Monday, May 20, 2013

Mr. Jacob Has A Bath.

Mr Jacob has been soaked, scoured and dried!

After letting the wool soak overnight, I drained out the water to get the worst of the guck off - Ewww! Gross! The water looked like chocolate milk and stunnnnnk. I didn't want to photo that. Let's look at more pretty wool instead:

Next, I filled the big pot I use only for dyeing with the hottest water I could make. I stirred in some bio-degradable detergent, and dunked in some wool! After ensuring it was submerged completely under the water, I placed it outside to cool. It was neat to see the lanolin floating on top of the water!

Later, I emptied the pot of water and carefully rinsed the wool. I dried out the fibre by squeezing it gently with a towel, and hung it up in my second bathroom to dry.

Poor, poor bathroom. It looks like a sheep exploded in there.

Even the octopus got fleecey.

I could not process the all the fibre at once - I had to scour the fleece in six different 'chunks'. However, Mr Jacob seems to be free of lanolin and dirt now! I was afraid I might have to repeat the process a second time, but I don't think I have to. There is still some straw and grass tangled in the fibre, but I will pick that out as I sort the fleece into different colours. I believe the rest of the dirt will come out during the carding process.

Now that Mr Jacob is all clean and dry, my next step is to prepare the fleece for spinning with my drum-carder... after I am finished plying my mountain goat. I only have 4 more ounces of fibre left to go - wish me luck!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Welcome home Mr. Jacob.

My sister delivered Mr. Jacob to my home this week (Thank you Michelle!)

**If you have no idea who Mr. Jacob is, check out my blog post on buying my first unprocessed fleece

After smelling up my bathroom for a few days, I have finally found the time to open the fleece up, explore it's natural colour variations, and start the cleaning process!

I think this fleece is beautiful - there is quite a bit of dirt, lanolin and some vegetable matter (aka "work ahead of me"), but there is an amazing range of colours within this spotted fleece. I have decided to separate the fleece into four or five different colours and drum card them separately. I will then design and knit a project that will showcase the wide range of values in this fleece. I was going to spin all the different tones together, but I don't want to loose any the contrast of this fleece. After doing some internet research, I was the most inspired by the finished handspun yarn posted in this blog post here.

I started by laying the fleece on the floor over my trusty shower curtain. I roughly sorted the fibre into two bags - one of lighter colours, one of browns/blacks.

Magnum helped.

There appears to be much more white in the fleece than brown (which I expected), but I will sort out the colours again once the fleece is clean and I can see the subtle colour variations properly.

I started the soaking the white fibre in water. I will let it sit overnight to loosen the suint and dirt, and I will start the scouring process over the next day or two. When I feel like I have this portion of the fleece under control, I will start the same process with the darker fibre.

More updates coming soon...!

**A wee little disclaimer - for the record, no sheep were harmed in the making of this blog post! One person had misunderstood some of the photos posted earlier and thought I had purchased a sheep SKIN instead of just the fleece, and was alarmed by my purchase. Don't worry, the sheep my wool came from is ALIVE, happy and healthy and ready to grow another fleece for next season! I am supporting local farmers and happy sheep with this endeavour!**



Monday, May 13, 2013

Meet Mr. Jacob...

This weekend I made a bit of a "surprise purchase". I would like to say it was truly an impulse buy, but honestly I think my subconscious mind has been planning this for a while.

One of my favourite places to lurk on Facebook is Knotty By Nature's page. Knotty By Nature is one of the best fibre arts stores I have ever been to. Located in Victoria BC, they have a beautiful shop in Fairfield complete with coffee bar, space for classes, fibre, wheels, yarn, and local craftwork for sale. Ryan and Stephanie, the owners, are both fantastically creative friendly people who inspire me to try something new and are always ready to share their knowledge. They help organize and sponsor an event called Fibrations on Victoria every year, which I really hope to visit soon! *Sniff sniff* Now if only their shop was a little closer to my home!

Anywho, I saw this photo posted on their page a few weeks ago, with the following comment by Ryan:
"We went out to a farm in Saanich today to witness these Jacob sheep being sheared. Sadly we had to go before the event actually began, but it was nice to meet the animals whose fleeces we will be selling in the near future".

Later on, I saw these lovely pics... friendly happy naked sheep, accompanied by fives fresh fleeces Ryan purchased for the shop.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to follow Ryan's progress as he washed one of the fleeces for his wife. I just loved the colours, and it made me feel a little less nervous about trying this process myself one day.

So this weekend, I swung past to shop to pick up Knotty By Nature's generous door prize gift for the next Greater Vancouver Spinners' and Weavers' Guild meeting. I had the intention of picking up a little something for myself (maybe some silk...? or hand-dyed fibre? Ryan dyes wonderful fibre to sell at the store), but then I saw the three remaining Jacob fleeces lined up along the wall of the shop....

Ryan opened up all the bags for me, and let me feel the textures of the three different fleeces, and study the different colours. He helped me select a fleece that was moderately soft, but also had a lot of colour variation - I intend to spin it up as a yarn with lots of contrast, and not to dye the final product. Maybe I will ply two strands of light wool together with one stand of dark brown...!?

Below is a photo of the sheered sheep my fleece might have come from!

My next step is to clean this fleece. I have never cleaned a dirty fleece before, and I am amazed by the amount of lanolin! However, the fleeces has been skirted very nicely and look to be pretty clean of vegetable matter. Ryan helped me find an appropriate biodegradable soap to wash it with, and some other helpful customers in the store told me where I could find some cheap mesh bags appropriate for drying the wool in town! I guess I am all set now!

I named the fleece Mr. Jacob, after the breed of sheep it was sheered from. My sister has graciously offered to drop it off at my house so I did not have to walk on the Vancouver ferry with an arm-load of dirty sheep.  When Mr. Jacob has arrived and the process begins, I will post some more photos and an update on my progress!

Oh dear, I haven't even finished the mountain goat yet. I guess I just needed to line up another challenge..!

**A special "Thank You!" to Ryan of Knotty By Nature for letting me use all these photos in this post - they are all his! All your help and support is soooo greatly appreciated!**


Friday, May 3, 2013

Testing Test... 1 2 3!!!

Whew, I've been busy!

Besides working on two new designs, and finishing up the layout for a bunch of other patterns on the computer, I have putting together my "library" of dye samples!

Previously, I went and made samples of all base dyes that I have available to me...

Then I decided to create small samples of each colour blending into every other colour... I hand-painted gradients from one colour to another. Each gradient contains 5 dye soluations: 100% DyeA, 75% Dye A and 25% DyeB, 50/50% DyeA and DyeB, 25% Dye A and 75% DyeB, and 100% DyeB.

That's a lot of samples.

When they were set and dry, I cut them up and mounted them on cards for easy reference - DyeA on one end, and DyeB on the other.

Next step - photograph! I took a carefully light-controlled image of each card, and put them into on my computer.

After cropping and sorting these photos, I created colourwheel images for every dye base I have.  This way, I can see EVERY shade I can make by blending one colour!

The other day I had my friend Sara over. We had sooo much fun with these samples - we really put them to work! She wished to create a grey sock yarn for a present for her dad, and I wanted to dye some worsted yarn to knit a present for a family member. After dumping the sample cards on the table and drooling over all the possible colour combinations for a bit, she decided to try a diluted blend of black with a dash of cobalt.

I dyed my wool with a mixture of 75% turquoise and 25% black.

We were both SUPER happy with the results! Now I just can't wait to try more complicated combinations - that will be my next dyeing experiment!