All in Spinning
What? Is that a breed of sheep? Or some newly discovered aquatic plant fiber?
I've been working on a number of posts that will be appearing soon as part of my mini series on Alpacas. And what better place to start than with the animal and their fleece!
This past weekend was crop harvest (fleece shearing) at Carolina Pride Pastures, a local alpaca farm featuring huacaya alpacas.
As fiber artists and crafters, how many times have we heard the admonition "before you start your project . . . weave a sample or knit a swatch or spin a control or test dye a new color"? I know that the vast majority of you are saying, "I never sample". Am I right?
The hope of my post is to bring a more positive light on this subject by sharing thoughts and ideas beyond the usual approaches to sampling and swatching.
Earlier this month, in my first post of 2018, I shared my thoughts and plans for the coming year at Flora & Fiber. I've put the proverbial pencil to paper to bring those plans to life.
And that brings me to 'Alpaca - The Mini Series'.
The other 'Let's Spin . . ." posts have all been about various sheep breeds: Romney, Coopworth, Jacob, Lincoln, and Blue Faced Leicester. But today's post introduces something a little different, Camelids, which obviously includes camels, but also humpless South American alpacas, llamas, guanacos, and vicuñas.
A dear friend and fellow fiber enthusiast generously gifted me about 2 1/2 pounds of raw alpaca fleece in 3 colors - black, white, and cinnamon brown. A spinner's treasure trove! So how do you get from this wonderful bag of fluff to . . . luxuriant alpaca top ready to spin?
In today's post, I thought I would share my process from beginning with unspun fiber through the production of a finished woven project . . . in other words, Fluff to Stuff.
There's a lot of competition here at the farm for Best Spinner and Best Weaver. Despite my undaunted efforts, I don't think I'm winning.
I'm planning to weave an Autumn shawl from handspun, so my wheel is busy spinning the fibers for the project. The yarn needs to be something that when woven will create a lightweight fabric that is airy, yet stable, and has a soft drape.
I chose Romney wool to fit the above wish-list of yarn qualities for my shawl. Read on and see what you think about my choice of this fiber.
I'm currently in the midst of The Tour de Fleece. What is that you ask?
You'll just have to visit the blog to find out!!
The next spin in the 'Let's Spin . . . ' series is Lincoln, sometimes called Lincoln Longwool. The Longwool family includes many of the fiber world's favorite breeds. We have already met another of the longwools, Bluefaced Leicester.
Longwools are a category of sheep, which as the name implies, have a longer staple length, generally greater than 4 inches (10 cm).
My first and only spinning wheel is a Louet S-17. As a novice spinner, the reason I chose this particular wheel was I wanted a quality, yet inexpensive basic wheel and the S-17 more than fit that criteria. Yes, there are fancier and prettier wheels, but I love the simplicity of my S-17!
Most spinning wheels have a lacquered finish, while some are intricately carved from beautiful oak and cherry woods. Not my S-17, it's unfinished, laminated hardwood that has been sanded satiny smooth. Now some might find this unattractive, but I see it as a pristine palette calling me to create something uniquely mine. And so that is just what I did.