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Cambridge. Remember her?

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Born 1/27/13 at Shepherd’s Hey Farm (she’s #1305), sheared in November 2013 with me stalking her fleece since May 2013?

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And remember that I took the silvery bits of her fleece and spun that up into a lace weight yarn to make a bit of a shawl?

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Well, another part of her fleece met the spinning wheel. The dark grey bits.

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I spun the singles thicker, being very careful not to over twist the singles. This beautiful fleece has a staple length of 6″, and a nice crimp but not as tight a crimp as…say, a Cormo or Merino. And while I wanted to spin these singles worsted for a smooth and silky finish, I wanted the fibers to twisted together but not packed together so tightly that the garment resulting from this yarn would be wool-armor.

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The yarn is a DK-ish weight 2 ply yarn. I wanted to make a 3-season cardigan with this yarn, so while there was a voice in my head that was whispering that I ought to make a 3-ply yarn (I love round yarns!), I thought that I would get a better draping garment with a 2-ply yarn made from this fleece. And we all know that I am quite opinionated about my yarns 🙂

One would think that because Cambridge is mostly Romney that this yarn would be too “woolly”, or “not next to the skin soft”. We will see what happens when this yarn is knitted into a garment. Granted, this is no Qiviut, but I don’t think I’m going to have to wear 3 layers of turtlenecks before I can put on a Cambridge sweater. It is fantastic fleece — and the spinner who got her grubby little hands on the fleece (that would be me) may be improving bit by bit in her spinning skills.

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I will let the photos do the talking on the color of the finished yarn. Whatever words I come up with will not do it justice. But I love it that this fleece is a million different shades of grey (no, not 50), something that I think only nature can create.

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I have a pattern in mind. Norah Gaughn’s Kingscot. I think Cambridge would love being a swingy cardigan that I can wear every day.

Next chapter….Cambridge Meets the Knitting Needles.

Remember Cambridge of the grey fleece?

I left you as I had just begun to spin singles from her fleece. I was spinning the silvery puffs of it into yarn for the very first knitted project out of her gorgeous fleece.

I just started spinning earlier this year, so I was a little bit nervous. Yes, I have been practicing a little bit every day, trying to get some skill under my belt, with the ultimate goal of being able to create just the yarn I meant to create. My opinion about yarn is well beyond my spinning skills however, and I still consider myself a novice. I felt though, that I had obsessed enough about Cambridge’s fleece and how I wanted to spin it, that I should just go for it. Besides, there’s more than 7 pounds of unprocessed stuff behind this small bit of processed fleece that I knew I had to start somewhere!

Cambridge has been bred to produce a long wool (and her staple length was 6″), so her fleece does not need to be twisted too tightly together to hold. In fact, since I wanted to create as soft a yarn as possible, I did not want to seize up the fibers by twisting it too much. If I were more versed in spinning, I would have talked about the angle of twist, and how many twists per inch I was aiming for….but I am 100% going by how things felt in my hands and by intuition. (OK, some would say winging it, and I have to admit I was!)

I was cautiously optimistic with the yarn that came off my wheel. The color is absolutely amazing.

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Each single is about 5 strands of her fiber, and I twisted/plied 2 of these singles together to create this yarn. So the yarn is pretty fine. It is a 2-ply lace weight yarn, which is what I was aiming for.

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I made a fine yarn because I thought the first project from Cambridge’s fleece should be a gossamer wisp of a shawl. I wanted to challenge myself from a spinning standpoint, but I really wanted to remember how I felt as Lee and I combed out bits of her fleece — the fluffy, cloud like puffs that emerged as we processed her fleece.

Yarn made from Cambridge’s fleece, technically, should not be next to the skin soft (I will leave explanation of all of this to Clara Parkes, here). A sample of her fleece will be sent in to be tested, but the diameter of each fiber will likely be over 30 microns. I was surprised, as I cast on, how soft the yarn felt. (Which I actually wrote off to psychosomatic wishful thinking.)

Now, I may have been nervous as I sat in front of a spinning wheel with Cambridge, but once I had the yarn and I had some knitting sticks in my hand, i had zero trepidation.  I knew exactly what to do, and I wanted to do some magic with the sticks.

The first Cambridge project needed to be a classic shawl, with classic lace motifs. I pulled out my trusty little bible for such thingsEvelyn A. Clark’s Knitting Lace Triangles

Evelyn Clark has designed some amazing shawls. There are close to 11,000 of her Swallowtail shawls up on “the system” on Ravelry. I was lucky enough to take her shawl design class at Madrona this year.

Knitting Lace Triangles gives you a basic outline of how to create a lace triangle of your own design using some building blocks that Evelyn outlines. I used 2 lace motifs, the ripple lace and the medallion lace. Classic. That is what I was shooting for.

Here it is! A lace triangle that is 55″ wide and 23″ deep at the center. I hope I did Cambridge proud!

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