Friday, May 22, 2009

happy birthday vicky

There seems to be a bit of a misconception about Queen Victoria's Birthday. It is actually today, May 24th, and she was born in 1819 and lived to the ripe old age of 82 in 1901.

Queen Victoria was a big fan of knitted Shetland Lace and she knit herself. I stole this quote from the Yarn Harlot's page a day calendar. Sorry Stephanie, I didn't think you'd mind) and she took it from the New York Times, dated December 25th, 1898. It describes the sorts of Christmas gifts given by the Queen:

"There are comfortable woollen goods, sometimes made by the Queen's own hands, for she is fond of a little plain knittting. She uses large bone needles and double Berlin wool. It amuses her to make comforters and cuffs ready for Christmas presents, but it is only special favorites witin the roay family circle or among old retainers who are honored with these gifts."

Something else important to know about Queen Victoria is that she supported the knitting of socks by hand. Just before her birth was a time of huge labour unrest in England with the Luddites smashing sock knitting machines as a protest against low wages and rising prices and it would be interesting to see exactly how she felt about it all. I shall find out some more as I go along....

One interesting item that I did find out is that black and white silk stockings with hand crafted ornaments which belonged to Queen Victoria were sold in September of 2008 at an auction in Derby, England for 8,000 pounds (nearly 10,000 euros) by the Ruddington Framework Knitters` Museum from Nottingham.

Nice Socks!

three bags full

Well, it took me three days and I used the equivalent of 150 lingere bags and 30 runs of my hot water soak cycle and about 3/4 of a bottle of the Soak wash, but the fleece is done and smells great. Three lovely bags full. I split it up into the black parts and have two grey bags full. Now I just have to begin carding.

It is very interesting to me, this whole endeavor and how much time and money I have spent doing it myself. I checked the Wellington Fibre Mills fibre processing page. They only charge $1 per pound for each wash so I could have saved myself a lot of water and time by sending the fleece to them. It probably would have been about $20 to have it washed and it took me the better part of three days. But I wouldn't have had a chance to get my hands on all of the greasy fleecy goodness and its farmyard smell and I love that part about it.

The carding part will probably be even more discouraging as Wellington Fibres says they could card it for $9 a lb. So that means $45 for it all to be carded. I figure it is going to take me about 10 to 20 hours to card it. Say I get paid $25 an hour at my job, that means it would cost from $250 to $500 if I was getting paid my regular wages to card it. That makes no sense.

I guess fibre processing places must have all kinds of super fast machines that make all of the washing, carding and spinning a snap. I still want to do it all myself, just for the sake of it...I want to be a purist though from a time and economic stand point it really makes no sense.

Let the carding begin....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

washing day - do NOT agitate.

Today I am going to start to wash the fleece. It is the Victoria Day Long Weekend and I hope that it won't take more than three days to wash 5 lbs of fleece.

For some reason, no one in my family seems to keen on helping me wash a giant bag of smelly wool. "It's so gross, mom", said my darling daughter. "Yuk, you are crazy", said my lovely sister. Oh well. That's their problem if they don't want to commune with nature.

Here are the fleece washing instructions I got from Donna, my fibre mentor and spinning teacher:

Take small amount of fleece and lay gently in your lingerie bags. Put hot water in your washer and use the small load setting. Set about 5 (Sorry, Donna, I used 10 bags at a time out of laziness) of your little bags in the water and pat them down gently do not agitate. Close lid to keep heat in and leave for about 45 min. Then turn to spin cycle and spin out. Remove and see if they are clean looking, if not repeat--use liquid soap--When ready to rinse put hot water in again and leave for abot 15 min then spin out as before. Lay fleece on a towel to dry.

Lingerie bags are purchased from Dollarama at 2 for $1. I also decided to use palmolive detergent as it will cut the grease well. I am going to use Soak for the second rinse. They have a new scent called "Celebration" and it is some kind of wonderful. It is nice because you don't need to wash it out and it smells fresh fresh fresh... now my fleece will smell like a walk on a country road. Ba ha ha.

Even though I love the smell of the fleece and all of its farmyard goodness, I guess it is time for it to smell like something else.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

karma police

I have been thinking about Ghandi a lot lately. I went into one of the libraries I work in and started to read about his spinning obsession.

When he was in prison, he spent a lot of time spinning. He believed that the way for India to escape British Colonialism was to learn to spin cotton and make their own fibre.

I think he was really onto something here. If we spent more time spinning, which is so meditative and calming, there would be less time for violence, drugs, rampant consumerism and all of the other ills that seem to befall us.

There seems to be so much violence in the world, so much unhapiness and longing for other things. Spinning really teaches you to live in the moment while you are doing it.

Here is a Ghandism that I like:

I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life.

I feel like when I am spinning a lot of my cares do disappear and I feel connected to something else, to nature, so another power different than myself and that is a good feeling.

For more things he said about his chakra or spinning wheel, visit

I am getting my fleece tonight and am quite excited about it