Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

19. November 2011 10:20
by Jobo
0 Comments

An extra special Fur Project

19. November 2011 10:20 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Every now and again I get to work on some very special projects… something beyond just knitting an established  project with boring old run of the mill wool.  In this case, the uniqueness comes in the form of some special dog fur. 

Gaia

I met the owner on the internet… she was looking for someone to spin up some fur from a well-loved Shepherd Dog – Gaia – who has since passed away.  I always find it interesting how people meet up sometimes, and how the internet makes the world that little bit smaller.  This fur came all the way from England to Prince Edward Island to be processed and worked into a keepsake photo frame. 

I’m a little embarrassed to say that this has taken me longer to get ready than I had anticipated… life is a little weird right now with the baby coming and all.  But I managed to get the fur carded up and spun at the Maritime Handspinners’ Retreat, and this weekend I plan on finishing up the knitting of the frame.

First things first:  Here’s the fluff itself!

Gaia Fur on Carder with Merino

I decided to use the drum carder for this project to make some nice puffy soft batts to spin from.  I actually had a decent amount of the dog fur (about 2 ounces) so I eyeball blended it with some soft creamy Merino Wool about 60:40 Dog : Merino.  I really liked the way that the golden/cream fur combined with the cream wool… not overpowering the color, but instead highlighting the depth of shade that was already present.  I got 4 nice big soft batts, and took them along with me for open spinning time at the retreat.  I even stumped a few people at the retreat who tried to identify the preparation.  One thought it might have been alpaca, because of the softness.

Oct 15 2011 176

Since I knew I was going to be knitting a photo frame, I decided to go with a standard 2-ply yarn, and let the fiber decide on the size as I went along.  It’s funny really how sometimes a fiber prep will tell you how it wants to be spun.  It seemed to flow through the fingers nicely at a fingering weight-ish single, so I just went with it.  The finished yarn feels like a light worsted weight or so, but I imagine will knit up like a regular to heavy worsted yarn because of the nice halo.  I do lovely that aspect of spinning canine undercoat – the yarn ends up with such a desirable substantial halo.  The stuff may be prone to felting, but boy is it warm!

Gaia Skein 1 

The finished skein is a nice size… somewhere around 3 – 3.5 ounces, and the finished yarn is already developing that characteristic halo.  I like the way that the cream and golden colors have marbled together and gave a nice soft variation in the finished yarn.  Now I’m off to skein it up and do a little swatching to choose the correct needle size.

I had a hard time finding a premade photo frame to measure and use for the dimensions of my knitted frame… so I think I’m going to get creative and wing it.  I figure, I intended to cover the entire frame with knitted fabric anyways, so I think I will make a frame in my own desired size from some nice smooth corrugated cardboard (maybe in 2 – 3 layers to give the illusion that there is a thicker wooden frame under the wool) and use that as my starting point.  It will be light for mailing back to the UK, but also can be any size that compliments the photo, so will give me a few more options to really showcase Gaia and his beautiful fur.

9. July 2009 22:33
by Jobo
2 Comments

Angel Blend - Heavenly Fibers!

9. July 2009 22:33 by Jobo | 2 Comments

After the slightly embarassing Mohair mishap...  I decided to go ahead with my original plan #2 for Tour de Fleece and do some Blending and Drum Carding!

I have been collecting fibery things for over a year now, and one thing that always seems to get me all excited is trying new fibers.  I have a small stash of many different types of fibers:  silk hankies, soy silk, tussah silk, angora rabbit (in various shades), Merino top, Polwarth top, Dark Chocolate Merino, Chocolate Raw Alpaca, Nylon for Sock Yarn, Mohair (uggggg), Chiengora (from the family pets)....

So I figured that a blending experiment might be fun?  Since I already had lots of goodies kicking around?  (Does it ever feel like your stash is calling your name?)

The Raw Ingredients:



I didn't really weigh or measure anything... I just started tearing and picking until I had a decent sized handful.  The goal here was to get more comfy with Blending things on my Strauch Petite... not to card enough wool to spin a sweater.  For a lot of other people the TdF is a chance to try new things and learn, so I figure I should take advantage of that too!

I know that in a lot of commercial yarns that the angora content is not super high... usually somewhere around 10 - 25 % so I tried to use a fairly small proportion of that.  The Bamboo was so shiny and smooth, I used a little more of that than angora.  I had purchased the Soy Silk originally to try making laceweight on a drop spindle... thinking that it was long and strong fibers like actual silk.  When I realized that this particular Soy Silk only had a staple length of 2 inches max, and was slippery as heck, I decided against the original plan and put it away for a rainy day... ta - daa Rainy day.  The Merino?  think of it as super soft "glue" that holds the other fibers together.

Most of the references I've read suggest to use fibers of similar staple length when you blend fibers together.  In this case, the angora, merino and bamboo were all similar in staple length, and the soy silk was short... but I threw her in anyways!  I thought it might add some gold sparkle / shine to the mix so I just went with it.

I layered all the fibers onto the drum (instead of feeding it in) in an alternating pattern with Merino first, last, and in between the layers of the luxury fibers.  Aka merino, angora, merino, soy silk, merino, bamboo, merino...

To blend a little further (without allowing the separate "ribbons" of fiber disappear into each other)  I ran it through the carder one more time... and then rolled and admired.  



I really wish the camera could show you all of the subtle little ribbons of bamboo and soy silk... they gleam in the light.  Unfortunately it was dark already here... these pics were taken under my Ott Light.  The angora lent it's baby bunny softness too :)  It's quite obvious touching the batt that there is angora in there!



I finally figured out how to fold batts into those beautiful "snail shell" configurations you see on all the pro fiber sites.  The shape is actually kind of fitting in this case... the bamboo shine and softness of the merino looks a bit like the inside of a shell coated with mother of pearl.



All Spun!  I tried to spin this with very little twist with hopes of lofty and soft yarn.  I think I would like to ply this with something thread like, but I don't want to use standard sewing thread.  I am thinking maybe a skinny bamboo single?  the shine would contrast the blended single I think.  Will sleep on it for now, since I won't be able to spin untill tomorrow after work anyways.  I also have silk hankies, so they would also be a possibility for the second ply....

8. June 2009 17:19
by Jobo
2 Comments

Playing with Polwarth

8. June 2009 17:19 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Some time ago on a girls shopping trip I bought some hand dyed polwarth top... over at London-Wul



It had looked so cutsie in it's little bag I couldn't help myself really.  I bought 2 bags of 1/4 lb each (about 8 ounces total) and started spinning the first bag over the weekend.  I thought they were the same dye lot, but today when I went to dig in to bag number two I got a surprise... erm... well sort of.  bag number two had a bunch more vivid blue and dark grey bits than the first one!  I guess they will have to be separate projects now since I have 2 bobbins of singles done already and can't incorporate the new coloured bits all throughout the yarn.  I'm a little disappointed, but I guess it will be okay in the end.  This is lovely stuff, very soft and straight, spins effortlessly really.

Here is what the first bag looks like spun into singles:



Mostly grey and blue shades, this bag is more homogeneous with less variation in both colors of grey and blue, whereas the second bag has a bigger range of colour.  I'm toying with the idea of abandonning my original plan of making a  traditional 3 ply for my mom to make mittens out of... I'm just not sure what I can make of it instead.  Will have to ponder this one for a bit I think.

Here is the pic of the 2nd bag... Anyone got any ideas?



I suppose I could 2 ply it, using one dye lot for each ply... but then that's no good for mittens (which was the reason for the purchase originally)

Noob mistake... not looking at all the fiber before starting!  if I had looked I probably would have planned differently.  ugh.

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