Last weekend Christine and I went to a Sheepshearing festival just a few miles from home. In the weeks leading up to the event I had conversations with two separate coworkers that were strikingly similar. They went something like:
Coworker: Oh hey, I saw a sign downtown for a sheepshearing festival in Waltham! I thought of you because you’re always knitting and stuff. Haha. So crazy!
Me: I have my tickets for that already.
Them: Hahah. Wait …oh. You’re serious, aren’t you?
I though the festival would be a handful of fiber enthusiasts, but when we turned into the parking lot I was shocked to see several fields full of cars. There were what felt like a thousand people there. And kids. TONS of kids. I think because it was the first warm weekend, there were animals to pet, and lots of fun fair food.
There were vendors for yarn, jewelry, soap, food, art, etc. But the best part by far was the sheepshearing tent. A tall, thin, white-haired man was taking the sheep out of the pen one by one, holding them steady without any restraints, and ridding them of their fleeces with a big pair of shears. I may have elbowed my way past several small children to secure a good spot at the fence. Especially when he sheared the huge horned ram.
And so now I have my eyes on yet another step in the production process. First it was knitting. Then spinning and dyeing. Now I want to learn how to shear a sheep. Preferably my own sheep that I own someday. Are there any steps in front of owning and shearing sheep? I don’t think so….that’s probably the beginning. The first step. So I don’t need to hurry and get to it just yet.
In my last post I introduced my new spinning wheel and asked you all to name her. The suggestions were great – there were references to shape and color as well as just general awesomeness. I did what we did for Edith – called her a few things for a while to see what stuck – and discovered that the wheel’s name is Siohban.
That means Becca – you’re the winner! You know how to get in touch. Let me know what kind of handknit you want and I’ll mail it to Oregon.
Are your pets big photo-bombers too? It seems I can’t photograph yarn or handknits without someone furry walking through the shot (see above) or just plain sitting on the item (see below).
Sam is sitting on Surella, the first sweater I’ve made from my own handspun. My coworker of the same name had a great cotton sweater in a style I wanted to copy. She let me take it home for a few weeks and after a lot of measuring, knitting, drawing, frogging, and re-knitting, I got it right.
It used less than 600 yards of my alpaca/wool handspun. There was enough left over to make a long cowl. I don’t know much of the particulars of spinning, but Christine tells me that I spin in such a way that my yarn is light and fluffy…so even though this yarn required size 11 needles, the sweater itself doesn’t weigh much. But it’s nice and warm.
This is the time of year that I loathe as far as wardrobe goes. I’m sick of my winter clothes and refuse to wear them no matter how chilly it is, but it’s too cold to start in with the dresses. So my solution has been bright pants, black flats, and a sweater. How do you dress for this early spring stuff?
Here she is – the birthday present – a green Kromski Minstrel. I feel like she needs a name. A nice knit hat in the mail to whomever can think of a good one.
The wheel came in a big box stuffed full of store ads in another language. Google translate said that it was Slovenian.
This wheel comes finished or, for $50 less, unfinished. I decided that if I was going to splurge and spend all this money on a new wheel I didn’t want ash or walnut. I wanted a color. Something that grabbed your attention. Looking over the options at Home Depot I picked something called “Green Tea” (inspired by the shirt I was wearing?). It’s brighter than I expected, but that’s partly because I put it on too thick at first. Or I didn’t wipe it off soon enough with the rag. Maybe both. I started sanding the color down where it was thick but liked the look of it so much that I ended up sanding a lot of the edges and rounded bits. The color has kind of a well-worn look.
Today I put on a few more coats of polyurethane. Tomorrow I may test it out.
A pet-filled bed isn’t always the most comfortable. But it can be pretty cute.
The sun has shifted enough in the sky that it’s pouring in the windows before the alarm goes off. That’s a sign that spring is here even though there’s still snow piles outside. This weekend we’ll move the bed to its “summer spot” on the opposite wall.
This weekend I should also get my birthday present in the mail. A hint…it goes with this big box of roving.
GAhhhh it looks so nice! Two years ago I bought big ropes of Corriedale at Rhinebeck and then last year a friend sent me birthday alpaca. I knew they’d make a great blend, but I didn’t want to hand-card it all together…that’d be a nightmare.
When I posted the math from my last mill processing purchase, Kate commented from California:
Kate was right. I messaged several folks on etsy asking how much they would charge to card and blend the two fibers, and Kate’s prices were the best (even accounting for shipping to California). She was easy to work with and the fiber looks absolutely beautiful. So if you have any fiber processing work to do I highly recommend her and Mill Creek Fiber Works.
…of alpaca/wool handspun. I’m not sure what to turn it into. Right now it’s saying “rectangular rustic wrap” to me.
The yarn is what became of all the gray roving in this picture…
In searching pinterest for rustic-wrap inspiration I stumbled upon this. I can’t drop the photo here because of the knitter’s copyright settings on flickr, but you SHOuLD click on the link. Is it not the most beautiful blanket? I’m blown away. She hand-carded all of that wool.
I spun most of this on Christine’s wheel because mine is kind of on the fritz. It’s a Kromski Minstrel and I just can’t say enough good things about it. It’s got me saving my money.
Remember all this?
The stockpiles are significantly smaller now. First, I visited the SoWa Market again with a friend and popped into Grey’s, a fabulous little fabric store. I picked out 2 yards of upholstery fabric in this modern aqua/taupe gray diamond pattern and sewed us a big couch pillow.
It’s stuffed with every last bit of the white fiber, which was too long to process into roving. There’ll come a day that I’m sure I’ll regret not making a fancier (removable) pillow cover, but by that time I might be tired of the pattern and want something different anyhow. It was only $15, much cheaper than the kilim covers I was scoping on etsy.
There…doesn’t it look at home with the others? There’s a faint whiff of alpaca when you put your head down on it, which might offend some but I kind of like.
Second, I spun about 150 yards of the 50/50 alpaca and wool blend (the gray pile in the earlier photo) and 150 yards of Into the Whirled ‘s Wensleydale Combed Top…and was inspired to use them together.
I looked at a bunch of bonnet-shaped hats on ravelry before sketching this and calculating out the numbers. It’s made with sz. 7 needles and the two handspuns held together. I was going to give it to a family member since the colors are vaguely Ohio State, but I dunno now…it’s becoming my new favorite (ravelry notes here).
Christine let me borrow her Norby tassel instructions, which were incredibly clear and helpful. Then I read the Techknitter’s post on how to make a pom, also good (in fact that site is one excellent post after another…bookmark/pinterest/delicious it). I was determined to make a non-wimpy pom with swagger, so I wrapped that little “C” cardboard shape until it would hardly hold any more. BAM! Tell me that’s not a good looking pom.
We’re dog-sitting this weekend for Louise, a young tawny-colored terrier (if you want to see her as a little puppy click here). Louise wants to play and sniff and go places. Sam wants to sleep in, followed by some couch naps, followed by bedtime. Saturday we played things Samson’s way and showed Louise how nice mid-morning naps can be. Is she convinced??
Early afternoon I left the nappers to visit Fiber Revival in Newbury with my friend Christine. It was an easy hour’s drive from Boston, and the happenings took place at a beautiful historic 17th century farm.
I thought the $6 admission fee was totally worth it, because in addition to the vendors and food there were tents and chairs set up so you could just sit and knit/spin. Despite ominous skies the rain held off, and we had a great time just hanging out and talking with fellow fiber nerds.
I fell in love with two things. First, the color of this roving from Enchanted Knoll Farm:
Second, a double-treadle Hitchhiker spinning wheel.
It’s a little guy designed for portability. Small enough to put in a bag and fit in the carry-on compartment of an airplane. Also – and this is what caught Christine’s ears – it’s small enough to put by your feet so you can spin while riding in a car. WHAT? I tried it for a while and it was really smooth. I think Christine and I both know what we want for Christmas.
This morning Louise was looking especially bored. Aww, okay little pookie. Let’s go out. We took her and Sam to the Sheepfold off-leash area of Middlesex Fells and she got to roll in some stuff and chase some dogs.
This week a big box came in the mail – the return address was my friend and former Oregon coworker. She likes rummage sales and thirftstores, and her own garage is full of oddities, tools, and things she can’t bear to throw away. Opening a package from her is always exciting. The box weighed hardly anything…what could it be?
Six pillows of soft carded fiber (!!!). I jumped up and down and yelled some happy expletives. The birthday card inside said, “Bid on this at an auction for you – came from “Sunshine”. Miss you much.”
I think “Sunshine” was a sheep, but I’m still learning my fiber. Maybe an alpaca.
Teddy was very intrigued. He walked over and did that knead-bread thing with his paws, all blissed out and purring.
Now I have more than a summer’s worth of spinning lined up. I’m also working on finalizing a couple of new patterns (here’s a little pattern sneak peek):
I made some new handspun to play with…about 280 yards of Widdershin Woolworks, mostly BFL wool with a little silk.
Lots of navy, sea blue, deep greens, and some purple. Widdershin leaves the color unnamed, so I’m calling it “Oregon lavender field.” So pretty!
I sewed my friend Christine a roll-up case for her double-pointed needles, and in return she’s going to let me pick out a skein from her yarn-dyeing shop, Skeinny Dipping.
When we last got together to watch trashy television she let me take a few skeins home to test the colors against my handspun. I think my favorite was this milky silver:
I’ll have to trade out this test skein for a thicker weight, and then the two can become a striped shawl, like Veera’s Different Lines or Stephen West’s Chevry.