Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Monday, July 14, 2003  

I am having a bit of insomnia these days, which naturally worries me every night so I wake up earlier and earlier and I am wondering if I’m just not going to sleep at all one of these days. I am sure this bout is being aggravated by all the ThingsIPromisedToDoButHaven’t. My summer has suddenly filled up with promises and now I’m wondering how to fulfill them all. I think the obligation part will be over by mid-August. Gad. I hope I get a full night’s sleep before then.

I have promised to read the draft of a friend’s novel.
I have promised to mail out the invitations to the family reunion.
I have promised to have my nephew for the weekend.
I have promised to drive my mom to Pennsylvania.
I have promised to teach a class to the 4H sheep girls.
I have promised to have a birthday party for my cousin.
I have contracted to go to work every day.

What I have done is dye fibers and spin them up and knit little swatches out of the yarn. And I washed the 1/2 of a coriadale fleece. Hmmm. Something’s amiss here. No wonder I feel guilty and can’t sleep at night.

Well, before I go begin reading the novel (which I have about an hour for) let me tell you about how beautiful the fleece is - for that was an exciting project. The fleece started out fairly clean and I have washed little handfuls of it already. But we’re in the deep heat of summer, the lovely cool weekend notwithstanding. I was a tad worried the fleece would get rank and since it lives in the den where guests sleep when we have an overflow, I thought cleanliness ought at least be next to guestliness. So yesterday I hauled it up to the bathroom, where the washing machine lives, and spread it out on the floor.

I actually like the scent of this unwashed fleece and I love feeling the greasy locks. I am sure there are fleece that are hideous and stink, but this one just had a nice barn and animal scent. There was remarkably little vegetable matter in it and I plucked most of it out. One section seemed to have more than the rest, and I suspect that was the part nearest the neck for there were much shorter and crimpier fibers in this lot. I put the first big chunk of fleece in the bathtub with hot, hot, hot, just barely able to put my hands in it hot, water from the tap and left it to soak for 30 minutes. Big mistake. When it came time to drain the tub, I couldn’t manage the fibers, which wanted to drain off with the water and go down the pipes. I tried to block the fibers with my hands and with the screen I use to dry the stuff on, but I know a good bit of it escaped.

The next lot went in the dyeing pot - which is an enamel canning pot. This was better because I could still soak the fibers in big lots, but fibers still escaped my efforts and joined their brethren in the plumbing. After that, I cleaned the chunks of fleece in the sink. Smaller lots, but I could put my hands around the whole wad of fiber while the sink drained. The smell of the soapy wet lanolin is very nice, the color a dirty dark yellow. But the sink method was slow enough to make me antsy so I alternated between sink and pot and in the end, washed all of the fleece except a small and particularly dirty bit. I may not bother with that last bit, but I’m not quite yet ready to toss it.

My work could be easily divided into 3 piles which I dried on a window screen, spreading out the fleece and teasing the locks open. There was still a little VM but much of it was now softened and loosened and easy to pluck out. What’s left I think will fall from the fiber when I card it up. How beautiful it looked piled in all it’s gray glory, the colors rich and deep. I can’t believe I didn’t photograph it, but I didn’t, and now it’s dry and separated into pale gray and dark gray and stored in bags.

It’s a lot of work preparing fleece for spinning. I am not sure I will do a lot of this - but I really wanted the experience starting with the fleece. A good thing, too, since next Sunday I begin working with the 4H girls.

And now - off to do my dooty - or at least, to eliminate some of the things from my insomnia inducing to-do list.

posted by Bess | 6:13 AM