This week I took the plunge and began to ply my spindle spun buffalo yarn. As you know I am plying the single of buffalo fiber with a commercial wool crepe yarn, these fibers have been combined onto a Russian plying spindle. Yes it did take me about 2 hours to combine the 2 yarns together but mostly because my plying spindle is so heavy I had to give my wrist a break from holding it. A lighter weight plying spindle has been ordered so I can move through this process quicker. Once I had the fibers combined the next step was to create the plying disc. I finally found some cardboard which suited my needs and made a somewhat round circle and began the process of plying the fibers.
My current spindle does work well as a supported spindle and is aiding in the plying process rather well. Somehow I seem to have more yak yarn than wool and keep getting gaps in the drafting area as the 2 yarns are not in sync. Since this is my first time with this process I’m trying not to be to critical and treating things as a learning experience. After all I have another 1/2 ounce of buffalo fiber plus cashmere, yak and paco-vicuna fibers to work with.
This weekend a met another lace knitter who happens to be a cashmere fanatic. She has asked that I attempt to make a 2 ply cobweb weight yarn from paco-vicuna for her use in her knitting business. My only hiccup at the moment is that I don’t know where I put my paco-vicuna fiber so that I can start on this process. The last time I spun PV fiber was a few years back and on my Louet wheel and it turned out a Sports weight single. Now that I can spin a fine yarn on the Russian spindles I am hoping to each cobweb status – time will tell.
This past Saturday I taught my first drop spindle class of 2014. I taught this method twice last year and then somehow let teaching get away from me. The class was held at the Recycled Lamb in Golden, Colorado and I had a total of 5 students. We spent 2 hours learning how to draft fibers, thigh spin, spin on a drop spindle and then review fiber tools. The next class will be 3 hours so that my students spin a decent amount of a single ply yarn and then we can 2 ply it so they have a small skein to show for their class period. As with any process the more you engage in it the better one can tweak areas to make the process better. Even though I was a bit nervous about teaching others once we started talking about fiber I found my groove.
Things are a bit slow on the production front from last week for several reasons. Primarily I received a record number of 7 sales last week which required packaging and shipping. Also I had to prep for the spinning class and get goody bags together for my students. The second set of goody bags was packaged for the Horseshoe Market in July and given my schedule I am just going to mail the items to the event versus attempting to drop them off this week. The college kid will be assisting in labeling packages which should help me get the 50 bags out the door sooner. I did manage to finish knitting one summer hat and spin a single ply of some merino/silk last week plus there are the 2 skeins finished earlier last week.
I still have knitting and spinning projects in the works this week and will have pictures for you a bit later.
Last week I made a commitment to be more productive with my hand spinning of yarns and knitting of items which was based on my small supply of material to sell. I am happy to say that my production schedule is working and I completed 2 skeins of yarn and 1 hat within a week’s time frame. These 2 lovely skeins were spun into 2 ply yarns that still need to be measured but I’m thinking they are DK to Worsted weight yarns. The cabled lace hat also has been finished and was a challenge because I don’t particularly like cable needles.
I love the shine factor in both of these yarns and am having fun going through my stash of dyed rovings. There was a time towards the end of 2013 that I found myself short on dyed fibers but somehow that has been remedied (shopping sprees). This week I am on target for 4 skeins of yarn as I plied 2 yarns on Sunday and they are drying this week. The dyed Louet Fiber yarns are on the menu for this week. These rovings will have to be Navajo plied to keep the colors from being muddy which requires spinning a fine single so I may just do one of them. I’m really trying to boost the number of worsted and DK weight yarns in the inventory so I plan on spinning more of my other rovings than the Louet group.
On the needles is a new hat being made from the yarn I won at the Salida Fiber Festival last year. I won 3 skeins of a linen/cotton based yarn in pretty spring colors (green, yellow and peach). The yarns are being turned into hats with a broken rib stitch pattern but using a 2×2 ribbing. I had started to make a cowl using some kettle dyed yarn I received as a gift but am not liking the look of it with the color changes. This yarn has short color changes and knitting it in the round is creating a very muddled mess of colors. Thinking this yarn will make a better scarf than cowl and as it is a cotton/cashmere blend it deserves to be in a special project. My inventory only has 3 cowls in it and most are very warm so the search is on for the right lightweight yarn in a good color scheme to make cowls for the summer.
I managed to end the 2013 craft fair season with a profitable show. At this past weekends Holiday Artisan Boutique I took paid orders for 3 custom knit hats. Patrons loved the faux cable hats made but as they are more kid size than adults each requested a hat with longer length.
The first of the three is almost complete and has engaged my knitting skills. My patron chose a sports weight yarn as opposed to worsted weight. I have had to adjust needle size along with alterations in the stitch pattern. It is turning out rather nice though.
The car is packed and ready for set up this evening. All items are packaged and cleaned except for 1 scarf which will be done tonight. I have a lot of knitted items to sale so hopefully customers will bring them into their homes. Woke up this morning feeling under the weather and am now fighting off a cold. We are also finally supposed to get snow this weekend and I am hoping it puts people in the shopping mood. Our weather has been in the 60s this week so we do need the moisture. Hope to touch base on Sunday with my success.
I am going to try something new on the blog front – small updates versus lengthy paragraphs. Perhaps this will allow me to write more often. The past month has had numerous health issues which have also impacted how much I am able to do. I am participating in the Alpaca on the Rocks this weekend. The evenings this week have been in preparation for the event. I used my mill spun yarn to create a hat for the show my only concern is that it appears to be huge as the yarn is not as thick as the original yarn used for the project. I am making a second one with less stitches to make it smaller.
On the spinning front I have 3 oz of alpaca/tussah silk spun and will be plying it tonight or this weekend. The special order yarn is drying and I have started spinning the alpaca/milk roving. The milk fiber is not as sticky as the silk so the VM does come out better. Both rovings have rich medium brown color from the alpaca and will make nice yarn and projects. As I have set aside rovings in 1 oz, 2 oz and 4 oz packages my overall stash of alpaca blended bamboo and silk has decreased. Still need to follow up with my LYS on purchasing rovings.
Off to the docs soon then the day job. I am not as prepared for this weekends event as the Farmers Market but a lot of my items are from last weekend and ready to go. I do have 2 days for potential sales and a nice selection of items to present. We shall see how it goes!
This weekend is my road trip to Southwestern Colorado. Even though we got a huge rainstorm in Bayfield, CO I was still able to visit the Wensleydale sheep ranch in the afternoon. I want to thank Jim and Linda for taking time out of the very busy schedule to show me their sheep and angora goats including the babies. They own and operate DeGoatnsheep Ranch in Bayfield, CO and are one of the rare Wensleydale sheep ranches in the West. The animals are beautiful and coated to protect their fleece. I have been told that they are sheared twice a year and are solely fiber animals due to their high purchase price ($1,000/animal). The sheep originate from the UK and there are a few ranches in the U.S. that carry this breed. Apparently one can import the sperm of the animal into the U.S. and breed it with a similar type of sheep until you can get your herd to be 90% or more pure. Importation of animals is not allowed – go figure! This herd is predominately white but they do have 2 dark sheep (rams I do believe). And yes I did pick up some roving and have an idea of the fleece I want next spring.
Towards the end of my visit their billy goat made his presence known and he has the most beautiful horns. He was quite friendly but I was a little shocked when he stood up on the fence to be seen by us as I had been at the ranch for over an hour at that point without knowing he was even there. He is in the top picture above – those horns are very long.
Today it is off to Norwood, CO (past Telluride) to visit the Shetland sheep ranch in the area. My son has graciously decided to travel with me today as it will be a 3+ hour road trip each way.