely group of ladies and am well on my way to learning new things.

While at the meeting I met a woman named Debbie (I hope I have spelled this correctly), and she brought a HUGE box with her along with some rather large plastic bags. She told everyone that she is moving and just doesn't have the desire to move more than she needs to the new house. So there were some interesting looking roving and some full fleeces. After the smoke cleared of everyone getting what they desired, there sat the two huge bags of unwashed fleeces from Debbie's sheep. I got on the floor and looked at the fleeces. As I mentioned before, I am a new spinner and a new knitter, so this was like gold to me. I hemmed and hawed around and then asked her one last time was she sure she didn't want me to pay her for the fleeces. I was perfectly willing to fork over some cash to have these fleeces. I told her that I had never washed or carded any fleece. She told me it would be better to screw up a free fleece than one I had paid $50 for. That made perfect sense to me. Ugh. What have I gotten myself into? Now I have to go out and buy some net bags and stink up my spare bathroom tub and see if I can do this. I would do it outside in tubs but changing the water while it's 30 degrees outside just isn't appealing to me at this time. So here is the motherload of what I was lucky enough to score. Further posts will be of me learning how to wash and card this stuff.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's a Blue Day...that's a good thing!
I worked on my squares for Christine brother Jef and for Vicki's brother, Michael. I am so glad that I can do something to contribute to this being a comfort to these two men. Here is my progress so far. The squares are being blocked as I sit here and type this. I am thinking about doing some more squares since my sweater class got pushed back to March 28. While I am disappointed about the sweater class I am happy about having more time to make more squares!!

This square is called Little Blocks. It's multiples of 6 stitches plus 3. It's all knitting and purling, nothing fancy but I do love the texture both for the hands and the eyes. I love bumpy feeling things.

The second stitch is called the Moss stitch. It's just knit and purl every other stitch. Seems like a lot of work for one kind of a stitch, but again I love the way the square looks with the bumpy texture and the way it feels when you touch it.

The last square I have finished to date is a Moss stitch Heart. I thought it would convey the message that all of these squares say. Each sister loves her brother and all of us can appreciate that kind of love.

I want to do some more squares but since I am a beginner I have to not get carried away and bite off more than I can chew. I have been having a ball doing this because I am getting something done and it's for such a great cause! I have been using The Encyclopedia of Knitting by Lesley Stanfield & Melody Griffiths for all of my square ideas.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Diversion is a good thing!
I signed up to crochet blue squares that are 8X8 for Christine at Knitting on Trial. Her brother is battling cancer. The afghan will wrap him up in love from all the bloggers who volunteered to do one or more squares. I was working on a dark blue crocheted afghan but scrapped it and took a ball from that stash and have been busy learning new stitches. I got a book of different knitting stitches from hubby for Christmas. So I am using that to try new things. I have finished two squares and am struggling through a design in the third square. I don't know how many I will be able to finish by Tuesday. I have signed up for my very first sweater class and it starts on the 7th of March and runs 6 weeks. That means that I will have to get my squares in the mail to Christine and put down my shawl from Sheep to Shawl. I have a feeling that it's going to warm up pretty soon so the shawl can wait for just a bit. I measured the monster shawl and it measures 31 inches. The pattern calls for 80 inches. Will this project ever get done? Let's see it gets cold here around Oct/Nov...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

When you are a beginner knitter you do a lot of scarves. This is one of three that I did right after my beginner class. I didn' know any other stitch other than straight knitting so I just went nuts with this. It's really long and has no fringe. I am not wild about fringe. It gets in your mouth and drives me nuts. I want to make a hat to match this so until the fall when I take a hat class, it will sit in the basket waiting for it's partner.The purple scarf is for my daughter-in-law as soon as I get a hat made for it. Her favorite color is purple so hopefully she will like this. I made another scarf from some yarn that my mother-in-law gave me years, and years ago, but I ripped it out and balled all the yarn for another project.

I signed up on Monday for a sweater class that will start on the 7th of March. I have the swatch done to take to class to make sure I have the right gauge. I am really excited to be such a new knitter and get to do my very first sweater. I am making progress on the shawl but have just signed up to knit a (some) Blue 8X8 squares for Christine at Knitting on Trial. I only have until the 24th and hopefully I can get a few done before then. I think I can...I think I can...