Winter craft fair – 4to Observatorio Cultural

This past weekend I participated in the 4to Observatorio Cultural.  It was hard work, (long days and cold), but a lot of fun!

Obs401This was my second fair and I was better prepared and more relaxed. I did some research on the internet about craft fairs, and learned how to display my woolly items better.

Obs402I also packed myself a good lunch and took coffee in a Thermos, perfect for the cold mornings! (I know, I said I was going to stop drinking coffee… but the odd one, or two is so nice!)

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I carded different breeds of sheep’s wool, alpaca, and mohair and then spun them on my wheel and drop spindle. People were amazed by the different textures and how the “fluffy fibre” was transformed into a yarn.

Obs403There were so many lovely hand crafted gifts and a really great atmosphere.

Here are a few pictures of some of the stalls; jewellery, honey, shoes, felted clothes, yarn, and plants are just some of the things that were on sale.

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More photos can be seen on Creatif’s facebook page for the 4to Observatorio Cultural.

And I have a small confession to make. I have a guilty pleasure that goes against all my woolly work…and it is called polar fabric.

As much as I love spinning wool from my sheep and goats, I find it hard to wear around my neck. Luckily my husband has no problem and he has a great selection of wool and mohair scarves. I, however, live in polar clothes in the winter. So when I saw this cape at the fair I couldn’t resist.

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And depending how I wear the hood I either look like the grim reaper or little red riding hood!

Drum and hand carders, not “vs” but together

I must admit that since I bought my Wild Carder I hadn’t picked up my hand carders, until now.

When I first started to spin I had a half-day class where I bought my Kiwi, (from the lovely lady at the Threshing Barn http://www.threshingbarn.com/  in 2003).  I brought my Kiwi back to Chile and started using mohair from my goats.  Mohair that was not pure, not from kids, and not sheared well, but it was all I had and I had to figure it out.

Locks which are better carder or combed before putting in the drum carder

Spinning it was not that difficult, I had nothing to compare it to, so I worked with its smooth properties, spinning it with little twist so it did not become twine.  But carding it was hard work.  I realise now that the fleeces were slightly matted, and trying to card matted mohair is almost impossible.  Over the years I received sheep and alpaca fleeces, and my year in England gave me access to different types and qualities of wool.  Using hand carders is different depending on the quality of the wool and it is much easier when the wool is clean and soft.  But everyone who uses hand carders thinks at some time, “hey, this might be easier with a drum carder”.

Locks carded before put in the drum carder

I definitely thought this, so I bought the Wild Carder.  I did not realise that it was the quality of the wool I was working with that was making carding so time consuming, very greasy and dirty sheep, or matted mohair!  Now that I am back on the farm with my Wild Carder, and my hand carders, and a selection of different wools, I have been experimenting.  I did not understand why people said they combed their wool before putting it through the drum carder.  Then the other day I hand carded my wool before putting it through the drum carder and it made a big difference.  The Wild Carder, is narrower than my hand carders and I believe the process is different.

Batt next to a rolag, (with colour enhancement)

With hand carders you place the wool on one and pass the other carder over it repeatedly until the wool is how you like it.  The drum carder takes the same wool and passes it from the small drum to the big one, then layers more wool on top of that.  The hand carders give you small individual rolags, whereas the drum carder creates batts with more fibre all aligned in one direction.  If the wool is matted or dirty, it will not be ready for spinning with just one pass through the drum carder.  That would be like one or two passes with the hand carders.  I love the batts that my drum carder creates and using my hand carders with it will make better batts.

Drum carded batts showing blended colours

Of course these are my observations with my Wild Carder, which is quite specific and different from other carders.  I have never used other carders, and I don’t know if when other people buy drum carders they forget about their hand carders.  If you do, it might be worth digging them out and seeing how they can work with your drum carder.

Spun and plied with a purple wool