These two pictures show the last of the Jacobs fleeces. These happen to be the lamb fleeces, though I think there are a small mature fleece or two in there.
I had the drying racks full last week and I promised Karin that I would wait for her to choose the fleeces she wanted before I washed any more.
Karin came by today and chose 7 fleeces that she would buy, which leaves me with only 6 small fleeces left to wash. I have enough room on the drying racks to hold 8 lamb fleeces, so I am sure to finish washing Jacobs fleeces next week!
I took advantage of my wait time by pulling out some books that I have had in my library for years, all of them were written by Paula Simmons, and they are all about spinning and weaving with wool, with an emphasis on speed and economy of movement and materials, and the business end of a wool based business.
Paula has woven with wool since the 70's craft revival and I have enjoyed re-reading her experiences in those early years when it was all being rediscovered.
Paula talks all about how to spin a medium twist single in the weight you want but faster and softer than you are used to doing. She also gives instructions on how to use these singles as both warp and weft.
I made some batts today to give her spinning method a try, I used some of the clean Jacobs fleece that I have all over the studio. I stripped the batts into manageable widths and set to work.
As near as I can tell this method is what I would call "point of twist" spinning, where you draw back your fiber source just ahead of the twist. You have to set the amount of twist per treadle just right and the "draw in" just right so that your finished yarn will not have too much twist.
After the singles are spun, you make a skein and wash it. Then as you rinse it, you alternate hot and cold rinses. This fulls the singles yarn enough that the yarn will be able to withstand the abrasion it will encounter on the loom. Then you block the yarn so that you can wind a warp without having to fight the twists. After the warp is wound you size the warp, again to make it easier to weave.
On the bobbin above is the two batts that I made today, I think another two batts will fill this bobbin. Paula says that there should be enough twist in the single to make a soft 2 ply when it is allowed to ply back on itself. I think I got pretty close. I used my electric mini spinner and a "woolee winder" bobbin which automatically loads the single along the entire bobbin. No need to stop and change hooks, which was another speed spinning tip.
I am a little nervous about weaving with singles in the warp, but it would really speed up the whole process of making woven blankets and I think that the blanket fabric will be even more light weight. I will follow Paula's guidelines, they have served her well for years, and I think I can't go wrong following her example.
Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina