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2014 Markets and Festivals

This year I decided if I really wanted to grow my business locally I needed to participate in more markets and festivals.  I now find myself with booked Saturdays from July thru most of September and a couple of dates in October – wow!  My first 2 events have been at the Golden Farmer’s Market which have been a bit slow.  I have had at least 1 sale each event and am grateful I don’t have a booth fee.  The big market is this Saturday the 12th which is the HorseShoe Market.  This event is more of a craft event with lots of vintage sellers and small business owners along with great food trucks.  It was a big investment for me and I’m hopeful that I will not only make my booth fee back in sales but also a profit this year.

The great thing about the markets is setting up the booth and laying out my merchandise.  My first market in Golden helped me realize how little knitted items I had and how few hand spun yarns were for sale.  As I am going for more of a fiber supplier business model I knew that I had to create many more skeins of yarn if I want to make this a viable business model.  Fleeces and rovings are in abundance in my inventory but most of these will truly sale at the Salida Fiber Festival versus the farmer’s markets.  So with some clear goals and set time for production my yarn inventory is increasing.  This year new display tools were purchased and I’m still working out the best way to use each to highlight my merchandise.  My lace shawl gets so many compliments and draws in quite a few people – I know one of these days it will find its’ way into a good home.

IMG_1571[1]IMG_3474[1]

One of the best features of the market is the networking opportunities that come while I’m spinning yarn.  Thus far I have made contacts to obtain new fibers at minimal financial cost and an opportunity to teach seniors how to spin yarn.  I always bring my wheel to the markets as it is a great conversation piece and allows me to get in some production time.  Men and boys are always drawn to the mechanics of the wheel and ask lots of questions which over time I have developed answers for.  

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.

Spinning Lace weight yarn

I am loving my little Ashford Traveler spinning wheel.  Still have a lot to learn about rations and such but it is allowing me to spin fine yarn rather easily.  I combed about 3oz of the Romney fleece with a dog comb and spun a fine single on the Ashford.  After chatting with a member of the Rocky Mountain Weavers Guild I decided to try my hand at Navajo plying the single.  It turned out pretty well even if it is a bit over twisted but I managed to keep the yarn thin as a 3 ply.  Not sure if I will keep the yarn in its ivory color or have my friend dye it for me.  As I have about 5 lbs. of fiber left I’m fairly certain I can get enough yardage to make a shawl!  The Wensleydale was made into a 2 ply fingering weight yarn using my hand carders to open up the locks for spinning.  It is also an ivory color yarn but has more nepps than the Romney due to the sheep not being coated and using the hand carders for fiber prep.

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Wensleydale 2 ply yarn

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Romney 3 ply yarn

This month I also spun the dyed Leceister wool from the Louet pack and Navajo plied it to keep the color consistent.  I finished 2 hats (one for the Recycled Lamb shop and one for me).  I’m still working on my fingerless gloves and the table runner but as they are intricate lace projects progress is rather slow.  It has been a productive month thus far and I’m enjoying spinning from the fleece for my yarns.

2014 The Year of Tatting

I finally took the plunge in January and taught myself how to needle tatting.  I love this medium and it made much more sense to me than shuttle tatting.  Yes shuttle tatting is the traditional method of tatting but I’m glad to have had people encourage me to try needle tatting.  I knitted a beautiful doily in 10/2 cotton yarn but didn’t like the crocheted edging the pattern called for.  When I took up tatting I realized that I could make a lacy border for the doily which suited my tastes much better than the crocheted one.

Knitted doily

Tatted border
Tatted border

 

This year I have also been knitting several intricate lace items – I’m up to 3 projects on my needle.  The doily is the first and will be finished as soon as the border is done.  My next project is lace fingerless mittens showcased in Knitting Traditions Lace magazine and is being made on size 00 needles with wool/silk yarn.  The third project is a knitted beaded shawl made with lace alpaca yarn and is also a project from the same magazine.  I’m so glad I purchased this issue of the magazine as there are so many projects I can envision making over the course of the year.

Knitting Traditions Lace Fingerless Mittens

Knitting Traditions Lace Fingerless Mittens

beginning of mitten

beginning of mitten

 

Of course I am still spinning and have had to remind myself to do so at least twice a week to keep my mental balance.  I won 2 fleeces at this year’s National Western Stock Show auction.  One is a white Romney fleece with 6″ to 8″ locks and the other is a white Wensleydale fleece with 6″ to 8″ locks.  The Romney has been scoured and is just beautiful.  The locks are being spun on my new Ashford Traveler wheel.  The Louet wheel has some dyed Merino roving being spun on it in a fingering weight yarn.  Both of these fleeces came from a ranch in Oregon.

spun Romney

spun Romney

Romney fleece raw

Cleaned Romney locks
Cleaned Romney locks