Well, I have been very lax in posting to my blog. We have been very busy since January. Went to Diseworth on the Derby/Leicester border to watch pedigree Jacob lambs being shorn, and born. We selected which lamb we wanted, I chose one called Evoke because she had a lot of brown on her. The fleece is beautifullhy soft, shearling fleeces are the best that particular sheep will ever have. Terrific amount of lanolin in the fleece. I haven't been very particular preparing fleeces for spinning up until now, but it is a learning curve. This time I laid the fleece on a tarpaulin on the lawn to prepare it. I took off the 'skirts', the dirty bits all round the edges of the fleece.
Then I started splitting the fleece into sections of brown and white as I had plans! I used a dog brush to brush off the second cuts on the side nearest the skin (second cuts are where the clippers have gone through the fleece twice, and cause lumps in the yarn when you spin it.), then went on to brush the outside to remove hay and straw, etc. Where the two colours joined, I took the mixed brown and white and put that in a separate bag from the brown and white. I ended up with 4 bags, brown, white, mixed and dirty. I have never fancied spinning in the grease before, but I am tempted with this fleece as I was brushing separate locks out at times. We shall see.
What I plan to do with this fleece is to spin the two colours (I have more brown than white), use the brown as the base colour of a sweater and work Fair Isle bands round the bottom above the ribbing on the back, front and sleeves. I might work the ribbing in white as well, although I'm not sure about that yet. I could work in brown up to where I want the Fair Isle, then change to white and work the Fair Isle in brown, then more white before reverting to brown for the rest of that piece.
I was planning on using a white shetlan/Texel fleece to spin some yarn and dye it, but I had already washed it last year, and when I spun with it, there were so many second cuts it was a very lumpy yarn. I persevered to no avail, so gave up and started spinning it thick. I will ply it and end up with a rug yarn thickness, then dye it red with Madder and crochet a rug for the front room. I'm getting to the stage where the fleece tells me what it is suitable for.
At the beginning of February, Jenni Stewart and I went to the Guild of Long Draw Spinners at Stoke Albany. They had commissioned a great wheel from David Bryant and wanted to mark the first use of the wheel with a small event. They sent an invitation to our Guild at Botcheston in Leicestershire. Erica who is the Treasurer of our Guild is a member of GOLDS, so she was there as well. It was very odd, the hall was similar, the food was similar, the atmosphere was the same, just different faces. We settled down, with the usual chatting. There were some differences, like no looms as it is just a Spinners Guild, and a lot of members knitting their hand spun yarn. We admired the lovely great wheel in the corner. A table was set up in the middle of the hall, and Magge Stearn was there with lots of gorgeous rovings in different colour and fibre combinations. I succumbed to tempation and bought one in midnight blue, black, white and angelina, this was Merino, silk and angelina. The other one I bought was in caramel colours and white, botany wool and Tussah silk (I have started spinning the blue). There were also knitted items on display on the table, made by the members. We spun for a while, and looked at what the other ladies were doing.
Then the great wheel was set up and we went up in groups of 3 to learn to make the perfect rolag. Once we had our rolag which was made from some quite ropey white wool, we went and spun it on the great wheel while Janet the chairlady instructed us. It wasn't easy to walk backward while spinning, and there was a problem with keeping momentum up on the wheel. Janet thought this was because the belt was slightly too tight. The belt was crocheted from fine cotton crochet type thread. We each got a badge when we'd finished our turn on the wheel. I wanted to try it out as Sarah has a great wheel on loan and we want to get it up and running. We had lunch which was very nice, but no chocolate cake. At the end of an enjoyable day, we packed up and promised to return as we had a good time. Some of the members there go to 5 or 6 different Guilds!
We have both had bad Conjunctivitis in both eyes. I was on my way to Devon on the coach when mine started. Phil had had his a week before me. We caught this from our friends' little boy, and then his Mum. It was very nasty anyway. When I got to Sarah's we looked up natural remedies as my eyes were streaming. Unpasteurised honey came up, and Sarah had some from students who attended a business soap making course in order to use their bee honey and wax. It worked astoundingly well. Within 2 hours the weeping had virtually stopped. I had my own towels, and a towel over my pillow, lots of hand washing during the week, but it was nearly gone within 2 days, whereas Phil's lasted 10 days.
While down at Sarah's, we went to Bude to deliver soap, went to the beach at Bude with Rowan so she could run around, went to Bideford to get rosebuds from the 'Apothecary', then on to the Soap Kitchen at Torrington as they didn't have any. We went to Saunton Sands with Rowan and Holly who both ran around like loonies. I took lots down to do while I was there, but did very little as I couldn't see very well due to the conjunctivitis. I spun a little of the midnight blue roving and did a little crocheting on a blue jacket I was making in a blue marl Aran yarn.
Since coming back from Devon, I have been catching up on everything and trying deperately to get some sewing machines on eBay and Rowan Tree Studio's website. We haven't had a lot of machines come in since Christmas, they are just starting to trickle through.