My visit to Cooke Creek Sheep Company!

  

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     Most of you know that a year ago I started a quest to get my yarn as locally as possible and them learned how to wash it and process it, which led to this epic tale.  In the process of this, I really wanted to connect with a local farm that I could get to know and trust so that I could share stories about where the wool came from. I had some disasters along the way, because just showing up at a farm isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. I would research different farms, and look for ways to get a sample if their wool. All the things that you need to do when you live in a small two bedroom condo. I had sheep fleeces that were shipped to me that weighed more in poo than they did in wool, fleeces that were just low grade quality, and fleeces that were really nice. I learned that for the urban lifestyle, washing a full fleece at once can put your marriage on shaky ground. (just kidding, my husband is super supportive, but I do think he winced the first time he saw a murky brown mess in the bathtub!)

     All that to say, I finally found an amazing farm about two hours from where I live, so I visited last weekend to see where this awesome wool was coming from. 

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     Cooke Creek Sheep Company is run by Jami and her husband Larry and they are amazing, welcoming people who are passionate about what they do.  They are in lambing season right now, so as you can see from the top picture, (my favorite picture in the whole world), I got to hold a 4 day old lamb. I posted that pic on Facebook and one of my friends immediately added the thought bubble..which as quite appropriate.

     If you are looking to do the whole fleece thing, I can’t recommend them highly enough. And, if you are more of an urban spinner, I’m going to create test spinning packages for my etsy shop, so stay tuned. I’ll do it at cost and anything I add on for labor will go to support Awamaki like the rest of my products on the site. 

I’ll be starting that project with wool from this sheep..meet “Socks.”  He’s a Border Leicester sheep and I just started washing some of the 10 pounds of fiber I bought! 

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     As a final lovely picture, Jami also has yarn that she has from their sheep. It was from a similar fleece that I spun up last summer, and I was thrilled to see that the millspun looked like mine! Definitely a good confidence booster. It’s quite sturdy yarn, so I dyed it to create a weaving pattern for the farm. Here’s a sneak peak at the dye job:Image

     So, that’s a full post with tons of fun info! If your interested in learning more about the urban spinner packages I will be assembling, let me know below. 

     Have a great weekend and spin on!

 

Spinning for the sake of spinning..

20131120-134200.jpgI love sitting at my wheel and filling a bobbin. Honestly, it is just as enjoyable if it’s a lace weight, art yarn, standard two ply worsted..there is just something really beautiful about a full bobbin of freshly spun yarn.

In fact, one of the more difficult parts for me is deciding what technique to use for the final product. For the skein above, I was going to do supercoils..but at the last minute I decided it needed to be a Navajo ply.

Then there’s these skeins:

20131120-134409.jpg I wanted to spun a really even uber thick single, which requires a steady zen-like spinning technique..at least for me.

I’m taking an online course to dig in deeper to art yarns, and the initial phase is all about exploring what types of yarn you like to spin the most. I’m having a hard time deciding because depends on what is inspiring me at the moment.

I rarely spin a yarn for a specific project…the idea will come to me while I am in the spinning process. And, sometimes it’s just yarn for the sake if making that be the “something beautiful.”

How about you? Do you spin for a purpose or for the yarn as the final outcome?

Spin on!

First report from my “pay it forward” Etsy shop!

Hi everyone! Been a crazy month with work, travel, and flu..but good news to share! A month ago, I opened my Etsy shop, with a pledge that the profits would go to Awamaki a nonprofit that supports women in Peru. Because I use so many local or raw products, my material expense is pretty low. So…drumroll.. Based on October’s sales, I was able to donate $106 to Awamaki. Two items were sold–the “Outrageous Cowl” and my “Merino a Bobble Cowl.”

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I have a custom order in progress for November..and it’s so exciting to see this little dream come to life. The joy in all of this for me is the ability to create art from nature. Knowing that someone is wearing and enjoying it and that the proceeds are going to an organization that I truly believe in makes the whole thing come full circle.

Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement while I have been launching this! 🙂

In other bloggy news..I just signed up for an online class to learn new techniques for spinning art yarn. It starts in a week, and I can’t wait to get going on it! I promise to post progress pix..even the ones that are kinda crazy!

This is one of the first items to be sold for November, my Sea Glass Yarn, so I already know I’ll have an update for you at the end of the month!

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Have you ever totally fallen for..

..a stitch pattern?

I just did. I’m cranking out some leg warmers with lace on the front and 1×1 rib on the back and they are soooo pretty! This simple lace pattern is wonderful for increases. You can see I decided to make these shaped by adding a middle column of the lace pattern.

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I’m halfway through the second one..and I am already thinking up a hat and cowl/shrug pattern. Simple lace that looks great in a worsted weight.

And I am adoring this natural wool color. Got the fleece from a local farm. Could. Not. Be. Happier.

Happy Friday, and spin on!

Release the Fleece!

Let the process begin again!

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This is a fascinating and humbling thing to take on. Yesterday I came home to a 6.5 lb pollyworth fleece I had ordered off eBay for $20. I realized very quickly that my first fleece, while still very dirty, had been skirted quite well.

This fleece is a whole new adventure of vegetable matter (VM) and i think a little organic matter (OM, but in my immature state I would call that BM).

Washed a small amount last night, but realized this morning it still needed quite a bit of skirting, so I picked through, gave it one more soak and spin and the water ran clear. Yeah!
Still some VM…but manageable.

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And while that was soaking, I started spinning the pink fiber I processed from my first fleece. Pretty, huh? See what happens when you wake up at 4:30?

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Adventures in Fleece, Pt 2

So, I went from this…

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To this.

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With very little pain but a lot of learnings!! I am über excited to have washed, dyed, carded, spun and knit my first actual fleece!! It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn awesome.

Notes to self:
I’ve been spinning a lot of art yarn, so bumps and slubby bits are pretty.
Short fibers (less than 2 inches) are not the best for my first few attempts.
Less fiber at a time might give me better QC.
Drum carders have lots of pokey bits.
I LOVE the process..it’s very gratifying.
Lanolin is kinda cool.

Wheel time!

I’ve spent so much time with the spindle recently that this morning I wanted to get in a little wheel time before going to work.  When I was in Bend last week, I went to an amazing and sweet farm called All Ways Wild and Wooly and picked up some amazing fiber batts.  This morning, the wheel and I got together with beautiful and soft blend of BFL and Angora.

I fell in love with this fiber..it was so easy to spin that I am getting a very even, very fine yarn that will make a beautiful 2 ply.  I’m toying with dying some of it so I can play around with a few new weaving techniques, but I haven’t totally settled on that yet.