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Archive for the ‘wool’ Category

It’s been a busy summer. So busy that I haven’t even thought about updating this blog until my friend Pixie mentioned that I should a few days ago. And she’s right, so here I am typing nonsense because the problem is, so much has been going on and happening in my world that I don’t know where to start. Hmm, what is blogworthy…

blueyarn_inpotWell, let me begin by showing you this sock yarn I was kettle-dyeing yesterday in a few different shades of beautiful blue. Right now, I’m dyeing about one or two skeins each dyeing session, maybe three times per week, so roughly three to six skeins are done per week. I honestly don’t think I could do any more than that and still keep the same quality in each dye job because sometimes a single skein will take me four hours to finish. Each skein of yarn that I dye is uniquely and meticulously handpainted or kettle-dyed to my own personal satisfaction. I’ve seen some people on some blogs that output a large amount of handpainted yarn at one time (over ten skeins) and I just don’t understand how they do it, unless they have a small army helping them.

skein_wndr1The reason I’m dyeing all this yarn is because I’m going to be a vendor at the 2009 Fiber Festival in Snow Hill, Maryland, coming up on October 10. I have to build my inventory so I have quite a bit to sell there. Of course, teen had a small fit when I told him I needed him to wind up all this yarn on the niddy noddy (right now I’m looking at 24 skeins that need winding and the niddy noddy makes my arms ache), so I invested in a new knitting tool. This is my new maple Will Taylor Clamp-On Skeinwinder/Swift, which I ordered from Carolina Homespun, and it’s wonderful! The teen is off the hook, at least for now.

1stsock2Thanks to Pixie, I’ve also gotten back into my knitting. I finally finished those Nightmare Socks with her encouragement, and they fit although I loathe them now because they took two years to complete! I think I got tired of looking at them, the pattern wasn’t the easiest to follow, and the yarn wasn’t as soft as I would have liked, but Plymouth Sockotta was the first sock yarn I ever bought for myself. That was before I learned how to dye yarn and now I’ll never buy any commercial brands again. Unless I absolutely have to. Not to mention the fact that I have approximately two bins full of my own handpainted yarn already.

toeup2On to the next project: Two-at-a-Time Toe-Up Socks on Two Circulars, from the book, “Knitting More Circles Around Socks” by Antje Gillingham. I have her first book too, and both include very nice patterns that are easy to understand. These are only my second pair of socks, and I’m knitting them with my own kettle-dyed yarn, Sand in my Stitches Pure Merino SW. I’m a little further than the image shows and so far, so good. These will be a demo project for my yarn at the festival, and I’ve given a skein of my Kona Sock yarn to Pixie to knit up in some kind of amazing lacy project. Many, many thanks to Pixie for the motivation and help. 🙂

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I’ve been keeping busy lately, dyeing and reskeining some yarn for my etsy shop, Sand In My Stitches. Here’s what I was working on last week:
reskeins
The one on the left is Pure Merino SW in the color “Angelfish” that I felt could use a reskeining. The other four are all Kona Sock Superwash Merino. Second from left is one of the new colors I dyed last week, and the last three got a reskeining too. While photographing them, I realized I used blue in all of them.

There are two more new colors that I dyed, but they’re waiting for a shipment of Kookaburra so they can be washed. More to come… stay tuned!

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mdsw2009_ram2As promised (or threatened), I hauled the family to the 2009 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last Saturday, close to three hours away from where we live. And as predicted, the crowds were incredible. I think this festival attracts more and more people every year! Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it to some degree and were entertained by some very amusing livestock, and a working sheepdog demonstration which was rather fascinating.

mdsw2009_crowdsAbove is the obligatory crowd shot. It was intermittently rainy on the way to the festival, but stopped before we arrived and was decent for the rest of the day. Threatening weather doesn’t phase fiber and yarn fantatics, that’s for sure. At right is my DH with our youngest son (in yellow) who kept nagging us, “Can we leave now?” He has a short attention span.

mdsw2009_sheepdg1mdsw2009_sheepdg2Those Border Collies are very well-trained! I believe the Border Collie is herding Blue-Faced Leicester sheep; the high-quality wool of which is coveted by many fiber artists and knitters around the globe. I have yet to get my hands on some. Maybe at next year’s festival…

mdsw2009_sheep2Walking through the livestock buildings, we saw many different sheep in the pens, most with a full coat of fleece that were waiting to be perfectly groomed and taken to the show ring.

mdsw2009_sheep1I must admit that sometimes the thought of life on a sheep farm (or alpaca) is enticing to the point that I want to try to make it happen. Maybe someday it will, but I think that we’d have to start small. Maybe one Angora rabbit at first, then maybe two, and if that works for us, perhaps an Angora rabbitry. And I must also admit… I really want a bunny! Too bad we can’t have one now, but it’s always something we can work toward.

mdsw2009_kidshpMany of the sheep were resting when we walked through, but our boys found one of the few attentive sheep in the barn and gave it some affection.

mdsw2009_llama1mdsw2009_llama2We were all highly-amused by this freshly-shorn llama who was sitting in his pen chewing his cud with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. What a funny-looking animal!

mdsw2009_alpaca1mdsw2009_alpaca2Next, we saw a really cute alpaca that loved having the back of his neck scratched, so we obliged him.

In the middle of photographing all the livestock, I was on the lookout for the only three things I had on my “must have” list from this festival, and believe it or not, I had enough willpower to bypass the rest of the vendors with a glance if I didn’t see what I was looking for. So we headed to the main exhibition hall to see if we could find my items where much, much more pushing and shoving ensued. And I thought the crowd outside was incredible… HA! That crowd couldn’t even compare to the one which was inside this building!

Every few steps, I had to stop and look around to see what I could see around the hundreds of other people that were milling about, who were no doubt searching for their particular items too. If it was fiber-related, I knew it could be found inside this building, and it was. But not before I found this fabulous great wheel demonstration at an antique vendor’s booth.

mdsw2009_grtwhlmdsw2009_grtwhl3mdsw2009_grtwhl2Even DH and the boys seemed curious and she was gathering a little crowd to watch her spin. It was interesting how she drafted the wool into such a fine thread by wrapping it around her finger.

mdsw2009_ant1These beautiful antique spinning wheels and other spinning tools were located in this booth as well.

mdsw2009_espinnerThis is the Butterfly Electronic Yarn Spinner, handcrafted by Wild Meadow. We didn’t get to see one in action, but this just might become one of my Christmas wish list items in the near future! After all, DH did stealthily pick up a brochure about it unbeknownst while I was checking it out and taking pictures.

A very good day indeed, and I found the three items that I wanted. Well, two really, but I substituted one for another. I bought a set of Ashford 72-point hand carders, an Ashford student drop spindle and a pound of white medium wool top roving, the latter two came from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers. I originally wanted to get more angora fluff to add to the 2 oz. of angora fluff that I got from Thistledown Alpacas during last year’s festival, but by the time I finally found their tent, all my guys wanted to go because it was getting late (and all their bunnies had been sold already, darn it). I already can’t wait for next year’s festival, and will probably visit Thistledown Alpacas as one of my first stops instead of my last.

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