Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Katahdin fleece review. YST episode 86

This is not a rare breed, or even a breed of sheep commonly used for their fleece. However, a coworker raises these sheep and when she handed me a small bag of wool from her sheep, I promised her I would try spinning it. And as I often do, I shared the experience with my listeners in a podcast.

This breed is raised for meat, often by small farm owners. It's known as a hair sheep along with several other breeds because their fleece contains obvious thicker hairs all through the fleece. Another key factor is that they shed their fleece (known as rooing) which is a great benefit for small farm owners that can not get a shearer in for a small flock, or shear the sheep themselves.

Here's a link to a good website for information on the breed.


I try to do my fleece reviews in a similar format, by using washed fiber, carding some and combing some. When I did this for this fleece, it became very interesting to find how it removed many of the hairs, in the combed fiber, but incorporated those hairs into the carded batt. When I spun my sample singles, the combed was mostly smooth, and the carded spun much thicker and showed lots of spikes of the hair.

I decided to leave the singles on the bobbins awhile (OK, so I did have to get the holidays over)and then knit something to show off the different textures. I knit straight from the bobbins, with very little problem with twist. The small sample skeins taken at the end of the singles after knitting do twist up, so there's still excess twist there. It just did not interfere with the knitting, since the single sat on the bobbin awhile.

Now I am quite use to handling wool, and to my fingers this fleece did not feel scratchy, unlike what you would think looking at it. Of course I did not knit a wearable item, instead I knit a small coaster.

In the photos you can see the singles on the two bobbins, one combed and one carded. The second photo shows the coaster with sample skeins. The center of the coaster is knit with the combed, smooth single, and the edging is knit with the thicker carded single. I used the same size needles, the edging looks thicker, because the single was thicker.

With all the wonderful fleeces in a spinner's world, I am sure there would not bea reason to do a whole fleece of this breed. However it was very interesting to work up this sample, for my sheep breed file.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A blanket for my grandson

It was a long time in the making, and then several months before I got this posted. But I did make a knit blanket to welcome my first grandson to the fact his grandma knits for those she loves.

I wanted something colorful, and had picked a color work pattern way back a year ago in Dec. I bought four yarn colors as suggested by the pattern. My choice was a variegated in pastels (but not the traditional pinks and blues) and three colors that matched the variegated. I cast on, knit the edging and started the pattern. I quickly realized this pattern really was not good for a baby. It was a blanket, but the pattern seemed to ignore the fact there was a wrong side, and that side was ugly with stranding. I was about three inches into it, when I decided that it was not what I had in mind at all.

It sat for two months while I looked for the elusive pattern I had knit years ago for a coworker's baby. It was slip stitch and you never carry more than two yarns. I finally found it, a copied sheet. I have no idea of the source of the pattern. It looks striped because it is done in two row sections then there is a color change. I started the edge with the variegated, then went in the same color sequence every two rows with two rows of the variegated between color changes. The variegated yarn was carried up the side of the entire blanket. The other colors were cut and the ends woven in as I went, a true disciplined act on my part.

The slip stitch in the pattern creates the honeycomb look as the slipped stitch is carried up the two rows. The variegated rows were plain knit.

Ethan arrived March 1st, six weeks early. The new pattern blanket had just barely been started. I finished it in Oct, and he loves sleeping with it.