Are you a monogamous knitter?

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I think I’m getting my groove back..and it feels good. One of the consistent things I’ve had to help me process my recent loss has been my Channel Cardigan . (I’ve just got to attach the collar and front band now. Full report when it’s a real FO). During the past several weeks I’ve realized I am much more of a one project knitter than a “mix it up” sort of girl. In fact, having several projects on the needles stresses me out, and I usually end up not liking one of them.

I do have a running wish list in my head though..of what to do next, and that choice is a constant battle! I’m really smitten with Arabella from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 7. What’s not to love?

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I am, however…NOT a monogamous fiber artist. Here’s the list of what’s going on in that world..Yoinks!
1. Two fleeces a-washing..
2. Spinning said fleeces…
3. A pattern in my head that needs to get out..
4. Warping the loom for a special project…

How about you? Are you monogamous in your creative pursuits or do you thrive with more projects going on?

Spin on!

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!

 

Hey Urban Spinners!

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I have been doing a TON of knitting recently, mostly due to a crazy travel schedule. Last weekend though, I got some good wheel time in and it was so refreshing! I’ve spun my way through several fleeces this year and I’m on the last bit of my remaining one. The pic above is dyed with ferns from our local park, and the fleece is from a farm about two hours away. Talk about local!
On Sunday, we’ll be driving back from Oregon and will stop by the farm I order from for the first time. It will be great to see the sheep and pick out the fleeces first hand instead of ordering. Here’s a pic of what I have left:

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I have a plan, too..for urban spinners like me, so if you are interested in learning more about fleece processing, stay tuned. I’ll make the announcement next week!
In the meantime, I’ll be posting pix of the farm visit after Sunday. I heard a rumor some lambs have been born..can’t wait to see!
Spin and knit on!

Send me some knitting mojo!

A while back I posted that I wanted to make a sweater out of handspun, preferably out of wool that I have processed. I’ve done a vest that way, but somehow a sweater seemed daunting.
Then I had a serious “aha” moment. I was focusing on spinning just one type of yarn for a sweater, and I realized that I have lots of single skeins from one-off spinning moments and experiments. And.. I had enough of one similar color family to go for it.

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Then I decided I wanted a simple, free form, artsy fartsy make it up as you go sweater. So I did a gauge swatch with size 13 needles to get a good drape (all the yarns are approximately Aran weight) and cast on!
I’m making a rectangle cardi. I’ll split for sleeves soon, then finishing off the back and sides, and do the sleeves as drop shoulder in natural cream colored yarn.
I processed and spun all of the yarns from raw fleece (except the one at the top of the pic with the shell beads spun in-I bought that roving and spun the beads in) and added sari silk and sparkle into the light purple one on the bottom.
Here’s a better close-up:

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So I’m thinking I can crank out the rest of the back this weekend. Can ya send me some love? A full cardi like this will be a major milestone for me!!

Happy Friday 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!

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!

Celebrate!! First “fleece to garment!”

I am so excited to have gone from this:

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To this:

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This was the buttonbox pattern from Knitty, and I am so pleased!! I frogged three other items before landing on the pattern that was meant for this yarn, and it was a fun one to knit. The fit is perfect, but I confess my swatch ran large so I knit for the 31″ instead if the 36″ and am so glad I did! The needle size felt right for the yarn so I didn’t want to mess with that.

So, I did it! Bought the fleece, washed, carded, spun, dyed and knit my first “directly from the local sheep garment.” I am hooked.

Spin on, and happy Friday!

When is a hat not just a hat?

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When you…
..gathered the wool of of fences, trees, and farmlands while walking England’s southwest coastal path.
…and then snuck said wool through customs.
…and washed it, carded it, stared at it trying to figure out what to make.
…but then you spin it to an Aran weight and make a hat for hubs for his birthday.

Now THAT is not just a hat. It might be my fav FO ever.

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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Fiber Friday!! Today’s thought, “Slow down…”

Today’s post is largely inspired by this post on one of my favorite blogs “Suzy Sells Sea Shells.” After reading her post, I found myself thinking more and more about how amazing it is to slow down and enjoy the process of what we do in our fibery worlds.

Slowing down gives us the ability to see what is transforming before our eyes. A concept of fiber to finished project that most people don’t really comprehend (you mean yarn doesn’t just come off the sheep?)

The last batch of fiber I processed caused me to think through this very thing, because I realized I was trying to rush the process. Small moments of truth came to light.

If I rush this, I might not get all the dirt out..gritty yarn, not so great!
If I am impatient, I might not get the lanolin out..stiff, sticky fiber? Tough to draft..
If I hurry, it might felt..shame to have the sheep give up his coat in vain!

And slowing down means:

Really feeing the texture..
More time to dream of possible projects (or solve all the world’s problems)
Less tension…need I say more?
Spindling by the ocean…

I love the transformation process and the fact that I am knitting a beautiful hat from lamb’s locks.

I’ll leave you with these pix of my peaceful journey. What’s your Fiber Friday moment?

Spin on!

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