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2014 Tour de Fleece competition

This past Saturday marked the first day in this year’s Tour de Fleece race on Ravelry. I was good this year and only joined 2 teams versus the 4 to 6 I have done in the past. I also decided to pace myself and just spin for a few hours everyday on one or more tools.

My primary fiber for the race is the Cambridge Fiber pack from Louet. This year I am spinning all of the fibers in their natural state and may have my friend dye a few of them but that isn’t a definite. For fun the new to me fibers which are in 8oz packages are being split into two 4oz sets. One set is being spun with a long draw method and one is being spin finer and semi-worsted. The difference in the two spinning methods is quite noticeable thus far. I have spun 8oz of Jacob Sliver and 8oz of Perendale sliver thus far. Shetland is on the horizon for later in the week. These are all being spun on my “workhorse” wheel the Louet S15.
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My Russian spindles are also getting into the race competition but of course this tool is for finer yarn. The project this week is cobweb lace weight paco-vicuna for a potential customer. For the race I started a new spindle of fiber that I can combine with the yarn I made last week. The 2 ply needs to be created prior to Sunday (washed and dried) to show to its potential owner. Hoping to accomplish this by Thursday as I have a big market coming up all day on Saturday so I’m anticipating being mentally and physically wiped out that evening.

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2014 Estes Park Wool Market

This year’s wool market was a lot of fun and found me stretching my comfort zone.  How you say?  Well first off I took a workshop on spinning Orenburg lace yarn with Galina Khmeleva which was amazing.  We had a lot of fun in class and I learned how to ply and set the twist in my fine fiber yarns using the Orenburg method.  Galina is great teacher and I would recommend taking her class if you have the opportunity.  She brought a wedding lace shawl and a warm shawl so that we could see and feel the difference in the two.  There were also several stories about Orenburg history, life and creativity.

IMG_3391[1] Me plying yarns the Orenburg way.

My second push out of my comfort zone was entering yarns in the yarn competition at the festival.  I was brave and entered 2 skeins into the competition.  My Navajo plied Romney wool skein (being used for the knit shawl) and a single ply of yak/silk yarn were humbly submitted to the judges for their critique.  To my surprise both won ribbons – yeah!

IMG_3409[1] They Romney took 2nd place in its category and the yak/silk yarn took 1st place along with “Best Use of Down Fiber” in the competition.   It was nice to read the feedback especially on the Romney yarn and to get confirmation that I do make really nice yarns.

As this was the annual Wool Market I of course went shopping for fleeces (probably more than I should have).  I actually had 2 days to do shopping at the market since I stayed overnight in town.   My fleece purchases were primarily “new to me” sheep breeds.  The fleece inventory now contains a beautiful gray Bond/Corriedale, a brown/cream Icelandic fleece and a glossy white Teeswater fleece.  The Teeswater was only 2 lbs and my least guilty purchase.  There was beautifully dyed rovings at reasonable prices so I had to snatch up a few of these and I purchased yarn from the local yarn shop that was represented at the Market.  Several of the fleeces have been listed in the shop – http://www.herie7.etsy.com and I am hoping to get to cleaning and packaging a few of them soon.

Ribbons and fleeces

The annual fleece market day will be held at the Recycled Lamb shoppe in Lakewood, CO this Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  This will be my first year attending the event and I will be helping the ATAR ranch with their alpacas on display at the shop.  There will also be sheep and bunnies on display along with lots of fiber, tools and yarn for sale!  My goal is to not spend more than $10 as I have 2 fleeces at the mill for processing and haven’t had any sales thus far!  I know it is only the beginning of May but the shop has 28 items and items have been featured in a few treasuries over the past few weeks.

Of course on Sunday is shearing day at the ranch so that will be another animal inspired and filled day for me too.  It will be nice to see the alpacas and to see how big last year’s babies have grown.  I have 5 fleeces remaining to be sent to the mill but may pick up an additional color scheme to blend in with what I have on stock – maybe.  It is possible to have too many fleeces when you don’t live on ranch/farm.  Need to find some venues to sell the rovings/yarn being created by the mill. 

My yarn came back from the Great Western Alpaca Show competition and it placed 3rd – yippee!  Given the comments on the judging and am taking that there were only 3 entries into this division but a ribbon is a ribbon.  I also received some good constructive criticism and advice which I will be putting to use in the next  batch of fiber I spin up.  I am definitely going to enter my spindle spun yarn into Estes Park to get even more feedback and advice in the quest to improve my craft.  Still it was very nice to receive a ribbon on my first venture into competition.  Can’t wait to show the ladies at the ranch and the shop this weekend.  Need to also look into submission of mill spun yarn as a marketing tool for those products.

I have been working very hard on the Estonian scarf but I think it is time to set it aside for a bit and complete other projects.  Need to purchase sachet bags/potpourri for the Mother’s day presents along with buttons.  The wheel hasn’t been used in a week – sigh!  On the other hand I did spin some alpaca fiber on my spindle during the trip so I wasn’t totally ignoring my yarn spinning passion.  My marketing and updates have been sketchy lately but the full time job has been a handful.  Baby steps is what I keep reminding myself to take and not to panic too much if the plan is not working out as thought.  This is all a new journey and each event is a learning experience which I am very grateful for.  The fiber, knitting, craft community is such a great and supportive environment which has become a blessing to me over the past few years.  My hope is that the items created which find new homes are able to bring a bit of happiness and comfort to their new owners over time.