Jobo Designs

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

7. May 2009 09:45
by Jobo

Going Batty! making batts on my Strauch petite

7. May 2009 09:45 by Jobo | 1 Comments

So I had 1.5 ounces of two different colours of yummy soft tantalizing Naturally dyed polwarth top... and I'm thinking like a greedy spinner:  But it's so pretty!  If I spin them up alone, I won't have enough of anything to make any substantial project! sigh.


The only answer - blend them together and make some batts.


I recently purchased a book about using colour in your spinning.. the aptly named Colour in Spinning, by Deb Menz

Years ago, when I was enrolled in Art lessons and learning about various mediums I did some work with colour theory... Blending colours, hue/shade/tint/value, yadda yadda yadda.  But of course this was mostly with paints and chalk pastels, so when it comes to wool, I am still quite a bit clueless!  I understand the basics of colour, but as far as blending fibers goes, I am a relative newbie.

One chapter of the book in particular deals with methods for blending fiber using a Drum Carder.  Now I have had my Strauch petite for about 3 months, and really haven't done much blending with it yet.  Mostly all I have done is carded plain wool, so I was pretty excited to give this a try.  She describes the process of making thick or thin layers over the drum, and various combinations or arrangements and their resulting yarns.

Since I had 3 quite distinct colours:  Caramel (from Black Tea), Mauve (from Blueberries, Cream (natural undyed fiber) - I knew that I wanted to preserve some distinct areas of each colour in my finished yarn.  If those 3 colours blended too much I'd get a beigey grey final result.  So I decided to do several thicker layers, specifically with some cream separating the coloured wool so that hopefully the mauve and caramel would stay fairly unmuddied.

I started with approximately 1.5 ounces of each colour, and 3 ounces of cream (to sort of balance them out)  So I divided my strands of top so I would have 8 "chunks" of fiber from each of the coloured ones, and 16 of the cream ones, with the goal of finishing with 8 batts.  Since my fiber was high quality top to begin with, the individual pieces did not need to be carded on their own.

For each batt I layered:

      - 1/2 chunk of cream

     - 1 chunk of mauve

     - 1 chunk of cream                                              

     - 1 chunk of caramel

     - 1/2 chunk of cream


Carefully adding one layer over the other, and taking the time to smooth each layer down through the tines of the carding cloth.  Next I removed the batts (basking in the stripey glory) and attenuated them down to approximately a thick pencil roving size (maybe 2-3 cm around, or 1 inch for those imperial folks out there)  This process involved going back and forth across the fiber, pulling just a little bit at a time.  The batt went from being a thick rectangle to being a long strand with ribbons of each colour throughout.  Apparently when you get really skilled at this, you will end up with some of each colour in every section of the attenuated roving, but in my case there are sections with only cream and mauve, and some sections with only cream and caramel. 

The end result looks to me like a bowl of French Vanilla Ice cream with blueberry and caramel sauce drizzled over the top.  (Great, first it was pie cravings when I dyed the roving... now it's ice cream.  Spinning is going to make me FAT)

The resulting batts are very soft and airy, so I think they will be really fun to spin.  The fiber was really good quality to begin with, so it isn't surprising the the resulting batts are tangle/nep free and the roving drafts like a dream.

The 8 batts are quite large... Big enough to fill a dinner plate each.  I estimate that I have somewhere between 6-7 ounces of the blend, so hopefully enough that once spun will make a decent sized project. 

and here is a final picture with my favorite spinning gadget of the day!  Baby Petite.  She did all the hard work, I just added the imagination. 

(** please note when spinners talk about carder "bites" they aren't kidding!  those sharp silver metal teeth are brutal when you are careless and let your hands get too close.  I took 2 good sized knuckle chunks out of my hands working on this project before I smartened up and put a facecloth over the teeth as I was adding the layers.  Bleeding for your art sounds noble, but in my opinion is likely not necessary for successful carding/blending! **)

I'm not sure what weight yarn this stuff will want to be  in the end... my plan is to start out on the first batt and let the wool speak to me.  Polwarth has a fairly long staple, and this prep is mostly worsted-style, so I am imagining a finished yarn that is soft, but smooth and practical.  Maybe something semi worsted in several plies.  Most of the time I think I know what I am planning, but then the wool does its own thing and tells me that it wants to be something else, so who knows ;)

I'll post yarn pictures when it gets finished!

20. December 2008 14:07
by Jobo

I Might be in love with my Strauch Petite....

20. December 2008 14:07 by Jobo | 0 Comments

So this is her!  I got a good deal on a Strauch Petite Drum Carder.... and couldn't help myself.  Besides, seriously, would Santa know where to get one of these?  really?  Merry Christmas to me!

So to warm her up, and see if I could handle it, I made a couple batts out of some natural colored brown Alpaca and Merino X I had lying around.  Both fibers are a natural chocolate brown, and carded together beautifully, as easily as I had hoped.  Now of course, blending already prepared Merino and Alpaca isn't that hard of a job.... The alpaca is fine and soft as baby hair in the first place.  Gorgeous soft locks, with no matts or tangles anyways, but someday I will get ambitious, and wash the Jacob Fleece I have in a box upstairs... and then we'll see what the little carder is made of!  I need to get to a fabric store some day soon and get my hands on some tulle... for placing between the locks in my Laungerie bags so I can try washing wool in the Washing Machine.  A bunch of sites say that if you lay layers of the mesh between layers of locks, it helps to preserve the lock formation better. 

Here's a close up of the final blended batts... smooth and sproingy from the nice Merino X lambswool.  The stuff spins up like a dream too!  So well blended, and soft.  It drafts very easily, and needs very little predrafting since it is fluffed up so well.  Can't wait to try blending other fibers now... looking at my stash thinking... hrm, can I blend that with anything else here?  lol.  I think the spinning bug is becoming more contagious after all.  Is that even possible?

The blonde Ashford is really getting a workout these days... so much spinning so little time!

14. September 2008 11:44
by Jobo

The Cure for the "Denim Blues"

14. September 2008 11:44 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Still not over the carding cravings yesterday, so I thought I would use up the last bit of the "Hamlet" 100% Merino Batts I had bought to make Marky some socks. 

There was a little over 5-6 oz left, so definetly enough to make it worthwhile... and plus the original batts were kindof chunky strands of sky blue, pale blue and black, so using my new carders made it easy to blend things a bit better.  When I made the socks, I had blended this fiber with some natural gray carbonized bamboo, which made for some squishable soft fingering weight wool.  (see pics of man + socks below)  The finished carded rolags were so fluffy and soft... when I took them outside to take a pic of them, one nearly blew away in the fall breeze!When I mixed the batts a little more, I got a sort of worn faded denim color, just right for another pair of socks likely, though I think this 100% wool yarn will knit up a little different than the bamboo blend... likely will have more fluff and bounce (not to mention the fact that I spun this yarn woolen, as opposed to semi worsted last time)

This next pic seems to show the colour best, smokey worn faded denim blue.  As time goes on, I am actually getting better at producing a more consistant yarn.... I thought it would take me a lot longer to get a useable product, but surprisingly, no.  I had been saving some of my fancy luxurious fiber purchases until I knew what I was doing, but maybe that will be here sooner than I thought?  who knows.  I might have to start on the Merino/Angora/Mohair blend I got a few months back.  Maybe that sweater isnt' far over the horizon? 

This is a pic of the original batt I started with.  I got it from a great company on Etsy - (  They were one of the first places I bought spinning fiber, and I have found that everything I get is exactly as pictured, and is wonderfully prepared and ready to spin.  This particular batt was called "Hamlet" and I think the colourway was named after a family pet? The Carbonized Bamboo was a dream to work with... felt like silk!

And Finally the Marky Bamboo Merino Blend Socks.  Nothing like having a woman who will spin ya some wool, then knit ya homemade socks?  Men out there, eat yer hearts out! (this pattern can be found for free on ravelry from Marimi Knits - called "Ankle Socks")


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