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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Poodle Project - Part Deux

The second part of The Poodle Project is to spin 9.8 oz of white poodle fur from Alli. This is a custom spinning project for a customer.

I start out with hand skirting and sorting the fiber, picking out the second cuts (short bits of hair that are unsuitable for spinning)

I hand pick the fiber open and load it onto a flick carder

I then transfer the fiber from the flick carder to a fine toothed hand card and smooth the fiber out so that it is all laying in the same direction.

In the photo above, the flick carder is in the upper left, a slicker brush is in the upper right and the fine tooth hand card is at the bottom. I load up as much fiber as I want on the hand card. See how smooth the fiber looks? It doesn't look like there is that much on the hand card but wait until you see how it grows after I take it off the card!

Here is how the fiber looks while I'm taking it off the hand card.

And here is how it looks after it is off the hand card.

The top section is thicker than the bottom section. I gently split the rolag in half lengthwise for spinning.

This rolag weighs 0.4 oz (that's 4/10 or four-tenths of an ounce)

I then start spinning the fiber with my Van Eaton spinning wheel.

And here is how the singles yarn looks after spinning.

I will spin about 1.5 to 2 ounces of fiber onto two bobbins, giving me a total of 3 to 4 oz total when I ply those two bobbins together. I will then put the bobbins on a "lazy kate" and ply them on the wheel, going the opposite direction to ply them. This creates a strong, balanced two-ply yarn. I will then soak the skeins to wash them and to set the twist and hang them to dry.

At 0.4 to 0.5 oz per rolag, that means I will need to hand card 20 to 25 rolags to complete the project (9.8 oz of fiber to process/card for spinning).

So, you can see that the process is very labor intensive. I don't even want to figure out how much I make an hour - I'm certain it is less than half of minimum wage! But, I love the process and I love watching the bag of fiber transform into lovely soft, lofty yarn under my hands and before my eyes. I just love the creative process of working with fiber and spinning it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Poodle Project

I recently accepted a custom spinning job which I have dubbed "The Poodle Project".

The customer sent over a pound of black poodle fur and about 3/4 of a pound of white poodle fur.

Here is how the fiber looked when I got it.

I decided to start with the black poodle fiber first. I carded it on my Ashford fine cloth hand crank drum carder into batts.

The batts didn't draft very well so I tried washing the fiber. It felts very easily! I finally settled on hand picking the fiber open and carding it on my Louet Jr roving carder, which has longer teeth on the cloth. I then hand carded the fiber that I pulled off the licker-in drum on the carder. The hand carded rolags spun the easiest of all the different ways I prepared the fiber.

Here are the finished skeins of yarn.

I was hoping for a DK weight yarn but ended up with a worsted weight. I was planning on more yardage but because of the way the fiber spun up, worsted weight was the lightest I could manage. It has gorgeous texture to it and is very soft. The customer wants a sweater/vest knitted or crocheted with this yarn - it should be gorgeous!

Later I'll share the white portion of The Poodle Project. I took more photos of the various steps involved in spinning it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday River!

Our standard poodle puppy, River Runner, is one year old today!

Here is River with his littermates

Here is River as a puppy

And here is River enjoying his first snow

Here is River last October

Here is River yesterday morning

And here is River after his first professional grooming/clipping

River and Pippin (our YorkiePoo) are best buddies. Thank goodness we have Pippin to play with River! After River came home from his grooming appointment, Pippin didn't know at first who he was!

We like the look of the long haired River best but he was already getting so hot that we decided to have him clipped short for the summer. We'll let his fur grow and have him clipped again next Spring. In between now and then, I hope he'll let me keep his face shaved short. With the fuzzy face, he soaks up a TON of water when he drinks and then dribbles it everywhere. I think he was dribbling more water than he drank recently. We had to keep a mop handy so we wouldn't slip and fall on the wet floors.

I had the groomer save the fur that she clipped off River yesterday. She gave me a huge bag of black poodle fur! I weighed it after I got it home and it weighs over 2 pounds (including the weight of the bag) Wow! I recently finished spinning just over a pound of black poodle fur for a customer and the yarn turned out fabulous. I'll share pics in another post. I can't wait to spin River's fur and make something out of the yarn!