2015 The Year of the Knitted Lace Shawl

So far I have 3 different lace shawls on needles while being almost done with one of them.  I’m very pleased to have finished knitting and blocking 2 lace shawls in 2014 for the fiber festival season.  My new blocking boards are wonderful.  One of the lace shawls is a “Shetland Lace Shawl” made with Habu yarn and is my long term (1+ year project).  The other 2 are from the great book “New Vintage Lace” although I strongly recommend researching the erratas before beginning a project.

Since I have 2 finished shawls I am happily pursuing the art of Bobbin Lace making.  My first local guild meeting was very inspiring and encouraging.  I foresee making trims for pillows and long term project of a table runner.  Maltese Lace is my goal as it is elegant and intricate.  For the moment of course I’m just learning the techniques while making bookmarks – we all need to start at the beginning and with small projects.  Enjoy the photos of my journey – till next time!

Blue Lace Shawl - Alpaca

Blue Lace Shawl – Alpaca

Shetland Lace Shawl

Shetland Lace Shawl

Bobbin Lace Bookmark

Bobbin Lace Bookmark

Newest lace shawl

Newest lace shawl


Fleece cleaning time

Picked up the mohair locks on Saturday and paid for the alpaca fleece to blend with it.  My fleece cleaning skills are not as strong as they used to be.  As alpaca doesn’t have lanolin one doesn’t need hot water to clean the fleece.  I mistakenly let the water get to hot and agitated a batch.  It is not a very pretty white felted mess – ugh!  My second batch was warm water which hasn’t felted but is not as white as I would like it.  I’m thinking of switching to cleaning the Shetland fleeces in order to get my cleaning temperature right.  Luckily I have a lot of mohair and can do an 80/20 blend of alpaca for the commissioned yarn.  Hoping to start blending the fibers with my new dog combs – need to research this technique more.  I don’t want to make them into rolags but more of a top fiber.  We shall see how it goes.

Alpaca Fleece
Mohair Fleece

The dog hair hat is progressing.  I discovered last week it was too short so have extended the length of the hat.  Found another pattern design for the bib edge of the hat which I will start on tonight too.  It is a very fluffy hat with the dog fibers puffing out to give it a furry look.  The buyer likes it very much and that is the important thing.

Gray Shetland
Black Shetland

My Shetland fleeces arrived and they are so beautiful.  Both came from sheep at Pinon Wood ranch in Southern Colorado.  As each weighs only around 2 lbs I am going to process them at home versus sending them to the mill.  I will reserve the mill for alpaca and wensleydale fleeces as they will be larger. 

On the sales front I sold a ruffle scarf to a buyer in Sao Paulo, Brazil this month.  It is always exciting to have international sales!  I also received positive feedback on the trio of blended roving that was purchased on EBay.  April sales all came from EBay my other venues have been non existent.  I am still making lots of yarn though and keeping busy.  I N-plied my alpaca/milk roving and it turned out rather well for my first venture using that technique.  Just spun up some dyed “virgin wool” roving that I purchased from Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins.  It spun up easily with a texture that reminded me of felting fiber but smoother.  The colors were purple and burnt yellow which blended well – it will be plied later this week.

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.

Where has the time gone to?

I feel as if I haven’t written in ages but know that isn’t true.  Thanksgiving was more calm than I expected but my time off from the full time job went by way too quickly.  The yarn shop at the ranch has brought in a couple of sales and I got to use the “Square” last weekend for another sale.  I really do like that tool.

Last Sunday I networked with some Denver based craft owners.  It was co sponsored by Krrb and hosted by Idea Chic which creates handmade stationary items.  I picked up some gift tags for my sale order giveaways which are very nice.  It was nice to discuss production techniques with other artisans and learn I am not alone in the lack of desire to produce mass quantities of the same item.  I met a funny and nice lady named Megan who specializes in jewelry with crystals/beads.  We as a group are going to try to grow the Krrb site for Denver to gain more exposure for our products.

What else has been going on?  Well I have made 5 headbands thus far and am now moving onto the ruffle scarves.  My order of Rowan Kidsilk Creation yarn arrived and I completed the lime green one in a few hours.  It is very soft and pretty. 

I am trying out a new pattern with some dyed cotton yarn which will be my son’s Christmas gift.  Although I should probably start to work on his soon as he comes home mid-December and I don’t want him to see it.  My purple Flounce yarn which is a special order was a very bad batch of yarn as the dye job had spots of blue and they knotted two fragments together to obtain the correct yardage.  I was very happy that my LYS allowed me to swap the bad for a different skein which is also a high priority project.

On the spinning front I decided to back to my roots of thin yarn and am creating a lace weight Shetland skein (just needs to be plied).  I also spun up the black/white top from the Sheep Shed Studio which is probably more Sports weight but decent yardage.  I think the gray top is next on the list to spin as I have several ounces of it left.  Of course there are pounds of alpaca/milk roving to spin up too.  I made a skein of alpaca/bamboo yarn from the cria fleece batch – so much vegetable matter in it.  I have my work cut out for me in picking the veggies from the skein prior to selling it.  It is a pretty tan color and was easy to spin but you know how I am about veggie matter – this was actually more than the tussah silk roving.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday really had no effect on my sales or shops :(!  My views totally tanked during the weekend and I have found myself checking the Etsy and EBay sites several times a day without much happy news.  I am going to try to limit myself to twice a day only for viewing Etsy.  It’s not as if my checking the site will encourage sales – I wish.  Still trying to tweet a few times a day which is kinda fun.  So many interesting chatter on Twitter.

I will probably stop listing on EBay soon as there is virtually no traffic there.  As I haven’t sold any hand spun yarn on Etsy I am thinking of shifting that product to the Wild Yarn store in Denver.  I’ll keep ATAR’s mill spun and the rovings on Etsy but unless things change I am not sure if it is worth having the merchandise age on that site.  My knitted items do well on Etsy but I’m thinking yarn is something people need to touch.  We shall see what happens in December.