Jobo Designs

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

19. November 2011 10:20
by Jobo

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. 


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.

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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.

3. November 2011 13:28
by Jobo

The Finest Thread...

3. November 2011 13:28 by Jobo | 0 Comments

At the Maritime Handspinners' Retreat this year they held a small version of the Longest Thread Contest... where in a nutshell spinners are given a small sample of wool (10 g) and are asked to spin it as fine as humanly possible into a long single by whatever method they choose, 2-ply it, and then measure the length of the thread and see who manages the longest one! 

For the worldwide contest, raw wool is used (locks I'm assuming) and the rules are very strict - thread must be washed and balled, and then the threads are measured in Meters.  If the thread breaks or weighs less then 10 g, only the longest piece of the thread is measured.  The results are quite amazing on a global scale! (results taken from the website linked above)

Overall World Results for 2011:  First prize was given to a thread that was 1005.678 m / 10 g !!! by a spinner from the Netherlands - Jan Zandbelt

The world records are even a more incredible feat... when you consider that the actually single spun was twice as long as the listed length (remember:  these are 2-ply threads!)

Current World Record:  First prize 1468.61 m / 10 g by a spindle spinner from Kyoto, Japan - Naoko Tamuro

For the local contest... our wool consisted of samples of Colonial Wool, but because of a discrepancy in measuring, in the end our thread samples were compared scaled down to 8g.  Because the samples weren't passed out ahead of time, spinners had to spin their samples at the retreat, so I'm not sure that the spinner-sample was really representative of the attendees.

I chose to spin my sample on my 16g Birdseye Maple Bosworth Mini... where most people chose to spin on their wheels.  One other participant spun her sample on a supported Russian style spindle.  There were 15 participants in all. 

It took me most of Saturday to spin up my sample for the contest.  I was afraid of spinning too thin and having my thread break... so in retrospect, I could probably have gone a little lighter.

Regardless of my 20:20 hindsight... the hard work paid off - I won!

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My thread was a pathetic 69 m / 8 g.... which when converted to what it would have been for 10 g... is only a measly 86 m.  When you compare that to the best fine spinners in the world it doesn't sound all that impressive.  The judge did comment though that my yarn was nice and substantial, and was in no way in danger of breaking during the measuring (2 other people's threads broke). 

I'd be interested to see how well I could do with more time and a different type of wool preparation... i.e. spinning from a nice fine wool lock instead of a chunk of top.  I'm finding that I can get a much finer single from a bouncy crimpy wool lock than I can from a mostly smooth highly processed type of preparation.  Also, Because there was a time constraint, I think I might have rushed through some sections.  I think if I had a little more time, I would have been a bit more consistent and might have been able to spin a more even thread.

Fun Facts:

What can you do with ultrafine thread? Knit some amazing Lace!

Estonian Lace (i.e. Haapsalu Shawls) are knit using very fine, soft, bouncy, 100% wool threads that are 2000 m / 100 g

Orenburg Lace (i.e. Gossamer Shawls) are knit using very fine 2 ply thread of silk and Orenburg Goat Down that is 3000 m / 100 g

Shetland Lace (i.e. Wedding Ring Shawls) are knit using Shetland Wool yarns, often cobweb single ply yarns, that are 2000 m / 100 g

Compare with the World's Finest Thread:  (converted to 100 g to compare with these lace traditions)  14686.1 m / 100 g !

Compare with my sample:  (Also converted to 100 g) 862.5 m / 100 g

19. October 2011 09:22
by Jobo

Maritime Handspinners' Retreat: 2011 - Spin Local!

19. October 2011 09:22 by Jobo | 0 Comments

This past weekend (Oct 14, 15, 16) was the 11th Annual Handspinners' Retreat over in Wolfville, Nova Scotia!  The party was sponsored by Gaspereau Valley Fibres, and held at the Old Orchard Inn - a lovely hotel located in the middle of the Annapolis Valley surrounded by fantastic apple orchards.  The theme this year was "Spin Local" - encouraging everyone to spin the wonderful fibers available in our own backyards.  I really like the idea of using local products in my work, especially since my favorite fiber provider actually lives in my family room! 

I really enjoyed the event last year... so I was quite excited to go back and see the spinners I had met, and also to learn new things.  I always find I leave this sort of retreat feeling so inspired and enthusiastic about fiber and art.  Seeing all of the beautiful things that others make gets me all charged up to go home and be creative!  My friend Jo decided to come with me for the weekend, even though she wasn't a spinner... this woman loves yarn as much as I do, so I knew she'd find some common ground.  She even bought a drop-spindle and gave it a try!  I think we might make a spinner out of her yet?

Plus, it was really nice to have something like this trip to look forward to this year... I'm finding that I'm feeling a bit lost in this pregnancy, and devoting some time to just being myself and doing some "big people" socializing was really overdue.  A lot of what is going on now revolves completely around the baby... Spinning, however, revolves around the Momma!

I took lots of photos during our trip... too many for sure to put in a single blog post :)  So I'll start out with some beautiful Nova Scotia Scenery... even this time of year, the grounds at the Old Orchard Inn are beautiful!

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Stay Tuned... photos of vendors, interesting guests, and yarn and fiber to come later this week!

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