Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Scottish Surprise

Remember these cuties from last fall?



I finally got around to washing one of the Scottish Blackface fleeces. Thanks Find Five...and our friends who fixed the water heater in the wash room :-).



From everything I'd read, I knew it was going to be a long, coarse wool. That's okay, I'm a coarse wool sorta girl. I wasn't expecting quite as much kemp as I found though. See that short, kinky black fiber? There was tons of white just like it, like a full kemp undercoat. Ugh.

Just for grins though I ran a bit through the drum carder as is/was. Pretty hairy. Pretty, but hairy. I then combed some, which I thought did a great job pulling out almost all the short fibers, leaving the long, soft outer coat.

But it was very fly-away-ish (I'm sure there's a better word) - like it was everywhere and all over my black polar fleece jacket. I misted it with a light spinning oil concoction and ran it through the carder.



Very pretty.



I then grabbed the Kromski wheel and took it out on the Wool House porch. In February (!). Betsy joined me and alternately napped (picture on Twitter) and tried to catch birds (pictures to follow later - don't let me forget - what a grumpy cat face!).

I was surprised as I started spinning that there was still a good deal of kemp in the combed and carded roving. I decided to "[spin] on with confidence" and other than ending up wearing a bit more animal hair than normal, I actually found it a fun spin.

I wound it off in a small skein and here's where I was the most surprised. It weighed nothing. Obviously a tiny skein of yarn doesn't weigh much anyway, but this weighed nothing. I remembered when Stella and I were picking up the fleeces as they were shorn that they were super light. I assumed then it was just a lack of lanolin thing, but after washing the lanolin out of a greasy fleece, shouldn't the playing field be level?



I gave it a good soak in hot, soapy water, rinsed and squeezed out most of the water. Took it outside and gave it a twirl. Next surprise. Out flew three or four pieces of kemp. Gave it a good snap and more flipped out. I snapped it several times and it never let up. How much short fiber was still in there?!? Ugh. Maybe this yarn is mainly good for rugs.



But it sure is pretty. I love this picture - it's hanging on the Lamb Camp sign. I love back lighting, straight lines, fuzzy yarn, pretty color (or lack of). Might be my favorite yarn shot yet.



And the final (well, so far) surprise. It knit up beautifully. Such a pretty bright color, good stitch definition (even with my sloppy knitting), and even with the kemp still working it's way out, it's really soft and not at all offensive. I think you could knit a sweater and not be disappointed. Or weighed down ;-).

So the moral of the story is - well, I think there's a bunch of 'em at this point.

And I guess the real moral of the story...if a cute little Scottish Blackface bottle lamb was ever looking for a home... ;-).

11 comments:

Alice said...

Awwwwe...love the final result of your efforts. Maybe a bottle lamb is in the future :-D

Mary Ann said...

I loved this post because it leaves me wanting to learn more!

Terry said...

Very pretty!

Sheepmom said...

Love the whiteness of it. I bet the kemp will keep working it's way out as the yarn is handled. Does it felt/shrink much? Might be an awesome choice for one of those fulled-down purse/totebag thingys everyone (but me) has made. How about a saddle pad for Hickory??

flowerweaver said...

Hard to believe it's mostly used for mattress stuffing according to Wikipedia. Looks really soft and pretty!

Nancy K. said...

I love your little carded 'cupcakes'! Or are they rologs rolled up?

Ed said...

Looks fluffy..:-)

Christine said...

LOL, the ending, priceless, so you. :) LOVE the fuzz shot. It is perfect.

Lori Skoog said...

I see a new bottle lamb in your future. Yes, I like you back lit photo of the yarn too. Still don't understand your spinning, knitting language...I need a glossary of terms.

denise said...

love the fuzzy yarn shot. I worked up a blackface sample couple years ago- was my first experience with kemp. I really liked the pure whiteness of the wool, and the length though.

Firas said...

Great shots : )

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