Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

9. December 2014 15:38
by Jobo

Yaksperiment... Experimenting with Yak Fiber

9. December 2014 15:38 by Jobo | 1 Comments

I have a good spinner friend who likes to challenge me...

She is always trying new techniques and new fibers, with the goal of creating different types of projects.

Well, the latest new fiber to try is quiviut! she is working on spinning a very fine lace weight from quiviut roving that she has... And it just so happens that I have a very small sample bag of both quiviut and yak fiber.  So I am going to play along with her.

there is definitely a learning curve with trying this yak fiber... The bag that I have is quite small, and I forgot to weigh it before I began. It's just a regular sized sandwich baggie with a few small poofs of fiber.  Some of it is a little bit compressed, so I thought it probably needed to be carded.


How to card it is another important question... yak is a very short staple fiber at maybe an inch long in the bag that I have. That means worsted techniques an inchworm drafting are not going to work here at all. I carded my fiber into some tight Puni style rolags. 

The first one I carded I spread the fiber over the entire card but I think that was a mistake. I had to take the fiber off in three portions and I used small knitting needles to wrap the fiber around. I compressed it a little bit so it would hold on to itself during spinning.

20141204_134001 20141204_134122 20141204_134138

The next time I decided to just put the fiber on the first third of the the hand card and remove it in one single go with a larger knitting needle. This time I used 5 mm ones. And I did not compress nearly as much. I think that the diameter of the knitting needles better matched the staple length of the fiber and resulted in an easier to spin roll of fiber.  You could almost see the fiber spiralling out of the end of the rolags.

As for the feeling of spinning yak... I can only describe it as though it feels like I am spinning dryer lint... Lol. After hours of playing with this stuff I went and got a handful of lint from the laundry just to see how they compared.  The lint was really, really short, and I couldn't keep it together much past drafting.  I could draft maybe two inches, and then it fell apart before winding on :)  Yak really does feel a bit linty.


I had to really adjust my usual spindling technique to make it work... I ended up using a kind of modified long draw technique. It seemed to work best when I drafted quite far from the spindle tip. I tried to keep my drafting triangle at least a foot or more from the spindle tip and held the fiber very very lightly. It felt almost like chewing gum stretching... But don't even think about stretching too far or this fiber breaks into little useless strings. The first roll I tried, I think I threw away as much as made it onto the spindle.

After a little experimenting and testing I decided I should try spinning some of the fiber directly from the bag to see what that was like too.  I fluffed up a piece and went for it - and shockingly, even though it had been a bit compressed, the fiber was clean and untangled and it drafted just as easy from this preparation as my pain-in-the-butt rolags had.  Lesson to self - simplicity.  Try it.

In the end, I just flew by the seat of my pants on this one, yielding a really soft, light two ply laceweight.  I thought it should spin finer, but this weight is what felt reasonable.  My yarn is very inconsistent, lots of slubs and thick or thin bits.  There are lots of fibers that I've tried, only to find them scratchy and unpleasant.  I'm surprised to say, that yak feels almost like cotton to me.  It's pretty limp and not very stretchy.  It's soft enough for close contact to skin... and I think I'm confident in saying I'd be cool with Yak fiber underpants in the case of a zombie apocalypse.  I'd probably sweat my derriere off, because this stuff is supposed to be mega warm though.

My friend is going to knit hers into a bookmark swatch... so I'm going to do the same... here is my unblocked progress:


12. November 2014 09:53
by Jobo

Whatcha Working On Wednesday! Sampling with Samples

12. November 2014 09:53 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Trying to start something new...  I thought on Wednesdays I would just simply show you what I'm working on :)

On Monday, two of my lovely friends (Jo and C) came for a visit.  We had lunch, knitted, spun, and chatted for the day.  It was just what the doctor ordered, and VERY much appreciated too!

While they were here... C was carding some wool on handcards and inspired me to go grab mine, and some sample wool and play with it.  So I carded an unknown wool sample with some of Ruttiger's Soft Combings to make some soft fluffy Rolags.  I spun them up fine on my Phil Powell Jewel Russian.  I can always count on the girls for inspiration and enabling!

I chain-plied the sample and got around 40 yards or so of light fingering / heavy lace yarn.  The colors are really pretty... stretches of teal, blue, purple and sage.  I hoped to be able to show the finished yarn today, but alas, the dyer was enthusiastic about dyeing and not rinsing.  I rinsed three times last night, and the water was BLUE BLUE BLUE.  I soaked overnight and it's still blue.  This morning I've changed the water twice - still blue.  I'm glad I don't have a whole braid, I'd have been annoyed (and blue)

When the soaking stops, and the color stops bleeding.... I have a simple little idea for this teensy skein!  I'll keep you posted!

14. June 2010 10:00
by Jobo

Jacob Fleece... mmmmm sheepy goodness!

14. June 2010 10:00 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While browsing on Etsy some time ago... I came across a listing for a hand spinner's fleece from Barking Rock Farm.  I have tried preparing raw fleece for spinning before, with varying degrees of success.  Some of the "experiments" were less than fantastic results, but considering the dirt/vegetable contamination of some of my free fleeces, I really wasn't sure if it was the fleeces' fault, or the wanna-be-spinners' lack of skill.

I decided that since this fleece was reasonably priced, and specifically targeting hand spinners with the guarantee that the fleece was very well picked, was super clean, had no vegetable matter, and was ready to wash and spin - oh heck!  why not.  Order that sucker up!

jacob fleece cube

Well lookie at what arrived this week!  this Fleece-Cube weighs around 4 pounds... and is so clean it hardly has a sheepy smell to it!  One of the first fleeces I got, I had to pick tons of manure and small trees out of it... but this stuff is Pristine!  The wool is from a Jacob Sheep, which is actually a black and white animal, so you get both colors growing side by side.  I should be able to get some plain white and black areas, and hopefully some blended grays also where the locks are half and half. 

I think my neighbors must think I am insane (as if this is the only nutso thing I've ever done while living there lol...) because as soon as I dumped the box out on the front walkway, I couldn't help it - I unrolled the whole thing and started digging through it.  To me, this looked like a beautiful pile of wooly wonderfulness... to any other unknowing person, it might have looked like I had a ginormous pile of black and white ??? on the lawn?  What is that stuff... and why is she cooing and humming to herself?  and why does she keep on tearing little bits off and putting them in a basket? 

jacob fleece whitejacob fleece black 

To give you an idea of the length and fineness of the locks... here are a black and a white one:

The locks vary from 3ish to 5ish inches... though I have not gotten out my ruler to confirm the exact measurement.


Even in the grease, the locks are so soft and clean that I can spread them out between my fingers and draft.  I would say that there is really only sheep sweat and a little lanolin on there, not really any serious "dirt" to speak of.  At this point, I knew I couldn't just pack up the rest of the fleece and wait until later to process it.  I went up to the studio, grabbed a white plastic basket, and started tearing off black locks and set out to give them a rinse...

jacob fleece black basket

The black section (which I was instantly drawn to) seems to be around half of the fleece... and has various shades of Brown and Black which I think will card together to make a soft heathered dark brown.   The locks are strong and cleaner than anything else I have ever seen.  After soaking the basket in some lukewarm water for about a half an hour, much of the so-called dirt had dissolved.  I did one Dawn Dishsoap bath and then rinsed a few times with hot water, and really this fleece didn't need much more washing than that. 

I laid out the locks on a mesh sweater dryer and with the great drying conditions we have had the last few days, the wool is already dry.  I carded up a small basket full and it is Heavenly.  Soft.  Lofty.  Light.  Beautiful.  As far as technique, I just flicked open the tips of each lock and then gave small batches of opened locks a light carding in one direction on my Ashford Hand Cards and dizzed the fiber off.  I wish I had combs for the job, but for now all I have is carders, or drum carding.  I think this fiber would be lovely combed into top.  Stay tuned this week for an article about dizzing off some fiber from hand cards.  It isn't perfect, but I more or less get something that resembles top, just not very long lengths at a time!

I didn't have time to wash any white, but I hope to do that asap.... more to come!

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