The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


Leave a comment

Ten bobbins towards a blanket, and Toby thanks

Over 5 days of work this month the remaining prime Romney lamb’s locks met my Forsyth Fine wool combs.

Handcombing Romney ewe lamb's wool on Forsyth Fine combs and diz

Last of the longer Romney ewe lamb’s locks

Most of the more defined locks had already been combed.  I hunted for the still distinct tips, and pulled away.  When even those weathered tips were disorganized, I did Margaret Stove’s trick of moving the locks between fingers to find that tip grain.  It took more time to load for each new pass but they were still in the tips-out orientation.  As you can see from the stationary comb here only a few are showing the lock crimp.

Blanket project worsted spun singles in Romney ewe lamb's wool

Basket full of Romney worsted singles!

State of the blanket specifics as shown in my basket are:

  • Each single worsted spun on my Watson Martha in scotch tension using a short forward draw with 18 lengths of hand-combed top each.  Last singles shown on bobbins are 4 lengths of top each.
  • Four plying balls = 537 g or just over 1lb.
  • Singles all spun right with “Z” twist.  I will ply for a “S” twist yarn.
  • That right there is 18 days of varying amounts of work from Saturday, July 19th to Saturday, September 20th, 2014.

I could say this was therapeutic in the month that we lost Toby.  It was but what I want to tell you is that going back to the combs was difficult in such a quiet house.  He used to sit at my feet (and I will show you where, down-post) while I did this work.  A little piece of old knitting helped me overcome this feeling of sad silence.

Knitted mobile device cozy by Irieknit

Oldie but goodie knit – hands-free combing

It held my phone, which played Neal Gaiman reading his “Neverwhere” (sound effects and all).  It wasn’t long before I hit my stride, and got those last 6 bobbins all spun-up.  Audio books, the fibre-worker’s friend.

No headphone cords were harmed in the combing.

Wait, we are not plying yet

The wheel is still in singles-production mode.  Thoughts occur to you while a project comes together.  Some are crazy pants and best not discussed too soon.

Hand-combed seconds from Romney ewe lamb's fleece

Fodder for the hand cards – Romney lamb’s combing seconds

For each bout of hand-combing, I separated the actual trash from what looked like seconds.  Over the years, I have learned (yes, the hard way) not to be precious about this.  You keep what you can keep, and the rest is compost.

The cotton cards were not good for this job.  I have found my standard cards with 76 tpi are giving nice rolags.  It’s easy work with the hard prep work behind me.  I also have un-combed locks left in another pillow-case.

Best guess? The existing singles could knit up on their own into a lovely circular or Shetland-inspired blanket.  What going the extra mile does is to open the door for a possible woven item.  These rolags spun in the same way could make a lofty weft for example.  Alternatively, I could make more worsted yarn from another fleece.  At this point in my spinning career, I know that more options for sampling is optimal.  If ever there was yarn that should hit an optimal mark it is this local Romney lamb’s fleece!

It really has been the spinning project that I hoped-for this year, and is still going strong!

Deepest thanks 

Thank you for everyone who has kept us in their thoughts, and who reached-out to me after my last post.  Your support meant so much.  I was only able to thank one of you in person but each comment was so very touching.

Toby and Melvin in peaceful kitchen co-existence

Brothers at rest, Toby & Melvin

This was Toby’s spot by my kitchen combing station.  Since Melvin loved the fleece-drying rack so much last summer, we threw his bed in for the duration.  They both liked it this way.  N suggested another picture of Tobes for everyone here, and this is a favorite of ours.

All of your comments, and replies helped me when this was still tremendously raw.  Many thanks to you, friends.  We are all adjusting but miss him a lot.


9 Comments

Tough goodbyes

Toby got some of my first knitting and spinning in these sweaters

For Toby

Our final goodbye for Toby was yesterday evening.  A joint decision after helping him through a major seizure on Sunday afternoon, and his ongoing decline in health due to the brain tumour.

Family, and also my friends where I hang out online were so supportive.  You know who you are.  These are my thanks for reminding me that there is no pin-point time, that avoiding his suffering was from a place of love, and that you have been there too.

Full cop of handspun singles on Wildcraft drop spindle using batt from Enting Fibercraft

Now plying

It was spinning that I turned to in my last afternoon with the little guy.  He slept in his bed, and I stood plying this spin on my Andean pushka.  Meditation as I watched Nilda Callanaupa’s “Andean Spinning” video again.

Handspun yarn on Wildcraft top whorl drop spindle

Mulled cider through the looking glass (well, resin)

This was spun from 3 batts totalling 3.2 oz from Enting Fibrecraft.  The set is “Mulled Cider,” hand-carded from Shetland wool (brown, grey overdyed), merino and tussah silk.  One batt is Shetland-only.  It is a 2-ply yarn that I am now spinning from an outer-pull plying ball.

Straightforward but textured.  In other words, exactly what I needed to have a good last day with our Toby Hopeful without freaking him out.  Naomi, your work is doing good in the wide world.

Pippi the oncidium orchid blooming in September

Orchid lends us a silver lining

We miss him terribly.  Melvin is trying to process a collar without a Toby.  For all the things that will now change – no foot-warming as I write to you for example – we must now adjust.  Toby came to us traumatized but what came through was his lion heart.  He overcame blindness, hoarseness, paralysis that extended even to his tongue.  The spirit never changed, and I am glad he was undaunted even when he couldn’t stand any longer.

Thankfully, he went peacefully and with the both of us by his side.