Frequently Asked Questions of Marr Haven Wool Farm

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  • Organic Wool & Yarn
  • Roving versus Top
  • What is a Spinning Mule
  • Top 10 Yarn Questions & Answers
  • Locker Hooking Technique
  • Needle Felting vs. Wet Felting
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
  • WHAT IS A SPINNING MULE
    In the United States, companies which spin fibers into yarn, natural and synthetic, use machines called spinning frames for the high speed and increased production; however, one spinning mule is still in operation. The mule was invented nearly 200 years ago at the time of the cotton gin and is still used extensively in Europe and Asia.

    The principle of the mule is to duplicate the motion of a hand spinner to retain the natural elasticity of lanolin-rich wool fibers. In hand spinning, the spinner's hand moves to and from the tip of a spinning bobbin. Raw wool fibers are drawn and spun between the tip of the bobbin and the spinner's fingertips. In mule spinning, a carriage containing a row of bobbins moves back and forth, simultaneously drawing and spinning a six foot length of carded roving attached to each bobbin.

    The yarn that is spun has a softer twist and more loft. The traditional woolen system yarns are created which require only two plies for the standard worsted knitting weight. Mule spun yarns have a distinctive appearance and desirable homespun qualities.

    The Spring 2003 (vol. 2 # 8) issue of INKnitters magazine has a very comprehensive article about the spinning mule, well written by Donna Druchunas.

    National Organic Program
    Many of you are interested in why we do not list our yarn as 100% Certified Organic since our natural yarns are 100% Chemical Free; that is a very good question and deserves an answer. There is some expense and much time required for a farm to be 'certified'. You can read all the regulations and provisions at this USDA website, Agriculture Marketing Service at the USDA. We follow all the organic practices but choose not to pay an outside certifier to use the term organic (legally) on any label or information about our yarn. One reason we choose not to pay a certifier to come verify our record keeping is there are no regulations regarding the processing of wool after it is removed from the sheep.

    Our sheep and farm are raised and handled in accordance with the standards for NOP livestock standards found in section 205.237 Feed, 205.238 Health Care and 205.239 Living Conditions.

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    Locker Hooking Technique
    A picture of the finished piece is shown on the Locker Hooking Supplies page.

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    loctec2loktec1.gifThe edge of the canvas has been turned under and a double strand of worsted weight yarn is held on the underside of the canvas. The hook end goes through the canvas and catches the yarn to draw it up and form a loop on the hook, see 2nd picture. After a few loops are hooked up; the locker hook, with a separate piece of yarn threaded through the eye of the hook, is pulled through all the loops and the threaded yarn locks the loops onto the canvas.
    lckrvblk2The rug at left is thick and cushiony. It is made with natural colored roving (unspun wool) using the same technique as above. The planter cover and coaster on the right will give you ideas of other items to make.loksam02.gif

    What is the difference in wet felting and dry felting- also know as Needle Felting? The answer is water but that doesn't explain the processes very well. A simplified description of wet felting is: soapy water and agitation cause the wool or other natural fibers to bond together to form a felt fabric.

    Dry felting is done with a felting needle shown on the right. These needles originally were used in commercial felt making machines. In very recent years, they were discovered by fiber artists who use them to create anything from sculptured 3 dimensional felt artwork, for accurate placement of designs on wet felted and knit pieces or to make garment items like hats. New items are being added frequently to expand this fiber art. See our needle felt supplies page for the latest additions.

    The needles may be used singly or several in a hand held tool. They are approximately 3 1/2 to 4 inches long with a very sharp thin end that has barbs which are difficult to see with the naked eye. Most have a triangular shape on the sharp end, there is a star shape with a more efficient profile for finer and faster work which is more resistant to breaking. The barbs entangle the barbs of the natural fibers creating the felt fabric.

    NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
    WOOL: THE NEW MIRACLE FABRIC, THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD.

    An issue of National Geographic (vol. 173, #5, May 1988) called wool the "Fabric of History". It tells, “the secret of wool is the structure of its fibers, which absorb moisture, insulate against heat and cold, resists flame, and maintain their resilience.” This is why more people use wool in all seasons.

    The characteristics of wool fiber are found in wool yarn. Warm weather sweaters are often made in the lighter sport weight of yarn. Both weights of MARR HAVEN YARN are spun from our Merino Rambouillet sheep, fine-grade wool breeds, and feel soft and comfortable in most seasons. The same issue of National Geographic shows a variety of animals with spinnable hair or wool; it states the Merino fiber is so fine that 5 strands equal the width of a human hair.

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