Sari Silk and Churro Fleece Beret

Finished at last. It took me two days to knit my newly designed beret while sitting and listening to some of my favorite music. The hat was an easy knit and I designed the pattern as I knit. Sari silk yarn coupled with the Churro fleece is a welcome accent. The colors blend well with that of the Chestnut Churro fleece. After measuring my head circumference I decided how to go about creating my hat design. Once the two-inch rib stitch along the lower edge of the hat was completed from there I decided where to make my increases and decreases in stitches. Now that I have completed the Sari Silk and Churro fleece beret I can turn my attention to a vest I originally had in mind before I was side-tracked and urgently needed to complete the beret as thoughts of its outcome were more important to me.

Note: I must admit I did run out of yarn and had to return to the spinning wheel to spin a few yards more. No problem though, I had plenty of Churro fleece already teased, and ready for spinning. Pictures of Sari Silk & Churro Fleece Beret to come.

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Wensleydale Fleece

Just purchased this absolutely beautiful fleece from Natalie Redding at Namaste Farms out in Temecula, California. Natalie works as a shepherdess on her farm.  The fleece is almost as black as black can get, as Natalie would say. I was lucky enough to get 3 pounds of the fleece. I simply can not wait to get my hands on this Wensleydale fleece, as it is considered to be the fleece of fleeces. Some would call it black gold. As I write this bit of information to share with you all…it is in the mail and making it’s way to Bradenton, Florida. When it comes to fleece…well any kind of fiber, I am like a kid in a candy store. Already my mind is racing about and thinking about something lovely to knit from my new Wensleydale fleece. I am so excited. I can’t wait, but will have to wait for it’s arrival by mail. Here is a sneak preview of what the fleece looks like. I think the first night I have the fleece in hand I will sleep with it, just to enjoy it a little longer before processing it to work with. Black gold. I’m smiling from ear-to-ear just thinking about the feel of the fleece. Have a blessed day.

Chestnut Churro Fleece Off the Bobbin (What a beautiful yarn)

The chestnut Churro fleece is finally off the bobbin and ready to knit into my recently designed hat. This hat will consist of the chestnut colored Churro fleece and Sari silk in multiple colors. I decided to do something a little different with the Sari silk. It is being used as an art yarn to create another dimension of texture along with the Churro fleece which was spun with the short and long fibers of the fleece.

Spinning the Churro was interesting in that the long fibers created a coarse texture in the yarn. But, when combined with the short fibers the result is a yarn that is slightly spongy in nature. Churro fleece is excellent for outerwear in that the fibers tend not to felt with continued use.

Prior to setting the twists in warm water the yarn was left to rest on the bobbin for a day to help set the twist before the final setting of the twist in warm water and fabric softener. The fabric softener also helps to lessen the coarseness of the Churro fleece during the final rinse when setting the twist in the newly spun yarn. The yarn will be weighted and sun dried to relax the twist creating a perfectly balanced yarn.

Here is what the yarn looks like after it has had the twists set in, weighted and dried. I must say the results I am very pleased with. The fabric softener helped in softening the finished yarn. Now all I have to do is knit a swatch with this yarn and see what I have in relationship to using it for the rib stitch pattern for the edging in my new Sari silk knit hat design.  Nothing could be more satisfying than to complete an object from the fleece off the sheep to the finished wearable object.

Note:  The yardage on this particular spin was 128 yards from 3 ounces of Churro fleece. The  Sari silk hat design has already been drawn out…now to the knitting of it.

Carding Churro Fleece

Yesterday about five o’clock in the evening I finally checked the mail which hadn’t been checked in a while as I don’t have a great expectation of receiving a lot of mail. I had ordered a set of clamps for my Louet Junior carder that had been misplaced at one time or another during my last two moves from the farm in Myakka City, Florida. And, wouldn’t you know it…they were in the mail box happily waiting for me to receive them. Excited I made my way up the softly carpeted stairs to the second bedroom, and sat myself in front of my drum carder and clamped it to a small table in ready for today’s (Tuesday) carding session.

Later in the evening I decided that I would get the old vacuum cleaner out and clean the last of the fleece from the carder that had last been processed probably more than a year ago. It was rather quick using a vacuum cleaner. The idea came from a video I had seen on YouTube.com early this summer. It worked. Proud of myself I put the carder and the small table it was attached to next to the dresser by the bedroom door, turned out the light and made my exit down the stairs and sat down to continue with my knitting of the awesome Persuasion lace scarf I have been working.

My thoughts kept drifting back to the already readied Louet drum carder that sat waiting to be used. I knit for about 20 minutes or so and the urge to card wool grew stronger and I could no longer resist running back up the stairs, flipping on the light, grabbing my basket of teased Churro fleece and commencing to carding wool. The teasing process of the Churro paid off.

The wool feed through the carder with such ease I was amazed, and thought back on my original idea of processing the fleece on hand-cards. What a fool I was to have thought that hand-carding would be an option for carding five pounds of fleece. I wanted to have a relaxing experience carding the fleece, but five pounds by hand-cards when you have a drum carder….dah!

As explained in an earlier post the short and long fibers of the Churro fleece were not separated from each other as I wanted to create a yarn that was both soft and firm at the same time. I had done a knitted garter stitch test swatch on a hand-carded sample and was pleased with the resulting soft/firm yarn that I was able to spin from rolags, which are nothing more than a small batt. When you hand-card they are called “rolags”.

What a difference the drum carder made. The yield was a well blended fiber batt of long and short fibers that will be heavenly to spin. My Louet Junior drum carder is made to produce a batt of approximately 1/2 ounce in weight. Out of curiosity I weighed the batt and it’s weight was 21 grams which is almost an ounce. My thought is that I could have put more on the drum carder. Will have to test my thought with the next carding session. During the carding process the drum carder decides what fibers it will keep and which fibers it will reject.

There are two drums to a carder and the smaller drum…the licker-in drum makes the decision on which fibers are kept and which are retained in the licker-in drum. These fibers are considered factory seconds and are of no use. You just let them build up on the carder and at the end of the carding session discard them.  So, at last we arrive at a picture of my carded batt of Churro fleece. I can’t wait to sit at the spinning wheel and spin…spin…spin.

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Sari Silk Hat Idea

You know you are in silk heaven when you are seated upon a queen-sized bed full of some 300 or so skeins of recycled silk Sari yarn. First I sat on the bed in the middle of all of this heaven, and then I quietly moved from one chair to the other trying to figure out how to sort out all the wonderful colors that put a twinkle in my eyes like a child in a candy store. The solid colors were no problem at all…simply label, bag and put away. Now the multicolor Sari silk yarns are a completely different story. There are so many color combinations that after awhile it is hard to decide which color combinations to group together because they all are so vibrant with color…that excitement over the entire order just takes over and the brain seems to say…”OK, time to just sit and look at it all”. I must have been sitting there for one solid hour before my discerning eye picks out a skein of Sari silk yarn that is like no other. It fact, it was the only skein of it’s color out of the entire group of 300+. At first I thought about using it in my newest vest design and then I thought about using it to make granny coils, and the thoughts keep flooding my mind as I came to the one and only conclusion. A new hat with attitude was now in the making as I decided that this particular skein of Sari silk would really go well with my newly dyed Churro fleece. The hat would be two different textures. I sat for a while longer rubbing my fingers over the Churro fleece and then the silk Sari yarn and finalized my idea of creating a new hat pattern for this selection of Churro and Sari silk. The color combinations are a match made in heaven. Just yummy…I was wondering if I should feel guilt in regards to stashing the skein for personal use….NO NO NOT AT ALL!Image

Chestnut Churro Fleece Test Swatch

Rather late last night Maggie and I made our way up the stairs to the master bedroom to watch some  late night television. We were both snuggled in and comfortable like bugs in a rug. Only a few moments had passed and it wasn’t long before my mind had wandered off the movie we were watching and I began to think about knitting a swatch for my next fiber art project. Slipping out of bed I made my way to the spare bedroom, and picked a size 9 doubled-pointed knitting needle from my stash of many needles. After choosing what I felt would be a good sized needle I rummaged through my yarn stash drawer and pulled out a sample of an unnamed recently hand-spun yarn in hopes that it would be a match for my newly spun Mexican Churro fleece that I have dyed Chestnut. I patiently cast on 11 stitches by way of a long-tail cast on and proceeded to make a swatch with the chestnut colored fleece first. Upon finishing the small swatch I sat crossed-legged on the bed with my Maggie mulling over whether or not I liked the swatch. As I sat looking and feeling upon the swatch I realized that the texture felt quite nice in my hands and was pleasing to my eyes. When the sample of the chestnut yarn was spun I had decided to spin it just as it had come off the sheep. I made no attempts to sort out different hair lengths or to even sort out hairs that may be considered not useful. Every strand that I carded went into the spinning of that sample. The results created what I would like to call sort of a rustic yarn or should I say a yarn with character. The yarn is both spongy and a little course to the touch with a little fuzz to it as random long hairs protrude from the garter stitch pattern.  Next I attached the unnamed recently hand-spun yarn in hopes for a match. Well; 13 rows later to my amazement, I had a match made in heaven. The color scheme of the two yarns combined together works. The two yarns feel well in my hands and I think perhaps these two yarns will make a wonderful vest of sorts.

Now I must consider how I will use these two yarns in a blissful marriage to create my next FO. The next step is to figure out what type of stitch patterns I would like to use and design my vest. It will be interesting to see what the next swatch turns out to be like. Have a blessed day.

The Process of Teasing Fleece

Now that I have my Mexican Churro fleece dyed and dried it is time to tease these beautiful locs of wool, and see what I have.  Teasing in merely the process of gently spreading the fibers of the locs apart so that the carding of the wool is done without breakage to the fiber. In creating batts from this particular fleece I will be using the short soft fibers and the long course fibers. I’m not sure whether this will be an FO that is a handbag/purse or a short-waist vest.  I have started teasing the fleece and it may well turn out to be a vest I have in mind to design. The Churro fleece will be carded on my Louet Junior drum carder which will yield me a fiber batt that is 4 inches wide (about the size of commercial roving) making it easier for me to spin directly from the batt. The batts will each weigh about 1/2 ounce.  The picture featured below shows what the fiber looks like before and after the teasing process. I know; it’s hard to believe that what seems to be a tangled mess of fiber, can be gently separated to create the fluffy fiber that fills the basket. The fiber is very soft an manageable after the teasing process and ready for carding at this point. Please be sure to zoom the picture as far as you can in order to get an adequate view of the fibers and get a good idea of what the fibers look like before and after. You should be able to zoom the picture at least three times. Note: The teasing is done by hand. There is no special tool used other than your fingers. Have a blessed day.