Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wool Study: Tunis

My last post I shared a mini wool study about romney locks I recently purchased and now I can't wait to share my findings about this mostly unheard jewel of a wool: Tunis

I did not take this photo, I just found it on Google Images, but whoever did take it, what a perfect shot! What Cutie Patuties!

 I first have to share how I got it...

 Last January I was blessed by my husband with an amazing birthday gift - driving all the way to The Woolery to purchase my very first raw fleece. Just a few weeks before that my parents blessed me with my very first spinning wheel (Ashford Kiwi 2 from the smoky mountain spinnery) and for the past 3 months before that I discovered how yarn was made (I never even knew as a crocheter! Silly, I know! I just purchased all my yarn from Walmart or Michael's and never really cared how animal or plant fibers were spun into yarn!) and bought a very simply drop spindle for $17. 

Anyways... The birthday gift...

We drove from Knoxville, TN to Frankfurt, KY and I felt like I was going to Disneyland!!!!

When I saw the shop i'm surprised I didn't jump out of the car while it was still moving and ran toward the window and press my face against the glass like the boy in a Christmas Story seeing his dream toy, a Red Rider BB Gun... oh, Ralphie, I know how you felt!

I walked in and I swear I saw Santa Clause and his elves shearing some sheep and bagging it all for sale... maybe it was just my imagination and giddiness, just agree with me I saw them.

Before we arrived I was extremely nervous because i've never handled raw fleece and had NO idea that sheep had different breeds, they were just sheep.

The whole drive there I was searching on my phone what the Woolery had in fleeces and then I began to Google what sheep was what and how their wool will spin and even then I had no idea if I was making the right choice! You see, the only thing I spun was alpaca and roving from the spinnery (Merino). Everything was already done all I had to do was choose a color and spin. But no, I wanted to learn and start from the beginning! I didn't have a sheep and I didn't shear one so buying raw fleece was my beginning.

I decided to choose Tunis because of this bit I read: Thomas Jefferson loved Tunis so much he preferred them over his merino's and George Washington kept them on the lawn of the White House and I just thought, "That's cool and patriotic. Okie Dokie." That was pretty much it.

 My husband bought 4 pounds of it and some other fun tools and I just could not wait to get home and wash it...

The next day I woke up so excited, I grabbed all four bags and dumped them out and then realized they were compacted so perfectly that when they all were released it was... like... a lot... oops.

So I had to separate all of them and began to go through one pound at a time and then I had another realization... this isn't all that easy, it is HARD going through all this and having no idea what I was doing. What was I doing? What am I supposed to look for or throw away? I looked at youtube videos and blogs and thought I was soooooo prepared but now that it came down to it I had no idea what I was doing, but I can pretend I know what i'm doing so what did I do? Just fluffed it all up and panicking in my head.

Right is dirty wool and on the left is clean and it didn't felt! Shocking for a first time fleece cleaner!

 Finally, I just calmed down and had my hubby help me get rid of any nasty stuff and anything that had too much VM to even bother cleaning and the locks were actually really awesome... so AWESOME that I just forgot all about that and guess what I did? I just threw the whole fleece in the washer to soak and used A LOT of Dawn soap even though there was not that much lanolin. Yup! I never separated any gorgeous locks. I just threw them all in there... and just stood there and did nothing... nothing... ::face palm::

Soaking ONLY in a washer.

 But it was really by the grace of God that not only did it NOT felt (I was extremely careful not to agitate it) but there was such a beautiful softness I began to cry that I didn't ruin it! 

What I did all last year was card it in with alpaca and merino and hand dyed it and i've always been given great reviews on it, I loved the elasticity of a Tunis. But I never actually spun a tunis all by itself. Never! I know! That is absurd but it's true!

So finally just a few days ago with the tunis I still had left, I spun singles (wpi 40 which is thread weight) and 2 ply giving it a wpi 36 (thread weight).

and this is what I learned:

The spinning was effortless. So effortless that it was almost silky and felt extremely slippery. Fleece quality: 24 to 30 microns, a staple length of 4 - 6 inches, 56 - 58 spinning count wool and very lustrous!

I really love the natural creme color!

Next wool study I hope to do Wensleydale, but if not then either Border Leicester or Lincoln. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Wool Study: Romney

I did not take this photo, taken directly from Pinterest raising sheep board. Very awesome photos there!

I think it is very important as a spinner and future shepherdess (alongside my shepherd of a hunk of a man) that I not just understand how to spin (different techniques and artistic add ons such as color) but understand what i'm spinning.

 My desire for this wool study is not just come to a conclusion of what kind of breed(s) we would like to keep (my husband is doing his own kind of study as well) but to handle these fibers so much I can just feel if it is medium or fine for example (i'm also learning about micron's/spinning count) and exactly what this exact fiber can be used for, plus so much more!

 Please understand i'm completely novice at this, so if you have any extra information that you can share or if I got something wrong, please let me know! I want to learn! Much of my study is not just what I have handled but what i've researched and I want to share what i've learned so far.

One weekend my family and I went to Wild Life Week in Pigeon Forge, TN (it was so much fun!) and there, as vendors, was my all time FAVORITE spinnery - Smoky Mountain Spinnery and while everyone was looking at the gorgeous yarn and tools, I made a bee line to a large basin filled with raw Romney locks.

Here is a short video on my Instagram recording the lovely booth of The Smoky Mountain Spinnery during Wild Life Week, enjoy! :)

  Just to touch them the first time was like touching rare jewels! Immediately I was drawn with my eyes at the natural color, a dark chocolate staple length with the tips a caramel color and some beautiful grays here and there.

The crimp was exquisite and held together very well.

When I grabbed a handful I immediately noticed there was hardly any lanolin and the plus was there was pretty much no VM! I had to ask about this beauty!

I came to find out this fleece was a blue ribbon winner (4-H). so I purchased 2 oz of it (and I was pleased because I knew I was purchasing the weight of the locks itself and not the grease as some breeds give have A LOT of lanolin in their fleeces that sometimes you are paying for the grease more than the fleece, for example - merino.) and took my jewels home with me!

 There was no need for a deep wash because, well... hardly any grease! I could have spun in the grease but I didn't feel like it. haha!

 I just gave it a gentle wash  to rid of the grease but to keep the softness. After it was dried a day later I then took my hand carder and gently flicked both cut end and tip of a couple locks and begin to spin...

Oh... my... GOODNESS!!!! The spin was effortless. I was even able to practice the long draw! I was able to spin wpi 36 which is thread weight. I did two single spun and 2 ply them together to make a wpi 32 which is lace weight!

One thing I have learned is romney fleece truly is lustrous! High yielding and spins easily, from what i've researched over all the spinning count is 50 to 44 (i'm still learning more about that) which is equivalent to about 29 - 36 microns. Definitely low grease which means fleece will weigh more than lanolin which is a huge plus!

The natural colors has stolen my heart, the spin was relaxing and the results was amazing! Up next... Tunis!

Top we have single spun thread weight. Bottom braid is 2 ply lace weight

Both tip and cut ends gently flicked and fanned. So fluffy!

So beautiful to spin!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

We are back with incredible news!

Oh my... it has been AGES since i've written in my blog! Many things have been happening in my life since October of 2015 to now (May 2016). Some things that have kept me away have been character building and my patience was stretched and strengthened and many other things (more good than "bad") have been so amazing I just didn't have time to keep my blog updated!

 But for now, everything has calmed down to the point that I can finally sit down and write, i've missed this!

In just 6 months my knowledge in my craft has increased and my art has improved so much and my passion has sky rocketed through the sky when it comes to crafting and spinning, one thing that has got me so excited was my parents have FINALLY made Tennessee their home!

 Oh Joy! My parents are my heroes. They have been there for my husband and myself through so much (good and bad), they are our example and many times I will hear my husband whisper to me, "Their love and godliness is a relationship goal for you and I."

My parents on the left (my mom was 21 and my dad 19 ) and today. almost 42 years married and going strong!

 This past April they finally put California behind them (they made California home for over 35 years) as they realized Dustin and I are their only close family left and wanted to be close to us, especially since Dustin and I are desiring children, so what better experience to have grandparents so close by.

 When they arrived we four began to look for land to purchase so that we four can build two homes on it and be closer to our dream of homesteading and keeping sheep... It happened!!!!!!

We are now owners of 22 acres of open pastured land with a large pond! The owner used it to only graze cattle and now that he is in his 80s he wanted to sell it. My parents and I teamed up and quickly purchased and now we are in the process of getting permits for septic and building. We are so overwhelmed with excitement we cant stop talking about it! 

First thing we did after we closed the sale was head over to our future home and take a picture. This is just one part of the whole land... so much beauty!

One of the first things we four did is stake the site where we want to build. Throughout the building process I will be taking photos and sharing when I can. If you want to quickly see how we are doing and don't want to wait until I write on here, please visit our Instagram.

 The grass has been growing so much it has reached past my waist. A neighbor was so wonderful he came and introduced himself to us and asked if he may cut all the grass for hay which we were more than happy to say, YES! 

We are learning to recognize what is being grown on our property from what is good to what is not and we even found barley being grown in patches here and there throughout on part of the pasture, so that was exciting to see!

 My parents home will be just seconds walk from where we will be building! Not too close where we have no privacy but close enough to see. It seems we four will be building from scratch and since my dad has experience building small homes we four will be building from the ground up! 

 My parents will be building a 2 bedroom small home and because my husband and I want to eventually build a farmhouse we will be building a tiny home to quickly have it done (hopefully by the end of the summer we will be done with it. We shall see.) so that we can save up and maybe in 5 years we can begin building.

 We do want to immediately have chickens and prepare our garden so that by next spring everything is going strong and Dustin is think in a year to 2 years time we shall have our first flock! 

Dustin taking off the For Sale sign from our fence... that sure felt amazing!

At the moment, we are unsure what breed(s) we want to keep (for sure we want a dual breed) so I just began a Wool Study to see what breed I like the best to spin from and even see how we can even crossbreed if we wish, but that is more for later. It's all going to be a lot of work and we just can't wait to get in there and make our dreams become a reality.

I bought Dustin a shirt from Livin' Country to congratulate him being a step closer on homesteading and becoming a shepherd... Yes, that is an outhouse design on the shirt! Lol! He loves this shirt so much he's been wearing it as much as possible! Check them out!

So far, I have spun and still have pure Border Leicester locks, long wool Lincoln locks, suri alpaca, and just got my hands on 2 oz of blue ribbon (local 4-H) Romney locks and waiting on 2 oz Wensleydale locks. 

 So much happening, so much to do and we have a lifetime to do it! What an adventure we are living!

Dustin standing next to our large pond. Water level is low but will rise again hopefully soon!