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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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Spinning on a Charkha

One of my newest tools is an Indian book Charkha.  Yes, I finally broke down and bought this tool this year and I do like it.  After watching several YouTube videos I figured out how to set up and close my book Charkha.  It took a web search of photos linked to websites to understand how I should be sitting with the book charkha too.  How did we survive without the internet has been my mantra for the last few weeks.  It is so great to be able to learn new skills when one can’t have an actual person teach you face to face.

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My charkha has cashmere clouds being spun on it and I love the sound of the wheel when one gets into the groove of spinning on it.  Unfortunately I have many projects pressing on my free time so for a month or so cashmere spinning is on hold.  Nonetheless I do like this tool and its compact size.  I can see myself traveling with it and a bag of cotton or yak fibers to spin while on my trip.

Vacation and new fiber

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I had a great time on vacation in Atlanta, GA hence the lack of posts for a while.  Slept a lot and ate out for dinner all week-long.  It was so nice to see family and catch up on our lives over the past few years.  It was so warm in Atlanta compared to the cold/snow of Denver.  Yes I did arrive back into town the same day as the snowstorm.  Still trying to warm up and then I realized that my storm windows have not been lowered so that is my project this week.  Summer has officially departed and winter is upon us.  Missing the trees of Atlanta but of course we have the beautiful snow-capped Rocky Mountains as conciliation. 

Of course I did find a local yarn shop to visit called Sheepish in Decatur, GA.  While there I purchased several ounces of dyed top from the Brown Sheep Wool Co. and even a dyed single ply yarn.  My hand crafted wool combs were mailed out this week and should be here by the weekend. 

Projects:

Drop Spindle – Spun 2 oz of the brown dyed top from the Brown Sheep Co. and have started spinning the 2nd 2 oz

Russian Spindle – Starting to spin an ounce of cotton top; so much fiber left to spin up as I have barely made a dent into it

Wheel – alas nothing is on the wheel at the moment

Navajo Spindle – Giving up on the Churro fleece as it is so felted and I have so much pretty fiber to spin at the moment

Knitting Needles – Progressing on the lace shawl (nearly finished) made with pink Orenburg lace yarn.  So pretty!

New Fiber:

  • Rose Gray Alpaca Fleece
  • 4oz Brown Wool Top
  • 4oz Red Wool Top
  • 7oz Denim wool roving
  • Skein of wool hand dyed single ply yarn

Business:

I have just been invited to participate in a holiday craft sale in a few weeks.  It would require me to get a special county license and my own craft table.  Still weighing the pros/cons of this venture but will keep you posted.  The Yarn Shop at Ancient Treasures Alpaca Ranch has sold a few of my items the past couple of weeks. I joked with them that they have sales when I’m not around and of course when I work the shop it’s dead.  Selling lots of ATAR’s fleeces via Etsy the past few weeks too.

Currently creating new yarn labels for the hand spun yarns.  I was able to use about 3 of them for the larger skeins of yarn but am tweaking to compensate for smaller sized skeins.  The labels match my website banners and are in harmony with branding my image.  Hoping to drop off new yarns to Wild Yarns in Denver this weekend for the holiday season.

I received a wonderful email from a customer who created a cowl from my hand spun yarn.  The cowl looks beautiful and as she is selling her creations she gave Herie7 credit for the yarn used in the project.  Free advertising is awesome!

Still have 2 scarves that are clean but not blocked which would make great holiday presents.  There is really not enough time in the day to complete all of my tasks so I am back to baby steps and small goals.  This week my goals are to finish the 2 oz of Brown Top, label all of the yarn that I have spun with new labels and block at least one of the scarves.  I’ll let you know how far I have progressed on Sunday.  Until than happy spinning and crafting!

Taking it easy this weekend

I am taking it easy this weekend.  Going to the ballet with my niece today to see Swan Lake – yeah.  Tomorrow I will be delivering hand spun yarn to my LYS and signing contracts to be on consignment there.

Goals for the weekend are to take product pictures of the spun yarn, finesse pricing on my yarn and improve the yardage on a couple of skeins.  I should be able to accomplish these things and it will be nice here in Denver this weekend to help with photos.

My wholesale order of bags arrived and will work really well to store/ship roving.  I also purchased some dyed mohair roving which arrived this week and feels really soft.  BFL dyed roving was also purchased this week and should be arriving in a few days.  I do like how BFL spins up and it seems to take dye rather well.  We shall see how this new batch measures up to my first purchase as it is from a different vendor.

We were featured in a treasury this week and received some views from it.  Minimal views have occurred from the Ennea Collective ad but it is still early in the month.  Ennea Collective is an online magazine dedicated to showcasing objects created with hand spun yarn.  You never truly know how well an ad will do in a venue until you try it.  The last 30 days have brought in 12 views thus far but no sales.  Oh well exposure if always good and perhaps will bring in sales closer to the holidays.

The alpaca hat is being re-worked as I didn’t have enough yarn to make a large hat.  It is being made in the smaller version and I have just finished the twisted cable pattern.  This time it is being made in white but will be similar to the brown version.

Creation of Yarn

I had fun at the ranch on Sunday.  It was good to reconnect with the alpaca owners for a few hours.  The baby alpacas are so adorable and I did pick out a fleece for next spring amongst them.  He is white with hints of fawn within his fleece.  Last year’s crias are so big now – these animals grow so fast but still remain docile.  It is always good to meet the folks that come to the open house.  Some have never seen an alpaca before and many are not aware of all of the items one can create with their fibers.  The little kids adored the alpacas especially the toddlers.  We had really good weather for the event considering the day before was snowing and rainy.

Although I didn’t sell any yarn I did receive some good feedback from customers.  Yardage matters to them and knowing what projects they can make with a skein is very helpful.  I’m going to rework/add to the skeins I have fiber for this week prior to trying to sell them locally or in the shop.  Product descriptions will be tweaked to give good project information to shoppers for our yarns and let them know how to combine skeins for that special project.

Given yardage requirements I am going to revisit my pricing of the yarn too.  If it will take more than a skein to complete a project I need to make sure the material cost doesn’t exceed a customers budget for the finished project.

ATAR will be opening up the shop more often especially doing the holiday season.  I have agreed to man the shop on Saturdays which will give me a dedicate time to create items along with some potential sales.  It is good to have a variety of outlets for merchandising and will be fun to help in promoting the venue.