Winter’s on the way out, and the early signs of spring are happening! We’ve had several sunny days in a row that were not bitterly cold! In fact it was a down right balmy 55 degrees the other day (that’s farenheit! not Celcius)….
So, I’ve begun the spring cleaning, and in this house that means, washing fleeces and getting the dye pots reved up. Today I washed last fall’s yearling mohair fleece and it’s now simmering nicely on the side burner of my BBQ.
Tomorrow I have two Alpaca Fleeces I shall attempt to wash and get dried. It may end up being just one fleece, as these are very good sized and wonderful quality Alpaca! Sheep’s fleece may happen, I need a little warmer weather for those, and I’m back logged on getting those washed up since last year I was short on sunshine. Luckily, The Farmer’s Almanac assures me that shall not be the case this year!
Spring is often when I get more spinning done, many of my projects shift from the crochet side of life to washing, dyeing and carding up various hairs, wools, and blending of fibery yumminess.
Often people wonder why handspun yarn costs so much. So, I thought I would do the handspinners of the world a favor to explain the time, and effort that goes into the wonderful yarns that we produce as a cottage industry.
From Raw Fleece To Yarn…
About 4 hours (or more) of skirting, soaking, washing, and rining Fleece.
At least 24 hours if not 48 hrs (depending on the air temperature) drying fleece. Which includes turning the fleece to get the air flow just right.
1 or 2 hours picking the fleece with an instrument called a “picker”, which looks like a medieval torture devise. (This helps get out errant vegatable matter and any bits one does not want in the fleece…it also opens the locks). (In the case of Mohair, this can get rid of nasty blackberry thorns).
1 hr (or more, depends on the person and personal preference and pickiness of the spinner) sorting the fleece into different quality fiber lengths and textures. (Sheep can have many different textures in one fleece.)
2 hrs of dyeing (or more depending on how many lots of dye you are doing…some people like myself will spend a half or whole day dyeing up more than one fleece.)
12-24hrs (or more) drying the fleece.
12 hours of carding (or more…depends on size of fleece, if one is blending colors, or fibers and if with hand cards or drum carder.) Some times people run it through a picker a second time to help open the locks.
For one 80 yd 2 ply skein it can take some spinners 4 to 5 hours. It depends on the technique of the spinner, the size of the plies, and the wheel.
We guestimated once on a project my friend and I did together that it took us 30 hrs of fiber prep and spinning and another 12 hrs of crocheting to make a sleeveless sweater. (Btw it’s the world’s most impractical sweater as it is a blend of angora rabbit and mohair, even in a lacy pattern that sucker is too hot to wear during sleeveless weather!)
Besides the time, there is also the expense of purchasing the raw fleece (or sheering it!), dyes, water, and electricity (if drying with artificial heat).
When spinners sell yarn that they make from purchased roving, you have the base cost of the roving. The cheapest roving I’ve seen on the market as of late was $1.60 an ounce. It takes approximately a pound of yarn to make enough light weight yarn for a sweater, sometimes more depending on techniques used to make up a garment.
So if you are wondering WHY it costs so much? Well, I forgot to write about the back aches, shoulder stiffness, and tired arms and hands, and mustn’t forget the bad knees! It’s our passion, we love to create yarn for you to consume! So many of us don’t even bother thinking to ask for you to pay for our time!
Is it worth it? Absolutely!
Here’s to spring!