Sad roving becomes happy batt

(xposted from my blog, slightly modified for redundancy’s sake.)

So an update. I found out two things since my previous post on the sad roving:

1. The felting wasn’t really my fault. Our house has 2 washing machines, and apparently they leak heat from one to the other. Someone was washing a load of laundry while I was spin-cycling my roving. The heat is what did it, and not my stupidity.

2. There’s a better solution for dealing with the wool. At least for me. I have a drum carder! It can deal with stuff like this. So last night I tried feeding the wool to the drum carder. I learned the hard way that you still need to pre-draft it a bit before the carder will accept the wool. However, once you do, it works really well.

So here’s what you do.

1. Do some predrafting. Yeah, it still has to happen.

2. Feed the stuff into the carder. Be sure to adhere to the safety warnings it comes with. Like keeping your hands clear. Look at me, choosing wisely!

3. Once you feed it in, start cranking. The small drum will take up the stuff and put it onto the big drum.

Whee, your carder is starting to fill up. Yay!

4. Take it off the carder. You could end here, and have a batt that looks like this:

Or you could

5. put it through again for more blended colors and get this:

So I have one of each now so I can compare how they spin. I think I like the less carded one better, but if the other spins dramatically better, I’ll have more blended batts in the future. Also, my batts go really well with Dominion Seaside:

So the reason why this is so exciting is that now I can sell them as batts instead of having to spin them all. They probably won’t all be done in time for the show (where I should focus on getting as much yarn spun as I can) but could later go on Etsy. And if I do spin them, they’ll be much easier to deal with than just a big bag of pre-drafted roving. Plus, I can draft from the fold, which I like a lot better.

Sad roving is sad, but fixable

For once, I’m posting about something I made that is less than awesome.

As you may or may not know, I’m selling my wool and yarn at a craft fair on June 27. (If you’re in the Boston area, you should totally come!) As such, I’ve been spinning up a storm. My 3 boxes of alpaca fleece finally arrived mid-May, and since I returned from Europe, I’ve been doing a bunch of carding. I also have been dyeing a bunch of merino rovings, most of which are up on my Etsy store.

I also bought 16 drop spindles, so I could sell them to people interested in spinning:

Last night I went on a dyeing spree. The first batch came out lovely. The second batch not so much. It was my own fault. Usually I’ll send the wool through the spin cycle of my washing machine to get out the excess water, and it works just fine. But I did it a second time for these rovings, and they felted:

There were 8 total that suffered this fate. I was pretty upset. They’re salvageable as yarn, but I can’t sell them as roving, unless it was to someone who knew what they were getting into and at a heavily discounted price; just enough to recoup my losses. Better to have it be yarn, where no one will know I messed up.

How does one salvage sad, sad wool?

By pre-drafting!

Drafting is the process of drawing out fibers in order to spin them. Usually I’ll do this as I’m spinning. But when wool is felted or otherwise uncooperative, I’ll pre-draft. It’s also useful if you want to keep the repeats of colors.

I pull off strips of the felted wool, separating it until I have strips that are small enough to spin and are no longer felted. Here is me splitting some wool

(As you can sorta see, my fingers are still discolored from the dyeing spree.)

In the end, you get a pile of small strips, and you can no longer tell that they were originally felted:


And it helps to have housemates who like pulling things apart. This way I don’t need to do all the pre-drafting myself.