Hand Spinning Workshop

Hand Spinning Workshop As a reminder, there are still a couple of spaces available for my beginner’s hand spinning workshop taking place on Saturday, 15th October.  We will be covering types of fleece and their preparation, dyeing, spinning with a drop spindle and hands-on wheel spinning.  You will even be able to “meet the wool” – Hyacinth, Rose, Daisy, and their new friend, Beau.  It should be loads of fun as well as informative.  Contact me for any further information and see you... Read More

It’s All About Alpaca

It’s All About Alpaca Recently, for whatever reason, I have been the recipient  of some wonderful Alpaca fleece.  A dear friend had received three and as she knits with alpaca but does not spin, she thought I could make better use of it.  Then a lovely lady in Clare was told by her friend that I may be able to help her turn the fleece from her own animals into yarns.  I went for a visit to her farm, met her and the alpacas, and came home with two large bags of their fleece…one for her yarns and one for my own use. I was hesitant for a very long time to try spinning alpaca, as the fiber is quite different than sheep’s wool.  It is usually short in length (2 – 6 inches) and is hollow like a human hair.  But once I had tried, I loved handling it as it is so soft and spins up sleek and shiny.  The range of natural colors is beautiful…Peruvian mills sort it for 22 shades.  It also takes dyes well and I use the same dyes that I use for my sheep fleece.  It is recommended that alpaca not be washed before spinning, but should be carded with a fine tooth carder.  I also run mine through the Pat Green picker, which opens the locks and rids the fleece of a lot of veg matter. They are not plentiful, but alpaca fleece can be obtained here in Ireland.  Here are a couple of contacts, if you are a spinner and interested in making your own alpaca yarns: www.alpacasofireland.com www.alpacas.ie www.westcorkalpacas.com And if you visit one... Read More

Beginners Hand Spinning Workshop

Beginners Hand Spinning Workshop BEGINNERS HAND SPINNING WORKSHOP WHEN:  SATURDAY 15 OCTOBER  10 AM –  6PM WHERE:  FINFORD HOUSE, TUBBER WHAT:  Learn the basics of hand spinning including preparing fleece, dyeing (natural and chemical) and hands-on spinning instruction Space is limited to 6 and a €20.00 non refundable deposit will be required to hold your place. Total cost is €65.00 and includes all materials, equipment and lunch. Contact Sandra at 065 6890843 or 085 1430650 for questions and/or further information. Last year’s workshop was a great success and I’m sure we will have at least as much fun this year.  I’m looking forward to working with... Read More

Solar Dyed Fleece Update

Solar Dyed Fleece Update I wanted to follow up on the solar dyed fleece I had written about earlier.   After waiting 4 months, I decided it was time to empty the pot and see the results.  This was the red wool dyed with cochineal and madder.  The results were very satisfying…the cochineal turned the fleece a pinkish red and the madder was a rusty orange.  The two blended beautifully throughout the fleece and here are the end products:   The results were so pleasing I will definitely be doing more solar dyeing.  ... Read More

Solar Dyeing Fleece

Solar Dyeing Fleece Now that I have washed most of my raw fleece, it’s time to start thinking about colours and dyeing.  I am trying something new this summer….solar dyeing.  I’ve read about it but never given it a try.  Two ingredients are essential:  heat of the sun and time.  We’re limited here in Ireland with the first, but time is plentiful.  I’ve used two types of dyes:  natural and chemical.  I am explaining the method here in case anyone else wants to give it a try.  For the natural dyeing I am using madder and cochineal for a warm red.  Put half (25 grams) of the madder in a 2 litre kilner jar Put in half the fibre to be dyed (total of 100 grams clean dry or damp wool) Dissolve 10 grams alum and 5 grams cream of tartar in boiling water and pour into the jar Add cochineal Fill to the top of jar with remaining fibre and sprinkle the remaining madder (25 grams) on top Top up with hot tap water and place in a warm sunny spot.  I put mine in the window of my studio, since it is a conservatory and the warmest place in the house. Leave for a few months before emptying the pot and rinsing the fibres. The pot may ferment, so place something under it to protect your surfaces.  Also, you may need to top it up once or twice with a little hot water.  I can’t wait to see my results.  I also did a jar with chemical dyes, following the normal instructions for mixing up the dye and then placing... Read More

Scouring Fleece

Scouring Fleece Now that Hyacinth, Rose and Daisy are shed of their winter coats, my least favourite job of scouring fleece must be done.  I thought I would go through the steps of this process in case you have raw fleece and don’t know what to do with it.  The first job is to lay the entire fleece out on a table (preferably outdoors), look it over and discard the dirtiest, driest, and parts you don’t want to use.  I save this waste material to use in the garden.  Then I sit down and sort through the usable fleece, removing as much foreign matter (bedding, moss, brambles, etc.) as possible and separating the locks.  This pulling apart of the locks at this stage helps to get the soapy water into the fleece and really clean it.  I fill a rubber tub with the hottest water available and pour in the soap.  There are many soap products that can be used but I have found by trial and error that Dr. Bronners castille soap or Orvus paste works best for me.   Dr. Bronners can be purchased at my local health food shop and I order Orvus online from the UK.  Both are gentle and seem to thoroughly clean out the muck and lanolin.  Never let the water run onto the fleece, as this can felt and mat it.  I gently add the fleece to the soapy water, making sure the water can totally surround the fleece.  This I let sit for about an hour.  I gently remove the fleece from the very dirty water, squeezing  water from it by hand.  I... Read More