Earlier this month I participated in the Robbinsville Elementary School’s Colonial Day and talked to the 3rd graders about spinning wool. I only had 2 weeks to prepare and it turned out a lot different than I imagined, but I still enjoyed it and I think the students did, too.
My Set-Up for the Demo
The wool spinning station was in the gym, which didn’t have good air conditioning….or didn’t have any. It was hard to tell. 🙂 There were about 45 students in each of 6 sessions, which were 30 minutes. I talked about the history of spinning and the tools used in spinning. Everyone then got some wool and a spindle to try spinning. After the first 2 groups, I took the cd’s off my homemade spindles and the rest of the students just used the hooked dowels. They were much easier to use!
2 students were allergic to wool, and I felt bad that I didn’t bring any other fibers “just in case”. I will definitely bring some next year.
I also have a list of other things I want to improve on for next year….at least I have a better idea of what I’m doing now!
Thursday was a beautiful sunny day in the 70s…perfect for picking strawberries and sunny enough to do some solar dyeing. I got my wool ready for the dye “bowl” before we left for the morning. I dyed 2 batches of the grey shetland that I bought in Ohio with Kool Aid…each was 2 ounces. For batch #1 I used 4 packs of Pink Lemonade and about 1/8 teaspoon of Grape. Batch #2 got 2 packs of Grape.
I love how the wool turned out! Because the sun warms the water slowly, the dyes aren’t absorbed into the wool uniformly and result in a naturally varigated yarn or, in this case, roving.
Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Pink Lemonade Kool Aid
Grey Shetland Roving dyed with Grape Kool-Aid
The other reason I love solar dyeing is – it’s so easy! Especially when you have a million other things to do and/or children who need your attention. #1 – soak fiber in warm water with a drop of detergent or Jet Dry. #2 – fill glass container with water, 1 cup vinegar and dye. #3 – squeeze excess water out of fiber and add to dye bath. #4 – put plastic wrap over top of bowl or container. #5 – place in sunny spot (I put some aluminum foil around it to reflect more sunlight onto the container). #6 – let it sit in the sun until water is clear (a few hours or all day). #7 – gently squeeze out water, rinse, set out to dry.
Wool set out for Solar Dyeing
After I put the wool on the deck we got ready to go strawberry picking. Hannah and Noah loved it….Noah may have enjoyed seeing all the big trucks and motorcycles drive by on the road more. Hannah ate a bunch of berries there. After almost every strawberry she picked, she looked at me and said “Mouth?” After trying to tell her she can’t eat the all and that we have to put them in the basket, I gave up. She had a berry juice stained face by the time we left. I wish I brought my camera with me.
When we got home I made 2 batches of jam….yum!!
I’ve been spinning a lot with my new wheel and finished my 1st project! I got some CVM/Romeldale and Llama fiber from a friend a couple months ago. I blended them on hand carders and spun the fiber on my drop spindle. I used my wheel to make a 3-ply yarn and crocheted a scarf from a beautiful pattern I found on Ravelry. It’s called the “Luna Lovegood Scarf” and I made some changes because I didn’t have enough yarn. Anyway here are some pictures
CVM/Romeldale - Llama yarnCrocheted Scarf
Last Wednesday our shearer came out and sheared the sheep… Well, everyone except Beatrice and Bertha because they were due to lamb any day.
Bertha ended up going into labor a couple hours after our shearer left, and gave us a beautiful, 11-3/4 lb ewe lamb. I only helped when she looked like she was getting tired. It was her 1st lamb so the shoulders were difficult to pass.
Bertha and ewe lamb
Beatrice lambed the next night and also gave us a ewe lamb. She was a petite 11 lbs!
Beatrice and ewe lamb
Beatrice’s lamb scared Dave Friday morning when he checked on the girls. She had slipped through the slats in the lambing stall and was in with Bertha and her lamb! Beatrice was very happy to get her baby back. Bertha has proved to be a very attentive and protective mother…she tried to hide her lamb from us when they were in the barn by standing in front of her!
Now we have 4 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs with 2 more girls due next month!
…And I started spinning last night! I love that hand-spun yarn is so unique – not 100% uniform like commercial yarns.
I ordered my “Learn to Spin Kit” from Golding Fiber Tools in Vermont (http://www.goldingfibertools.com/). The drop spindle is hand-carved in a Celtic Ring design and the kit came with 2 oz of Coopworth roving. I chose this design because I used some money that my pop-pop gave my for Christmas to buy the spindle and he’s from Scotland. I will always think of him whenever I use this spindle.
Yesterday I decided to try needle felting some of the Tunis wool I’ve been washing. I’ve heard that it is very easy….you just have to stab the wool repeatedly with a sharp “felting” needle. I put my wool in a cookie cutter and felted it into the shape I wanted that way. Then I tea-dyed my little felted sheep. You can find very simple tea-staining instructions here: http://sheepyhollow.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/tea-dyeing/. I dyed this one dark so it would look like a gingerbread cookie.
Needle Felted Sheep
I also tried making a 3-D felted object, too. So far I just made 1 little egg, but I want to make a bunch and dye them pretty colors for Easter. I’ll post pictures of them later.
I went to my spinning group on Saturday. I’m the only one there who doesn’t spin yet, but I do my crochet and get some time away from the house. This time I even tried hand carding and spinning on a wheel and spindle. I’ve been thinking of getting a drop spindle and now I want one even more! 🙂 I’ve been watching some youtube videos teaching carding and spinning on a drop spindle, but it’s so much easier to be with other women who know what they’re doing. You can ask any question you have right then instead of waiting to get an email back! The next spinning meeting is February 20th…I’m already excited.
Tunis yarn that I spun