Friday, October 17, 2008

Going Natural.

I've been spinning about a year and my fiber stash seems to have grown very rapidly. I have a lot of hand dyed fiber and I love spinning the fiber and knitting with the resulting yarn. Watching the way that the colors combine as you spin and knit really help to keep things interesting, especially for small projects like scarves and socks. Then of course, there is a whole different level of things to consider when you want to try and manipulate the colors into behaving a certain way.

As much as I love color, and I really love color, I've wanted to try spinning a few yarns in natural colors. I'm not talking about neutral colors, but the natural colors that actually come straight from the sheep or alpaca as the case may be.

My first step in this process was to buy some unprocessed alpaca blanket (fleece) at a local fiber festival this spring. My grand idea was that I would learn how to process the fiber; that includes washing, picking out any and all foreign matter, and then of course combing or carding the fiber into something spinable. Well, to get to that step was going to require some work and the purchase of at least some simple, though potentially expensive, equipment.

So instead, I decide to send the fiber off to a company that handles all the processing and send you back spinable fiber or even yarn. I sent my alpaca fiber off to Morro Fleece Works and got back some beautiful pin drafted roving - just begging to be spun. It kind of resembles a red chocolate soft serve ice cream. It is soft and will be very easy to spin. I have to mention too that the cost was less than a set of hand cards would have cost me. Including shipping, I spent about $40.00 to have the fiber processed.

I ended up with about 1 pound 12 ounce of spinning fiber; just slightly less fiber than I sent. The fiber I sent in didn't meet the recommended minimum limit, so I was limited on what I could get back and I has charged a set minimum fee for the processing. But I'm please with the results. And at least I don't have unwashed fiber sitting around in my closet.

The other natural project I have in the cue originated as part of the knitting and spinning guild I joined. They occasionally hold a fiber challenge. The idea being that everyone brings in 4 ounces of spinning fiber in an unmarked bag. Everyone takes home a bag that wasn't theirs and is tasked with spinning the fiber and knitting a project with the yarn. The guild will hold a meeting in the spring for everyone to show off how they used the fiber in a project.

The guild gave every participant 2 ounces of white Shetland to incorporate into the project as well. The fiber I drew from the pile is a combination of wool, mohair, and silk. I like how the light tan color work with the white Shetland fiber. I've been considering spinning each fiber into a single and then plying them together into one yarn. I think the over all effect would be nice and maybe slightly tweedy. I'd like to have a pattern in mind though so I know what weight yarn to spin. I've only got four ounces though so the project cannot be too large. I do have some dark brown Shetland that I could incorporate too. That would give me more yardage. Maybe something stripey would work.

So, now I have a dilemma. I have all this great natural fiber and now it is ready to spin. I even have a deadline for one of the projects. But I have no idea what I want to end up making. I think for these two projects, especially the guild challenge, I'd like to have a project in mind before I start spinning. So if you see these photos and are struck with project ideas, I'd love to hear them.

9 comments:

Julie said...

That alpaca is beautiful! Definitely a bargain to have it processed for you.

As for project ideas; sorry, I have none.

elizabeth said...

Hmm, do you have to have a project idea before the spinning? Don't you actually have 6 oz. of fiber - 4 oz. of the blend and 2 oz. of Shetland? You could make a three ply yarn, fairly thin, and knit mittens, gloves, socks or a cowl. 6 oz. ought to give you lots of options.

I love this idea - I'm going to propose it to my guild!

Bezzie said...

Hmmm...yes I can never think of projects until a yarn is spun. Still a newbie I guess!!!

I love that alpaca!

Deb said...

No ideas - but I LOVE the alpaca!

Zonda said...

Gorgeous Alpaca!! Good for you to have it processed so it's not sitting there :) Neat idea on the fiber challenge too! I have no ideas either...

Esoteric Knitter said...

Chocolatety goodness, yum! That's definitely a pretty natural color.

mom said...

I love the colors on both. They are very rich and distinct colors. The yarns will be gorgeous. Maybe some type of hat because the colors will go with a variety of coat and seweater colors. That way you would get to wear them more. Maybe something for the hubby???

mom said...

I love the colors on both. They are very rich and distinct colors. The yarns will be gorgeous. Maybe some type of hat because the colors will go with a variety of coat and seweater colors. That way you would get to wear them more. Maybe something for the hubby???

bockstark.knits said...

OMG, that alpaca is gorgeous!!!