Saturday, June 7

a day of fiber

Christopher has been in Dallas all week. A theater there did a staged reading of his play tonight, and he was there for the rehearsals and to revise it. It was a busy and stressful week for him, and it was our first time with one of us in another city since he was assaulted. I think it's good for us to be apart, though I also think that Christopher would have benefited from having a familiar face down there with him.

Anyway, I've had a bunch of deadlines in the past week, and today was my first free day all to myself since I can remember. For months I've been dreaming of fiber, and of what I can do with it, and so today was a bit of a fiber day, even though the weather was extremely hot and humid. I'm not sure why I would want to play with wool on a day like today, but well... I guess I'm obsessed!

This afternoon I made a trip to the Yarn Tree, a yarn/fiber store in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I had to take two buses to get there, and stood around at the bus stops in the 90+ degree heat, but it was totally worth it. I got some undyed merino, undyed Blue Faced Leicester, some more Kona Mohair Merino, and some undyed superwash merino. I also got some things that I'll need for dyeing with plants this summer: alum and soda ash. And I got tons of advice on how to dye with woad.

In fact, the women in the shop were all excited that I was going to grow woad and then dye with it. One of them wanted me to send her photos of the woad flowers and she told me about her own experiences dyeing with woad. It was nice to meet someone who had as much enthusiasm about this as I do, and now the pressure is on to get this to work. (I think my family is beginning to wonder when I'll get tired of this fiber and dyeing thing. The knitting thing is fine as long as I keep making them hats and scarves.) Honestly, I feel like it's a grand experiment, and though I'm planting 6 dye plants, I'll be happy if I dye successfully with one of them. And if that happens to be the woad, so much the better.

When I got back I did a little spinning and then somehow decided to start in on prepping some camel hair that Christopher's aunt had sent me. She was in Mongolia a few years ago and collected some cashmere and camel hair directly from the animals. In March she sent it to me, but I was rather overwhelmed and unsure of what to do with it. I've done some research on Ravelry and felt at least somewhat ready to try prepping it. So I pulled out the camel hair and started separating the guard hairs from the fuzzy, fluffy part. There was more fiber than I thought there was, so I only did 1/2 of it.
Once I pulled most of it apart, I threw away the guard hairs and put the fuzzy part into a lingerie bag, which I dumped (carefully) into a bowl of warm soapy water. I let it soak for a while, eventually changed the water, and will soon pull it out and let it dry.

And then?? I'll card it and pull out the rest of the guard hairs, but I'm not sure whether I'm up to spinning it. Camel hairs are pretty short and hard to spin. I might need to wait till I'm more experienced...

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