February 25, 2009

I’ve Been Fleeced!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , at 10:14 pm by Jenn

Ok, I stole that line from an AFN commercial…but it’s fitting for what I’m feeling today.  I spent 4 hours today picking through sheep poop, twigs, and all kinds of unidentifiable stuff to clean some of my fleece today.  You remember, the 4 plus pounds that I bought last week.  Yeah that stuff.  I decided today that I’d get a start on cleaning it. 

I removed the screen from my office window, washed it, placed it over my bathtub (the screen is the perfect size!), borrowed Max’s dog comb and then grabbed a handful of fleece.  I tossed the fleece against the screen and all kinds of gunk fell through….some of the bigger chunks of course did not, but screen tipping worked well to solve that problem. 

I’m not sure if I was doing this right at all, but it seemed to be working.  I’m sure I damaged the fibers….not that they were the greatest fibers to begin with, but anyway, I wasn’t to careful with the combing process.  I was too concerned with getting all the flecks of black out of my nice cream beige wool.  There were a few nice long fibers that I took extra care with, combing them gently, but right behind that nice beautiful curl was a matted mess so all that care was probably for nothing.  At the end of 4 hours, my back was killing me.  I needed a double dose of Zyrtec, plus some Sudafed, a shower and a therapist. 

After all that work, I ended up with only 3. something ounces of clean fiber.  I swear it should have been closer to a pound.  Really!  I wish I had weighed the fiber before I started…next time I will.  I’m curious just how much is lost to the poo and other stuff that gets stuck in this fleece.

Later in the day I rewashed the fleece, just for good measure and it is now drying near my office window.  My neighbor has carders and hopefully she’ll let me borrow them to card this stuff up for dyeing.  If not, I do plan to order my own, I’m shopping around now.  Hoping that Ebay comes through for me…they usually do.  If they don’t arrive before I leave Baku, I’ll at least have something to look forward to at our new post.  Dyeing my wool. 

Now, I know you are wondering…how have I been fleeced?  That sounds like a pretty productive day.  Well, I did take pictures of each step, but apparently my battery was too close to dead so NO PICTURES!  I’VE BEEN FLEECED.  Of course it’s no big deal because I’m definitely going to have to do this all again.  I mean I do have 4+ pounds of fleece yet to clean!  It would have just been nice to have my first go at it on record!


February 24, 2009

Not Cleaning Fleece…yet

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 10:41 pm by Jenn

I still have this 4 plus pounds of fleece that needs to be cleaned.  I have started to do it a few times, but each time I open the bag and try to select a piece to start with the task just becomes too daunting. 

I hope to clean at least some tomorrow.  I plan to borrow Max’s comb since wool combs are 100 manat!  That’s right, an antique chisalka (wool comb in Russian) one that I’ll have to fix before I actually use, 100 manat!  I can get a brand spankin’ new one on ebay for $19.99, but that would take 3 weeks to get here and I want to get this stuff cleaned and stored before then, so Max’s comb it is.  Sorry buddy, I promise I’ll boil it before I brush you this weekend.

Since I haven’t been cleaning fleece, I’ve  been reading about cleaning fleece.  Reading everything I can find on getting the job done.  The Yarn Harlot, never disappoints.  Read about her adventures with fleece here

My fleece is already washed it just needs to be picked through.  Who knew that sheep could be so filthy?  GROSS!  I will most definitely be wearing gloves for this process, and just to make myself feel better I’ll be washing it again after I pick through it just to give it a nice lemon fresh wool smell. 

I wish I knew what kind of wool it was, not that it makes much difference.  I think I’ve decided I’m going to make myself a felted carpet.  That is my first instinct….Bakuvian wool, carpet….hmm.  Yeah, carpet….unless of course the wool totally thrills me and I find myself just having to knit this poo filled wool up into something that I put against my skin….doubtful given that I’ll have picked through enough poo by then that I won’t even want to put the rug I make on my floor!  LOL.  Isn’t fleece fun.  I haven’t even started yet and I’m already grossed out!  HA!

I have another paper due on March 2 so I’m sure that fleece will be clean by then!  : )  By the way, I got an A on that first paper.  YAY for me.

February 22, 2009

Carpet Shopping

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 8:43 pm by Jenn

Today I did some window shopping for a friend back home.  Carpet window shopping.  Here are a few pictures of what I think she may be looking for.  Red is a really popular color in carpets here so to find one without red was a little challenging.  It was also challenging to find the right size, in new carpets at least.  I didn’t look at any old carpets today.

This carpet is approximately 6 ft x 4.5 ft, from the Guba region, priced around 650 manat (multiply by 1.21 to get approximate USD).


This one is BEAUTIFUL!  It is around 3 m x 2 m so about 9.8ft x 6.5 ft.  It’s a new carpet from the Sheki region and priced around 600 manat.  The colors are a seafoam/olive green with brown and blues. 


This next one is interesting, it’s smaller than the others, actually smaller than she was looking for, but it was green so Samir showed it to me.  This is a new carpet made from old threads from the Khazaq region (not sure about that spelling)…it is around 700 manat


This one is approximately 2m x 1.2 (approx. 6 ft x4 ft) meters and is 350 manat.  Again, much smaller than the size we were asking for, but in the right color combinations.


And finally, this one from the Khazaq region for 800 manat. 


There are so many carpets to choose from.  All of these are sheeps wool and new.  Price can vary drastically depending on the region, technique and age of the carpet.  Older carpets will be priced higher.

Making Progress

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 12:31 am by Jenn

As promised yesterday I have several pictures to post today.  First, I finished my February Challenge for the Ravelry Spindlers group.  The theme was Mardi Gras.


This picture was my inspiration, this was my fiber, 


this is what it looked like spun up on the spindle


and at last, the finished yarn, all 27 yards of it in one little skein.


I am finally making progress on my Welt and Rib Raglan, now that I’ve gotten the pattern problem sorted out.  The problem wasn’t with me, it was in fact with the pattern…the math…it just wasn’t making sense to my brain so I brainstormed with a friend and together we decided that the math was wrong.  For the two smaller sizes you either need to add or subtract six stitches from the cast on stitches to give you a number that is divisible by six….the number when divided by 2 must also be divisible by six.  For example.  I was making the 35 1/2 size.  The cast on stitches according to the pattern were 222 with the 1/2 way marker at 111.  Well 222 is divisible by 6, but 111 is not so when the 1/2 way marker was placed it was placed in the middle of a 5×1 rib which did not allow for a nice symmetrical pattern to develop down the side….in order for that to happen the marker at the 1/2 way point needs to be placed at the end of the 5 x1 rib, between a purl and knit stitch…adding or subtracting 6 stitches from the cast on allows for this.  I chose 204 stitches because the 222 just seemed to be way to big.  Anyway, if you are reading this and having problems understanding, post a comment and I’ll contact you.

Here’s my progress


This picture shows the right side of the sweater…how it looks when you knit it.  This picture shows the wrong side of the sweater…how it looks when you wear it.  You are supposed to wear it inside out.  I think it’s going to look great.


Scott’s back from Turkmenistan.  He spent the better part of the week there for work.  He came home with a great carpet.  Here’s a picture. 


In other news, I FINALLY after 16 months got paid by Tricare for medical care that I had when I lived in Belarus.  I plan to use the money to buy that crude oil painting that I want.  I hope Scott feels like taking a field trip tomorrow.  I’d like to take him to the gallery and also to Samir’s carpet shop to look around and also take some pictures for Dr. Miranda.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but Scott and I submitted our choices for our next post so we should be hearing any time now where our next assignment will be.  We were really excited with the choices that were available and there may actually be potential employment opportunities for me with PPD.  I’m thrilled about that because PPD has a facility in Wilmington and working internationally for PPD would be a great foot in the door with the company (thinking ahead to moving stateside).

It’s getting late here so it’s off to bed for me now.  I may start Changeling tonight.  Last night I watched The Reader.  I thought it was a great story, but there was way to much unnecessary nudity, including full frontal male which I really didn’t care to see.  Anyway, it was a good story….Oscar winning ???  We’ll see tomorrow.

February 20, 2009


Posted in Journal tagged , , at 11:57 pm by Jenn

I am a bad blog friend lately because I’ve been so caught up in Mousehunting, fleece hunting, knitting group, art buying, etc that I just have flat out been neglecting my online “peeps”.  I’m making the rounds this evening and came across thison Ruth’s blog.  Take a look.

I’ll have pictures and various updates tomorrow.  Today I’m watching the Reader (and playing Mousehunt of course – I’m a Grandmaster now, trying to get some meteorite pieces from the Town of Digby, then heading back to the Lab to collect potions).

February 19, 2009

Have You Any Wool?

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:52 pm by Jenn

The last two days have been pretty much devoted to the search of wool and spinning materials here in Baku.  Cande and I set out yesterday on an adventure to find the 8 km Bazaar that was just outside the city of Baku.  Cande drove and I attempted to navigate, though in a town where the street names change like the weather or the streets just simply aren’t marked that’s a near impossible task. 

After what seemed like hours we finally arrived at our destination.  It actually was hours, but the funny thing is that we passed the bazaar, stopped and asked directions just one block away and then spent the next several hours on a wild wool chase around the 8 km district.  We finally by a stroke of luck (and the need for gas) arrived at the bazaar and were able to locate a shop that sold fleece.  Here are a few pictures for all you wool lovers….eat your heart out!

dsc01182   dsc01181

This woman spoke no Russian, only Azeri, but somehow between Cande, me, and the Spin It book that I thankfully brought with me we were able to communicate that we each wanted 2 kilograms of washed wool.  There was washed wool, and unwashed wool, and each kind had a couple of different price ranges.  We chose the 6 manat wash wool because it was cleaner than the 4 manat washed wool  (in the bag to the right of the woman with the blue stripes) and the fibers were longer.  I’m not sure what kind of wool this is, the only thing I know is that it is 100% Azerbaijan sheep wool. 

This shop was actually a shop where the woman makes mattresses or stuffed duvets.  You tell her if you want it for one person or two people, you pick the fabric, she stuffs the fabric with wool, sews it up right there and off you go.  She seemed kind of disappointed that we wanted to take the wool with us.

So our mission for the day was accomplished.  Here’s a picture of me with our big score for the day.  Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face then yarn fibery goodness!  Also notice the sidewalk, grass and green trees…we are definitely not in Baku.


So that was yesterday’s fun.  Today we set out to find the carders that we need to comb the wool to make it nice and pretty and ready for spinning.  That task proved to me a little more difficult although my housekeeper and several other locals insisted that we would be able to find the wheels and carders in the Old City. 

Our first stop was to Samir’s carpet shop.  Today was the first time I met Samir.  His shop is right next to the Maiden Tower.  If you are standing on the Boulevard looking at the Maiden Tower and look to the left, there you’ll find Samir.  Doctor by education, carpet guy by passion.  LOVE HIM!  He really was the most fascinating man to speak to.  He is proof that you should do what you love.  He said that the money isn’t important to him.  What’s important to him is that he pass down the stories of his culture…the stories of carpet making so that others may appreciate the art of his native Azerbaijan.  He must have pulled out 20 carpets for us to see.  Some silk, some sheep wool, some goat wool, some chemical dyed, most natural dyed and ALL beautiful.  We had чай (tea, pronounced ch-eye).  We had a lesson about the various symbols, natural items used to make the colors, all sorts of things.  Samir even had an antique carder and spinning wheel in his shop.  The wool carder wasn’t a hand carder it was more of a stationery carder…similar to this (why didn’t I take a picture?)


The spinning wheel (which I also didn’t take a picture of was about 80 years old and was priced at around 300 manat.  A little too rich for my blood, but I’ll keep looking.

Here are a couple of pictures from inside the carpet shop. 

dsc01211  dsc01210

End result of the day was that we didn’t find the carder or the spinning wheel but we did find a woman who makes carpets around the corner from the Lebanese restaurant in Fountain square.  Really nice lady once she realized we were serious about learning about carpet making, yarn, etc.  Language again was a barrier, but hand signals, pointing and cell phones (to call for translation) worked pretty well.  Cande may start taking lessons from her, I probably will be gone by the time the woman has time in her schedule.

So there you have it .  Two fun filled days of fibery fun.  I just knew with all of these sheep there had to be some fleece around here somewhere and by George we found it….8 km Bazaar.  Now what am I going to do with it?

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