Monday, November 24, 2014

Creating a yarn

When we bought our first four sheep 30 years ago, I imagined that I would spin all their fleeces, knit all that yarn into sweaters and clothe my family. Caring for the sheep took up some of my spinning time and caring for my children replaced more.

I can knit anywhere - chatting with friends, riding in the car, watching television or, if it's a simple pattern, while reading. I can only spin while talking or watching TV. I soon realized that I couldn't spin fast enough to keep up with my knitting. As our flock grew from 4 ewes to 35 ewes, I also realized that I couldn't spin all their fleeces.

Now I sell fleeces to other spinners, have fleeces carded into roving and batts for spinners or felters, and have some fleeces spun into yarn. For years, I used the left over fleeces from the year before, combined them and sent them off for yarn. Our flock has about the same number of white, light  and dark fleeces every year, so our yarns come out about the same shades of light browny gray and dark browny gray each time.

I love having a supply of natural colored yarns in the house. If I need a skein of teal blue yarn, I pull out a big, black, dye pot, fill it with water , add a capful of dye powder and a skein of white yarn. Half an hour later, I have a skein of teal yarn. Unfortunately, the really beautiful, interesting yarns often contain more than one color. Sometimes the yarn is spun with bits of colored wool to produce a fiber with lots of short spaces of color. Other times, the yarn is actually made up of several strands of different colored yarns.

Last year, I asked Chris Armbrust from Dakota Fiber Mill to spin a three ply sock yarn for me. One third of the wool was a natural gray brown fleece. One third was a combination of 10% mohair and 90% wool, naturally dyed a warm brown color with walnut hulls, and the final third was dyed teal. Chris spun each color separately and then plied the three yarns together.

The yarn is soft (thanks to my Ramboulet sheep), strong, (thanks to the mohair and the three plies) and elastic (thanks to the amount of twist Chris spun into the yarn.) I'll be able to knit socks for everyone I know as well as sell a very beautiful sock yarn in my online shop and at Mercantile on Main in Pelican Rapids, thus solving two problems- having yarn with which to knit and decreasing the number of fleeces in my wool shed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I have the same visions of sheep, spinning, knitting, and clothing everyone :D
    Once I started playing with dye, I came to the same conclusion as you, multi-dimensional color is amazing. I dye most of my wool in fleece with a low-immersion method. Once prepped, it turns out heathery and interesting. Your sock yarn blend sounds amazing. Love the natural blend.