Jobo Designs

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

9. July 2009 22:33
by Jobo

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....

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!

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