Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whitefaced Woodland (and the Way of the World)

I've finally begun the spinalong. We (this means the DSM and those members of the AH class that want to join in) started with Whitefaced Woodland as I knew that it would be easy to get both fleece and roving from a reliable source.

So, this is a lock from the fleece sample that I had.

Although the DSM and I shared one handful, the way it fell out was that the locks in mine were all pretty uniform, while his varied quite a bit. I'm not too concerned about this as I know that Whitefaced Woodland is a variable fleece anyway. My sample was on the edge of what I consider suitable for carding, ie around four inches. So I decided to begin by combing a little of the fleece.

First with a dog comb:

Then with my Forsyth hand combs:

Two small samples - the one on the right is dog combed, on the left, hand combed.

I also had a sample of carded roving, which I am quite familiar with, so I first played with spinning as fine a yarn as I could manage, using a forward short draw. I didn't really push it, and came up with something that would certainly knit as lace. Maybe not a scarf, a bit too scratchy, but a shawl would be ok - you would get a nice, crisp stitch definition.

The second half of the sample I spun as I have done quite a lot before, that is with an extended draw. This makes a good bouncy yarn that is excellent for not next to the skin sweaters &etc.

Fine sample top left.

Having some of the fleece left, I reckoned that it was worth trying it carded, although I would not usually do this. It was just ok to card.

Too long a staple to do a traditional English long draw, so I used an extended draw again. I often have problems with spinning a consistent yarn with this method, and with hand carded fleece, this inconsistency is very evident.

I'm a great fan of Whitefaced Woodland, so I was predisposed to give a favourable assessment of this first fibre. It generally has at least a medium length staple, little to no crimp, just a gentle wave, and the merest hint of lustre. Not really all that noticeable, but if you do an actual or mental comparison with a down fibre, I reckon that there is a hint. Nice crisp fibre, good for knitting all sorts of things, and I do know from previous experience that it dyes very well.

You will see from my photographs that I didn't organise my samples in a very sophisticated way. The DSM was much better, and prepared a card to fasten his to; and I was delighted to see that the class members who had taken part had been even more organised.

I will do better next time!

I was also very pleased to see that more of the AH class are going to take part in the next round, which will be Navajo Churro. Seems that I am not the only one enjoying this.

The other WW - Congreve's Way of the World. We went to see this at the Sheffield Crucible on Wednesday. There seems so rarely to be an opportunity to see Restoration drama/comedy, and I do try to grab every one that comes along. Sheffield isn't all that far to go, and the Crucible has a great standard.

This didn't disappoint. Now, I have never seen a production of this play before, so I am slightly handicapped in making a truly informed judgment. It was not done entirely "straight". It was a little hard to tell as the play started just what the idea was, but it became obvious, and to my mind worked extremely well. An intro of a group of "celebs" being videoed, photographed etc, all in modern dress gave way to the characters in the drama in costumes that were more or less modern but clearly suggested period. The set was open, mainly white (cleverly, when there was colour it was strongly echoed in the costumes), pretty minimalist (yeay!!) So it was a nice blending of the original with the modern (giving an opportunity for many of the cast to sport some wicked shoes!)

The players took it at a very fast lick, which did mean those of us unfamiliar with the work had to put in a fair amount of effort to keep up with everything, but that was ok. The cast were great, particularly Mirabell, who had a terrific stage presence - I was staggered to see that this was his first stage performance (he had done quite a bit of film and TV work). Basically - if you hadn't noticed - I really enjoyed it. Just wish I could get to London to see The Recruiting Officer, but I can't have everything!

OK, more knitting to be done if I want my mittens finished by next Sunday (they will be).

But, more later.

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