Spinning from Raw Fleece

Last year while visiting my aunt in Saskatchewan I purchased a few ounces of raw fleece from a local yarn shop. This was my first time working with raw fleece, and I never got around to sharing my experience. The fleece is a Clun Forest/ Corriedale cross, and since I hadn’t worked with Clun Forest before, I decided to buy a few ounces as a souvenir. I’m not sure how much the characteristics of this fleece resemble pure Clun Forest, but I’ve recently purchased some Clun Forest Roving for one of my Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em projects, and both have a certain spongy quality that is different than other wool types I’ve encountered.

My first adventure was figuring out how to get my purchase across the border. I learned that it is legal to send fleece across the border, but decided to mail the fleece home in case the TSA agents weren’t aware of this fact. I figured the postal inspectors know what they’re doing, but I was still a little bit nervous about it being confiscated.

Raw Clun Forest x Corriedale fleece

The fleece did arrive in the mail, however, and I set about washing and drying it. There was a fair bit of dirt and VM in the fleece, so I went through several soakings in plain water after the initial scouring with mild soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s unscented formula).

Washing the fleece
Locks post-washing

Once dried I decided to process the locks with my flick-carder. About half the fleece was leftover from this process, so I hand carded it to spin separately. I was finding it difficult to manage a short-forward draft, so after a bit of experimentation I settled on long-draw, which I used for both the flicked locks and the carded fleece.

A single lock
The final skeins. (L) Flick-carded, undyed. (R) Hand carded, dyed with avocado pits.

I’m pretty pleased with the finished result. The carded fleece had a few neps in it and so is a bit more irregular. The flick-carded yarn is fairly even and pleasantly bouncy, and the yarn took the dye well. I’m looking forward to spinning the Clun Forest roving I’ve bought so I can compare the two.


Spinning Teeswater

Recently I spun up a sample of Teeswater roving that I bought at SAFF a couple of years ago (from Gwyneth Glynn Longwools). Now that I have more experience with spinning, and especially on my wheel, I’m attempting to be a little bit more scientific about my breed sampling. Even though it’s not a combed prep, the small sample that I Andean plied had a bit of sheen to it, so I decided to spin it with a short forward draft to maximize the sheen. I aimed for a thickness that would match my other breed samples. The roving had a bit of grease left in it, and I found it a wee bit difficult to draft consistently.

The finished yarn does have a nice sheen, and a certain silkiness. I plan to use this sample to knit one of my hexagon blanket ‘squares’, but I could also see it being used as a weft yarn for weaving. The finished skein is 41 g/ about 65 yds at 14wpi and 2-3 twists per inch.


New Design: Composure Cardigan

Composure Cardigan by Kerry Bullock-Ozkan

My latest design, the Composure Cardigan, is now available on Ravelry and Etsy. Sweaters are, of course, my favorite thing to knit, and this one lived in my head for several years until I figured out how to make it just right.

My first knitting project that I can remember was an (unfinished) doll sweater, and when I first picked up knitting again after a 20-ish year hiatus, sweaters were what I wanted to knit. I still have a picture in my scrapbook of a RTW advertisement that had the perfect cozy sweater: all-over texture, an easy fit, and that perfect shade of oatmeal gray. The sweater that will go with everything. I wanted to create my own version of that sweater. And so the Composure Cardigan was born.

Detail of Composure Cardigan

Composure features a relaxed, drop shoulder fit and a slight A-line shape. The shoulders are shaped with short rows mainly at the back, so that the neckline fits close to keep the sweater on your shoulders, and the front hem angles slightly upward for an easy, flattering shape. It’s sized to fit up to a 61-inch chest circumference with approximately 4-6 inches of positive ease. Here I’m modeling the size 40 1/2; my upper chest is 34 inches and my full bust is 38 inches.

Shoulder shaping on the Composure Cardigan

For this sweater I’ve used Echoview Fiber Mill’s Ranger DK in the colorway Chickadee, which has exactly the heathered gray look I was going for. I think it would look equally stunning in Bunting Blue (faded denim anyone?) or a soft shade like Cedar Waxwing or Robin’s Egg. The 10% Rambouillet gives this yarn a lot of bounce and it has a lofty, almost cotton-like feel in the hands.

I hope you enjoy knitting and wearing this design as much as I have, and please share your finished sweaters on social media (#ComposureCardigan).

Happy knitting!


Beach Pebbles Hat and Cowl

Beach Pebbles Hat and Cowl © Kerry Bullock-Ozkan

Introducing the Beach Pebbles Hat and Cowl. This set, like the Backshore Pullover, was inspired by my family’s trip two summers ago to the Great Lakes, where I grew up. On the trip I became fascinated with the Petoskey stones that can be found along Lake Michigan, and even found a couple. According to Wikipedia, Petoskey stones are a form of fossilized rugosa coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The hexagon shapes of the knits and purls resemble the shapes of these fossils.

Petoskey Stone. © Kerry Bullock-Ozkan

This also gave me a perfect opportunity to use natural undyed wool for the design. Knit Picks Simply Wool Bulky comes in a range of natural grays and browns, and perfect for making a textural fabric. As much as I love yarns from my local farms, it’s nice to see an affordable eco-friendly undyed wool on the market.

Hat Crown. © Kerry Bullock-Ozkan

The Beach Pebbles pattern is available now in my Ravelry store, on LoveCrafts, and on Patternvine. The hat is written in two adult sizes, the cowl in one size, and is a quick knit suitable for an advanced beginner knitting, with both charted and written instructions.

Beach Pebbles Cowl. © Kerry Bullock-Ozkan

I‘m offering this pattern for a one-time introductory price of $2.50 until February 2nd, 2020.


Spinning Romney and Finn

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about spinning different sheep breeds. I got distracted by my spinning wheel, the Tour de Fleece (which I participated in for the first time with Three Waters Farm), and learning to weave. Phew!

Last year I was given a 1970s-era Ashford Traditional wheel that needed some TLC, and I finally got it fixed up a couple of months ago (the main difficulty being a rusted out, stuck hub pin). Since then I’ve been creating yarn at a rather alarming rate, though as I’m rather new to wheel spinning I’m not as good as with my spindles yet. So I’ve also continued to do some sampling on my spindles, and I can now compare my spindle spun and wheel-spun samples with different breeds.

I’ve actually got a bit of a backlog I’d like to tell you about, but I’ll start with some Finn and Romney. First up is some Finn roving from Heelside Farms that I talked about spindle spinning in my first spinning post. Finns are a primitive breed, and I’ve been enamored of their wool since I discovered Tukuwool yarns, which are a blend of Finn with a bit of Texel. The yarns have a faint sheen and depth that makes the colors really beautiful.

I had around 4 oz of the Finn minus that bit for previous sampling, so it was the first fiber I tried out on my new-to-me wheel. I found it fairly easy to spin on both the spindle and the wheel. I plied the wheel-spun tighter, which will make for a sturdier yarn, but the more softly plied spindle-spun yarn is pleasantly squishy. I love the natural gray-brown color, and the wheel-spun yarn does have a slight sheen, even with the more woolen preparation (I did a short forward draft on the wheel).

Finn Roving. Left: spindle-spun. Right: wheel-spun.

The second is one I’ve just finished – some Romney lambswool that I bought at SAFF last year. I decided to try spinning this one on my dealgan, which I hadn’t had much success with before. This time I did manage to create yarn. The dealgan doesn’t spin for very long until you build up a bit of a cop, and some of my early singles didn’t have quite enough twist, so I had some breakage when I went to ply. But I spit-spliced the broken ends and soldiered on.

Romney lambswool on a dealgan

Romney isn’t the softest of wools – it’s intermediate between the fine wools and longwool breeds, though usually grouped with the longwools. Having said that, I have a garter-stitch shawl knitted in Romney from farms in the western part of my state (from the now-defunct Fern Fiber), and it’s one of my favorite knits of all time. The Romney is in a natural gray plus a gray overdyed with weld, and it has a beautiful sheen and depth of color. And the garter stitch makes it nicely squishy. So I was eager to try the lambswool.

Romney lambswool, spindle spun

I can’t say it was my favorite fiber to spin with, but as lambswool the Romney is reasonably soft, and the chocolate brown color is lovely. I’ve since knitted up a hat (the Ljós pattern by Ysolda Teague) using the Romney and Finn along with some white Targhee and Corriedale that I dyed with pomegranate rinds.

Colorwork hat knit with Romney, Finn, Targhee and Corriedale wools.

I’m starting to discover which sheep breads I like working with best, and I’ve also started working with blends and dyed rovings, which is a big subject in and of itself. Much more learning and experimenting to come!