Lupo the Lamb

My first ever “straight-from-the-lamb” project is done! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

Seems a little silly that I did all that wool processing only to turn it back into a lamb. 😉 I ran out of white yarn toward the end, and had to make some more… learning from that process that I overplied the first batch. The second was much softer and lighter. The brown wool seemed easier and more consistent to spin over all. Not quite as fine, but still very soft, and I adore the color variations, with bits of red and grey highlights. And since my hand-spinning is nowhere near as consistent in weight as commercial yarn, he’s not completely symmetrical, ie. the arms and feet are slightly different sizes. But I think that lends him a bit of extra hand-made charm (I think). I also stuffed him with the wool (each color matching) which helped with show-through issues, and he’s delightfully huggable as a result.

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

I’m definitely in love with Lalylala designs even more now. It took longer than other crochet animals I’ve made, with its smaller, tighter gauge, but that also gives it a smoother look, and there are little subtle touches that made the pattern very special, especially the shaping of the hands and feet.

He also turned out a little bigger than the pattern’s specified 10″. He’s around 14″, since my yarn was a little heavier than sock weight. I also used a bigger hook (2.5mm), and bigger eyes (9mm instead of 6mm).

The kids and I really want to keep him, but I’m going to send him back “home” as a thank you to the people who gave me the fleeces. I’ll probably have to make another one to live with us eventually. Lord knows I have enough wool left over. 🙂 But first I need to take a break from crochet. I’m dying to knit something, and also to see how this wool spins up woolen, and into something wearable. Stay tuned…

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lucky feather

This is a new one for me. Anybody out there seen this before? Frances (our Barred Plymouth Rock) has sprouted ONE green feather right in the middle of her otherwise completely black and white striped back:

barred-plymouth-rock-one-green-feather1

Perhaps a recessive gene? Or maybe she just misses her blue-kote dyed purple ones? Either way, I’m calling it her lucky feather. Also, I have no idea what’s happening with Alberta’s comb. As a Gold Laced Wyandotte, I think eventually it’s supposed to get big and squishy (a rose comb) but right now it’s still pretty flat, except for this one piece sticking up. I don’t know if this is part of the development process, but it also looks a little like she caught it on something and detached the end farther back:

alberta-comb

BTW, My Sweet Prince (photographer extraordinaire) took these sweet pics of me doing the Mama Hen thing. With the weather being so cold, and the days being so short, I only get to do this about once a week now, but if I have the time to sit down on the weekends, they’ll still come and jump into my lap for a cuddle. Alberta always likes snuggle underneath my arms, or preferably underneath Frances. She knows where the warmest spot around is:

mama-hen

I totally get it:

chicken-hug

Poor Gloria needs a good cuddle too, but she won’t ask for it, unless I’m in the hammock, which unfortunately had to be put away for the winter. She’s starting to grow in her new feathers though, and looking pretty fierce:

gloria-molting

I’m so thankful for all of you who advised me to get her some friends. Even though it’s been a long, somewhat trying process, I would be feeling so guilty right now if she was all alone in the yard, with the temperatures dipping below freezing, looking like this.

fleece processing part 2 : the final spin cycle

Now that my beautiful clean lamb fleeces are nice and dry (only took a couple of days) I’m starting to comb and spin them into yarn. Here is my current high tech method: A cheap dog comb purchased at my local supermarket. I’ve been separating the locks, then holding one end while I comb out the other with the wider tines, then turning it around to comb the other end, then repeating with the smaller tines, until all the VM has been combed out and the locks are nice and fluffy and straight and tangle-free.

combing romney lamb locks

brown-romney-lamb-fleece-combing

And here are my first mini test skeins, spun worsted, somewhere between DK and Worsted weight (kind of my default spin):

romney-lamb-handspun-yarn

They are very light and lofty and soft and springy, even spun worsted. I love the color variation in the brown one from what I assume are sun-bleached ends:

brown-hand-spun-romney-lamb-yarn

The white one seems to be finer and a little softer:

white-romney-lamb-handspun-yarn

And here is the beginning of my first little project with these yarns. They are very enjoyable to crochet, even with a tight gauge. Of course I had to turn the lamb fleece back into a lamb:

crochet-lamb-foot

I’ve been looking for an excuse to make one of these adorable lalylala dolls: http://www.lalylala.com/?port=crochet-pattern-lupo-the-lamb and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with these two fleeces together.

LUPO_web-01a-590x590

 

 

wet, wild and wooly

I now completely understand why natural fiber yarns cost so much. It takes SO much time and energy just to process the fiber! I spent almost ALL my spare time this weekend just WASHING my two romney lamb fleeces I was so generously given. I used this method here: http://www.tengoodsheep.com/tutorial.html and it worked like a charm. I had to do it in my laundry room instead of outside, since it’s quite cold and wet here now. (Why didn’t I do it this summer? Oh yeah… Project Chicken Integration. 🙂 ) And I used lavender oil instead of the recommended patchouli or clove in the rinse cycle, since I prefer the smell. But, WOW, for someone who puts off doing laundry until her kids start complaining that they have no clean underwear, 6 huge buckets of cold water soaking and 6 hot water washes and rinses is a lot. I did manage to finish my kids’ laundry at the same time, much to their delight. Spending all that time in the laundry room doing unnecessary washing started to make me feel guilty about it. 😉

While the kids are now happily (hah!) folding their mountains of clean clothes, my beautiful lamb fleeces are happily drying on racks (surprisingly quickly after their spin cycles), dreaming fluffy dreams of being spun into yarn and turned into something cuddly. Here’s the white one (SO MUCH WHITER!):

white-romny-lamb-fleece2

And here’s the dark brown (boy, those guinea pig cages have really come in handy… guinea homes, chick brooders, and now wool processors!):

brown-romney-lamb-fleeces

It actually looks kind of gross in this photo, but the individual locks are gorgeous… and SO soft. Not scratchy at all when I rub them against my chin (my favorite test for wearable fiber).

But even with all that washing, there is still a lot vegetable matter hanging out in it. These lambs must have been rolling down hills together, or something.

romney-lamb-fleece

romney-lamb-fleece-brown

A question for those of you who have processed fiber… is it normal to have SO much embedded VM after washing? It seems like it really wants to cling to the wool, and every once in a while I even find it in commercial yarns. It’s going to be a painstaking process to card or comb it all out, that’s for sure. But I’m not really complaining. It’s quite enjoyable sinking my hands into all this lovely softness any way I can… especially now that it’s so clean and fragrant! And the results are going to be very much worth the effort:

romney-lamb-locks

So soft and lovely. And just look at that staple length! It’s going to practically spin itself.

– – –

OH! And check out the new sleeping arrangements in the chicken house… just in time for the cold, wet weather and Gloria to go into her annual feather-dumping molt. This is not a good pic, but I can only catch them all up there when it’s dark:

chickens-roosting

All three girls are quite inseparable now… my dream of backyard harmony has come true at last! The only thing that would make it more perfect is to start getting eggs again. Ah sigh… but poor Gloria.. she looks so much skinnier right now, and pretty silly with only one tail feather left:

gloria-tail-feather

But most definitely less lonely…

gloria-tail-feather3