Black Sheep Gathering

Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon was just a few weeks ago. I have to say, it was worth every penny and every bit of time. Not only was the fiber festival great, the scenery in Western Oregon can’t be beat. 

The drive up wasn’t too bad from the California Bay Area. (the drive home seemed much longer).

Friday morning started with a workshop on spinning silk with Shelia January. Not only was she very knowledgeable, it was a fun class. It was nicely structured with a good balance of time to experiment and try the different silk types, information about the types of silk, and hands on help. A very well done class. I was a little intimidated by silk and wasn’t sure my little Kiwi wheel could go quick enough to make it happen (I’m a slow treadler) But it, and I, did just fine. Of course I picked up a few silk hankies at the marketplace afterwards to play with when I got home.

Saturday afternoon was more of an art yarn spinning class from Laurie Weinsoft. It was a much less structured class. I wish there had been more structure, help, and demonstration. It was certainly a free-form time for experimentation. And, as much as I wished it had been more informative, I’ve have used the techniques since I’ve been home.

Sunday morning was Judith MacKenzie’s spinning Shetland. I was excited not only because Shetland is one of the breeds that I’m considering keeping, but because…well…because it’s Judith MacKenzie. In actuality I was expecting to be a little disappointed. After all, who could possibly live up to all of that hype. As it turns out Judith MacKenzie can, that’s who. Being an introvert there are few people, that I don’t know well personally, that I would want to spend a lot of time with. She is definitely an exception. The amount of knowledge she has on sheep, spinning, history, etc. is mind-blowing. Watching her spin fine yarn was stunning. And the techniques that she showed, just as afterthoughts from spinning, to hand carding, to skirting was the type of information that you spend years trying to find. Her class was well organized with hands-on, instruction, and her insights alone were worth the drive. I have no doubt that I’ll sign up for any class that she offers.

Sunday afternoon was Sarah Anderson’s success in Plying. Admittedly, it was hard for any class to both follow Judith’s class, and be at the tail end of a long three day weekend. But I was looking forward to taking a class from her. Sarah was definitely knowledgeable, talented, and had a wonderful way of explaining the energy in yarn. We had lots of hands-on and she certainly seemed like one of the nicest people that you could meet. Honestly, I don’t know if my plying is any better. But her instruction was really very good. I would love to take another class from her. I have no doubt that a technique class on something along the lines of core spinning or boucle would be fantastic from her!

The marketplace was addictive…perhaps too addictive. I had headed up with a list of things to buy, and of course picked up a few extras. I was happy to find some Santa Cruz sheep fiber. I’ve been wanting to try this since Wendy from Shaggy Bear mentioned that she would have some.

I not only picked more fiber than I really needed, but broke down and bought a spindle. And although I have resisted the drop spindle, I have to admit, I’m having a lot of fun with it. 

My marketplace highlight was picking up my Clemes and Clemes mini drum carder. I absolutely love it! Sweet and funny Gynna helped me play with it while the guys were busy teaching a class and I was thrilled to leave Black Sheep with it. The first thing I carded when I got home was a mix of my German Angora and Merino. It did a fantastic job with it. I’m having a great time spinning it up during Tour de’ Fleece. The carder is the perfect size to fit in my fiber studio/rabbitry.

My unexpected surprise was being able to show one of Robin’s Meridian Jacobs sheep! I was pretty nervous, convinced that she (the sheep, not Robin. 😉 ) was going to get away from me in the ring. But Robin did a great job of showing us how to handle them in the ring and my cooperative sheep did a lovely job of showing herself and even won first place. Honestly, I still have no idea what I was doing…but I certainly had a GREAT time doing it! Meridian Jacobs took first in a couple of divisions. I’m really not surprised though. Robin really is a remarkable shepardess and her sheep and their fleeces reflect it. I certainly have a ton of respect for both her kindness and abilities….and her sweet sheep!

The last surprise was the wonderful people. I was shocked at how many Bay Area people were there. It seems like half of the Treadles to Threads spinning guild was there. I ran into a fellow student from our Wool Classing School, a few people from farm club, and made a few new friends. It really was a nice reminder of what a great group of people the fiber world is made up of.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Black Sheep Gathering!

Spinning at the Winery

What is more fun than getting together and spinning fiber into yarn…getting together and spinning fiber into yarn at a winery of course!

If you are anywhere near Livermore, you’ll definitely want to stop by Retzlaff Vineyards on Saturday, June 3rd from 10am until 4pm when the Treadles to Threads Spinners Guild holds their 20th annual “Spinning at the Winery.” A day of spinning and wine tasting is a great combination!

If you’re a spinner, bring your wheel and a potluck dish you’d like to share. There’s a great raffle and enjoy the entire day for only $5 per person.

A great way to free up room in the fiber studio in preparation for Black Sheep gathering! “Shoot, I’m almost out of fiber, I have no choice but to buy more” (Okay, it’s a stretch…but I’m going with it!)

Fleeces, Fiber, Yarn, Wine & More!

Shearing Sheep

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; 

  1. Sheep do NOT go where you want them to go …just because you want them to go there. 
  2. Sheep are stubborn
  3. Sheep are very heavy
  4. Sheep can’t be reasoned with
  5. 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!

Vanna being sheared

Happy 2017!

UCWDC World Championships

Although the holidays are always fun, the calm and return to routine is always nice. img_2240-1We’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 img_2288much 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 😉

Mohair Preparation

I started washing up the Angora goat that I picked up at Fibershed in November. I hadn’t spun Mohair before and I’m img_2309a 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!



Spinning Babydoll Wool

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! jasmine

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 img_2131around 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. img_2107Another 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 img_2128to trying it again!