Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Handwashed, Hand Carded, Handspun, Handwoven

I've been working with local fleece for quite awhile now and am always on the hunt for something new and interesting. A new relationship and friendship often develops as the producer and I get to know each other over the years. The Cariboo hosts a variety of sheep breeds that produce some very high-quality wool for spinning, such as Icelandic, Shetland, Romney and Texel. And lately I've been finding new producers, including one in the Chilcotin, to the west across the Fraser River.

I've said for years that I'd rather spin with roving that's ready to go rather than mess around with dirty fleeces through the washing and carding phases. But to support local producers, I need to be a little more resourceful and do a little more of the work. And that work is actually proving to be pretty fun and fulfilling.

A local spinner has been linking wool producers with spinners and fibre artists for a mutually beneficial arrangement. Sheep need to be sheared every spring anyway, and she is helping spinners connect with local producers who have some beautiful fibres to work with. Here's how she puts it:
For me it is the tactile feel of the fibre. From the greasy, dirty fleece - you can almost feel the life of the animal - to spinning the fibre and either knitting or weaving the yarns into something you can wear. It is a wonderful journey.
She came over this spring with all her washing bins and equipment, and she showed me how to wash fleece: hot water with Dawn detergent and minimal agitation, followed by two rinses.

Then hang to dry in a flower/herb dryer (a perfect design for wet fleece).

Once the fleece is dry, it is handcarded, spun and often-but-not-always plied for weaving. That's a fair bit of effort but I find it enjoyable.

Here are three blankets I wove this year. I love them all!

253 | 100% wool with about 50% Icelandic handspun from "Dimayo" | Sold

253 Detail

254 | 100% wool with about 50% Icelandic handspun from "Coco"

266 | 100% wool with about 50% handspun from Icelandic sheep in Horsefly, BC

The first and third blankets have beautiful striations of dark and light shades that really add depth and interest to the finished product. These blankets will last for ages and look beautiful through their lifetimes.