January 24, 2005

Tools and Tips

Tools-- I love them. I'm worse than any man, although my tools are usually in support of handwork and do not plug in. If you think about it, there are few simple tools. A piece of paper? How do you think that was made? Try asking our friends at International Paper (a company which does NOT deplete the rain forests, I have on excellent authority-- they plant eight trees for every one they cut down). It probably involves huge gas-powered saws cutting down tall trees, huge trucks hauling those trees out, lots of noisy processing equipment, packaging equipment, databases and computer equipment to record their birth and sales. Simple, eh? And how about that pencil? More of the same, I'd reckon.

I enjoy knowing that many of my tools had a more gentle birth, attended by a loving woodworker midwife and singled out for extra attention and care. Take my charkha, for example. Or the Hazel Rose looms that recently arrived, simple tools of excellent quality, handcrafted for handcrafting. I'm still learning what size yarns work best, but I've found that my handspun Barefoot Spinner yarn is excellent for these looms and I am tasked to spin much more.

Here you see a square from the handspun, a triangle from two strands of Jo Sharp DK, and a square with two strands of Jamieson & Smith shetland jumperweight.

Going up the scale in yarn "grist" (a word overused and under-understood) I used Manos del Uruguay for this little adventure. The triangle is perfect, in my opinion, but the diamond is a bit stiff. The diamond using the handspun is a better weight.

Moving ahead in our fiber frenzies, I finally started the Rona's Hill vest from Yarns International. This is designed by Ron Schweitzer especially for the plant-dyed Shetland 2000. I love the yarn, but I'm not bonding with the colors in the welt pattern just yet. The Madder seems to be a bit too... madless? Perhaps I'll go get the opinions of the Ferals tonight, if they are meeting.

Department of Travel
Yesterday Glitchbane the Gray and I frolicked in Snohomish for a while. Our stated goal: find antique pink martini glasses. Lunch at the Snohomish Pie Company is always a real treat, and there we fortified ourselves before attacking the antique circuit. Despite our best efforts, no worthwhile martini glasses were to be found, pink or not. Perhaps we will have to widen our search area.

Department of Research
Oh! I almost forgot to tell you What I Found Out about washing fleece. For some reason I pulled down a couple of fleeces from the attic, thinking I might like to card some up and spin them or dye them, but after doing so I realized they still contained far too much lanolin, even though I had already washed them. I couldn't bear the thought of going through the bathtub routine again, and so I got really brave.

I took a small portion of the chocolate brown Rambouillet cross and put it where? Ah, yes, that is correct: in my Kenmore Elite front-loading washer. Now I know that many many spinners put fleeces in their top-loading washers, but they can turn the washer off after it fills with water, put the fleece in, and let it soak. Not so with the front loaders, because of course if you open the door, the water will not stay put (actually, you can't open the door because it locks).

I put Dawn dishwashing detergent in place of my usual HE Tide liquid, turned on the "wool" cycle with a warm wash and warm rinse, said a small prayer to the Woolwasher gods, and left it. When the machine sent it's signal I returned to find a beautifully washed fleece with nary a sign of the slightest felting!!

Well! That went so well, why not try drying it in the dryer? My matching dryer has a rack that is placed in the dryer for delicate things, so that the items stay still while the drum rotates around them. I put it in and put the wool in it, spread out as much as possible, and turned it on the delicate cycle. The results couldn't be any more perfect. So let me repeat this for all those people who, like me, used to Google unsuccessfully for any news regarding washing fleeces in this manner:

Wash your fleeces in front-loading washers with no worries!! (as long as you have an appropriate cycle and use the same water temperature for both washing and rinsing).

Pushing my luck here, because this is getting long, I have one more tip, gleaned from the SpinList on Yahoo, a tip which practically escaped my eye as I was skimming over numerous digested messages. If you are a spinner you may have wondered why your flyer has hooks on both sides (I'm talking about the flyers where the hooks are all facing the same way), but the hooks are not directly opposite each other, like the one here. But the reason for this is that as you fill the bobbin, you put your yarn first on one side and then the other, so as to fill the bobbin more evenly. Isn't that sensible?

More 100 Things are coming, but not quite yet...

Posted by Sheila at January 24, 2005 10:00 AM Posted to Knitting | Spinning | TrackBack

Oooh, I love the diamond weaver! Did you have to specially request it? I don't see it on Hazel Rose's site. I can just see a glorious quilt of diamonds made with it!

Posted by: Sammi on January 24, 2005 12:33 PM

I just read that same tip on SpinList too!

Love your blog, you have a great writing style.

Posted by: Jenni on January 24, 2005 12:43 PM

Front loading washer, eh? I have been wondering about that. How much did you wash in one load - a pound, or more? I have 4 lbs of Targhee and am getting really tired of doing it by hand in batches. And I have a front loader, Maytag Neptune, with a "hand wash" setting. Maybe I will risk it with a pound or so this weekend.

Posted by: Katie on January 24, 2005 12:52 PM

Katie, I did a very small amount because I wasn't sure it would work, but I think I would go with two or three pounds. My limiting factor is really the dryer, I don't want to pile too much fleece up at one time because it wouldn't dry as quickly and then some would get over-processed. Go for it!

Sammi, the diamond weavers are now on the Hazel Rose site-- look down further, the item just before the Kid's Stuff Kit, and you'll see them. There are three sizes, and I agree, the quilt possibilities are amazingly wonderful!

Posted by: Sheila on January 24, 2005 12:57 PM

sheila, is that the reeves with the opposing hooks? i can't wait to get mine in the mail....
love the little looms, looks like a lot more fun then warping my giant looms...

Posted by: vanessa on January 25, 2005 08:07 AM

No, it's the Tina II, pre-re-oiling, you can see how dry it was when I got it. (That's not my yarn, either). The Reeves flyer has the hooks on opposite sides so you can't take advantage of this trick, I don't think. Joel is still my favorite wheel!

Posted by: Sheila on January 25, 2005 08:42 AM

After reading your post about washing the fleece in the front loading washer i'm sure going to try that.

Posted by: ada on January 28, 2005 03:38 AM

I've done it. Tonight i washed some fleece in my washing machine. And it worked out great.

Posted by: ada on January 30, 2005 03:14 PM

I want to try the front load washing of fleece...did you use lingerie bags or just put the fleece in by itself?? I have a couple of pounds of fleece to do and am petrified of clogging the family washer!

Posted by: Kat on June 14, 2005 02:49 PM

You are very brave to try the washing machine route! In the interests of science, I would like to recreate your success with my Azko front-loading washing machine (water temperatures available up to 205F). One small detail - did you just dump the fleece into the machine, or did you encase it in nylon net or a pillow case first? I am concerned about plugging up the innards of my machine...Thanks for sharing!


Posted by: Sue on July 15, 2005 04:01 PM
Post a comment