Category: Fiber prep

Ultra fine Merino

There’s a smallholder in Australia with 100 Merino ewes and a few rams. Nui Milton is also a fabulous spinner. You can follow her on Facebook, look for Casalana Wool. I bought 200 grams of grey locks from her, scoured a few staples at a time, flicked them open in both ends with a small dog brush, and spun from the cut end as fine as I had the nerve to. I wanted a shawl yarn that can take some blocking, so I didn’t spin as fine as I could’ve done. No, I’m not boasting! This wool can be spun so fine you can’t see it! You only have to be patient, take breaks, don’t spin when you’re tired. I know some of the participants in The Longest Thread competition in Bothwell use Nui’s wool.

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70 grams, 1260 meters. Enough for a small shawl.

Nui has found a way to keep the staples in order when stored. She simply uses rubber bands! They are easy to remove, and they don’t damage the delicate fibers if your careful.

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I’m sorry for the bad photo quality. I hope you can still see how lovely this Merino is. I like Merino, I like the way it feels, how it just lines up into fine, soft yarns. It’s not a fiber for beginners, but once you’ve learned the basics of spinning, and feel comfortable with you wheel or spindle and your drafting, you can spin it.

I spun on the Hansen Minispinner (lace flyer), and plied with the WooLeeWinder.

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Next step: to knit a lace shawl!

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Dyeing and teaching

I dyed a fleece:

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I bought several Finn x Texel fleeces to use in spinning classes. The wool is coarser than pure Finn, and easier to prepare and spin. This one I’ll spin myself. The bright colours I’ll use in a sweater for my granddaughter, the pale red and green in socks.

The spindling class last weekend was great fun! Seven ladies and a young lad got a first glimpse of the wonderful world of spindles. I love the new crafters house at Stundars. It’s built and decorated with the great skills you can expect from dedicated crafters. As always when teaching, I forget to take pics in class. I took this one, though:

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I showed my spinning wheels also, as an introduction to an upcoming wheel spinning class in the autumn.

 

Hand carders

At last! I took new photos this morning. Here they are. This is the treasure I found at the medieval event last Saturday:

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New, unused carders from one of the renown card makers in Kokkola, Indola. The Kokkola area was known for high class carders from the end of the 19th century until the last one gave up and stopped making them in the 1980s. This is handcraft from beginning to end. The tines are mounted a pair at a time on leather. I had a pair that was very similar, worn out many years ago. Since then I’ve been looking for a pair of used Finnish carders, but didn’t find any I wanted to buy. There are second hand carders for sale every now and then, but they are often in very bad condition.

As you can see these also are a bit rusty. The old carders weren’t stainless like today, so no sprinkling of water on these carders is allowed. The very small rusty parts in my new carders will be kept rust free by using the carders, and adding a bit of oil to a few staples of wool every now and then and using it to clean and oil the carders. Or, by not scouring away all the lanolin from the wool. I’m one of those who doesn’t want to work with dirty wool. I scour almost all wool.

You can also see that these carders are not a matching pair. That doesn’t worry me, as I don’t switch hands when I card. I use the heavier card as my upper carder as it sits well in my hand. The card cloths are the same size.

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Below three of my hand carders, and my flick carder. To the left are my old carders with a new cloth from Hedgehog Equipment. It’s plastic, so it has to be attached to the carder in a different way than leather cloth: by gluing it close to the wood. The fine cloth carder to the right is from Louet, also with the cloth glued. The Indola carder in the middle has a TPI (tines per inch) in between these two, and the tines are mounted on leather. The flick carder has strong, unbending tines.

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Below: See how different the tines are in the three carders! On top the coarsest from Hedgehog, then Indola, and Louet fine. Notice that the leather isn’t glued to the wood. Instead the leather is glued to a sturdy piece of paper, and nailed onto the wood only around the edges as the leather must have space to move, otherwise it’ll crack. Also look at the wood grains: the two Finnish carders wood is turned in another way than the Dutch. I don’t know why that is, maybe it has something to do with the two different kinds of wood and the way the cloth is attached. My old carders naturally had leather cloth also, so the glue next to the wood is a new thing for them. Now this is NOT the way you store your carders, I only placed them like this so you could compare the tines. You store them belly to belly in order to protect the tines.

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Here are all of my hand carders. The bench carders also have leather cloth, and they were made somewhere in Finland, maybe even at Indola. I got them as a wedding present, and my husband got a miniature plane so he could make a proper bench, but he was in a hurry and didn’t use it… I attach the mounted carder to the bench with clamps when in use.

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Now why all these carders? For different kinds of fibers, obviously.

Louet fine: for very fine fibers like cotton, Merino, silk.

The coarse Hedgehog: for coarse, long wool and double coated wools like Åland, Värmland, and for opening other wools before carding on one of the other two.

The bench carders: for opening large amounts of fibers of all kinds. I sometimes use them for opening dog hair that is difficult to card and can be spun from a cloud.

Indola: for Finnsheep, Swedish Finewool, and other short, fine to medium wools. Indola’s carders are not a result of random card making. They are perfect for the wool they were made for, i.e. Finn. I can’t explain why the flexible leather, the sharply bent tines and the amount of tines per inch, is so perfect for these wools. But it is. I felt sheer, simple joy when I tested them at the booth in Kokkola and had the great pleasure of pairing two carders that seemed to be the best for my way of carding.

The label “Kardmuseum” indeed says “carder museum”. I still have to find out what that means. But obviously the equipment and also some of the raw material from Indolas kardfabrik is still stored somewhere in Kokkola. It was a cottage industry amongst other similar that sold carders all over Finland, and also exported carders to Russia around 1900. Before WWII Indola made some 50 000 pairs of carder yearly. Leather was another big business in the area, and that is one of the explanations why carders where made in several cottage industries there. For good carders you need good leather of the right kind: plant tanned sheep skin.

My little helper:

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Dressing a distaff with wool

I love this video that I came across when reading old posts in the Spindle Lore forum on Ravelry. No, I don’t know what the lady says, but I can hear a word I know very well: “rock”. That’s the word for (spinning) “wheel” in Swedish. It originates in a German word meaning “distaff”. The spinner also shows a quite efficient way of preparing wool for spinning without other tools than her hands.

EDIT 26.4.14: so the video is no longer available, or there’s some other trouble.  I’m sorry, it really was a nice video.

875 grams of handspun yarn

I got a blending board a couple of months ago. Now I’ve finished the first yarns spun from rolags made on the board. This is a very fast way to use odds and ends from your stash. I now have 875 grams of 3-ply Merino yarn, WPI 16, spun with a double long draw. The real challenge is to use this yarn in a way that shows it without blurring the colours. I’m thinking moduls or stripes with a contrasting colour.

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Stockholm

My husband and I were in Stockholm last weekend. We didn’t go anywhere, so I don’t have anything to show other than a snowy street and my granddaughter having great fun.

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Just think that you can live in a big city with white snow and peaceful streets! It was as quiet as in the countryside, only a few blocks away from Slussen.

I met two spinners while in Stockholm. The other one brought me a spinner’s delight from the US, thanks so much, Kerry!

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Power Scour, not sold in Finland as far as I know. How do they think anyone can live without Power Scour? Washing my fleeces will be a piece of cake for a while. Then I’ll seriously start thinking of ordering it from the UK, because I don’t want to use anything else after having tried this. My white Finn fleece is soon washed, and I can go on with the other fleeces. There’s quite a heap of them, I’ll tell more in another post. I also met another Ravelry friend whom I’ve been talking to for several years, and also has met IRL a few times earlier. Such a good place to get to know people, Ravelry!

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We finally have snow here in western Finland, and it’s cold as it should be in winter. Now I need my woollens! Kasper thinks it’s nice, too, but he already has his woollens on. I think I’ll knit him a sweater one day anyway. He’ll be 10 years old this spring, and will need something warm in winter.

New year, new tool

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I got a blending board for Christmas. I bought a piece of card cloth, and hubby took an old book shelf and turned it into a board. I love it! For a long time I thought I don’t need yet another tool, but now I know I did. This is a wonderful way to turn fibers you don’t like, or left overs, into something new. I’ve already started spinning the rolags. While spinning I’m thinking of what colours I want the two other strands to be. Bright green-blue-turquoise perhaps?

As you can see I use two rather thick dowels. I want the rolags to be lofty, but also sturdy enough to be handled. I have several of these dowels for different kinds of fibers and tools, as I use dowels with hand carders also. The fibers I now work with are Merino and Merino-Silk tops of good quality for a smooth yarn. But the blending board is perfect for making the most wild and unruly art yarns batts also. Lots of videos on Youtube!

I’ll oil the wood one day when I don’t feel like I want to make rolags.

This new year’s eve isn’t particularly tempting if you want to take a walk. We have no snow, it’s raining, and more rain is promised. This time of the year we usually have lots of snow. The red sticks  are for the gigantic tractor with the snow plow to help it stay on the road even when it’s pitch dark. That tractor is so big and comes with such a speed that I always think it’ll move our house to another spot in the garden if it comes off course, and I have to take a step back from the window just in case. The sticks have been in place for two months now. But now snow. Maybe next year… 🙂

Happy New Year to you all!

Vägen nyårsafton 2013-1