Monday, July 29, 2013

Road Trip: A fiber mill and Indian mound

My hubby and I recently took a trip to the Ohio Valley Natural Fibers mill in Sardinia, OH. It was about an hour and a half drive through the countryside of OH to the mill, and such a gorgeous day to do so.  We left early enough to arrive at the mill before lunch.  I wanted to have my three fleeces processed into roving.  

The first fleece is an Alpaca fleece I bought at a fiber festival in Indiana at least 3 years ago. At the time I bought this fleece, I wanted to learn how to spin on a drop spindle, and thought this was a nice, little investment for a project in the future.  The drop spindling didn't quite work out for me, so this lovely fleece just sat in storage until now.  It looks like it has been washed already, so will just have the mill pick it and card it into roving for me.  

The next two fleeces I purchased this year at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Ohio.  The first is 4 pounds of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL).  Aren't the colors gorgeous?  I really hope the colors are maintained in the roving when it's processed.  Than name of the sheep that this one comes from is Marigold.  

Check out the staple length on this lovely!  

The next fleece is 8 pounds of Lincoln from an ewe named Hellbitch.  :)  I had to laugh at that name when the farmer told me.  Original price was $55.00, but I bought it for $15.00!  It also has a lovely staple length.  

All bagged up, and ready for the mill!

When we arrived at the fiber mill, we were kindly greeted by the workers.  They checked in my fleeces, told me they would be ready for the Wool Gathering fiber festival in September (that way I only have to travel 20 min to Yellow Springs, OH to pick up my fiber instead of going back down to Sardinia), and asked us if we wanted a tour of the mill.  OF COURSE we did! :)  

The first stop on the tour was the picking machine, though the first step in processing fleeces is washing.  They do the washing in machines within their house, so that isn't part of the tour.  

This machine picks out the vegetable matter (VM) and other debris from the fiber.  It shoots the fiber into the screened off room behind it.

The next stop is the huge drum carding machine.  

The cleaned fiber is thrown into the machine, and works its way up the drum carders and onto the other side where it is rolled into roving strips.  A person sits at the end of the machine and collects the roving and puts it into boxes for the customers.  If the person only wants roving (like me) the process is at an end.  If the person wants their fleece made into yarn, the process continues on to the next machine.

This machine rolls the fiber into very thin strips called "pencil roving".  This prepares the fiber for the yarn machine.

This machine takes the pencil roving and plies it which creates yarn.  

This machine takes the yarn and winds it onto cones.

These machines are from the early 1900's.  Many of the parts (like the cones you see above) are no longer being made.  We were told that once they run out of these cones, they will no longer be able to use the machine.  How sad!  Many mills have closed in the USA over the years, but this one is still going strong...30 years+!  I'm so looking forward to getting my roving from them in September.

After we finished our tour, we spent a little time in their small shop.  They sell fiber, dyes, needles, spinning wheels, looms, books, and more.  They also go to fiber festivals in the area selling their products.  

After the fiber mill, we drove 30 minutes to the Serpent Mound site in Peebles, OH.  My hubby and I had heard about it and figured since we were so close, we should check it out.  

We had a picnic at the park, then walked around viewing the Serpent Mound.  From their website, "Nominated as a World Heritage Site, Serpent Mound is the largest surviving example of a prehistoric effigy mound in the world. Stretching 1,348 feet over the ground, the beautifully preserved ancient earthwork depicts the form of an undulating serpent with an oval shape at the head."

View from the top of the tour.  Unfortunately, you can't see the entire mound from up there.  


The serpent's tail.
We enjoyed our hike around the mound, and then it was time to head home.  Such a gorgeous day to be out on a road trip, and experience some history too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tour de Fleece has come to an end

The last day of the Tour de Fleece was Sunday.  I'm sad that the event is over, but happy to have had it this month to give me something positive to focus on (July has been rough for us).  I was able to accomplish quite a bit of spinning, and have some lovely handspun yarn to show for it!  Here are the pics from the remainder of the tour...

DAY 17 was a day of rest.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My New Colorways!

The other day, I posted about my day of dyeing roving.  It's finally dry now and I'm happy to show you the results!

The first is a combination of 40% Superwash Merino, 40% Merino, and 20% Silk dyed with Wilton's food coloring in Burgundy, Orange, and Buttercup yellow.  I call this colorway "Plumeria Flowers".  It will become handspun yarn.  It was originally based on colors I saw while caving, but you never quite know what the roving will look like once dry.  I think it looks much more like Plumeria than the colors I found caving.  

The next colorway is "Mediterranean Splendor."  It reminds me so much of the beaches my husband and I visited while living in France along the Mediterranean.  40% Superwash Merino, 40% Merino, and 20% Silk.  This is destined to become hand spun yarn.  

This lovely roving is available for sale in my Etsy store, The Purled Ewe.  CLICK HERE to go straight to the listing.  100% Merino Wool Top Roving, Hand Painted, 4oz, dyed with Wilton's food coloring.  I call this "Painted Reflections" as it was based off a picture I found online of a beautiful, Fall scene reflected in water (see my previous blog post for the picture it is based off of).  

Here you have Organic Polwarth Top Roving, 4oz, "Breakaway" colorway.  Hand painted with Wilton's.  I named this after the way the colors "broke" while it cooked.  Juniper Green and Delphinium blue broke into a variety of colors.  The Buttercup Yellow color remained intact.  Super soft and yummy!  It is available in my shop HERE.

This was the result of my solar dyeing experiment using Greener Shades Dyes.  100% Falkland wool.  I call these "Provencal Tiles" and "Provencal Tiles 2".  The colors remind me of the tiles we had in our apartment in France.  Two braids are for sale in my shop. The only difference between the two is that "Provencal Tiles" has slightly more purple than "Provencal Tiles 2".  

"Provencal Tiles"
"Provencal Tiles 2" 
This last lovely is the other half of my "Breakaway" colorway in Organic Polwarth.  This will become handspun yarn.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend of Wool

My weekend was filled with wool.  On Saturday, my hubby and I went over to our friends' farm for dinner.  They have three Finn sheep named Zelda, Fitzgerald, and Steinbeck.  The three of them are the friendliest sheep.  Zelda and Fitzgerald (Fitz for short) love for me to scratch their heads and chests.  When I do, they wag their tails back and forth furiously, like dogs!  The sheepies follow us around the yard and love attention.  
Fitzgerald, up close and personal
Zelda and her gorgeous lashes!
Steinbeck, who looks like he's wearing a feathered cap thanks to the chicken in the foreground.
Our friends also have chickens.  They were having fun in the sun, strutting their stuff.

The Sheepie Gang
We enjoyed the rest of the evening at the farm, eating kebabs, chatting, and playing Settler's of Catan board game.   

Sunday was spent dyeing wool for my Etsy shop, The Purled Ewe.  I had purchased some Falkland, Merino/Silk, and Organic Polwarth that all needed painting.  The other day on Ravelry, in the Greener Shades Dyes group, I read how someone dyed their wool by putting into a big jar and setting in the sun for the day, like you do when making sun tea.  I gave that a go, and though the result wasn't exactly what I was going for, I'm still very pleased with it!  

Falkland wool dyed with Greener Shades Dyes, cooking in the sun
The sun method didn't work 100% well.  It mostly exhausted the color, but I did have to put it on the stove to finish the color exhaustion.  Took much longer than I expected too.  Next time I do this method, I'm going to try it with Wilton's food coloring and see what happens.  I think it just didn't get hot enough for the Greener Shades Dyes to cook well enough in the sun.

The next method I did was dyeing on the stove in my canning pot.  I wanted to use some of my new Wilton's colors to see what they would do (never quite know what to expect, especially if Red #3 is involved in the color).  I had heard that Delphinium Blue breaks into different colors if there is too much acid.  With the vinegar soak I do prior to dyeing, there was plenty of acid to break it and the Juniper Green color I used.  

In the pot, I have Buttercup Yellow, Delphinium Blue, and Juniper Green.  Notice how many other colors emerged including purple, pink, and brownish-red.  Like I said, you never know exactly what colors you will get with certain Wilton's colors, but you do get pleasant surprises!  

I also did some hand painting too.  Hand painting is probably my favorite way to dye roving and yarn.  It still can come out with random colors and patterns, but I have a bit more control over what happens.

Here's some merino/silk that I hand painted...
The colorway above was inspired by our trip to Ohio Caverns last week.  

This was done with Burgandy, Orange, and Brown Wilton's.  I jelly rolled it in the plastic, and steamed it in my canning pot to cook it.  

Above is another hand painted roving of Organic Polwarth.  Royal Blue, Purple, Leaf Green, Burgundy and Orange Wilton's.  I was basing this colorway on this picture I found online...

I'll be sure to post the finished products here once they dry, and they will be available in my shop soon.  Some will be sold as dyed roving, and I may spin a few to sell as hand spun.  Stay tuned!