I was so busy with work this summer that I forgot to introduce you to my new favorite contraption: the Wendy spinning wheel! My parents picked her up at an estate sale along with a medieval looking drum carder, several big jars of buttons, some sock forms, metal embroidery hoops and a giant knitting book from the 70’s. I wish I’d known the lady before she passed because, judging from the amazing loot they found, I think we would have gotten on famously.
It took my Dad and I a few weeks to figure out how to put the drive belt on and get her working smoothly again but I’ve spent a couple hours spinning now and I think I’ve found a hobby I could do for a very long time (and maybe feed my knitting habit).
Isn’t she purty? The whole thing is just over two feet tall and it was originally built so that you could spin in the front seat of your VW bus. How amazing is that whole idea? Answer: very.
Hey, remember all of that wool I had at the beginning of summer? I got one pound of it back after I sent it to From Barn to Yarn over in Boring and I’ve spun a ball of yarn on my drop spindle while camp was going and then I’ve spun maybe 1/4 pound on the spinning wheel (that’s all that pretty white stuff at the top there). I’m really happy with how it’s coming out. It’s not beautiful wool (it’s from a breed meant to be eaten (Polypay) so the focus isn’t on the wool) and it was pretty dirty so she did a really great job cleaning most of the stuff out for a pretty reasonable price. If you happen to have a ton of fleece that is just too dirty to manhandle on your own I would definitely recommend looking them (or someone who does similar work) up.
I think that’s a pretty good job for a few hours spinning and watching Fight Club and the Mighty Boosh in the basement.
So. I unpacked my funky wool package and sorted the baddies from the goodies. If you’re going to start sorting wool, why not start right after you wake up? Preferably while you’re still in your jammies? No reason not to. So the baddies are in the trash can to my right and the good bits are piled into the TWO trash cans to my left. I tried to wash a fleece in the bathtub upstairs yesterday… turns out it’s very hard and it never really get clean… just wet and soggy. So, that being said, I called a lady at From Barn to Yarn over in Boring who specializes in cleaning wool fleeces. Lucky day! I can take it to her and in 8-10 weeks (I know, that’s a hella long time to wait) I get it back clean, carded and ready to be spun. It would probably take me an entire year to do all of that by hand and it’s only $8 a pound to have her do the heavy, dirty work. Unfortunately I have about 40 pounds of wool that I’ll be taking in. Sigh… that’s quite a dent in the teeny tiny bit of money I have scrooged away. I think I can sell whatever I don’t want for enough to make that back, so that’s good.
By the time I was finished sorting and picking the bottoms of my feet were black (shoes would have been a good idea.. but really, who has time for shoes?) and my hands were covered in oily lanolin. It’s a very good thing I don’t mind that smell.
Have you ever smelled unwashed fleece? It’s a tangy, musky, fetid smell… especially when they’re as dirty as these are. The guy who owns the sheep isn’t doing it for the wool, so they’re not very clean. That’s where the $8 a pound comes in. The fleeces have been airing out on the porch all day, hopefully they’re a little dryer and a little less smelly. Now I’m going to stuff them back into their trashcans for the night.