Tuesday, August 30, 2011
In July, when I drove up to Charlevoix for the Fiber Arts Festival, I had a very important purchase in mind: a Bond fleece.
According to both The Fleece and Fiber Source Book (D Robson and C Ekarius) and In Sheep’s Clothing (N Fournier and J Fournier), the Bond breed arose around the turn of the 20th century in Australia from a cross between Lincoln and Merino sheep: a very nice combo, resulting in a soft and springy wool with a long staple length.
The back story: Last year at the Charlevoix show I visited the booth of Big Hand Farm.
They had a few dozen of the loveliest, cleanest fleeces. I spied and admired a few brown fleeces, I wrote a note to myself with the names of the sheep from which these fleeces had come, and I wandered away from the booth. About a half hour later, I decided to go back to the booth and buy one of those fleeces. But they were all already sold!
So, over the intervening year, I plotted and planned to get to that booth right away this year and buy one of those fleeces. As soon as I arrived at the festival, I made a beeline for their booth, and quickly picked a lovely fleece from a sheep named “Kyne”. I was smitten. The fleece was darn big: 8.6 pounds. The locks were a good length, about 5 inches, and had a nice tight french-fry-crinkle-cut shape to the crimp.
I did not drive home with this fleece. Instead, I took it over to Deb McDermott’s booth, Stonehedge Fiber Mill, and dropped it off with her. Last week I got the fleece-turned-roving. “Kyne” is kinda nice, don’t you think?
I spun up a bit of the roving. Yum! It’s too bad that the picture can’t tell you how soft and elastic this wool and its yarn are.
Then, I took a pinch and combed it. One pass on my Valkerie double pitch combs. Even more yum!
I’ve got 5 pounds and 12 ounces of this lovely roving. Kyne is sure to keep me happy for a good long time.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
My friend, Judy McLaughlin, spends her summers near here in Beulah, Michigan. She spends her winters in Duluth, Minnesota. No kidding!
She has two looms, both identical, one in Duluth and one in Beulah. And, she’s decided to sell her loom in Beulah. She has had this loom for 10 or 15 years and has not found time to weave on it as much as she’d like. Here are the loom specifics that she has provided:
“NORWOOD FLOOR LOOM, 36" wide with a 30" reed. Cherry wood. Includes a bench, but nothing else. The going rate on line seems to be $600, but I'm open for negotiating. Contact me personally (JudyLaugh@aol.com) if you would like more info, photos emailed to you, or to come look at it.”
Here is a picture of the loom:
Please contact Judy directly with any questions. JudyLaugh@aol.com
Friday, August 26, 2011
In early August, the Benzie area spinners visited the Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm. Chris and David Nelson are the owners. (David Nelson, by the way, is the DVM at Platte Lake Veterinary Clinic who sees my dog, Toby.) Chris gave us the grand tour. Their spread is most impressive, and they have some very beautiful animals. Here’s one of the many pictures that I took:
At the end of the tour, Chris showed us some lovely fleeces. I was immediately attracted to a light fawn fleece that seemed to have a hint of pink about it. The fleece was from an alpaca named “Addey” (short for Crystal Adelaide). Although my photography doesn’t do it justice, here’s a picture of the fleece:
I bought 4 ounces. Yum-EEE! This fleece was quite clean, with very little vegetative matter. Another spinner who also bought some of this fleece was planning to spin it without washing. Well, I decided to wash my 4 ounces….
….Which I did a few days ago. I used some hot tap water with just a bit of added boiling water (not as hot as when I wash Merino). One wash with some Orvus paste, one rinse with a glug of vinegar, and one plain rinse later, I had the loveliest clean alpaca.
Now, I could just pick the fleece open to prepare it for spinning, but I decided to comb it. So I got out my combs. I have a pair of Valkerie 2-pitch combs that I’ve used for years, but only on wool. This would be my first attempt at hand combing alpaca.
I charged the combs and then tried to make a pass or two through the fiber. I quickly realized that my combs were on the tacky side – apparently the tines were coated with a bit of remnant lanolin from a previous combing endeavor.
I had to clean my combs. For the first time. My initial thought was to use rubbing alcohol. It worked ok, but it was a slow process: putting the alcohol on a rag and then trying to wipe every surface of every tine without injuring myself!
My second thought was to use WD 40. So, on the second comb, I sprayed some WD 40 on the tines (outdoors, mind you!). After letting the combs sit there for awhile, I put some clean white wool on the combs and pulled the fiber through to remove the excess WD 40.
Both methods worked fine. The WD 40 was faster, but it was a bit smelly (to my very sensitive nose). I’d love to hear from other folks about their efforts to clean combs. Comments, anyone?
Monday, August 22, 2011
I had a wonderful time at the Michigan Fiber Festival. My workshops were pretty well filled….and all with delightful participants!
And I had a chance to do some shopping. Most of my shopping is geared toward replenishing my supplies for teaching. This year I was on the look-out for various types of locks because I’m devising a new workshop on spinning with locks.
There were plenty of locks to be had!
First I got some locks of Lincoln wool, dyed shades of purple. Love the shine! I got these locks from Victoria Station. Victoria Brackney is located in Howell, Michigan.
My next lock purchase was from MoonsShadow Farm. They’re located in Chisholm, Minnesota. They had a wall of yearling mohair locks dyed in all sorts of colors, so you could mix ‘n match. That’s what I did. Pretty colors! More shine!
Then I managed to snag some locks of Wensleydale wool, dyed by Chris Roosien of Briar Rose Fibers. Love her color sense!
All these yummy locks will be joining my growing stash of locks.
For example, I bought some kid mohair locks from River’s Edge Fiber Arts (check out their Facebook page) at the Midwest Weavers Conference in June. Carol had loads of intense colors. These are just some of the colors I got.
And last year, I’d bought some kid mohair locks from Elizabeth Koeppen, here in the Grand Traverse region. These are from natural colored angora goats and are dyed a pale and subtle combination of purples and yellows. Rather mysterious and metallic looking.
Also last fall, I bought some adult mohair locks from Marie Glenn in La Cygne, Kansas (by way of the Yahoo Spin Sales List). These locks are undyed, and from natural colored angora goats. Very nice!
It may seem that now I have plenty of locks to play with, but I know I’ll be getting more locks when I go to next month’s Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival . In the meantime, I’ll be experimenting with the many ways locks can be used in spinning. What fun!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Interquilten is a lovely quilt shop in Interlochen, Michigan. Tawni Gilmer is the proprietress. She carries not only a vast selection of quilting items, but also some of my handspun yarns and my knitting patterns.
This weekend Interquilten is part of a six-shop “shop hop”. Quilt shops in Interlochen, Traverse City, Charlevoix, Cedar, Bellaire, and Williamsburg are participating in the 2011 Amazing Quilt Race Shop Hop, August 13 – 20.
Tawni has offered me a table so that I could sell some of my wares during the shop hop. So, on Saturday, August 13, I will be at Interquilten. I’ll be spinning on my Reeves upright spinning wheel, and I have some knitted items for sale, such as this lovely afghan in a slip stitch pattern from a luscious wool-alpaca yarn. I've called it “Peruvian Pebbles”:
And a grey version of my “Dream Shawl”. Here’s a picture of a version in green:
And my Petoskey stone wall hanging, “Petosegay – Sunbeams of Promise”:
I’ll also have some of my inkle weaving, including dog leashes (if I get the sewing done!) and bookmarks:
And some scarves that I’ve woven on my Ashford Knitter’s Loom:
And, don’t forget my handspun yarns and knitting patterns.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. And if you mention reading this blog post, I’ll give you a 10% discount on any of my knitted or woven items (but not yarns or patterns).
Saturday, August 6, 2011
A week ago, I cut my left index finger – instead of the intended baguette. My typing was, um, impaired. I’m just now getting back to normal finger activity.
OK, that doesn’t sound very nice…..
Let me catch up. The Michigan Fiber Festival is just around the corner; workshops start August 17, and the Festival is open to the public August 20 and 21. I’ll be teaching on Wednesday (“Blending Colors at the Wheel”), Thursday (“Plying for Texture” & “Plying Balanced Yarns”), and Friday (“Mechanics of Your Wheel” & “Spinning Marl Yarns”). There’s still room in some of these workshops. Check out the MFF website and the MFF blog.
In addition to my teaching, I get to shop, meet new friends, and catch up with old friends. One person I’d like to introduce you all to is Laurie Boyer. I met her a few years ago at MFF. She is an amazing art yarn spinner. Her yarns are not simply hodge-podge mixtures of odds and ends; they are well thought out, carefully designed, and meticulously constructed fantasy yarns. She used locks, nuts & bolts, q-tips, feathers, and this year even clothes pins! She recently sent me a couple of pictures of some of her latest yarns. See the clothes pins?...on the right....
Laurie will be at MFF – with some of her yarns – helping at Carol Wagner’s booth, Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill. You know I’ll be stopping there early on!
For more on Laurie, click here to go to a 2009 article about her by Ruth Knight Sybers.
Earlier this week I got a call from Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood. She’s a free-lance writer who does articles on arts and crafts for the Grand Rapids Press. She’s preparing an article about the Michigan Fiber Festival and she wanted to get some of my thoughts on trends in the fiber world, specifically about the increasing popularity of spinning. We had a wonderful chat, during which I found out that Jennifer also has begun a new arts and crafts magazine, CraftSanity. You can find more about Jennifer and her writing at www.craftsanity.com. Jennifer promised to stop by one of my classes on Friday at MFF so that we can meet face-to-face. I look forward to meeting her in person.