Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Cockeyed Spinning

 Merry Christmas y'all~ I'm on the road homeward bound. Remember- 
Keep Christ in Christmas!

Preparing fiber to spin is quite labor intensive when dealing with sheep's wool. It has to be washed to get most of the lanolin, vegetable matter, and other things out of the wool. Then it is combed and possibly blended with other fibers before you can sit at your spinning wheel.

Before I moved here I bought a whole merino fleece. I think the total weight was 7 lbs of usable fiber by the time I skirted it and got the second cuts (very short fibers) out of it. I used the suint method of washing the
wool. The suint method is a hands off, less labor intensive way of cleaning sheep's wool. It's basically a rain water fermentation process that takes a full week to halfway accomplish. After it's soaked and rinsed, it is sun dried. It sure beats the traditional way of washing wool in the sink bit by bit and matching water temperatures so the wool doesn't felt.

After it's dry, there may be another step or two involved before the actual spinning can take place. The sheep's wool has to be aerated or picked into fluffy clouds so that it doesn't clump. I've bought a picker for this. If you are spinning locks, that's a different type of spinning all together. Then, you have a choice whether to spin from a cloud or comb it out into batts or rolags. Combing the fibers aligns all the fibers in the same direction. Before my stroke, I spun in all the different variations.

Since my strokes, I prefer batts or rolags. It's just easier to draw and spin. I predraft my fiber to make up for my one handedness. I can hold the bulk down in my lap with my affected arm. It took me two years to teach myself spinning one-handed to get  a fairly consistent end product. I'd been spinning on my great-great-grandmother's wheel since I learned how to spin as a child. When I got that spinning wheel upon my mother's death, my love of spinning became a winter pastime for me. I was determined to get it back after my first and subsequent strokes.

Once I conquered spinning one handed, I donated my great-great-grandmother's wheel to a museum. It had become rickety with age and and to have a craftsman rebuild it would have taken away from it's antique value of the wheel. I bought an electric spinning wheel from Heavenly Handspinning. Jan and her husband are terrific people. Great customer service! And because I ordered it as a birthday present for me, she threw in a free carrying case for me. Now, they live just 30 minutes away from me since I moved up to north GA. No more shipping charges and a quick road trip for me. LOL

I rarely work with sheep's wool anymore. I only use it to blend merino wool with my angora. I buy it in roving form and pick it apart. This will change if we get the Baby Doll sheep I want in the future. But now, I mainly work with angora and/or alpaca fiber for spinning. Neither one has lanolin to have to wash out so no more washing before spinning. Both fibers are very easy to felt so I save the washing for after I've spun it into yarn. I'll comb it out with hand cards and go to my spinning wheel. It's a much simpler process.

Mel mentioned before I moved in with her, that she wanted to learn how to spin. She even built her own spindle and then a spinning wheel. I bought her an Ashford Traveler wheel (first picture) the first Christmas together. She's slowly working up to spinning on it after almost three years. She first had to learn the basics of fiber prep before spinning. That's how my grandmother and mother taught me. First things first. She already knew how to groom the rabbits.

I can now enjoy watching TV while I spin again, while with her it still takes heavy focus. There's a definite learning curve getting you foot and hands moving in different directions. The focus is the hard part for her with her ADD issues, but she'll get there with time and practice. Her favorite way to spin is from a cloud of fiber. This, for her, produces a single ply, thick and thin yarn. I prefer consistent sized strands that are plied together. I've had a lifetime to gain this ability. If she keeps at it, she'll be there in no time.

In truth, our differences make a blended cockeyed homestead work. To each their own with a common goal in mind. She'll have an idea for this or that, and I'll guide and egg her on slowly until completion. It's like this for preserving food stuff too. Mel bought a 23-qt pressure canner and a water bath canner before I got here, but she never canned anything with them. She had nary a canning jar around. The same thing went for her dehydrator, meat and grain grinders. Along comes Jo who knew how to use such items and brought her own as well. I put all of them to use.Come to find out, she detests preserving food stuff. Just helping me, she would look heavenward for patience. That's okay. Together, we have a storeroom and freezer filled with food. We both love that. Two different outlooks for a common goal.

That's it for this week.
Y'all have a blessed day.


  1. Sounds like an excellent partnership. I haven't had my spinning wheel out in awhile, but I've been hankering for a hand project. Winter is an excellent time for that. :)

    1. With no garden to take care of what else would you do with all that free time. LOL


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