Category Archives: spinning

Sheep Dyed Yellow!

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I went to Sennybridge Agricultural Show today, and among other things I saw something quite bizarre – sheep with their fleeces dyed yellow!

suffolk sheep dyed yellow

suffolk sheep dyed yellow

close up of a suffolk sheep dyed yellow

close up of a suffolk sheep dyed yellow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did ask someone what is was about – he reckoned it was just cosmetic – to catch the judges eye.

I was wondering if anyone knows whether this is done regularly at shows now – its a while since I’ve been to an Agricultural Show – AND what dye is used, is it temporary or permanent?

Or maybe, just maybe, its an ingenious way to dye the wool BEFORE its shorn, and sell it as a pre-dyed fibre???

These are some undyed Suffolks for comparison.

Suffolk Sheep 'au naturel'!

Suffolk Sheep ‘au naturel’!

I took loads of photos at the Show, and will be putting some more up soon!

To see the very charming young riders Fancy Dress Parade – click here.

The 40 kilo/ 88 lb merino fleece – yes they sheared the sheep!

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Yesterday, I told you about the unsheared merino sheep in Australia, well here is the follow up – and how they sheared it!  Again, copied from the BBC News website.

If you’re not familiar with how the merino sheep normally looks, or what its wool looks like when prepared for spinning – it is the most popular fibre for hand spinners – have a look at my post on Merino Wool HERE

Overgrown Australian sheep Chris ‘breaks world record’

  • 3 September 2015
  • From the section Australia

An overgrown Australian sheep affectionately named Chris has set a new unofficial world record following a hair cut from five shearers.

Welfare crews warned it risked death because it was so woolly from living in the wild for several years.

More than 40kg (88lb) of wool was removed in what the RSPCA says is the heaviest wool haul from one shearing.

National shearing champion Ian Elkins was urgently called in on Wednesday to tackle the mammoth merino.

A heavily overgrown sheep near CanberraImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris the sheep was spotted outside of Canberra on Australia’s second day of Spring
Kangaroos look at the camera behind one of the woolliest sheep in the worldImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionKangaroos outside Canberra are dwarfed by the woolliest sheep in the world

 

Mr Elkins described Thursday’s marathon sheering session as one of his biggest challenges, saying he had never seen anything like it in 35 years of work.

Chris the sheep on his back as Australian shearers remove wool which has apparently broken a world recordImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris’s hooves appear damaged after coping with the excess wool weight

Chris the sheep had to be sedated during the very delicate operation.

Chris the sheep had is sedated during the very delicate operation.Image copyrightRSCPA
Image captionThe difference a day makes: Removing the excess wool cut Chris’s weight in half

Mr Elkins said he was proud Australia had claimed the title from New Zealand, likening it to “the rivalry on the rugby field”.

Weighing the world's biggest wool haulImage copyrightRSCPA
Image captionSpring clean: Chris’s world-record breaking wool is weighed

The massive bundle of fleece tipped the scales at more than 42kg (92lb), but was revised down to 40kg (88lb) to counter the weight of the bag.

New do: Australian sheep 'Chris' shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stainsImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionNew do: Australian sheep Chris shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stains

Animal welfare officials said Chris was “four-to-five times its normal size” before going under the knife.

The huge haul of wool removed from Chris the sheep's tiny frameImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionLightening the load: More than 40kg of wool was cut from Chris’s tiny frame

Ever wondered what a Merino Sheep would look like if it wasn’t sheared?

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Found this on the BBC website this morning after seeing a piece about it on the news!  Oddly enough I’d also saved the piece about Shrek yesterday, another sheep in New Zealand that hid for years and was discovered and finally sheared about 10 years ago – link to that article below!

Australia urgent plea to shear overgrown sheep

  • 2 September 2015
  • From the section Australia
A heavily overgrown sheep near CanberraImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe merino sheep is “four-to-five times its normal size”, animal welfare officials say

Australia’s national shearing champion has been urgently called in to help after a heavily overgrown sheep was found near the capital Canberra.

Ian Elkins responded after animal welfare officials warned the life of the merino sheep could be in danger because it was so woolly.

Sheep can develop serious health issues if they are not regularly shorn.

The animal – believed to be male – was “four-to-five times its normal size,” welfare official Tammy Ven Dange said.

“It’s definitely one of the biggest sheep we’ve ever seen,” Ms Ven Dange, head of the RSPCA in the Australian Capital Territory, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

She added that the animal was “pretty stressed out” around human beings after what was probably years of solitude.

A heavily overgrown sheep near CanberraImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe animal is believed to have spent a number of years on the loose

RSPCA officials had initially wanted to shear the animal themselves, but later decided to wait for an expert.

Mr Elkins, a four-time Australian Shearing Championship winner, said removing the fleece “could be one of my biggest challenges yet”.

In 2004, Shrek the New Zealand sheep was found after six years on the loose.

The animal – also a merino – later lost his giant 27kg (60lb) fleece in a televised shearing broadcast live around the world.

The country’s most famous sheep died in June 2011.

See also my earlier post on Merino Sheep.

Winding Yarn into balls by hand – with or without a Nostepinne

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This is a very useful tutorial I found via Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News, which has a video that takes the mystique out of how to use a Nostepinne, or any useful stick, to allow you to wind hand spun yarn, or just oddments of wool into tidy balls, manually.

It is copied directly from Roving Crafters – she calls them “cakes” – and she says on her blog that it can be freely copied – so I have!  I will be adding this to the i/sheet page so that you can always find it easily.


 

How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake

Winding warn cakes

Confession #1: I like to wind yarn.

Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

small cake
I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.

 

 

 

 

Winding Yarn Into a Cake By Hand

 


 

Give it a try because it super easy. You’ll be making yarn cakes in no time at all and believe me, they are worth it. And grab yourself a copy of that yarn cake cozy pattern. Its a freebie and you’ll need something to carry your cakes in right? Right.

Also, if you like free stuff check out:

Enjoy!


Julz Craft Supplies & julzcraftsupplies & julzweaving – changes to my ebay accounts

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scarfcopysI have been doing a bit of re-organisation during the last month or so, and changing round my ebay listings –

so thought I’d let you know what changes I have made, as they might be a bit confusing for my customers – and I don’t want to lose you!

When I started this blog several years ago, it was actually called Julz Spinning and Weaving Club, and was really just a place for my customers to find out a bit more about what I stocked.  The blog changed radically from January of this year, when I did the online blogging101 course and I learnt how to use the range of possibilities that blogging can give you!  The background used to be a tiled version of the pink woven scarf I made ages ago – smile – but a lot of people on the course thought it was a bit fussy as a background, so I changed to the current look!

You might not have noticed, that I have just subtly changed the header – it used to say Julz Crafts and was a bit clunky!

So from now on, its Julz Craft Supplies – a name I have always used for my etsy account – this is the banner I am using for my shop on etsy – if you click on the banner it will take you there.

new etsy banner

I had a long standing business account on ebay (called 85solway), but hadn’t used it for a while, so I opened a new account last year, which I called  julzweaving – a bit more relevant for what I intended to sell!

Things have gone really well on julzweaving – but there was a problem – it was a private account – which meant that I had 20 free listings a month – great! – but at the same time – it was treated as a new account and I was only allowed to list  a set amount of items a month!

This has been getting more and more of a nuisance, and you might have noticed that I have had to constantly add or subtract the number of say, cones of warping yarns I have to sell, when I actually have 20, I’ve only been able to list 4!  They gave me the maximum amount of items allowed on a private account – BUT  I have been juggling with it for months now!

I was just about to change julzweaving into a business account, so I could list more items, when I found out that it was easy to change the name of my old account – 85solway – to julzcraftsupplies!  It literally took me 2 minutes – I’ve had that account since 2004 and I’d never realised I could change the name!

SO – I AM SLOWLY MOVING THE LISTINGS

FROM JULZWEAVING TO JULZCRAFTSUPPLIES!

(Clicking on the names of the accounts will take you to them)

As the listings expire on julzweaving, I will be moving them over to julzcraftsupplies – which allows me to list as many items as I want and the full amount of stock I have of each!  (Many of these are also available in the etsy shop)

I will not be closing the julzweaving account, and I’m sure I’ll be using my free listings there – maybe for auction listings so you can get a bargain – maybe for just personal items I want to sell – but just at the moment, both sites are stocking my craft supplies – and I’m sorry if I am confusing my buyers – but unless I mention it on the actual listings – there is no way on ebay itself, to let you know that they have moved!

COMING SOON – CHRISTMAS FABRICS FOR YOU TO

MAKE XMAS STOCKINGS, GIFTS ETC – AND …..

On julzcraftsupplies – I have re-stocked with both standard and mini hand carders for spinners and also got a new lot of carding cloth in for those of you who would like to make your own BLENDING BOARD.  Instructions are given on the listing – and this time I have not only 13″ lengths, but also 18″ lengths, which give you more scope for producing interesting rolags.

stainless steel carding cloth

stainless steel carding cloth

pair of standard hand carders - 72 pt

pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

pair of mini hand carders

pair of mini hand carders

Washing Wool – The Virginia Way! – from ‘Ten Good Sheep’

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shearing the sheep

shearing the sheep

This is a really amusingly written TUTORIAL which I will be adding to the i/sheet page and can also be found on my pinterest wool board.

Even if you don’t have your own sheep, or have raw fleece to wash, you should find yourself laughing as you read this!  It was written in 2013 and I found it on the Ten Good Sheep website.  They are in Virginia (USA).

One note about the washing machine she is using – its the old fashioned top loader – that can be stopped and started at any point along the cycle – please don’t use your modern front loader like this, altho some of them do have short cool wash cycles with optional low spin speeds, and you might get away with it.  On the other hand, if you WANT to felt the wool ……….smile!  PS:  See the comments section – some more info there!

 

The Prelude (in conversation form):Part One…“Huh, I wish the shearer would hurry up and get here.  It rained yesterday and the sheep are cleaner than they’ve been in weeks.”Part Two…(nine months later)“Huh, I’m glad we took those shearing classes.  Let’s wait until after the next rain and then shear them as soon as they’re dry so the wool will be cleaner.”Part Three…(nine months even later)“Huh, wait a minute…rain is nothing more than a lot of cold water…hmmmmm.”
Ok…so we were slow learners.
You’ll want some infrastructure for your wool washing career to run smoothly.
We’re serious about washing wool!
You will need:
A wool washing table.
Our original table used rabbit wire for the top (about 1/4″ wire mesh).  The new table uses rat wire (1/2 inch wire mesh).  We recommend rabbit wire and we’ll be replacing the top of this table.  Note the handy hook for your hose…you need a hose too.  (Or if you’re really green and have a way to do it, collect rainwater.)
Also – note the concrete blocks used with the original table for wash stands.
If you’re going to wash a lot of wool, use these.  You’ll thank us later.Set your table up where a lot of water hitting the ground won’t matter.  Or…re-use the water for your garden, etc.  It’s yucky, but the plants won’t mind.  Depending on when you schedule your shearing you can use less water.
Let the rain do the first washing.
And you’ll need:
A wash tub (relatively heavy duty plastic – it’ll be holding a lot of water).And a dirty fleece.
This one is natural charcoal colored Romney.  Wait til you see it when we’re done.  Gorgeous!
And you’ll need:
Uh…gloves.  You need rubber gloves.  And maybe just a bit of white wine.
Ok…let’s get down to business.
Fill your wash tub about 2/3 full of cold water from your hose.The wooden board is under our tub because we don’t have the concrete block wash stands set up in the middle of the back yard.
As your wash tub is filling, unroll your fleece and take a good look.  If your fleece has not been skirted, do it now.  Tear away any belly, neck, britch and generally yucky stuff.  Don’t throw this away though.  Use it for long lasting weed barrier under mulch.Use the washing table as a trampoline for your remaining fleece.
All kinds of stuff will bounce out of there and through the wire while the fleece is still dry.  Give it a good hard couple of throws on the top of the table.
Depending on the size of your fleece, divide it into manageable sections.
We separated this one into 2 pieces.
Some of our own sheep have enormous fleeces and we divide them into thirds.  You can wash a substantial amount at one time, but don’t crowd it too much.  You’ll develop a feel for how much is a good amount.
Here is 1/2 of the sticky fleece (it’s been in storage for 2 years!).  It was well skirted before storage so everything is ok.  Don’t store unskirted fleeces.  You’ll be sorry.Into the cold water we go…
Push your wool down into the water gently until it’s saturated.
You can walk away from it for a while if you want to.  10 minutes or 10 hours…we’ve done both.
See?  Look at all of that dirt floating its way out of the fleece.
Now we’re going to work the wool.
Don’t be afraid to move it around…but you don’t need to be too aggressive about it either.
We want to let the wool swish through the water…so grasp it and bring it up…
and down.  You only need to do it a few times and very gently.
When the water is fully saturated with sheep dirt…
SWOOSH!
You’ll be amazed at the difference in your fleece already.
As a side note:
If you see bubbles on the ground at this point it’s because the fleece is holding sheep sweat
(aka – suint) and lanolin.  Since a lot of this is water soluble, combined with water this makes
(sort of, kind of) its own natural soap.  Hence the bubbles.  Sheep bubbles!
Gather it up…
and squeeze…then squeeze again.

ROUND 2
You can already see quite an improvement in your fleece, can’t you?Refill your wash tub and get ready for more of the same exercise.Let your fleece drape back into the water…no need to bunch it.Let it float for a bit and then a little more up, down, up, down.
Let the water swish through the fleece.There is a difference between allowing the wool to swish and agitating.  Don’t agitate…swish.
Notice the water…murky but not disgusting.  We’re making progress.
When you think that this round of water has done the best it can do…
SWOOSH!
And squeeze it like you really mean it.Now we have a fork in the road.  What did your second wash look like?  It could be enough.
But for this particular fleece we’re going for…
ROUND 3
If you’re doing another round, you know what to do by now.Refill your wash tub and lay in your squeezed out fleece.Let it sit…or not.  And then a little more up, down, up, down.  Light swishing gets the job done – and you don’t have to do it a lot.
Now, check out the clarity of the water still in the wash tub.  That works for us.Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.Our work outside is done and this fleece is well on the road to being clean.  Let’s go inside…
Now that the majority of gross dirt is out of your fleece, it won’t hurt your washer to give it a hot soak.  Yes, the wool is still damp from squeezing out the cold water.
No, it won’t instantly felt in the hot water.
And you’re going to be turning OFF the washer so NO AGITATION will be happening.
Right?  RIGHT???  More on this soon.
We’re using Orvus Paste, which is a livestock soap used by 4H kids on their show animals.  You can get it/order it from farm and garden supply stores, or check online.  It’s concentrated.  It comes in the white container on the right, but the label is long since gone.  We use about 1/3 of a cup for a full washer of water.In the past we have used Dawn (dishwashing liquid).  Think about it…it’s a concentrated degreaser.  You can use Dawn if you’d like.  We’d use about 1/3 of a cup of that too if that’s the soap we were using.
With your fleece OUTSIDE of the washer in a bucket or other container…
fill ‘er up and make it HOT.
When the washer is full put your Orvus or Dawn in.  Let the water agitate for a few seconds to incorporate the soap throughout the water.  Putting the soap in before the washer is full will make for too many bubbles.  They’ll be harder to rinse out.THEN:PAY ATTENTION!
TURN THE WASHER OFF!
Seriously.In all of our years of fleece washing we have ruined only 1/3 of a fleece.  It was one of Shackle’s.  And the washer was only accidentally agitating for about 5 seconds.  Don’t do that!
Now that your washer’s water looks like this and
YOU HAVE MADE SURE THAT IT IS OFF…
Lay your damp fleece into the water…no need to bunch it up.
Doesn’t that look nice?
Now, since you’ve made sure that the washer is off, go ahead and shut the lid.
Relax for about a half hour or so.  That hot water will help to melt the remaining lanolin.
Now…with the washer still off, set it to the spin cycle.(Here’s where we have a small disclaimer.  Some spin cycles will throw cold water on the clothes from time to time for the first part of the cycle.  You DON’T want the washer to spray your wool with cold water!  Some washers don’t do this.  Our current wool washer – yes, we have one just for washing wool – doesn’t throw any cold water.  Our old washer did.  So here’s how we worked around that.  When you’re doing a load of laundry, camp out for the spin cycle.  Listen to your washer.  You’ll hear when – or if – it’s throwing water.  When we found where the spin cycle stopped the water throwing, we marked it with a small dot using a Sharpie pen.  Then we would always set the washer to the Sharpie pen dot instead of the beginning of the cycle.  Got it?)Go ahead and start your washer and let the water spin out.  It won’t hurt your wool because it isn’t agitating it.  When the cycle is done this is what you’ll see:
Ok, now depending on the breed of sheep that you’re working with, 1 wash may or may not be enough.  You’ll know.  It may need another soap session, or it may not.Either way…Take your fleece OUT of the washer and put it back in the bucket or whatever you were using to hold it.
DON’T LEAVE IT IN THE WASHER.Refill your washer with hot water.
Now you’ve got another fork in the road…
If you need another soap session, redo your previous steps…PAYING ATTENTION TO WHEN THE WASHER NEEDS TO BE ON OR OFF.If you don’t need another soap session your fleece is ready for the rinse water.  To our rinses we add about a cup or so of white vinegar.  This cuts the soap residue and restores the pH.  Also, we usually add in a bit of patchouli essential oil…or clove essential oil.  Yummy.  We can’t prove it but it’s our theory that the essential oil is somewhat of a natural moth repellent.  We have never had any moth problems to date.The rinse is identical in procedure to the wash – but without the soap.  Let it sit in the rinse water for a while with the lid down.  Then spin it out, just like before.When you’re all done, your wool washing table becomes your drying rack.  Take your wonderfully clean and soft fleece back outside, open it up onto the top of your washing table and let the air dry it perfectly.  Watch out for too brisk of a breeze…your wool will travel with it.

Ready for your reward?  You’ve worked hard for it…so enjoy!
Soft, fragrant (in a good way), lofty, ready to pick, card and spin.
And MUCH better than if a commercial woolen mill had done it for you.
We know…we’ve done it both ways.
So what’s next?
If you’re like us, you start all over again.
** One final disclaimer**
Our sheep are Romney/Columbia cross.  We know that this method works perfectly for our sheep and for similar breeds.  The finest fleece we have washed this way is Hog Island.  This is a rare breed sheep that was most notably from (wait for it) Hog Island.  This is one of the barrier islands off the coast of Virginia.  We have not washed merino, targhee, etc with this method.  Mostly because we have not had the opportunity to try it out.  This method *may not* be ideal for fine/super fine wool.  But being the wool renegades we are, we would at least give it a try on a small scale and make modifications if necessary.
It’s our guess that beginners who would benefit from this tutorial would not necessarily be using low micron count raw fleeces.  If you are a beginner using low micron count wool and you feel adventurous, try our method out on a small scale and let us know your findings.It’s our bet that the wool from any sheep benefits from being shorn after a good solid rain…so why not try?  The cleaner they are on the hoof, the less water you use after shearing.
Best of luck on your wool washing adventures!
Please do leave us a comment at mail@TenGoodSheep.com
…we’d appreciate your thoughts.