Sedalia Spring Fiber Festival 2009

Yes, it took me more than a week to get around to blogging it.  You forgive me, because I have some cool stuff to share.  This fiber event is worth the drive for the setting alone, never mind the drool potential at the vendor booths. Look:

such a beautiful place

such a beautiful place

My daughter had a conversation with this baby angora goat.  You can see a video of it at youtube, or find it in my vodpod sidebar widget.

m-y-y-y last word, no m-i-n-e

m-y-y-y last word, no m-i-n-e

but, I’ll just embed it here, so you don’t have to go looking for it. hee hee!

I got snagged by the Serendipitous Ewe Chance sock yarn* colors, and ended up buying Bird of Paradise, Waterlily, Pumpkin Pie, and Tulip

*All subtle striping, and guaranteed not to pool. Info for Chance Sock Yarn: A Superwash sock yarn, with a little nylon for support,80% Superwash Merino Wool/20% Nylon,Approx. 420 yards,6–7 sts per inch,US size 1–3 needles.  Please go look at their pictures, because I haven’t taken any yet.  It’s lovely stuff.

At Wild Hare Fibers booth, I looked at Spinolution spinning wheels.  I like that they are made in the USA, and cleverly engineered.  If you look at the gallery page, the customizations add aesthetic value I mean, make ’em look so much more purtier.  This one belongs to Melissa, aka wildhare, and is a Mach 1 model. In the background is the Strauch Fiber Equipment booth.  I have their dbl finest motorized drum carder, and personally believe it is the best on the market.

gorgeous custom deco job

gorgeous custom deco job

This young lady is just learning how to treadle, and she is test spinning on a Bee travel wheel.

air spinning

air spinning

teaser: we stopped by a roadside attraction after the festival, see it next post.


Dyeing, Fiber Prep, What Next?

I recently had a birthday, a landmark one, the kind with a zero in it.  DH likes to buy me toys, and this one is special.  A really landmark toy.  A Strauch finest double wide motorized drum carder (whew, that’s a mouthful, too).

Just this week he gave me the perfect accessory for it. sells a Bosch “gravity-rise wheeled table saw stand” that happens to be the perfect size for my extremely cool birthday present.  This gives me some very appreciated capabilities.  1) I can use the drum carder while seated.  No hunching over, reaching, wearing my back out.  2) I can move the drum carder from place to place myself.  3) Smaller footprint when folded, taking up less precious space.  It’s getting crowded around here, what with all the stash and toys.  I am NOT complaining about that!

folded for travel:
folded for travel

and set up for work:
set up for work

The drum carder is cleverly attached to the table by heavy duty cable ties, cheap, very effective, and won’t leave any marks on the wood.

I thought it appropriate that DH should have my first handblended on the new carder (with fiber I hand dyed) and also my first handspun FO, modeled here by a young friend, not DH:
handspun hat for Jay

Can you see the fuzzy little bit of halo?  There’s colonial top, corriedale, fawn alpaca, tussah silk and a wee bit of angora (halo).  It has a nice soft hand and should be very warm.

It’s a little bit more than 4 oz. total and looked like this before carding:
1st batt composition

and like this after carding:
1st batt take 2

and then pulled into a roving:

1st batt pulled roving

and like this after spinning:
1st batt 2-ply

Here’s another batt which consists of 1) corriedale dyed in the crockpot along with 2) some tussah silk, and 3) a hint of green/blue firestar.  I pulled the dyed roving apart and sorted by color, then did the three color sections separately.  I think it will be a 2-ply yarn, with the colors sequential, not mixed.

corrie, silk, firestar

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  I’m still so new to all this stuff!  And so obsessed.  And having so much fun.  I wonder if I would enjoy weaving?  Would the structure of my family unit survive yet another fiber craft?  I’d better not even think about it.  Forget I even brought it up.  No, really.

where to start?

I’m having such a lazy summer. It’s a wonderful thing.

DH and I did an eastern NC fiber crawl last week, and I can report that Murfreesboro is charming, and so are the folks at the Woolery. This is Tim, and a glorious array of wheels and spindles.
Tim of the Woolery

loot! spinning toys, Yarn Meter with tensioner!! fiber, fiber, fiber. Oh joy. I was hoping to see a Schacht-Reeves saxony wheel set up, but no luck. Maybe there will be one at SAFF in the fall. I’m such a material girl. For shame. I never have enough toys.
Woolery loot

On to New Bern, where this guy is looking the very picture of serenity, in the midst of the chaos of construction. I suspect DH would rather have been hanging out with him than yarn crawling with me!
fishing in New Bern

A short stop at Weaver’s Webb, and more stash enhancement.

from weaver's webb

I’ll have some fun with that merino superwash in the dye pot. Don’t know what the Noro will become, but I just couldn’t resist the colorway.

A very late lunch at the Chelsea restaurant. I can’t recommend anything in particular, because I think it’s all particularly good. Nice history about the address, just don’t ask for a Coca-Cola.
the Chelsea restaurant

Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been spinning a probably fingering, maybe sport weight 2-ply from (remember this?) a sheep named Ganache, a lovely chocolate color when spun. Singles on the bobbin, 2nd bobbin almost done, I’ll probably be plying tonight.
ganache singles

I’m still knitting on my peacock and plum feather and fan stole, (ravelry link)
peacock and plum shawl

which is more than halfway done. I’m ready for it, because I have these fancy thingies from the Wondermat outlet page to block it on. I bought 12 standard 2 ft tiles in latte, which lay out to 48 square feet total, one possible configuration being 6′ by 8′. That ought to be big enough for any lace object I might ever knit in my lifetime. There are no visible defects in any of them, and they were half price. They are the same product that the Yarn Harlot blogged about here, and I so agree with her that they are “freaking brilliant”. I have the blocking wires and pins, I’m ready to go. When I finish knitting the stole, I mean.
lace blocking mats

This is not my first blog entry dominated by shopping rather than actually using the products. I’m sure that says something about me, but I don’t want to think about that right now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Fiber Fun Day at Little Meadows

I believe I’ll start with a recipe. I made tropical island slaw to share at a fabulous event which took place on a local fiber farm. This recipe is my own, and you may print it, wad it up, paper the bathroom wall, ignore it entirely or post it to your whole mailing list, as you choose.

Tropical Island Slaw

toss together in a large bowl:

2 bags tricolor slaw mix
2 cans pineapple tidbits, drained, juice reserved
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried cherries

mix together in a smaller bowl:

1/2 pt. non-fat sour cream
1/3 cup of the reserved pineapple juice
2 tb cider vinegar
2 tb sugar (optional)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Pour the dressing mixture over the slaw mixture and toss lightly. Keep refrigerated.  Garnish with toasted walnut pieces just before serving.

There were many good things brought to Little Meadows yesterday, and many good things resident on the property as well. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures of the animals. Liese has better pictures of them here, anyway.

I have some pictures of the visiting fiber folk:

fiber fun1

fiber fun 2

fiber fun 3

The two in the background there were both celebrating birthdays, and our charming hostess produced a heart-healthy and extremely yummy birthday cake:
birthday cake

carrot cake with coconut glaze. Nom nom nom. DH ( in tie-dye) was delightfully surprised and ate 2 very low guilt-index pieces.

The birthday girl made her very first wheel-spun yarn, and skeined it on a niddy-noddy. I’m such an airhead, or I’d have a picture of that too.

But I did catch:

a good hat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a good hat

and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . a good batt:

a good batt

The rain came when it was just about time to fold up anyway, but I made off with some really excellent chevre (the origins of which I scrubbled about the ears) and some lovely scented goat’s milk soap (likewise the scrubbling — delightful.)

And I leave you with a visual treat currently starring in my yard:
magnolia grandiflora

magnolia grandiflora. Just grand.

skeinwinder tutorial for you

I’m so excited that I figured out how to embed a video! DH designed a skeiner for me, and wrote up instructions in case you like it enough to make one too. It works very well. The loop shown is just the right length to stretch out a skein on my dyeing table, which is a six foot folding plastic banquet table. I’m going to make a loop of waste yarn just that length, and tie my current project yarn onto it, so each skein is the same length.

Using the Hose Reel Skein Winder

Our purpose in designing the Hose Reel Skein Winder was to have a device that would allow us to wind skeins of any length, including very long ones, to facilitate special hand-dyeing projects. We also became frustrated using two wooden posts, because passing a ball of yarn around was unwieldy. This design allows us to have one person stand next to one unit and turn a wheel that winds the skein relatively quickly and easily.

The length of the skein is not limited and infinitely variable, because it is established by the yarn itself and not by any fixed setting on the winder. The first step is to measure the desired circumference of the skein from the end of the yarn, hold the point measured to, then tie the end of the yarn to that point. It is best to add a little to the measurement to allow enough yarn to make the knot. One technique is to measure exactly one inch more than the desired circumference, then tie the knot so that the measured point connects with the other end of the yarn exactly one inch from the end.

An alternative to forming the loop out of the yarn being skeined is to make a loop out of another non-slippery yarn, with a small loop to which the yarn can be tied. This would be particularly useful if the user often makes skeins of the exact same size, as measuring for successive skeins could be eliminated.

The resulting loop of yarn is placed over the hose reels on the 2 units of the winder, which are then moved apart until an appropriate amount of tension is placed on the loop. While we do not wish to stretch the yarn too much, we need enough tension that the loop will not droop too much between the units (not a problem) and there will be enough friction on the yarn at the driving reel that turning the reel will cause the loop to turn like a fan belt. The non-driving reel can be held by a helper or held still by tying to something, sticking the base under a chair or plopping something heavy on it. Movement, while it might interrupt the process, does not cause any serious problem, because the length of the skein is determined by the length of the loop tied in the yarn, not by the distance between the units. Similarly, adjustments to tension can be made by moving the driving reel around, without causing any problems with the length of the skein.

After the loop is mounted on the units and appropriate tension is obtained, the driving reel is turned so that the yarn from the ball or cone is pulled over the top of the driving reel. Left-handed users will probably want to put the driving reel on the opposite end of the loop from right-handers, and turn counter-clockwise, while right-handers turn clockwise. The other hand can be used to steady the unit and guide the yarn onto the reel to get a smooth, even skein. We have found it easy just to let the source ball or cone sit in a box at the feet of the operator, where it can bounce around happily while yarn is drawn from it. The entire skein is driven around the two units and becomes larger and larger as more yarn is taken from the source.

edit added 6/15/2008:  DH bought another hose reel, so that I will have 2 with slippery surface.  This is useful when using the device as a swift, to make a ball, or different length skein.  Because they detach easily from the framework, this presents no difficulty, but does add $10 or so to the material cost.

If you want one of your own, copy and paste the instruction pages below to your own file.

skeiner pg 1

skeiner pg 2

skeiner pg 3

I hope this will have all of us dyeing with greater ease.

no tails to wag behind them

. . . but they’ve come home, just the same!

On the windy, sunny morning of Saturday, February 16, I went to my first sheep shearing, at Rising Meadow Farm where I got carried far, far away and entirely lost my own head, while gaining two sheep. Well, the fleece (fleeces?) of two sheep, to be more exact. Tina at Spinner’s Ridge was skirting fleece and gave me a few minutes of her scarce and highly sought time that day to educate me in how to choose. Thanks Tina! The first one I couldn’t resist is named Ganache. I’m a sucker for chocolate. And then I came across Helena, whose lovely soft, near pure white fleece will be wonderful for the dyepot. So they’re mine, all MINE MINE MINE HA HA HA HA. (I think a little celebratory hysteria is appropriate here, don’t you?) I’m not equipped to do all the washing and processing, and there were coupons there for 25% of the cost from Zeilinger Wool Company in Frankenmuth, MI. Frankenmuth, Frankenmuth, how on earth did it get named Frankenmuth? That’s beside the point. Anyway, that 25% offer is good through March 31 if one pays by check or money order. which I did. I was so eager, I had Ganache and Helena boxed, taped, labeled, postaged (by Click-n-ship, I had a good experience) and sent for gosh sakes, on Saturday, by USPS. The mall has a Post Office that’s open til 9pm Saturday! Who knew? Actually, I did, because DH is forever getting unimportant things like mortgage payments into the mail at the last possible second. Why that last possible second always seems to come on Saturday night, I don’t know.

So the two dears have been gone about a month, and I missed them, but I was trying to be very, very patient, as I had been told it could be several months before they came home. Then on my doorstep yesterday, was a box the size of which could only mean . . . . YES, YES it’s from Frankenmuth!!!!!!
they've come home

You might notice that the box is about the height of the kitchen cabinet under the drawer. Rovings are compressed by vacuum when they are to be shipped, so when they are unboxed you get . . . .

ganache and helena

more than twice the volume!! Look at the two of them fairly bursting their bindings. I can’t wait to see how they’ll spin up. No, must resist temptation, and tend to the 5 or so knitting wip’s I’ve got going, not to mention the 2 spinning projects I’m still in the middle of. I can do it, I can be very patient when I want to. I can, I really can. What’s this? An empty bobbin? Well it can just stay empty for a while, I’m not budging from my firm resolve. Even though they’re calling to me “C,mon, you can do just a little, just to see. You know you want to.” It’s called Ganache, for sheep’s sake. Aw shucks. Never could resist chocolate. Excuse me, I have to spin now.

a ripping good yarn — at last!

Some photos of the polwarth/silk, at last plied, skeined, into a ball, swatched.

It knitted up at 6.75 st/in, which is 27 st/4 in and (according to the Craft Yarn Council of America) weight #1, sock, fingering, baby. At 23 to 26 st/4 in it would have been sport weight, so next I need to learn to spin evenly just a few more microns thick. Got to go pick up my furry boys from the beauty parlor now, maybe I’ll put an eye candy photo of them here later! . . . .

As promised:

They smell nice too! Too bad I can never get a good photo of Arthur’s face. No contrast. I’m just happy when I get them both in the same frame without too much blur!