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!

 

Fiber Friday! A week focused on new techniques.

What a great creative spinning week! It’s funny how the time goes by and it feels like you haven’t done much until you stop and take a look.
First: I sold my first yarn!!!
Wheeeee! This was uber exciting!

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Here’s a progress photo for the rest of the week:

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1. 400 yards of singles. 70% wool, 30% silk.
2. Coreless tailspun yarn: 50 yards, local lamb locks and mohair locks
3. My best ever supercoils and the project from them.

All in all, a great week. How about you?

Spin on!

Fiber Friday and Real Life

Last week, I left you all with a happy post that started with the pic on top and made its way to the pic on the bottom.

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Which then became this:

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But in between, there was this:

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And this:

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Followed by this:

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My sweet daughter, who is 24, was driving her motor scooter and was hit by a car who backed out too fast. Her right knee was shattered and she went in for emergency surgery.
Things happen in life that we can’t predict. I’m so grateful that her injuries weren’t worse. That her love of snowboarding caused her to instinctively tuck and roll when she was flying off of the bike. Her head, neck and spine are fine, as is her attitude, despite the fact that she won’t walk on her leg for three months.
Today is her birthday. Mostly, I am grateful beyond words that she is here to celebrate it and continue to grow into the amazing woman she is only now discovering that she is.
Spin on, and hold your loved ones close..

Raw Fleece Processing Lessons from a Newbie

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I have been wanting to write this post for a while, because when I first started processing fleece, I looked for “raw fleece processing posts for dummies” post and didn’t come up with one that walked me through getting the wool, washing it correctly, not maiming myself on the drum carder (no, I don’t have a cat), and how amazing it is to spin from sliver.  So here we are.  I’m posting this with a wikki type approach–please feel free to add comments and suggestions below, because I’m still learning.  And..I want to document this while the “d’oh” moments are still really fresh. Hope it helps someone at some point!

1.  Washing.  Lanolin can be one tough bugger.  When people say the water should be over 140 degrees, they mean it.  Living in a 2 bedroom condo means I can’t take over the kitchen, bathroom, and I don’t have a back yard.  So, I process small batches at a time.  The washing machine doesn’t work for me because our house water temp is not high enough and I don’t want to risk scalding myself at another time. 🙂 I wash bags of fleece in a netted lingerie bag in the kitchen sink–at weights ranging from 8-10 ounces, depending on the fleece.  Yep, it takes me a while to wash a fleece..but it takes me a while to spin it too..so no need to rush.  I learned after a few failed attempts that I need to fill the sink with hot tap water AND add two pots of boiling water to get it hot enough to melt the lanolin.  Usually it takes two rinses with Dawn, one with a tiny bit of vinegar, and one plain hot water. This has worked out beautifully..no more sticky fleece.  The dead giveaway was when I tried to spin some fiber off my drop spindle and I couldn’t draft it…the wheel will pull the wool out of your hands..but a spindle?  Not so much.

2.  Carding.  I LOVE my drum carder.  I love carding wool.  I have NO regrets from this purchase.  I bought a new Brother for about $300.  It does not have a packer brush, which is an essential item, IMHO, so I use a hard bristle brush with my left hand while I crank with my right.  I also learned that carding takes a certain rhythm.  The first time, I was so excited I plopped the wool on without opening it and loosening it, cranked and had both drums on the carder totally covered in wool.  Then I learned a few tips.  Small chunks of wool, locks opened up, and crank slowly at first.  I card an ounce at a time and always do three passes.  You can see from the photo above how much it evens out after each pass.  I also consider the first pass to be more of a combing things into a certain order, so I open the locks, but I don’t lay them all flat, etc.

3.  The DIZ..what a great invention!!!  (Or use a large button with a decent size hole).  I finish an ounce of fiber, and pull it through the diz to make sliver.  When I spin, there’s no drafting, it comes straight off the ball, and my spinning time is cut down by about 25% from when I draft from commercial roving.  This has also given me the chance to really work on my long draw, which is so relaxing now.

So there you have it.  Intro thoughts on fleece processing in a very limited environment. This has been a game changer of a learning process for me, and honestly…now I don’t even look at commercial roving unless it’s a specialty item.  Raw fleece is like an empty canvas..and it’s a beautiful thing.

Thoughts from others who have tried this?  Ideas to add?

Spin on!

Cornwall, hiking, and (of course) wool!

Cornwall is amazing. We’ve had fabulous weather (so far) and amazing, breathtaking hikes along the coast. I can’t even describe the beauty of the English countryside, but it has been breathtaking. And steep. You hike up to the cliff, and down to the port. Repeat a gazillion times. So far, 34 miles!!
Windswept cliffs..

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Beautiful beaches…

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Flowers galore…

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And SHEEP!!! Along the path. Glorious.
As you can see..it’s pretty amazing. Three more days in Cornwall. I have a hilarious sheep story for my next post. Until then…

Spin on!

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