Sunday, February 10, 2008

Troll Hair

Weavers have a term for warps that just don’t work. We call it “mad dog ugly” warp. The easiest cure for it is to cut it off the loom and start over. Sometimes we get fleece that is hard to spin. Is it “mad dog ugly” or is it “troll hair”?

The first roving I got that was really hard to spin was old. My friend had had it in her stash of weaving supplies for about ten years. When she sold her loom and all her stash, I wanted to spin the roving she had stashed. My mistake!! It took me about 3 years to spin a pound of orange Merino. During this time another friend asked me where I got the “troll hair”. It was just the shade of orange that matched the old troll dolls hair.

When fibers get older they get drier and much harder to spin. This is especially true of wool. All of us have read in the spinning books to only use “new” fleeces for our spinning. This is especially true for raw or grease fleece. After a few months the lanolin and dirt set up and it is really hard to get it to draft out of the locke. It helps a little to lay it out in the sun for a while and let the sun soften the grease, but the best bet then is to clean the grease out of the fibers.

You especially don’t want to get raw fleeces that are more than a year old. The lanolin and dirt or grease, will be very hard to wash out It will be hard to break the fleece down into the locks to wash, and the grease just doesn’t want to wash out. Then there is a rancid odor to the whole fleece that is most unpleasant to live with while spinning that “troll hair”.

Old dry roving or top doesn’t stick together to spin very well. It is hard to get the twist into it and it won’t stay very well at all either. This can be referred to as “troll hair” for sure, especially if it was dyed a vibrant crayon box color. It feels harsh to the hand. You might be able to add some spinning oil to it and ease the “hand” a little. It doesn’t help much.

My suggestion to everyone is to go through your stash, label all the bags of different things with type of fiber, date of purchase, where purchased and price you paid for it. Do not keep it in plastic! Plastic causes it to age faster by not allowing the fibers to breathe. Toss anything over five years old. Make some tulle bags to keep the fibers in so they can breathe and still be separated. To keep moths and other critters out of the stash, add aromatic herbs and spices to your cabinet or shelves.

Prevent “mad dog ugly” and “troll hair” by never letting your stash get old. Use up all that really nice fleece you have put back for a rainy day. Rainy days don’t come often enough. Never keep fleece or any other fiber for more than five years, preferably no more than 3 years. Use the yarns in the same time periods or they might just become as ugly and hard as my orange “troll hair”.

No comments: