I haven’t felt like knitting lately. This happens every once in a while, and once I get over the shock I usually just shrug, shake my head, and wander off and do other things until it comes back. (It always does.)

Since I haven’t been knitting, I have been spinning like crazy. I’m about a half an ounce from done with the yarn for the Mike sweater (photos tomorrow, hopefully). And, we’ve been carding.

I say we, because Branden has been helping turn the crank for an hour or two each night, in addition to the cranking that I’ve been doing on my own. It goes pretty fast when he’s cranking and I’m teasing locks apart and feeding the fiber in, and we’ve made it through both fleeces:

The Gulf Coast needs one more pass through the carder before we’re done, but that should be really quick. The second fleece has been carded twice, so it’s set to go. I’ve decided not to comb that one, since it has a beautifully long staple and is pretty well aligned in the batts. It also has no short fiber in it at all, so it doesn’t need the combing to clean it up. I wish I knew what kind of wool it was; I know I bought it in Door County at the Shepherd’s Market a couple of years ago. Looking back in the blog archives, it appears the sheep’s name was Molly, and that she was a real sweetheart, though that of course tells me nothing about the breed. I remember that the vendor had very precise labels for her wool; I think it was down to the 1/8ths and 1/16ths for what kinds of breeds she had mixed in there. I think this was part Cheviot, but I’m not sure. I was hoping we’d find the label in the bottom of the bag, but it seems she kept it, so I’ll never know.

We carded the coarse part of the Molly fleece right after the Gulf Coast, and it felt thick and awful at first, more like hair than wool. But as we went I started to realize how much I liked it, especially when we got into the softer body of the fleece, and as the carding broke apart the thick, curly locks. It’s a great gray color, and there are a few different shades mixed in there. I separated them out in the locks, and we carded them separately, so I should get at least two different colors of yarn. The wool is definitely coarser than the Gulf Coast, but it’s actually quite soft so I think it will make a nice yarn. As with most longwools, the shine is amazing, and it feels very smooth to the touch. The staple is almost 7 inches, too, which will be a fun contrast to the short staples I’ve been spinning lately.

As we buried the kitchen table in wool again and again, I was really struck by how much the volume of wool increases after carding. Two fistfuls of locks become a huge, fluffy batt, and a couple of those batts look like they’d make a really good pillow, until you touch them and it all collapses again. The two fleeces fit comfortably in one garbage and one shopping bag before we started, and now they’re bursting out in all directions. It’s so delightfully fluffy that I hate to compress it down, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to if we want to fit into the moving truck. (Unless, of course, I spin it first…)