Friday, August 28, 2009

An Ode to Low-Tech

Of course I think about spinning A LOT, and today the thought I had is that I like it partly because it is low-tech. That's what flashed in my mind as I was pumping gas - yes, pumping gas. Gee (I was thinking), I'm enjoying this SO much more - or at least it's less annoying - than when I fill up at one of those places with the gas pumps that talk to me. Also - power toothbrushes. I have to confess I haven't tried one, but I'm simply against the idea. Oh, and I have a car with a lot of sensors and sometimes that gets annoying.

So - though I love my computer and gadgets, I like going low-tech. I like powering the spinning wheel myself - I don't foresee myself buying an electric wheel. I like the fact that a drop spindle has no moving parts. I like working with wool and thinking about the animal it came from. For me there's even some interest generated in having to deal with the bits and pieces of hay and everything in the fiber.

Please take my poll and let me know how you feel about power toothbrushes. I need to know if I have some backing on this extremely important issue.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shades of Gray

This yarn is spun from a fiber blend that includes some from the sheep at Star Gazing Farm. It is a perendale sheep breed, blended with mohair (which is from a goat). You can read some interesting information about the perendale breed at wikipedia: The fiber was so much fun to spin. The dark gray blended with the white to create a barber shop pole effect on some of it, but I also got plain white or plain gray on other parts. I decided to ply it as a three-ply.

Autumn Leaves

This yarn I spun from fiber I dyed at a dyeing workshop at Misty Mountain Farm. We used chemical dyes - sorry, I don't remember what colors I used for this one and I'm not sure what type of sheep the wool is from. It was really interesting to work with the fiber because it wasn't combed when we dyed it - the locks had been clean but were not otherwise prepared. After the dyeing session, I let it dry thoroughly but then I wasn't quite sure how to deal with it since all the wool was sort of tangled together. I didn't want to put it through a carder because that could cause the colors to blend too much and appear muddy. With encouragement from my friend Sue, I just picked it up and started spinning. I fluffed it up and teased it out a bit before spinning then used the woolen method, letting it sort of draft itself. It was slow going - there was lots of bits and pieces of vegetable matter and quite a bit of dust in the fiber which fell out as I spun it. I decided to navajo ply it, to get gradiations in color. It's sort of thick and thin novelty yarn. I think it looks like autumn leaves.

Gruff Yarn

This is yarn I spun from Gruff, a sheep from Star Gazing Farm. Gruff is a romney breed. Our sheep-to-shawl team was to use Gruff for our competition at Maryland Sheep and Wool in May 2009, so our team practiced spinning Gruff's raw locks (unwashed, hand combed). For this yarn, though, I spun from clean wool that had been carded - put through a drum carder 3 or 4 times. We spun it at a demonstration at Star Gazing Farm in July. It was nice to spin - I used a woolen technique and it came out soft and fluffy. To learn more about the romney breed, take a look at or check out the American Romney Breeders Association