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CHOOSING A FLEECE

Breed - yes Colour - yes Then what? Sue suggests that you then close your eyes and feel the fleece. Is it soft, medium or coarse? Are the fibres cotted - felted - a sign that the fleece was wet when it was stored. Having decided the quality of the fibre open your eyes. Now check the fleece for seeds, hay, straw, brambles and other unwanted stuff. If the fleece is full of vegetable matter it will take ages and ages to remove - the bit you miss is sure to end up on an elbow or neck! Now check for daggings. Most farmers do not remove the soiled bits from a fleece. This is OK as put in a bucket, left to soak, the liquor makes wonderful tomato fertiliser! However, is there is too much soiled fleece the amount of useable fibre is much reduced.

 

CARDING

Sue watches You Tube showing how hand carding is done, they make it hard work.

Carding should be no more difficult than brushing your hair.

Sue's simple rules are as follows:-

1 Don’t try to card too much fibre at a time.

2 Spread staples widthwise along the edge of one carder so that 2 thirds of it hang in mid-air.

3 Now use the other carder to brush out the dangling     fibres.

4 When they are sufficiently carded transfer the carded    fibre onto a carder leaving the un-carded fibre dangling.

5 Now brush out the dangling fibres.

6 Job done! Gently roll the fibres into a sausage (rolag).

There is absolutely no need to drag two carders across each other to card wool!

The better you card fibre the easier it is to spin the fibre!

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF A TENSION SQUARE

OK, you’ve spun your yarn, got the pattern the question now is will your yarn match that used in the pattern?

My advice is to knit a tension square. Your pattern may say that you use a particular sized knitting needle. Your yarn might require using a larger or smaller size. Only by knitting a tension square will you know.

Depending on the thickness of your yarn a tension square should be as follows:-

14 stitches by 14 rows for bulky yarn.

38 stitches by 38 rows for 3 ply equivalent.

It also depends on whether you are a tight or loose stitch knitter. You may need to knit further tension squares, changing your needle size, to get the required result.

A wrap-around yarn gauge is a great tool to help determine needle size.

A tight stitch knitter will need a larger needle size.

A loose stitch knitter will need a smaller needle size.


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TIPS AND TRICKS

We are here to help. We hope that this page helps resolve some problems. If it does not, then please contact us and we will do our best to help.



My spinning wheel is rotating when I treadle, but the yarn is not going into the orifice and on to the bobbin.

Increase the tension on the drive band.  Check the tension on the brake band and if necessary renew your drive band around the spinning wheel and the whorls with a high twisted cotton or yarn made from natural fibre. When renewing the band make sure your wheel is in the slack position before tying the knot. Try our maintenance kit or give us a call or email.

My spinning wheel appears to have bits missing?

Email Sue to discuss your problem, or use a digital camera to give us a photo of your wheel and a close up of what you feel is missing.

How much yarn should I spin to enable me to knit a jumper?

Look in your wardrobe and weigh a garment similar to the one you wish to hand spin.  This will give you an idea of the quantity of yarn required for a jumper to fit you.  Always spin more than you require, especially if you have dyed the hand spun yarn.

How do I know what diameter yarn to spin when I spin my single yarn?

Spin 5 rolags of your chosen fibre on one bobbin, then 5 rolags on a separate bobbin, ply them together.  Hank the yarn and wash and leave to dry.  You should have sufficient yarn to knit 10 stitches by 10 rows.  You will quickly know whether you are spinning too thick a single yarn or too fine a single yarn.  Adjust your spinning accordingly.

I am  trying to follow a knitting pattern with my hand spun yarn.

You need to know how many wraps of hand spun yarn cover 1cm/1” by using our Yarn Gauge  you can then know what knitting needle size to use and how to knit a small tension square to obtain the best results from your knitting pattern.

I cannot see my type of loom on this website? 

There are many different manufacturers of looms and various types of looms, so they will look different.  Essentially there are Inkle Looms which make braids or guitar straps, Rigid Heddle Looms which come in various widths, having one rigid heddle (an area with holes and slots) to lift and depress to enable weaving to take place. Finally 4 (or more) shaft looms which have a tall area (castle) which encase 4 metal frames which in turn hold heddles (wire, cotton or polyester lengths with holes in the centres).  The 4 shafts are lifted by pedals, levers or knobs to make patterns in fabric.  There are also 8, 16 and 24 shaft looms which are usually called multi-shafted looms.  These multi-shafted looms can be mounted on tables or have stands for use on the floor.

My dyed woollen fibre always felts or mats together so I cannot use it to spin or felt? Always treat natural fibres, like wool as you do your own skin. Felting occurs when wool fibres are shocked by going from boiling hot water to cold water, allow boiled fibre to cool naturally. Never stir the fibres in the dye pot while they are being heated.

Should I pre-mordant my fibre before dyeing? You can pre-mordant the fibre before dyeing, during dyeing or after dyeing.  You will obtain  different coloured results in each case.  Keep a note in an exercise book so you know which method you prefer or to monitor the results for the future.

Can I dye naturally coloured fleece? Yes, providing the natural colour is pale, you will obtain different shades of one colour.

My felt has holes in it? You require a minimum of 3 even layers of fibres to make felt.  Make sure that the layers of fibre do not have holes through them, if so, place another piece of fibre over the thin section to avoid holes.  Nuno felt is controlled agitation of fibre with deliberate holes in a pattern, so it becomes acceptable.

You can also embroider over holes on felt to make it become a wonderful effect.

My locker hooked fibre loops are all different sizes? When you use the locker hook, only hook 3 loops of fibre through 3 holes of canvas before drawing through the cotton yarn.  This enables loop sizes to remain the same height.