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Tag Archives: fiber

Gypsy Wools (Boulder) is having their sidewalk sale this week!

Friday July 15 10-6
Saturday July 16 10-5

Hand-dyed, hand-painted fibers, many from locally-raised critters. If you are in the area, check them out. If not, be sure to visit their website.

“Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Well, this would be why they call it “Beginning Spinning”

Beginning Spinning

roving or yarn?

I’ve taken the plunge with a 6 week Beginning Spinning class. We received big chunks of unwashed fleece to take home and prepare, as well as the loan of carders, a drop spindle, and a spinning wheel for the duration of the class. Not friendly to my nearly all-black wardrobe, but I’m getting used to having bits of cream-colored fluff everywhere.

No matter how slowly I treadle, things are moving too quickly on the lovely Canadian spinning wheel. What I’m making barely qualifies as roving, much less yarn. If we had to rely on me to spin the yarn for the EcoVillage, we’d all be in serious trouble.

I think I’m going to try doing more drop spindle and see if I can get any better at things if I have even more control over the speed. I did find this helpful video on using a drop spindle, which I’ll combine with what I’ve learned in person in class.

Anybody have any suggestions or helpful tips on any part of this process? Washing, teasing the wool, carding, or spinning itself? Please send those along, because clearly I need the help!

Currently Reading: Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones

Recently Viewed: Just watched Nim’s Island based on the book by Wendy Orr and recommend it. Overcoming fears, being courageous in everyday life, and teaching your kid to value nature. Good themes there.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine

Alpaca Breeders Alliance of Northern Colorado is having their Alpaca Extravaganza this weekend at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado. Saturday February 26 9-5, Sunday the 27th 10-4.

Shopping and hands on opportunities abound, as well as free lectures on alpaca breeding, contract language, marketing, and including alpacas in your sustainable living adventures. Free to the general public.

“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” – William Shakespeare

I was just complaining a few posts ago that we needed a Sheep to Shawl event at our annual Stock Show. Now it turns out, there is a new educational event happening tomorrow in Longmont:

From Our Lands to Your Hands Education Event
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Boulder County Fairgrounds

They’ll be teaching kids that food comes from a farm, not a grocery store. In order to have food, we need farms. And in order to have wool yarn, we need sheep! I’m going to try to volunteer for a couple of hours tomorrow in the knitting and weaving booth. Event is for pre-registered classes only from 10-2, open to the general public from 2 – 4pm.

Continuing the farm theme, I was sad to learn of the passing last month of British author Dick King-Smith, who wrote over 100 books about the animals on his farm. One of these, Babe the Sheep Pig, was turned into the movie Babe.

I’ve been making my way through the Philip Reeve list of recommendations, and well, I guess childhood favorites are a very personal choice.

First up I read The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson, which takes place on an Australian farm. I hated the ending. Hated it. Found it lacking in compassion for critters that are non-human. I usually enjoy Wrightson’s books, but not this time.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner takes place on a Welsh farm. It was winner of the Guardian Prize for best British book of the year in 1968, and was almost incomprehensible to me. On the other hand, I enjoyed his recommendation of Eagle of the Ninth and will be reading more Rosemary Sutcliff and Dick King-Smith.

Currently Knitting: About to start a second pair of Riesines (wrist warmers), just finished stringing the seed beads onto the yarn and am ready to cast on.

Currently Reading: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers

Currently Listening to: Hound of the Baskervilles

“I think the extent to which I have any balance at all, any mental balance, is because of being a farm kid and being raised in those isolated rural areas.” – James Earl Jones

Every year I promise myself that I’m going to get to the National Western Stock Show to see the wool and spinning judging. It is mostly a cattle show but other stock do get a little bit of time.

The wool and spinning was last Thursday. I didn’t realize until Friday that the Stock Show had already started. One more year where I’ve missed the fleecy boat. I keep hoping that one year they’ll have one of those great Sheep-to-Shawl competitions, but it never happens. I don’t think we have one at the annual Weavers sale either.

One of these days I’ll be industrious-enough to try to organize one. It took me five years to finally remember to put something in our County Fair weaving category, but it did get done (one of many second place ribbons, but hey, it is something).

I went out to the Michaels sale to try to find more of the Discovery drawer pulls. Instead I found these mildly-steampunk coffee mugs for $0.43 each which are part of the same line. Not crafty but very fun.

Steampunk Mugs

Steampunkish Mugs

The Michaels sale was great – two-for-one on all kinds of things – I just couldn’t find anything I needed to make my crafting life complete. (Two weeks from now I’ll be back to purchase beads at full price for a knitting class, but since I don’t have the instruction sheet yet, I didn’t know what to purchase.)

“I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.” – Johannes Sebastian Bach

I needed more Cascade yarn in wine heather and couldn’t find it at any of my local haunts. Since I originally bought the skein at Tangle in Grand Junction I figured I’d try ordering from them online. Simple interface, item in stock, and I think she shipped it out the same day. GREAT service. They also have free patterns on their website which you can download easily.

Tangle Yarn Shop Rules

Tangle Yarn Shop Rules

I ran over to Michaels to try to find size 9 knitting needles. They’re still out, as is JoAnns, if you can believe that. Are all of you knitting on size 9s this month? Michaels is having big sales right now, 60 percent off of Christmas. Snagged some cute cookie tins for next year’s treat giving. This Sunday, everything (but clearance) is 20% off. Except for those of you living in Paramus, New Jersey. I’m not kidding, that is printed on the coupon.

While I was waiting to check out yesterday, I dug through the $1 bargain bins. Even the bargain bin stuff is onsale. I found three treasures, so I’m going to have to hit up another Michaels today to see if I can find more. Check out these great drawer pulls – for $0.43 each!

Discover Drawer Pull

Discover Your Inner-Crafter!

What crafter doesn’t need a few of those on the drawers of their craft table? They also had ones that read “pull” which might need to come home with me too.

Current Audio: Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Current Book: Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. Shockingly-enough, this 1954 youth book by Sutcliff about a Roman legion in Britain has been made into a movie starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell (from the brilliant Billy Elliot).

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

As I typed earlier, I ran up to Switzer-land Alpacas and purchased two shawls worth of beautiful local alpaca.

Using an old pattern from Handweavers, I put a basic lace shawl onto the loom. I actually cut enough warp to make a wider shawl but it wouldn’t fit. Ah well, now I’ve got warp ready for a scarf!

Alpaca Lace Shawl

Snapped selvage and all - it is done!

My advice on weaving alpaca:
– If you are using a floating selvage, do not use alpaca for it. Get something like a soft but sturdy (not stretchy) cotton knitting yarn. As I progressed through this shawl, the floating selvage kept stretching out of shape and being an annoyance instead of a help.

– Pull the 2 inches on the edges tighter when you’re tying up the warp. As you weave, you’re going to be banging on the edges and they’ll stretch. If you’re like me, you’ll end up propping stacks of index cards between the back beam and the warp to tighten it enough to finish weaving the length of the warp.

This is the before picture, but you can see the lace already beginning to form. Solid black warp, heathered black and gray weft. Hopefully the recipient will find it cosy and comforting!

“Comfort was allowed to come to them rare, welcome, unsought: a gift like joy.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

We are fortunate to have lots of locally-produced fiber in our area. I ran up to Estes to shop at Switzer-Land Alpacas. You can shop online, or call ahead and if you’re lucky they can let you shop in person. Found some beautiful, soft fiber to make shawls for two lucky folks.

On the way up I encountered a traffic jam; cars were stopped in both directions. And what caused the jam? One of the many local elk herds crossing the road to get to the tasty golfing green on the other side.

Estes Traffic Jam

Golfing green or breakfast - you decide

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m continuing the sweater unraveling project, sometimes casting aside one that is too fine or too challenging for the moment. I once again hit the ARC Thift store today for the 50% off tags, and scored 6 sweaters for $14. Not bad for silk, linen, and cotton.

Upcycling Yarn

Becoming unraveled

Merino and cashmere are tougher to unravel, so I’m trying to do those in the daytime when there’s good light and I have more patience. This week I’ll try washing the first skeins of upcycled yarn and see about measuring them for a weaving project.

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet

Quick reminder, Alpacas on the Rocks is this weekend. Fancy becoming an Alapaca rancher? Want to learn to spin Alpaca fiber? Then this may be the place for you.

Because wouldn’t we all like to eventually hang out all day playing with fiber?

“I have a farm and I love it there. There’s really nothing to do, but even watching the chickens, its fun.” – Salma Hayek