Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lizzy and Lacy and Lucy! Oh, My!

The UPS guy stopped by yesterday with three recently shorn fleeces for me. I got these fleeces from Marie Glaesemann (Church Road Farm). She raises sheep near Duluth, Minnesota. And her fleeces are wonderfully clean, well skirted, and well shorn. I’ve gotten fleeces from her every year for the past four years. This year, I got Lucy’s fleece (the third year in a row), and Lacy’s fleece (for the second time), and Lizzy’s fleece (for the first time).

Lucy is a Romney/Corriedale by Romney/Border Leicester cross.

Lacy is also Romney/Corriedale by Romney/Border Leicester cross.

Lizzy is a one-year old that is Romney/Corriedale/Suffolk by Ile-de-France cross.

My plan is to do a quick pick-over of these fleeces, and take Lucy and Lacy up to Stonehedge Fiber Mill for processing into roving. I think I’ll wash and card Lizzy myself.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Think Spring -- Think Michigan Fiber Events

It’s officially Spring. The vernal equinox was yesterday, and daytime now outlasts nightime.

And notices of this year’s fiber events have started to arrive in the mail!

Yesterday I received my flyer for the Spring Fiber Fling. It’s a fiber retreat that is held annually in May in Pickford, Michigan (this year, May 14-16). Pickford is in the Upper Peninsula, about half way between the Mackinaw Bridge and Sault Ste Marie. There are six workshops to choose from for Saturday morning, another six to choose from for Saturday afternoon, and five more on Sunday morning. And choosing will be difficult! Workshops cover knitting, spinning, weaving, rug braiding, quilting, felting, dyeing, and embroidery. (I’ll be teaching one workshop on I-cord knitting, and one workshop on spinning wheel mechanics.) There will also be vendors all weekend, and plenty of time for fiber activities, sharing, and relaxing. This annual retreat is sponsored by the Country Spinners and Bridge Shuttlers Guild of Sault Ste Marie. To get a flyer or to register, contact either Lois Robbins, 906-632-3689,
loisrobbins@gmail.com; or Jeremy Ripley, 906-253-1565, jerripley@sbcglobal.net.

The day before yesterday, I received a postcard about the Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool Festival. This event is held annually in late September (this year, September 24-26) at the Ogemaw County Fairgrounds in West Branch, Michigan. I always enjoy this festival. It’s not as large as some, but the fairgrounds is a charming place, and the weather usually cooperates. There are plenty of vendors, and workshops to take (I’ll be teaching three spinning workshops). There are food vendors, competitions to enter, and door prizes. A delightful couple of days! Check out their website,
www.lambandwoolfestival.com, for more details.

Also, I hear that the Michigan Fiber Festival has sent out its annual magazine with details about this year’s festival (August 18-22), although I haven’t received my copy yet. The largest Michigan fiber event, this one is held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Last year there were 100 vendors and four days of workshops. You can also see all sorts of fiber animals, sheep dog demonstrations, and fiber arts competitions. In other words, it’s loads of fun! I’ll be teaching some knitting and spinning workshops this year. Go to their website for more information:

So, enjoy all that Spring offers: lengthening days, daffodils, maple syrup, and preparations for Michigan fiber activities!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Favorite Tool

What’s your favorite fiber tool? I have several that I absolutely love: my Katie A-Go-Go (a portable tensioned lazy kate made by Nancy’s Knit Knacks), my sweet little Reeves upright wheel (that I bought used shortly after Rick Reeves retired from making his fabulous wheels), and most especially my bowl table. Here’s a picture of my bowl table and my Reeves wheel. I took this picture on a deck overlooking the Platte River near Honor, Michigan.

I found the bowl table a few years ago as I wandered the aisles at a local antiques fair. I spotted a large maple wood bowl on three pine wood legs. Rustic in style, this bowl table was about the height of a typical end table, and seemed to beg to be filled with yarn or fiber. I asked the vendor what it was originally designed for. He said he’d seen pictures in a catalog of it containing either apples or balls of yarn. After hearing that, I just had to buy it.

The vendor then gave me additional information. The piece is called an “Exeter table” and it was built by a furniture company that had been based in Bay City, Michigan called the Habitant Furniture Company. The word “habitant” refers to the early French explorers of this part of North America. Habitant-style furniture has a characteristically rough-hewn nature. These bowl-tables, I was told, historically had been made out of old wood mixing bowls that had outlived their kitchen usefulness They were then attached to 3 legs and used as side “tables”.

My use for this piece has been to hold fiber while I spin at my wheel. The bowl is a perfect height from which to draw pre-drafted roving or top. The fiber doesn’t get snagged on my leg; it flows right from the bowl to my hands to my wheel. It holds a respectable amount of fiber, allowing me to spin uninterrupted for a good long time. I can move it downstairs and upstairs, depending on where I’m spinning, but I don’t take it to spinning group meetings. On those days, I miss my bowl. I’m much happier when the spinning meeting is at my house. Besides, all the spinners in the group admire this bowl. One spinner even took pictures of it to show her son, hoping to persuade him to build her one.

There may come a day when other spinners can have an Exeter table, but for now, I’m pleased to have this unique piece as one of my favorite tools.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mystery Spinning Wheel from Iowa

Sarasota was wonderful! Beaches, museums, fabulous seafood, old friends and new. And don’t forget the fiber activity. The members of the Manasota Weavers Guild were delightful; I would love to visit and spin with them again!

For the first three days of my Florida get-away, I stayed with Bob Lewis and his wife, Edie. They are guild members and long time weavers, with many looms set up in their lovely home. Bob also had two spinning wheels that had belonged to his father (also a weaver and spinner). These wheels had been in storage for a long time (one in the garage, the other in the attic). One wheel is a sweet upright that was built in Norway (labeled as such on the front of the bed of the wheel). The other wheel Bob said was built in the US. Bob grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and he suggested that the wheel is also an Iowa native. The wheel is at least 50 years old. An upright wheel, I would classify it as a “frame” wheel, but it could also be classified as a “chair” wheel. It’s got a double-drive mechanism, and the wood appears to me to be maple. The bobbins are good sized.

I put new drive bands on these wheels, and made sure that all moving parts were cleaned and oiled as necessary. Both wheels now work well and are surprisingly solid, smooth, and quiet.

Here’s a picture of the frame wheel. If anyone knows the maker or has some idea of its origin, let me know (
amy@stonesockfibers.com). It’d be great to provide Bob with some of those details.