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!
The Dublin craft fair was this weekend and what fun! It was geared towards kids and they had a wonderful time learning to spin…although some of the younger ones just had fun making the spinning wheel go around.
I managed to get quite a few samples of different types of fiber displayed and there was a lot of interest at feeling all of the different fibers that can be made into yarn. I think the most popular were the yak, angora and bamboo. Even the adults enjoyed touching all of the different fibers.
I did learn that selling at a busy fair and a spinning demo/teaching doesn’t play well together. If it wasn’t for help in the booth there is no way I could have managed both. Many times there was a line of kids that wanted to try spinning. This left very little time to help customers and answer questions. But I can’t help but feel it’s worth it. Its wonderful to see people (kids and adults) connect the dots from wool to a spun yarn. Being in the fiber world so much I tend to forget that not everyone understands the process.
It was an exhausting…but fun processes. Now to get everything posted on Etsy and figure out the next show.
While I was only able to go for one day, I packed as much as I could into that one day.
The traffic was…well, Bay Area Traffic on a Friday….grueling. So, that did add four hours to the day.
But worth it!
The class “Stitch & Click: Photographing your Fibers by Shannon & Jason Mullett-Bowlsby was fantastic. I really didn’t know what to expect….but they exceeded whatever it was. The amount of tips and tricks was worth it alone. But, they also took the time to help each of us get the best pictures of our projects.
I even played with the very close lense that I had…Fun!
Cecilia Ho’s Welt Felt Soap & Pod Vessel was at the end of the day. So admittedly we were all tired, but we learned how to wet felt and although I had tried it before, with her help it was a success! I’m planning on doing more of it. I just need a little time in my day.
The marketplace was…well…I went through it three times because I just couldn’t get enough. I splurged on a new boat shuttle with the workmanship irresistable. I picked up a cute project bag from Front Range Bags, an exotic wood threading hook from Clemes & Clemes (and drooled over the drum carders), and …yes….I said I wouldn’t but I did…fiber. Okay, but in my defense; Isn’t it amazing!? I picked it up in this pink and a stunning silver. And I can justify it…sort of.
I have about 10 oz of dark grey bamboo, which is wonderfully silky, but NOT fun to spin. I’ve been meaning to blend it with something…so, why not try this already blended bamboo to see if it’s worth the time to break out the blending board and start…yep, it is. It’s a little slippery as you would expect bamboo to be, but the addition of wool makes it more fun and less work to spin. So far it’s spinning up very nice!
After Stitches West my todo list is a little longer, I need to take pictues of several finished skeins, I want to spin up the bamboo blends, and I have some felted soaps and bags that I want to start, but that’s not a bad problem to have 🙂
I was lucky enough to spend the day at Meridian Jacobs at Sheep Shearing. That was fun! Robin has the processes dialed in and the experienced Shearer, John, was really amazing to watch. I worked some at the skirting table and although the process was more guess work for me than knowledge, it was great to have the opportunity for so much hands on. I have managed to enroll in the wool classing school at UC Davis after being on the wait list. I have high hopes in the knowledge coming out of that. Anyway, back to shearing.
The rest of my time was in with the sheep. I learned about sheep;
Sheep do NOT go where you want them to go …just because you want them to go there.
Sheep are stubborn
Sheep are very heavy
Sheep can’t be reasoned with
Did I mention that sheep go where they want to go?
It was actually quite a workout. With several sheep in the “staging area” I could more-or-less push one into position, place my hand under her jaw, and with one thigh against her front and one against her side, attempt to keep her still and near the gate waiting as she’s next in line to be sheared. Oh sure it sounds easy, but I’m not sure that I weight much more than some of those sheep. And, they have the advantage of horns. But for the most part, and with the help of the experienced “wranglers” I got the hang of it and the sheep, for the most part, relented.
Vanna on the right
One sheep stood out to me, Vanna. She was young, small and sweet. So, I knew that was the fleece for me! It’s not exactly the most educated way to pick a fleece. But actually she did have a beautiful one and I couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to spinning it up!
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!
After all of the Christmas celebrating and as my annual Christmas cold is hopefully fading, we’re getting ready to head to Nashville for the dancing world championships.
While downing as much cold medicine as humanly possible, I did manage to make some needle felt mushrooms. They really did come out very cute. The fiber was from Upper Canadian Textiles’ November “spin-along.” I wasn’t crazy with the way this BFL was spinning up, but it was making PERFECT colored mushrooms!
I’m working on a few more little crochet animals before I leave. I’m also busy looking at which craft shows to try in 2017 and looking at expanding online…busy, busy, busy.
I started spinning up the Babydoll wool from MyLittleSheep on Etsy. The wool is prepared beautifully as 1 oz roving rolls. I think I purchased 3 or 4 oz. of wool from a sheep called Jasmine. I’ll definitely buy from her again!
I wanted to try Babydoll for a few reasons. I like the size of the sheep and as the goal is to some day have a few sheep, I’m trying to narrow down what breed makes the most sense. So there was a little extra incentive to try this adorable little breed. Secondly, I want to work my way around different breeds just to see the differences and which ones really are my favorites for different purposes.
The first thing that I noticed is that this breed of sheep (given the variations of individual sheep) that it isn’t quite as soft as I’m used to. Not that it’s not soft. It’s softer than the Romney that I’ve spun previously. Another factor is that I’ve been spinning Alpaca and Angora. Which, spinning anything after that might feel a little rougher.
The second thing that I noticed is that this is spinning up so easily. I’m spinning long draw and these batts almost spin themselves. They are spinning up fast and even. Really fun to spin.
To wrap it up, I don’t think I would use it for gloves or socks. I prefer softer for those purposes. But for a sweater, shawl, poncho, it would be perfect. Not as soft as BFL, but not as rough as Romney. I have to say, I’m really enjoying spinning this Babydoll wool. And I look forward to trying it again!