Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ah, September!

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.

from The Fantastiks, lyrics by Tom Jones

It happens every year. September rolls around, the air cools a bit, the light is golden, everything seems to be in sharper definition, and I find myself surprised and delighted that I love September so much.

The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival was last weekend. I couldn’t find time to blog before that weekend, because it takes so much time to prepare for workshops (preparing and gathering handouts, fibers, yarns, equipment, tools, sundry supplies). And the days immediately following the Festival were filled with catch-up chores (laundry, cleaning, answering emails, grocery shopping, and cooking). I now finally have time to write!

I do love teaching workshops at fiber festivals. I get energized and inspired by the students and their questions and ideas. I end up coming home with an impossible-to-accomplish list of things I want to work on IMMEDIATELY.

For example, I taught a 2-day workshop, “Spinning Wools of North America”. I’ve taught this workshop a couple of times, but this was the first time I included some Debouillet wool that I’d gotten from a rancher in New Mexico. I received a pound of raw wool just days before leaving for the festival. I washed up 8 ounces of it and took it to share with the students. It turned out to be fantastic wool. Very soft, lovely crimp, with a respectable staple length. (This is a hard-to-come-by wool. I noticed an ad on a Facebook group and pounced! Joe Ward is the rancher. He lives in Roswell, NM. Other than Facebook, he has no on-line presence.) So now I want to IMMEDIATELY wash the rest of the wool, card it, spin it, and knit up sample swatches.

Also, in that workshop, I show students some knitted swatches from 12 different wool breeds. I made 2 swatches from each breed; I washed 1 swatch and fulled/felted the other to demonstrate that some wools felt and shrink a lot and others do not. Now, I only had one example from each breed, essentially twelve single-case studies (n=1), not a perfectly convincing experiment. But I now have some Navajo Churro wool from three different sources, some lamb and some adult, and several natural colors. I want to IMMEDIATELY do another felting experiment with all the samples of Churro that I have to see if they all behave as the first one that I did. By the way, in my original experiment, the Churro shrunk and felted more than any of the other breeds tested.

On Friday I taught “Spinning & Knitting Energized Singles”. This is one of the first workshops that I created – over 10 years ago. I have loads of samples and finished items to show students. But every time I teach this workshop, I want to IMMEDIATELY make more energized projects. I really want to make a sweater with the body of the sweater knitted with balanced yarns and the cuffs and collar worked with energized yarns.

On Sunday morning I taught my “Circles & Polygons” class – a knitting workshop in which we knit a medallion that I’ve created inspired by the state stone of Michigan, the Petoskey stone. I am currently in the middle of making a Petoskey stone poncho using this medallion strategy. But I still want to IMMEDIATELY start working on another project, perhaps a pillow (that’ll look like a rock!).

On Sunday afternoon I taught “Variations on Long Draw” to a full house. I teach this workshop a lot. Earlier this year I bought a fleece from Marie Glaesemann in Duluth. The sheep’s name is “Baby”. Baby is a mixed breed sheep: Romney x Corriedale x Lincoln x Ile de France. The fleece contains several shades of gray. It is lovely. I had this fleeced washed, so I could have students use it for learning how to hand card rolags. It turned out to be an absolutely perfect fleece for hand carding. So now I want to IMMEDIATELY card up enough of it to spin a lovely woolen yarn for a snuggly soft and warm vest. For me.

After I finished teaching on Sunday I strolled over to visit with Henry and Roy Clemes. I’d had a breakfast chat with Henry that morning about blending boards. So I had to have a look. You guessed it; I came home with a blending board and I also promised Henry that I would teach a workshop on using blending boards at next year’s Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival … and he will supply boards for the students to use! I just love collaboration! So now I want to IMMEDIATELY spend hours and days playing with my new blending board.

All these IMMEDIATE urges will have to wait just a bit, because on Monday, on my way to Manitowoc to catch the ferry I stopped by Carol Wagner’s place (Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill) in Valders. She had offered to give me a bunch of bell peppers from her over producing garden. When I stopped at her place, she not only gave me a bunch of peppers, but also a large quantity of broccoli, some cherry tomatoes, a most beautiful eggplant, and a couple of frozen lamb chops. Holy Cow!

Well, you have to make hay while the sun shines. And you have to cook vegetables before they go bad. First off: broccoli-cheddar cheese soup. That took care of the broccoli. Next: Baba Ganouj (I used the recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook). That took care of the eggplant. Then two days of making and canning tomato-vegetable juice. That took care of most of the peppers. Today I have a stock pot on the stove, making chicken stock, using another pepper. Tomorrow I’ll make chicken burrito filling, using the last pepper. I am currently eating some delicious foods. I hope you are jealous.