from-wool-to-beautiful-yarn
Other, yarn

From Wool to Beautiful Yarn (How-To)

Few days ago I started another project. I want to create a nice big blanket for my future home. I loved these shades of blue and purple of the merino wool that we purchased in this shop: http://skorpilova.cz/vlna/.

For me, the colors conjure up an image of sea. I can almost feel the breeze on my face 🙂

This article can also be a small recipe or how-to for people who would like to try creating their own multicolored yarn.

Merino Top
Different colors of Merino Top that I decided to combine together.

Before you start spinning it is good to know for what purpose you’re creating this particular yarn. Since I want to create a blanket with this one, I would prefer the yarn to be softer. But we got merino top in the shop.

“Top” is a kind of spinning fiber that is best suited to worsted or semi worsted spinning. All the fibers are aligned. Worsted fiber is more durable, but not as soft as woolen yarn. Woolen fiber traps more air inside.

Carding the Merino Wool
Carding the Merino Wool

To prepare the wool for woolen spinning you need to process it first. In the picture above, I combined different colors on the hand carder. I hold the fiber a bit strangely because I was taking photo with the other hand 😀 Basically, try to apply the fiber so that it sticks out on one side. After putting the wool on one carder, you brush it off on the other one. You roll the fiber into a “rolag”. The fibers are not aligned in one direction anymore and you can now use the rolls for woolen spinning.

Here is a good instructional video for the whole carding process: https://youtu.be/suv54MWlyUs?t=1m36s

You can also roll by using your hands only, you don’t really need that wooden stick in the video.

Merino Rolag
Merino Rolag – a fluffy fiber roll prepared for woolen spinning.

After you prepare your rolags, you can go ahead and spin.

Another video can help you: https://youtu.be/0HNrflq9sd0?t=1m26s

The woolen or longdraw technique can be more challenging than the worsted, but you’ll figure it out after multiple tries. I also think it helps you understand your spinning wheel more and there’s something very artistic about drawing the yarn like that. I have to say I just love it 🙂 The yarn becomes something flexible, almost like some sort of rubber.

Merino Yarn Woolen Technique
This might seem like the end product, but it’s not 🙂 You still need to do more stuff.

After the spinning, it’s niddy noddy’s time! Niddy noddies not only have fun name, they’re also very useful albeit simple devices. You can use them to create skeins out of the bobbins of the spinning wheel.

Instructional video here: https://youtu.be/wnOlraopQ74?t=37s

Niddy Noddy with Merino Woolen Fiber
Niddy Noddy with Merino Woolen Fiber. And the dog.

The skeins is not the end of the process yet. If you’re not gonna ply the fiber, it could do some funky stuff when you knit.

Skeins and rolags of merino wool, woolen technique
Skeins and rolags of merino wool posed for a pretty picture 🙂

What we do is we put the unwound skeins in a bucket of hot water and leave them for couple of minutes. Then we hang them up diy-style!

Fixing the yarn, diy-style
Fixing the yarn, diy-style!

My blue yarn is still drying up so I can’t show you the end product yet. Since I’m going to use this yarn pretty soon, I’ll turn the skeins into balls of yarn. Unfortunately I don’t own a ball winder so the nostepinne will have to do. But it’s ok, old-fashioned is cooler anyway!

 

Farm Life, Other, yarn

Fun Times at the Farm

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, my parents have a farm. It’s not a big farm by any means, but it keeps them busy and I think it brings them a lot of happiness. I don’t know the exact count, but they have more than 20 animals running around, including sheep and goats. Right now, there’s a little bit more of them, because of the offspring.

I came back to the Czech Republic for the summer and it feels very relaxing to be home again. I’ll share some of the peace and quiet of my leisure days with you in the form of photos. Mainly because I love taking photos and I love to share them with other people 🙂

Matylda the Sheep - Merino sheep
I have to start with Matylda the sheep, because- well – it’s Matylda the sheep! You can read about how special she is in the About section. Matylda has two beautiful children now and they are just as curly and cute as she is. …Yes, I think sheep are cute. 🙂
Goat and the shepherd dog
Every time we come close to the animals, they come running and begin demanding food. I thought the pose of the goat in this picture illustrates that very well 😀 Of course our Australian shepherd dog has a lot of fun with this.
Cashmere Goats at Matylda's Barn
It was very hot lately, so the animals are trying to find spots where they could hide from the sun. Here is the cashmere goat Dorota and her offspring.
Bublina the Goat at Matylda's Barn
This goat cracks me up. She is probably the funniest animal we have. Her name is Bublina (Bobbles) and she is basically a pet goat. She will follow you everywhere, push her head underneath your hands to make you pet her. When she was little, she used to cry everytime we were leaving. Plus she makes these precious funny faces 😀
Funny sheep
“Oh, you want to take a photo of me? Ok, I’ll just casually lay my leg like that…”
Australian Shepherd Dog demanding a walk
And then there’s the dog.. “Hey guys…We need to go for a walk now… Please.. Walk now!”
Hand dyeing yarn at the farm
Of course, we never come home empty handed from a walk… My mom collected wild flowers to dye wool from our sheep. Don’t ask me how is that possible, but the color is supposedly gonna be purple. I know, haha.
Red berries
I’ll say goodbye for now with these awecome berries from our garden. Yum 🙂
first-yarn-spinning-attempt
Other, yarn

My First Serious Yarn Spinning Attempt

Two days ago, I successfully persuaded my mom to try and teach me how to spin yarn. In my eyes, she is the ultimate authority in this area. But I should tell you the whole story. Let’s start from the beginning!

My parents, who are living in the Czech Republic, started their sheep and goat farm back when I was finishing high school. Or that’s what I think. It might have been a little bit later than that, but honestly, it’s so hard to tell because it seems like it has been forever! The animals became such a natural part of our family 😊 My parents still name each one of them and form a lasting bond with those that they keep and not sell. It was very hard for them, when the old ram Byvoj died recently.

But it’s not just the sheep and goats, my mom also had to get angora rabbits for obvious reasons (they’re so soft!). And then there’s the Australian shepherd dog and the fighter kitty cat, that sometimes shows up after a month with brand new battle scars.

When my mother makes a sweater, she makes from the scratch. She uses the better wool from the sheep: washes it, hand-dyes it with natural stuff (varying from all kinds of strange mushrooms to wild flowers or bark of some tree), dries it outside under the sun, brushes it with the special wool brush thingy and then magically transforms it into a yarn with a spinning wheel.

Obviously, I don’t know the appropriate wool lingo, but I decided to give the yarn spinning a try. And yes, the dog was sort of involved. Because of lack of the right words, I will demonstrate the individual steps with pictures instead 😊

Yarn Spinning Matylda's Barn
My first spinning attempt! I did try before many many years ago, but this time I’m serious and stuff. My mom let me start with a little bit of white wool, so that I wouldn’t waste away something too valuable.
DSC_0040
All in all it didn’t came out too bad!
DSC_0047
My mom wanted to finish the yarn for me (I guess it’s called “to ply”), but I didn’t let her. “Are you seriously gonna try to do this? It took me five years to learn it and you think you’re going to learn it the first time you try yarn spinning.” Yes, I’m very stubborn, and yes, I did it. It may not be perfect, but I’m still quite proud of myself and my fist tiny ball of plied yarn 🙂
DSC_0044
The dog wasn’t too impressed by my efforts 🙂
Merino Wool
I was ready for a serious yarn project. I chose nice colors to work with – it’s the summer, so I’m naturally gravitating towards the colors of the sea. I used merino wool.
Brushing the wool
My mom showed me how to mix the colors together on the special brush. Side note: Notice the insect photobomber!
Spinning yarn
And here I am, spinning away.
Spinning yarn
This is the first peek of my yarn! Pretty good, eh?!

Next time, I’ll show you the result and what I did with it!

(Not there yet.)

Other, yarn

My Washington County Fiber Touring!

I went for an interesting trip yesterday and I would like to share some thoughts and photos from the event. Washington County in Upstate New York has its own annual fiber tour! That means a lot of yarn, all kinds of animals, friendly people and beautiful things to buy.

Visit their page for more information: http://www.washingtoncountyfibertour.org/

This year marks the tour‘s 25th edition. That’s a pretty long tradition, in my opinion! Unfortunately, I only had time to visit two places – the Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill and St. Mary’s on-the-Hill. There was an interesting contrast between the mill and the monastery – one is a child of the industrial revolution, the other is a place of old traditions. Even the settings are very different. You can find the mill on a busy street in the town of Greenwich, while the monastery sits on a hill with beautiful calm surroundings.

See for yourself:

Battenkill Carding and Spinning Mill

St. Mary’s on-the-Hill Cashmere