Hello All! Things have been very busy at the Gosh! Yarn headquarters over the last week...And I am very excited to get to share some of what has been going on with you all!
So, we have been having just a TON of rain here in Colorado - it's the rainmageddon of 2015. We are all just hoping that we don't have a repeat of the devastating flooding followed by fires of a couple years back.
So, this has necessitated some innovation in terms of getting yarn dry to ship and I have racks of damp yarn drying in my fiber workshop since they can't go outside for faster drying!
So now we can pick up where we left off on the saga of the fleece.
So I spent the last week or so preparing wool and alpaca for spinning while I waited for my new spinning wheel to arrive. I have a teensy tiny space to work in so I opted for the e-spinner from Heavenly Handspinning - it takes up the least amount of room is really a lovely machine to work with.
And I carded and combed a mountain of fiber for spinning! And dyed some beautiful roving as well. Up til now I had only ever spun on a drop spindle so me and my little Vespera have been getting to know one another over the last couple of days.
White Lincoln X Border Leicester wool blended with a very dark brown alpaca, spiral plied with strong quilting thread:
I think this came out really beautiful - and I was very surprised as I spun it to see it looking this beautiful silvery heathered shade - I was expecting it to be more brown and less gray but it is just so pretty!
Then I did some teal wool and white alpaca blend and spiral plied it with a pale purple cotton thread:
And now I am working on a really pretty green/blue/chartreuse yarn that I am going to ply with a violet/red - I think it will be amazing!
Here is the green/blue/chartreuse single sitting on the bobbin!
So what is next for the store? Well, I am going to be working over the next week to get up a few new categories of products
First, I will be adding a section of "clearance" yarns - these are odd skeins, short skeins, strange dyeing experiments that may or may not have gone wrong depending on who you ask. Products in this category will be limited to what you actually see listed there in terms of stock.
Next - I will be adding in some hand dyed and prepared spinning fibers. Dyed locks, rovings and rolags - coming soon!
And last but not least - I will be adding in some handspun - there will be "handspun experiments" these may not be perfect, they will be limited to the yardage/weight that I have on hand, may never be repeated or made again, and will be sold for a lower price than those items in the "Handspun" category.
Lastly - Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! I hope your weekend is brilliant!
That is it for now - back to work - I have 3 new fleeces to wash and prep and a bunch of yarn to dye!
Hello Everyone! So I have been super busy here in the dye lab this week (aka the Fiber factory!). I got a gorgeous Border Leicester x Lincoln fleece from All Smiles Wool in Montana and am in the process of turning it from the raw fleece into gorgeous yarns for you all! This week we are going to look at part 1 of this 2 part series - Processing raw fleece.
So first - lets look at what the sheep that this fleece came from looks like:
(Image from http://www.lincolnlongwools.co.uk)
So - these are Lincoln sheep - they are a British breed and they are just so adorable...the Border Leicester is a shorter haired sheep so the sheep my fleece came from would be something like these, but with slightly shorter hair.
Here is the fleece itself!
It's pretty dirty, its greasy with Lanolin, and it has a lot of vegetable matter (vm) in it. But...even like this you can see the potential that this fleece has for being something gorgeous. Its got long curly locks - they are very beautiful with a staple length of 6 - 7 inches.
So first thing that has to happen is the biggest VM and really icky parts need to be pulled out - there are some spots that are just too matted, have too much VM or may have excessive lanolin deposits that won't come out with washing. Those bits are put aside (there wasn't much of it here - this fleeces is actually pretty clean as far as fleeces go).
Next it is getting a good washing:
I used very hot water, a couple squirts of dawn liquid and a splash of simple green - this did a really good job of getting the wool clean. While the wool is in the cleaning solution like this I tried not to touch or move it to avoid felting it. This process is called "scouring" the wool.
It came out pretty clean! And look at those beautiful curly locks!
Some of it is getting dyed - Here are some plum colored locks:
And here is a carded rolag (a little tiny batt rolled off of a carding comb)
So that is what I have been doing the last few days - in addition to getting some more new colorways up in the store - which will be along soon!
The next installment of fleece to yarn will include carding, combing, blending and spinning - I hope you will join me in a week or so for that!
So - things have been a little quiet the last few days, but I have been working on some really fun and exciting new products for you all.
I finished up a gorgeous shawl made with the Awesome! Tonal Sock Yarn in "Torch Lake" colorway - Here is a picture of the finished product:
I will have this shawl pattern written up and on Ravelry in about a week - I will also be offering it as a kit here in the store soon!
I have the new Sui Generis line of shawl skeins that will be slowly rolling out over the next few weeks - I just can't wait to really get started on these. I have a shipment of some really lovely yarns coming in for this line - 100% Blue faced Leicester wool, 80% Merino/20% silk and 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% nylon - these are super luxurious yarns and I have been mixing up new stock dyes in preparation! These will start rolling out on the website next week around Wednesday/Thursday depending on how fast the wool dries after dyeing.
Here is an example of one of these 150 gram shawl skeins:
This is "Sanibel Sunset" - named after one of my favorite places on Earth - Sanibel Island off the west coast of Florida.
Other exciting developments in the works - I have been learning to spin, and have a new spinning wheel coming soon, and a bunch of gorgeous raw alpaca fleece and also some Leicster x Lincoln fleece. So coming soon in this blog - I will post and document as I go through the process of taking raw fleece straight off the sheeps/alpacas back all the way to a beautiful finished product for you all to enjoy in your crochet/knitting/weaving projects. I am so exited about this I can't even tell you all, and I can't wait to have some gorgeous finished hand-dyed and hand spun yarns to offer! So keep checking back for new developments as I will be keeping you all up to date on how things are going with this. If I can ever get things organized I may also get some videos going of some of this stuff as well!
This is a picture of the LeicesterxLincoln Fleece that I ordered - look at those gorgeous locks!
Here is some of the alpaca fleece that is on it's way as well!
And some white alpaca too!
Other new developments - watch for new (much much better) and more professional product photos to start showing up in the store - that is in the works too!
I hope everyone has a great weekend filled with knitting and crocheting and relaxing, enjoy the beautiful spring weather!
So whats going on in the dye lab today? (aka - "the kitchen")
Well - I am handpainting some really beautiful 50/50 alpaca/wool So Smooshy! today - in gorgeous spring colors!
So - how do I handpaint yarn?
I start with the yarn - sometimes its in a hank already, sometimes it is in a ball or big skein, sometimes it is on a cone - but it all has to be wound into the right size hank for dying so it gets weighed and wound first.
And getting weighed - I always tend to favor "fat" 100g skeins!
Next it has to be soaked to prep it for the dye, and the dyes have to be mixed and put into applicator bottles.
Next comes the fun - the yarn is painted with the colors!
Then it has to be heated - I use a steamer basket in a pot on the stove for this.
I let the yarn steam til I am sure the dyes are set into the fibers - then it is allowed to cool, given a good rinse to make sure there is no excess dye hanging out in the fibers and then its given a good soak in some nice wool wash like Eucalan. This lets me know that the dyes are colorfast in the fibers and it also makes it extra soft and smooshy. In fact...I send a sample size of Eucalan wool wash with every purchase - I can't recommend this product enough :)
Also going on in the dye lab - we are doing some fingering weight "Ireland" tonal yarn in the kettle!
So - we will check in later to see how these all come out after they are dry!