Violette the Corriedale Raw Fleece

Every year, when I’m sitting out in the yard for days pulling the locks from a dirty, unwashed fleece I think of this fleece as a reminder of why I’m out there.

I got this fleece for my second year of raw fleeces.  It was gorgeous.  Ever so soft and a lovely pale grey to cream and huge.  Quite a lot of VM and debris.  My shepherdess told me that Violette had been sick the previous winter and she wasn’t coated because of that.  That was fine.  I don’t mind dealing with VM.  I pulled it into chunks, stuffed them in mesh bags and scoured.  And that was my big mistake.

I didn’t have enough experience at the time to know that sickness often causes a break in the wool.  Or that pulling the locks lets a lot of the VM fall out.  Or that this fleece was extra heavy on the lanolin (honestly, if my shepherdess didn’t insist that this was Corriedale, I’d have thought it was Merino because it’s softer than the Merino fleece I got last year and had just as much lanolin).

After scouring, this fleece sat for while.  I had other fleeces I wanted to deal with first.  When I finally got back to it, I started pulling the locks.  That’s when I discovered the first problem.  The but ends are matted.  They can be pulled apart and then brushed out.  It’s hard to tell now but I’m pretty sure there was a break 1/4 inch from the butt end.  If I had pulled the locks before scouring I could have pulled off that 1/4 inch and saved myself tons of work now.

The next problem I noticed was that there was still a lot of lanolin.  So I needed to re-scour.  I decided to dye and scour at the same time, which worked but in the end I’ll have to overdye the spun yarn to even out the dye job.

This brings me to where I am now. 2 years later and I’m still dealing with this fleece.  I have to pull apart the butt ends and flick/brush them and usually the tip ends as well to get out VM.  I do this to each and every lock.  Then load up my hackle and comb.  It takes about 30 locks to load the hackle and 30-45 minutes to make one small nest.  Flicking/brushing is quite a strain on my body so I can only do 2-3 nests a day.  Which means that this fleece will take me a long time to process.  I still have about 1/3 to re-scour (I’m waiting until the weather warms so I can do it outside where I can do more at one time and I won’t dye it.)

If I’d just taken the time to pull the locks and scour properly (or had the knowledge that I should do this) I wouldn’t have to work so hard on it now.  Some may ask why I’m going to all this work.  The sheep grow more.  It’s because this fleece is so nice, once all the work is done.  I’ve spun a few skeins and it’s gorgeous yarn and so very soft.

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Pattern Release and Project Bags

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Belated pattern release announcement.  I released Her Immortal Scroll Cowl last Friday but forgot to announce it here.  It’s not turning out to be as popular as my first pattern but then I didn’t expect it to be.  It’s not nearly as striking.  What was I thinking when I bought that yarn?  It’s ugly.

No WIPs today.  I spent most of the week sewing and not knitting so there’s not enough progress on anything to bother showing.  Instead I’ll show the 23 bags I made.

Along with the ones I made previously, I’ve got about 30 project bags now.  The left picture is from my fabric stash, some scraps sewn together, some bigger pieces.  The red and black ones will have some tatting hand-sewn on, once I weave in the ends on the tatting.  The right picture, except for the purple one, are all from thrift store pillow cases.  The linings are white or cream, from thrift store sheets, except for a few on the left that have the lighter colored pillowcases as linings.  I did the 10 pillowcase bags all in one day, as a production line.

My husband is going to build storage for me in one corner of my room.  Probably just a bunch of hooks on boards but I’ll be able to hand multiple bags on one hook.  I’m waiting for that to happen and then I’ll move all my projects to bags instead of the bins they now live in.  Then the bins can be used for fiber storage.

Knitting WIP

Sorry for the lack of WIP post last week.  It was our birthday week (my husband and I share a birthday, 4 years apart) and he took the week off of work.  We were snowed in for the first day so did a Downton Abbey marathon.  That turned out to be so much fun that we did it the next day (and the roads were still messy anyway.)  The next two days we spent out shopping.  When I did have time to knit I worked on my cowl design which I couldn’t show you anyway.

I finished the cowl over the weekend and will be releasing the pattern tomorrow.  Since finishing the cowl I’ve been working on A Downton Abbey Wedding Shawl.

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I’m three rows from finishing the third section. Three (increasingly difficult) sections and a border to go.  Although to be honest, the eyelet rows are the most difficult for me.  It’s not that the stitches that are difficult but for some reason they make my hand hurt.  I have to take at least an hour break after finishing one to let my hand rest.

I’ve got the chart and yarn picked out for my next design but I’m taking a break from designing.  I don’t want to burn out on doing colorwork and I would like to make more progress on my other WIPs.

Speaking of other WIPs, I have made some progress on some of them but it’s either not enough to make it worth showing or so boring that I’m just waiting until it’s done. My Jacob wool garter shawl is one that’s boring.  I knit on it during Nascar races and I’m making good progress but really, who wants to see acres of garter stitch?

Oh and on one of those shopping days we stopped at a yarn store and I got some beautiful silk (Mawata) hankies for spinning.  I’ve never spun them before and I’m a little intimidated by them.  I’ve researched how to spin them and I understand it but I just haven’t gotten up the courage (or the time) to start spinning.

I may or may not get a WIP post up next week.  I want to sew more project bags and I’m hoping to start next week. There’s nothing wrong with having dozens of project bags is there?  I need to find a way to store the ones with projects in them.  I can’t leave them on the floor or the cats will get into them and I don’t have any spare horizontal surfaces to put them on.  Maybe I can put hooks in the ceiling.  Or I’ve got a bit of empty wall above my spinning wheel.  I’ll have to see if my husband can build me something there.

Random Ramblings

Does anyone else’s brain just suddenly go “Nope!” while they’re knitting?

I’m on the third consecutive day of working exclusively in my colorwork cowl design.  I’m about 2/3 through knitting it.  Last night I really hit a groove.  My fingers knew what movements to make to knit each color without me having to think about it much and I was knitting along nearly as fast as I would with one color instead of two. Today started out the same but all of a sudden my fingers aren’t doing the right things.  If I’m supposed to knit 2 black stitches next I end up knitting 2 color stitches or vice versa.  I immediately notice, of course, and tink back to fix it.  It’s just weird.  The last time it happened I distinctly remember thinking “knit 2 black” but I knit two color stitches.  My hands just did the opposite of what they were supposed to do.

This happens on shawls too.  For example, let’s say the lace pattern is a 10 stitch repeat and it’s repeated a dozen or more times across the row.   The first two repeats set the pattern into my memory and I merrily knit along without having to look at the pattern.  On the 10th repeat, all of a sudden, I can’t remember what stitch comes next and have to check the pattern, even though I knit the repeat from memory just fine 10 seconds ago.

I don’t know what the problem is, brain fatigue maybe.  It’s just weird.

In other news, it’s been five days since I released my first pattern and while it’s not gone viral, it’s not been ignored either.  I’ve had two people buy it and more than 40 favorite it.  I’m pleased.

I’m not really looking to make money from my patterns.  It’s more to give back to the community.  Although I am hoping to make about $50 a year.  Yes, a year. That gives me enough money to buy my fleeces every spring.  Anything I make beyond that is unplanned.  Come to think of it, I might spend any extra on needles.  I’d like to have 47 inch circulars in every size and several in some sizes.  I have some but not as many as I want/need.

Knitting WIPs

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A Downton Wedding Shawl – I’m past halfway on the third section.  It’s a nice little knit.  Not too complicated (yet).  It changes fairly frequently so it keeps my interest.  I’m knitting the original size but I may have to alter the end a bit.  I’m not sure I have enough yarn. Yarn is reclaimed; 35% wool, 25% rayon, 25% nylon, 20% silk, 5% cashmere

I’ve worked on other things but nothing has enough progress to bother to show you except for my next cowl design, which I can’t show until I release the pattern.

My new motto seems to be: Progress is progress.  It doesn’t matter if I only knit one row, or comb 2 nests of fiber in a day, it’s still progress.  I’m one row or 2 nests or whatever I manage to do closer to the end.

That being said, my cowl design is calling to me so I’m off to knit.  I’m almost to halfway.

Spinning FOs

 

It was a productive month of spinning, despite the sewing distraction.

5 skeins of fingering weight from Patrick the CVM 2016 for a total of 1052 yards.

A 209 yard skein of fingering weight CVM.  I keep seeing skeins spun from those gorgeous dyed commercial braids. Part of the reason I got into raw fleece is because I can’t afford those braids. I tried an experiment to see if I could dye hand combed top without felting it. I succeeded but I don’t actually like how it looks knit up so I won’t be doing it again. Turns out I like the yarn in the skein far more than the yarn when knit.

5 skeins of bulky weight CVM.  It’s still a bit damp so I’ve not measured it yet.  This finishes Patrick the CVM, aside from a pillowcase stuffed full of combing waste.  Someday I may card that to make lumpy bumpy yarn.  I’m a bit tempted to sew the bag closed and use it as a pillow as it’s very soft and comfy.  Eeyore the cat likes to sleep on it.

An unmeasured skein of Hampshire for weaving.  It’s about sport weight.  This was spindle spun.

I am very pleased with what I accomplished.  Patrick the CVM is done and off my mind.  Now it’s on to Violette the Corriedale’s super delicate but soft fleece.  I have several ziplocs of dyed locks to comb which will take me awhile.  I can only do 2-3 nests a day because I have to flick the locks before combing.  My body can only take so much of that before things start hurting.  I’ll do a post in the future showing the issues and process of this fleece.  Many would toss it as not worth the effort but it is such soft wool and spins like a dream that I’m willing to put in the work.