Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fiber Prep Part 2

As promised, here is the rest of the prep of my first fleece.  I wasn't able to finish the fleece that same day so I soaked it in cool water overnight so the soap didn't dry in the fleece.  Then I rinsed and spun it out 4 times.  In the rinse stage I used hot water for two rinses and cold water for two more.  In the cold rinses I gave the fleece a shake periodically to make sure it all got rinsed.  And as I put the fleece in the water at the start of each rinse I pulled apart the clumps so it all rinsed evenly.

The fleece before the final rinse.

The fleece after the final spin.

Once the fleece was spun out for the last time I assembled my drying rack and put them in my shower stall.  I got the racks for $10 each at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  They were in the Beyond section of the store.

My drying racks, I got 2.

Drying rack in the shower, it doesn't quite fit but its good enough.

Then I spread my fleece on the racks.  I divided it in half and every 12ish hours I would fluff the fleece so it dried evenly.

Wet fleece on the rack.

Dry fleece.

Then I bagged the fleece up.  This bag is the same size as the bag the fleece came in but without all the lanolin the fleece is much fluffier so it fills the bag much fuller.

Finished and bagged Fleece.
I have one more fleece to prep and then I will work on carding the fleeces.  Before washing this fleece was 3 1/4 lbs.  Now it is about 2 1/4 lbs.  It lost almost a pound with the dirt and lanolin gone.

One important tip I learned from someone with more experience than I have at prepping fleeces.  It is very important you use a phosphate free, enzyme free detergent otherwise you can damage the fleece you are preparing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fleece Prep

I bought two bags of fleece at the Iowa Sheep and Wool this past June.  Today I am finally getting a chance to start cleaning them.  I'm starting with the bag that is from a sheep that is a 3/4 BFL, 1/4 Romney cross.  I got it from Lamb Lane Farm.  It has a really nice crimp to it and a nice staple length.

To start, I scrubbed my sink really well and put a kettle of water on to boil.  To prep fleece you need really hot water, hotter than most home water heaters are set for.  I got out my dish soap, (Dawn dragon fruit scented) and filled the sink with hot water and a generous squeeze of Dawn.  It is a good idea to add the soap after the sink is full of hot water, that way you don't get mountains of suds.

Really clean sink and Dawn dishwashing detergent

There really is no need for this pic, I just really like my stove.

Hot water and Dawn, add the soap after the sink is filled to prevent lots of sudsing.
I added the boiling water after I filled the sink 2/3 of the way with hot tap water and soap.  This helped mix the soap well without making it suds a lot.

Then I added the fleece.  I have 3.25lbs in this particular bag so I divided it into four equalish portions.  I will process the fleece in 2 batches.  The fleece floats a bit because the lanolin in it doesn't allow the fleece to become waterlogged fast so I pushed the fleece into the water gently.  You need to handle a wet fleece carefully so it doesn't felt.  Then I let the fleece sit in the water for about 45min.  You don't want to let the water become cold though or the lanolin can settle back into the fleece.  Wool needs 3 things to felt, lubrication, agitation, and heat.  The water and soap act as a lubricant and the water is very hot so if you manipulate the fleece to much during this stage you can felt it easily.  I just gave it a gentle push under the water and left it alone. 

Fleece floating due to the lanolin.

After soaking for 45min, the water and fleece are the same color.

At the end of 45min I very gently took the fleece out of the water, let most of the water drain out of the fleece and put it in a bucket.  Then I started a new kettle of water while I dealt with the next stage which is spinning the water out of the fleece.  For this part I put the fleece in my washing machine and set it to drain/spin.  Since the washing machine doesn't add any more water in this phase and the fleece cools quickly I don't have to worry about it felting.

Wet fleece right from the sink.

Getting ready to spin the water out.

Spun out and fluffier.
Spinning out the fleece can be skipped but it is a very easy way to get most of the dirty water out of the fleece.  You need to soak the fleece in hot soapy water at least 3 times so the more dirty water you can get out of it between soakings the more effective each soaking will be.

While this batch of fleece was spinning out I set the other batch to soak.  Then I put the second batch in to spin and soaked the first batch for the second time.  This time the fleece sank into the water almost all by itself because a good portion of the lanolin was gone.

Second soaking, see how much cleaner the fleece is already?
After the second soaking I will spin it out and give it a third soaking.  Then I will evaluate the fleece and see if it needs any more soap soaks.  When it is as clean as I think it will come I will soak it in hot water rinses with no soap.  It will get 3 or 4 of those, spinning out the fleece each time to get the soap out.  Then I will set it to dry on sweater racks in my shower that no one uses.  It's a convenient place because it has a drain and a shower door that I can shut to keep my dogs away from the fleece.  Animal fibers are just way to much temptation for them.

When the fleece is clean and dry I will measure it to see how much weight the fleece lost with the lanolin gone.  That information isn't terribly useful, I'm just curious to see how much lanolin weighs.  I will be sure to let you know incase anyone is curious like I am.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

More Progress

It's been a while since I posted an update on Oceanspray.  Here is what I have so far.  I'm still working away at it and it is coming along nicely.

I really like this yarn.  It is very nice to work with and doesn't get splitty or overly fuzzy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pssst....A Change in Plans

Well, I was going to work on cleaning my fleeces from Sheep and Wool this weekend but as usual life happened.  This time it happened in the form of a 50lb foster puppy named Bellamy.  I had contacted the Animal Welfare Foundation of Iowa earlier this week to see about maybe fostering for them.  However, when I contacted them, I didn't count on how much they needed foster homes and how fast they would get me approved and get me a dog.

I contacted them Monday.  On Tuesday I got the form and the profiles for three dogs that needed homes.  Thursday they got someone to come do a home visit (the husband of a friend of the rescue coordinators cousin! LOL).  Friday morning I got the email saying, "If you could come pick out your foster by noon today, that would be GREAT!"

So yesterday I went to Anamosa with my dog Spike and we looked at two of the dogs, the third one had been adopted already, yeah!  The first dog Spike did not get along with, they fought immediately upon meeting.  I got them to calm down and we walked, but as soon as we stopped they fought again.  The second dog, Bellamy, there was no fighting.  Spike gave a bit of a growl when she lifted his hind quarters off the ground trying to sniff him but she backed off immediately.  We walked together, and they got along so we took Bellamy home.

Bellamy was found as a stray so we don't know anything about her background before the rescue got her.  I am positive she wasn't born a stray though because while she has no sit, stay, down, wait, etc... training, she does know that if you sit quietly in front of a person with food, that person might give you some food.  She also signals when she needs to go outside by whining.  So so far, we've had no accidents in the house.  Yeah!

I am crate training her and she does NOT like it. I put her in there last night about 10 after one last potty run and she cried for 20min or so. About 130 she started crying again so I got up, took her out again, and then recrated her, she did pee so at least she did have to go. She cried for about 20min again but the settled down and slept till about 8.

I haven't gone thru a female spay in 13yrs, so I listened to what the vet clinic that did the spay told me and they said I should try to keep her from jumping, but I could walk her as much as she wanted. (insert gasp from those of you who know better here). I asked about the distance, should I take her for a lot of little walks just for potty time or should I take her for 2-3mi walks like I do my other dog. They said "Oh, she'll be fine for a few miles, no problem!"

So yesterday I took her on two mile plus walks (it was to hot for multiple mile walks). She seemed ok with that. This morning however, I get her out of the crate and while I am trying to keep her quiet, she is trying to jump on me and play with Spike and Spike is trying to play with her. I finally wrangle both dogs outside and they potty. When I am taking Bellamy back into the house I notice blood dripping from her. My dh and I check her out and she's popped open the incision.

I call my foster coordinator and leave a message, then I call my vet and get her in. Fortunately it isn't anything serious so they stapled the popped open area and gave me some antibiotics, more painkillers (the original clinic only gave me 2), a cone, and better care instructions. My vet was pissed when she found out how much the other clinic told me I could walk her. Bellamy is way to active to not be walked a lot so my vet suggested I give her benedryl for a week to keep her quiet so she heals.

I am also giving Spike benedryl as well. I am still taking him for his long walks but instead of being pooped when he gets back its like the presence of another dog winds him back up again and he tries to get Bellamy to wrestle and rough house which can't happen right now.

I don't really like drugging the dogs but Bell needs to heal and its either that or I crate her all the time which sucks as well.

So, that was the first 24hrs. Now both dogs are snoozing. We shall see what the next 24hrs brings.

Here is a picture of Bellamy.  They are pretty sure she is either a Lab/Hound or Lab/Boxer mix.  I'm leaning towards the hound mix because she is very nose oriented.

Be sure to follow the blog so you can hear more about Bellamy and my adventures in fostering.  Sure, this is a fiber blog and all but she's got hair and she's cute so I say its close enough.  :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Iowa Sheep and Wool 2012

In my earlier posts I mentioned that I was at Iowa Sheep and Wool this past weekend.  I probably should have put this post before the one about the drum carder but I was way to excited about the drum carder to wait.   LOL

Anyway, on to Sheep and Wool.  It was held at the Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel, IA.  It was about a 4hr drive for me which wasn't to bad as much of the drive was 65 or 70mph.  It is a very pretty drive with lots of farm country, but ironically, I didn't see a single sheep farm on my way down.

Friday I met up with my friend Margie and got my class area setup for my dye class.  Margie is on the board that puts S&W together so she was quite busy.  I tried to help her but felt sort of like I was getting in her way so I found a vendor who needed help and spent the rest of the evening helping her get setup.    She was happy to get some help and I was happy to have something to do.

I was rooming with Margie so I sort of followed her around like a puppy and went to dinner with her and two of her friends.  It was a very nice evening.  They made me feel very welcome and not at all like a stray they had picked up along the way. :)

Saturday was my dye class.  I had 5 students and we all had a lot of fun.  I am rubbish at taking photos at events so here are my only pictures from Sheep and Wool.

This is my class area Friday afternoon.  The class was in the small animal building and those are rabbit cages hanging from the ceiling.  They were only about 6-7 inches above my head so I was hoping none of my students were tall.

Here are two action shots of a couple of my students.

The first one she is dyeing some fiber and in the second she is wringing out some fiber that had been soaking.

Here is some finished work before rinsing. 

There was a well pump as a water source and we had grit showing up in the water buckets so I had the students take the yarn back to their homes/hotels/campers to rinse.  We wanted to keep the grit out of the yarn as much as we could.

We had an issue with electricity so I ended up with my dye pots plugged in all over the building.  It was a bit of a pain but it all worked out in the end.  And my students had fun which is the most important thing.

Saturday afternoon I shopped, helped at the registration/information booth while Margie was in a board meeting, and then took part in the lamb dinner the festival put on.  Heather had a little lamb, it was delicious!

As I had said in my previous post, one of my dye students sold me a drum carder for $150.  So Sunday morning before the vendor booths opened and classes started Margie helped me pick out two fleeces at one of the vendors she knew well.  She only had four left so we put a note on them telling the vendor I would come get them after my class.

Then I went to teach my lace knitting class.  One of the students from my dye class enjoyed the dye class so much that she signed up for my lace class too.  That made me extremely happy.  I taught my students the pattern, we knit on the pattern for a while, I helped them with the inevitable mistakes and showed them how to fix errors without having to rip back, and I showed them how to place lifelines.  After that I opened up the class to anything else they wanted to know and demonstrated blocking of lace and helped a woman figure out where she was in a pattern that she'd been working on and had set down.  I also showed them how to read the lace so if they forgot where they left off they could easily figure it out.

The student who took both of my classes told me she did enjoy the dye class more but that my lace class was great and helped her get over her fears of lace.  I was really happy to hear that.  I enjoyed the dye class more too, I always like the more physically active classes, and while lace is fun, you work to someone else's pattern.  With dyeing, you are creating what you want to create, not making something as dictated by someone else.

My lace students ended up leaving by 11 instead of 12.  We had covered everything we needed to cover, answered all their questions, and it was starting to get warm in the building so they decided they wanted to get out of there.  

So with my extra free time I got my fleeces, and some silk cocoons to play with, ate lunch, and went over to ogle the border collie pups.  They were resting while their humans took a lunch break but while I was talking to one of the humans a crowd started to gather at the pups so they decided to have a mini puppy trial for us.  

It was a lot of fun watching these 10 week old pups running sheep.  The first pup was really good and I got to hold her when they decided she had had enough and it was a second pups turn.  The second pup wasn't quite as good so the first pup kept crying and trying to get out of my arms as though she were saying, "Let me do it!  I can do it!  I'll show you how!"  One of her other humans came and collected her because she wasn't going to settle down as long as she could see the sheep.  It was good he came for her though, I'd forgotten how strong a puppy can be so I was having a hard time holding her.

One more photo for you, the pups in their pen resting.

Don't you just want to climb in there and snorgle them all?

After the trial I said good buy to my friends and headed out.  It was a great time and I look forward to going back there.

I'm going to start cleaning the fleeces I bought this weekend so be sure to follow the blog and see what I do with them.  :)  There may even be a give away for my blog followers.  :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Awesome Deal - New Drum Carder!

I was teaching at Sheep and Wool in Iowa this past weekend.  During my dye class one of my students mentioned she was selling a drum carder on behalf of her friend who was clearing out some extra equipment so she would have money and room for an Angora rabbit.  I've been wanting a drum carder for a while so I had her show it to me and I took it.  I only paid $150 for it.  It is in great shape, everything moves freely, and it only had some dust on it from its sitting unused for a while.  However, it does not have a brand name on it and neither my student nor her friend knew what brand it came from.  I would really love to find out what brand it is so if I ever have to replace the drive band I will know what to buy.  If anyone has ever seen one like this I would appreciate it if you could tell me the brand.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

Apologies for not blogging for a while but life has been a touch busy lately.  Sara at Yarn Soup had her first ever sale last weekend so I worked for her Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  And at the same time I was getting ready for my classes at Iowa Sheep and Wool.  I will be teaching a dyeing class called Fearless Dyeing, and a lace class called Fearless Lace.  If you have time please come down and say hi!

I will be sure to report back on the festival and post pictures next week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Progress is being made!

A couple weeks ago I posted the Ocean Spray shawl I was working on.  I had just finished row 58 on it.  Today, I finished row 101 so I thought I would post another progress report.  I didn't post a progress report between rows 58 and 101 because all of the work between those two points is exactly the same, knitting with 4 yarn overs and then purling on the backside.

So here is what I have so far.

It doesn't look a lot different, just bigger.  You might have noticed that it looks like I don't have any life lines in the shawl.  I do have a life line, you just can't see it well because it is right in the row that is on the cable of my needle.  I had several life lines as I was working on this section.  Now that I have completed section one and have all of the stitches I am suppose to have I decided to get rid of the extra life lines because the ends were tangling with each other and my working yarn.  I also took out the stitch marker I had been using to mark the right and wrong sides of the work.  At this point it is now obvious which is which and I didn't want to risk snagging the marker and tearing the shawl.

Now I move on to section 2 of the pattern.  I am looking forward to this section, I hope it will be more interesting than the previous section.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm a Hooker!!!

Three words my father hoped never to hear me say "I'm a Hooker!"  However, I get to say them because now it's true!  It is official, after many years of trying, I have learned to crochet.

I took a beginning crochet class at Yarn Soup this past couple of thursdays with Diane and it was great fun.

I had problems at first because I'm a thrower when it comes to knitting so I didn't really have a good way of holding my yarn to keep proper tension on it and the method Diane was using just didn't work for me.  However, between my first class and the class tonight I had time to watch various you tube videos on crochet and saw how different people held their yarn and found a way that works for me.  I think it will be terribly funny if I finally figure out how to knit Continental by taking a crochet class.  :)

Here is a picture of my crochet to date.  The little gray square was what I managed to get done in the first class.  I was throwing the yarn when I made this swatch so I didn't get very far.  The green piece next to it I made at home while trying out various methods of holding the yarn and practicing the stitches Diane taught us.  The bit on top is what we did in tonights class.  Diane showed us how to read a pattern and how to make granny squares.  I goofed on mine and it is turning into a granny star but that is ok.  I know what I did wrong and I don't care for granny square afghans anyway so I don't have to worry about fitting it in with other squares.  This one will probably end up as a trivet.

None of my attempts to date are perfect, but that's ok.  I've only been at this a week and I have years ahead of me to practice.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rolling out some new colors

Things have been pretty busy around here, between filling orders, teaching, and working on getting my dye shop renovated I've been a bit behind in getting the new color ways I've been working on added to my site.  However, I am pleased to announce that I am adding FOUR new colors to my website today.

So, in no particular order, here they are.

Purple, purple and more purple - Here is Jazmin!

Not to be outdone, here is Eowyn strutting her stuff in purple and pink!

Next, what could be more perfect for summer than a big piece of Rhubarb Pie!

And last, but not least, in one of the new hot colors for the season, Tiger Lily!

Come see them all at T&H Fiber Works today!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not so Full of Scarf

I showed my husband this knitting video Knitting 101 (this is also where I got my name for my blog) so now whenever I am working on a project and I show it to him he says, "Hmmm, that is not so full of scarf." or "That area is full of scarf." depending on how much progress I have made.

I am currently working on Oceanspray which is a lace shawl and will be very pretty.  However, I'm in the early stages so this area is not so full of scarf :)  I have been working on this since April 26th.  It will be a display sample for Yarn Soup in Dubuque, Iowa for a while, and then I get to keep it for myself :)

I am using Trendsetter Yarns Cash-Woole which is a 100% Merino lace yarn.  I am also using size 2 bamboo Addi's.  Currently I have completed 29 repeats of section 1, there will be 50 repeats total.  The shawl is still in the ugly duckling/boring to work phase but soon I'll get into more of the lace work and it will be more fun to work on.

You can see my lifelines in the picture.  I add them whenever I change either a technique or a section of the pattern, or when I have gotten a lot done and don't want to risk loosing several days worth of work.  This yarn is very fine so while I haven't done a huge amount on it, what I have done has taken quite a while because I can only work on it for a while before my eyes bug out.  It is a very nice yarn to work with though. 

I have learned however, that it does not like provisional cast ons.  The first part of the pattern you are supposed to do a provisional cast on of 3 stitches, work 7 rows of 3 stitches, rotate the work 90 degrees and pick up 3 more, and undo the PCO and pick up the three live stitches.  I tried 3 or 4 times to do it with different cast ons each time and kept snapping the working yarn when undoing the PCO.  After that I just gave up and picked up three stitches instead of getting live ones.  It's a very tiny spot on the shawl and no one will ever be able to find where I made the change unless they know this pattern very well.

Stay tuned for more updates on my shawl!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I'm Heather and I'm a fiberholic.  If there is a twelve step program for this condition, keep it far away from me.  I'm happy the way I am. :)  I named this blog for one of my favorite youtube videos.  I think this is one of the funniest videos I have ever seen.  It never fails to crack me up.  Check it out - Knitting 101.

I own T&H Fiber Works where I hand dye yarn and roving and sell it to yarn stores across the country and retail via my website thfiberworks.com.  I also teach knitting classes at my local store Yarn Soup in Dubuque, IA.

Please check back frequently.  I will announce new color ways and special blog only sales here.  I will ramble on about my forays into learning various fiber arts such as weaving, tatting, and crochet.  I will also ramble on about various projects I am working on and give my opinions on the various yarns I use.

Thanks for stopping by!