Raising Finnish Landrace, Cotswold, Border Leicester, and Romeldales, in the Heart of Illinois, as well as working with rescue llamas.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Recent Surprising Fiber Events

The weaving bug has bitten hard! I never thought I would fall in love with weaving. In fact, I have always sort of avoided looms, mostly out of fear that I would break them with my ever present inherited clumsiness. However, this summer while I was looking around on Ravelry, I discovered a group dedicated to peg looms and stick weaving. Intrigued, I watched a couple Youtube videos, the process became simply something I had try for the sole reason that it looked so simple even I couldn't screw it up. Tired of hearing me talk about these looms, my family surprised me with a peg loom for my birthday. I am in love with the weaving process!!

Within the first few hours I had a used up the end of a bolt of cotton yard making a trivet for my sister's table. Upon hearing, I started another project on the loom not even an hour after finishing the first, a fiber friend and my llama mentor warned that she found weaving addicting. I can clearly see that she is right. Will I give up wet felting, crocheting, and spinning, hear me shout a resounding "no!', but peg and stick weaving definitely has earned a permanent place in my heart.

The first attempt while on the loom, with a quarter to show relative size.  A trivet that matches a bunch of coasters I crocheted to match my sister's living room. This sweet little trivet rounds out the gift and is now on her dining room table. 
Another trivet/table runner to use up another mostly used skein of cotton yarn, this time I get to keep it!  The blue is another larger weaving that is using some skeins of fuzzy boucle like yarn from my stash that have been languishing for years. I hated crocheting with that yarn with a passion but I love the woven product it is producing!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Washing llama fiber

Since we have had a stretch of lovely weather, we've been washing fiber, mostly llama. As you may or may not know llamas love love love to roll in the dirt. If there is not a spot in your pasture were there can access the dirt they will create one, thankfully they always seem to go back to the same spot and not create more. All this rolling creates dirty fleece!! While we do blow a lot of dirt off our llamas before we shear them, but to blow all of it off would be impossible. So here is how I handle a dirty llama fleece (and sometimes sheep fleeces as well).

 I fill a large storage tub outside on the deck with well water using the garden hose, the water is typically cool. I toss in the raw llama or sheep fiber and let is soak for a while. Then I dump out the water onto the yard sometimes using it for potted plants. I frequently get busy and accidentally leave the fiber in cold water overnight. After a rinse or two the water is noticeably cleaner. At this point, I drain the water and move the fiber to my home made drying rack (aka window screen stapled over a wooden frame) which rests either over the top of my bathtub with a fan underneath to facilitate drying or on a corner of the deck. If I leave the fiber outside to dry I cover with a clean bed sheet  then clamp the sheet down so the wind doesn't blow the fiber away and let it dry. Once dry I will do a hot wash in my top load washer and repeat the drying process.  

 Buster's fleece drying on the outdoor drying rack on the deck, ready for final wash, then onto the combs or drum carder.