With the number of fleeces that I look at during fiber festivals and more, and my limited experience in skirting at Meridianjacobs farm, I decided I REALLY wanted to understand what I’m looking at and looking for. Then of course there’s the research in which type of sheep I want to raise in the next few years. What better than the American Sheep Industry Association to learn about wool. And if I’m going to do that, I might as well jump in all the way.
There aren’t that many schools, but luckily there’s one about three hours from my house through UC Davis. The classes fill up fast, I mean …within hours.
It was a FULL three days. Information ranged from the cellular structure of wool fibers, estimating the value of a fleece on the commercial market, recognizing the qualities in a particular fleece (as well as the entire clip), to breeding strategies in a flock. An amazing amount of information. Of course we spent a good amount of time in the barn. And, while shearing students learned their skill, we dug deep into skirting and sorting fleece after fleece, after fleece. I think we all loved every moment of it!
On top of it all I got to meet some great people; from the stunningly knowledgeable instructors to the other students that included other fiber enthusiasts & artists as well as the enviable small sheep & alpaca farmers.
I’m missing sheep already and even more excited about Black Sheep Festival and the fleeces. And of course all of the sheep breeds!
Okay, a little cheesy, but our newest addition to Cottontail Farms has a nickname…Doc. Thanks to Bungalow Farms and her wonderful Angoras, Daisy has a mate…A sweet and handsome buck. He’s getting used to his new home…and while Daisy loves to explore…Doc loves to cuddle. At first he was a little hesitant..and now…he runs up to be pet and cuddled.
So far they’ve met briefly and through a small fence. But they seemed to be pretty smitten with each other. Not ready for any little ones yet, they can’t actually spend quality time together. But what a wonderful pair they will be!
Daisy had her 9 month shearing this last weekend. She is SO much happier with the ability to move around. Actually, I think she’s barely stopped moving. And only 2 days in and she’s already growing it back.
Using the link in the IAGARB website, I made her a coat with some heavy duty fleece fabric from Joanne Fabrics. Actually, I made three sizes since I really couldn’t estimate the size I’d need. But the large worked fine and by day 2 she’s almost ready to be out of it.
Her fiber, I have to say, is stunning. It is as soft as a cloud, the staple length is impressive at approx 4 inches and the yield was over 480 grams (or over 16 oz). Which is really amazing to me for only 3 month’s of growth.
My plan was to mix it with Merino. But, I’m a little torn and may just spin it as is.
There’s certainly enough to test both ways. Which alone will be a great experiment. I’ll probably crochet it up in a simple scarf as soon as I’m done spinning up some glitzy yarn to get up on my ETSY site. I guess I better get started though afterall, It will grow back fast!
Although the holidays are always fun, the calm and return to routine is always nice. We’re back from Nashville and the UCWDC World Championships. I did clench the world points championship in two divisions… I couldn’t be happier about it!
Crochet Ponytail Hats
I did manage to finish a couple of hats on the trip. Two ponytail hats came out really cute. I’ve added them to my Etsy site. I decided on acrylic since I have so much of it and the stretch is nice. Next on the list will be an alpaca/wool mix. I think with a fun ball on the top of the hat. There’s always room for a pompom hat in any wardrobe 😉
I started washing up the Angora goat that I picked up at Fibershed in November. I hadn’t spun Mohair before and I’m a little surprised at how slippery it is. I’m not sure what I was expecting. It is, of course, soft and wonderful. It reminds me so much of Angora rabbit and even more of Alpaca. It’s from a soft yearling and I love the curls. I played with some prep. Combing turned out beautiful results, but my hands could not take it. I tried carded a little, but I feel like it lost too much of it’s curly personality. My plan it to flick it out with the minimum prep possible. Right now with the cold, wet weather I can’t get it to dry quick enough. It’s nothing like washing wool in the California sun. I may have to save all of my wool processing for warmer times. I’m really not sure how long the drying process will take. But, it’s not going to go nearly quick enough.
Angora Rabbit Shearing
Oh my is Daisy past her shearing time. I can barely find her under all of that wool! I’m hoping to head up to Bungalow Farms this weekend since my poor baby desperately needs a shearing. I’ll be making her a coat this week to keep her warm after her haircut. If I had more time it would certainly be something cute…but with the lack of time and the rough pattern outline, I think the first one will be an interesting prototype.
Needle Felting Mushrooms
While I was sick with my annual Christmas cold. I did some needle-felting. The little mushrooms that I came up with turned out SO adorable that I think I’m going to make up some to add to the Etsy site. Since I wasn’t enjoying spinning up the BFL, I decided to take a little of it for felting. It really was the perfect colors and worked so well. I won’t mention how many times I poked myself. But, I was pretty thankful for the finger guards that I picked up from Amazon! In my opinion, they were worth every penny!
New Shaving Soaps
This week I’m excited to try some new shaving soaps. Lots of bubbles and I plan to add a little soft, smooth clay. Stay tuned!
The recent Winery Art/Craft fair was a success and I was lucky enough to spend time with some great people. While selling out of a few items is a WONDERFUL thing…I’m again feeling behind trying to re-stock. My grand ideas of making so many Christmas gifts is moving from reality to wishful thinking. There is simply not enough time.
I’m almost done spinning the Angora that I picked up at LambTown. This poor bunny must have been the most matted little thing ever. The waste was overwhelming when trying to comb it so I moved to a flicker. Better…but really I could have spent months preparing this bunny fiber. As a result, while super soft (I hand carded in some fantastic Merino), it is not pleasant to spin. I have to admit, I’m anxious to try the Babydoll wool and Cormo that I recently purchased (thank goodness I came to my senses and bought it already prepped). And, I still have almost four pounds of Alpaca, some Suri Alpaca, and some promising mohair to prepare. Then there’s the Rigid Heddle that I want to warp for the shawl that I want to start for myself.
I won’t even mention the dance world championships that are only a few weeks away and my non-existent practice schedule! Gulp! Not exactly the way to go into that.
Busy, Busy, Busy. But this time of year we all are. Daisy is enjoying her open explorer time in the studio. She has to sniff everything in the room, come up and give me a nudge, then she’s off again! Her personality is almost as big as she is!
A stunning German Angora Rabbit. We’re still working on names; Lilly, Daisy and Marilyn are the top names so far. At six months old, she’s a big girl already. She had a shearing about a month ago so her next one will be in January (hopefully with help from Erin). She’s already cuddled on the couch with me and started investigating her new “apartment”
This beautiful bunny was adopted from Erin at Bungalow Farms & her lineage is from Canada.
After seeing Erin give a sheering demonstration at Fibershed, I fell in love with the docile German Angora. As an early Christmas present we headed up to Bungalow farms where “Daisy” was waiting for us.