Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: February 2007 Page 1 of 2


Louet Northern Lights Pastels

Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s Louet’s Northern Lights, colorway Pastels. When I found it on the shelves of Purlescence Yarns, I couldn’t resist. I had to pick it up and bring it home, along with a bag of Violets colorway.

Unfortunately, as I was spinning the singles, I noticed that the palm of my hand felt a bit swollen. I didn’t think much of it at that time. I continued to spin merrily along. The package said “100% wool.” The wool felt a bit coarse to me, similar to how Corriedale feels to me.

Before you get up in arms about Corriedale being “soft,” I just want to say “to me.” I enjoy spinning silks, merinos, alpacas, cashmere, and some blends of those on a regular basis. Corriedale feels coarse to me. As far as I’m concerned, I’m unlikely to spin Corriedale again, no matter how beautiful Linda Diak’s batts are. This is very personal.

Back to Louet’s fiber. I sent an email to Louet to ask what their fiber content was — breed of sheep. They very kindly replied the next day to tell me that it was a medium wool, similar to Corriedale.

That first night, as I was sitting in bed reading, I realized that I was scratching my left hand. The hand was also very swollen. I was having problems bending my fingers. It wasn’t swollen like a full blown allergy attack, but more like I ate a bowl of salt, neat.

Yup. Wool sensitivity. I quickly slathered my hand with calamine lotion and took a benedryl. The itching and swelling was gone by morning.

This left me with the question — what do I do with the partial bobbin, and the remaining roving? I took a latex glove, and snipped all the fingers tips off, and finished spinning and plying the yarn. In retrospect, if this ever happens again, I would only snip the fingers required for drafting — the index finger and thumb. My pinky finger was tingling quite a bit when I was done. But it wasn’t anything like it was before.

(Really, if I was really sane, I should have donned a hazmat suit, and remove the singles from the bobbin, and tossed that along with the unspun fiber directly into the garbage. But the Frugal Annie in me couldn’t waste perfectly good fiber.)

However, it was clear that this was not going to be a pair of socks for me, as I originally intended. It was also clear that, whether I can handle it for next to skin wear or not, I was not going to be able to knit with it. So, I packaged up the plied yarn and the unspun package of Violets and gave it to Sonja.

Last heard, Sonja was enjoying knitting a pair of socks with it. She doesn’t appear to have any problems with the wool. Good for her. I’m glad that the wool found a good home.

So, the PSA? You can be sensitive to some wools and not others. Don’t panic and say that you can’t wear all wools. Check around and carefully test other breeds of sheep. And wool sensitivity isn’t the same as wool allergy. From what I understand, wool allergy is a whole different beast. My sensitivity is what Martin would have called “contact dermatitis.” Breathing it didn’t cause an asthma attack.

Of course, it’s possible that I wasn’t sensitive to the wool at all, but the dye. Unfortunately, since it was a packaged/mass produced product, I’m not able to break it down any further for scientific experiments. There are at least 2 unknowns: breed of sheep and the type of dye used. There might be additional factors, such any other chemicals used during processing, from the mordant used to the soap that they used to wash the finished wool.


Here’s a photo of me with the girls (L-R: Seema, Kandra, Sara, me, Nancy) at the Snow Globe party. We gorged on snow crab claws, shrimp, and BBQ salmon wraps. There were much more food, but those were all I was interested in. The food wasn’t quite as nice as what we get at work, but still pretty danged good.

Snow Globe 2997

And, yes, I asked. Nancy did not knit her sweater. She bought it at Costco, of all places, for a measly $125. You can’t even buy the yarn required for that price.

PensSpeaking of hobbies that don’t really pay for itself, if you look at it from a pure monetary perspective. Here’s a lousy picture of the pens I made from my class.

But, I think $25/hour (6 hour class) to learn something completely new, use of the equipment, great instruction, and materials for making 4 pens, is a heck of a deal.

The real dilemma now is, is this something that I want to pursue? Unlike spinning, I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. The instructor walked us through the wood working store and talked about the equipment we would need as a basic setup, next level of equipment, etc. Pros and cons of the equipment at different price levels.

Left to right: plain tube in maple, first attempt at ergonomic shape in poplar, refined ergo shaping in plum, and variation of a theme of the ergo shaping in cedar. The last two pens were a result of me taking a good look at the pens on my desk and thinking about what I like and don’t like about each pen. I’ll see if I can take a better picture this weekend.

Snow Globe 2007

Snow Globe Socks and Pens

This week is my company’s annual trek to worship snow and fun. Unfortunately, Squaw Village did not provide much in the way of snow. Instead of snowshoeing, my friend Sara and I ended up just taking a walk around the meadow in mixed snow and grass.

The socks were what I managed to make on the bus ride up to Tahoe and back, and some knitting while catching up with friends (between the dinner and party). These are my own handspun merino yarn. The wool is from Spunky Eclectic, in Moonflower colorway. The yarn is a 2-ply, coming in at approximately 12 wpi. I knit the socks on US 0 (2.0 mm) needles at 7 stitches per inch. It’s got great hand. I think I’ll wear it today.

What’s with the pens on the socks? New hobby. Last night was night 1 of 2 for my pen turning class. The skinny pen on the right was my first attempt in maple. Just a plain old tube. This started out as 2 pieces of wood, approximately 0.5″ x 0.75″ x 2.75″, which I turned down to these little sticks. The entire time I’m doing this, the scene from an old Chip and Dale cartoon runs through my head — the one where their tree home was cut down and taken to the mill and turned into a little toothpick.

The second one is poplar. I played with shaping a bit more. The bulbous shape helps conform to my hands a little better. I will be turning one or two more pens tonight, one in aromatic cedar and one in plum, based on what the instructor had set aside on his workbench. I will play with the shaping a bit more to find the ideal shaping. I doubt that I will have time to play with anything really fancy, but more variations on the same theme.

Small world moment: there are only 2 of us in the class. The other person in the class is the husband of a member in my weaving guild. How freaky is that?

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén