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Teaching a spinning class

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.

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I still have knitting and spinning projects in the works this week and will have pictures for you a bit later.

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New Weaving Loom and Page Design

1st woven scarf
First of all I decided to brighten up the page.  How do you like the new template?  Spring is in the air and green just seems to speak to me this month.  March is also the beginning of learning to weave!  Yes, I finally broke down and bought a Cricket tabletop loom.  It is wide enough to make scarves and let me play with color combinations.  My first scarf is finished and the I have a second design on the loom featuring some hand spun alpaca yarn from Sophie Mae.  I have lots to learn like how to use a pick up stick but am starting out slow.  See pictures to the right.
new scarf w/hand spun yarn

The dog hair is still being spun and beginning to fill up a bobbin.  I have also started spinning the Wensleydale white roving from DeGoatsnSheep ranch in Bayfield, CO.  My fleece order has been placed with them and I will be picking it up at the end of April.  Still waiting to hear back from Pinon Wood Ranch in Southern Colorado on the Shetland fleeces.

On the knitting needles is a second scarf from the book Arctic Lace.  I have finished the 1st one using the yarn purchased at Fancy Tiger and it turned out beautiful.  A friend asked if there was a matching hat and I had to let her down gently.  Lace yarn does not make for sturdy hats especially not this one.  It didn’t even want to make a textured pattern well which probably has something to do with it being a one ply yarn. 
On the selling front I sold two items at Ancient Treasures Yarn Shop this month and had a wholesale order for the black alpaca/merino wool rovings from Recycled Lamb.  I did spin up an ounce of the roving before offering it for sale and it was a joy to spin.  February was also a slow month for hand spun yarn at Wild Yarns but I am confident things will pick up.
Still working on my fiber blends for fleeces to be sent to the mill this spring.  Definitely leaning to adding tussah silk to the Wensleydale.  The Shetland fleeces may be color blended together or if the staple length matches the alpaca fleece I may blend it with it.  My fiber stash has grown but it is still manageable.  I need to be more dedicated to spinning up the alpaca/milk rovings into 3 to 4 oz yarns as I have several pounds left of this and it is not in Ziploc bags. 

The weather has been very sunny in Denver and thoughts of fitness have entered the mind.  I am actually looking into buying a bicycle but the Cruiser style.  It will be nice to be out an about a bit more as most of my activities have me in enclosed buildings.  I am also starting to have dreams of living and working on a ranch again.  The idea of owning a few Shetland or BFL sheep along with a couple of alpacas just sounds nice.  Of course I am still a city girl with a mortgage to pay so alas this will be a dream for a bit longer. 
I hope your March is treating you well and your adventures with fiber, yarn and needles is an enjoyable one.  Until next time – have a great week.

Small update

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!

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.