Monthly Archives: February, 2015

Next pattern in the works

Way back in September Awana, Jean and I went to an annual Dye Day event and turned this –

Corrie Undyed

1800 yards Corridale handspun, light worsted weight. Maybe the most boring spinning project I’ve ever done.

Shades of Autumn orangey goodness. Three skeins were an odd tangerine color as a result of being first into the dye pot (more on that project another day.) A bit of brown and a bit more red were added until the perfect color began to emerge.

Jean waving her magic, er, spoon, over the dye pot

Jean waving her magic, er, spoon, over the dye pot

It was a group effort as everyone was lifting off lids and exclaiming over the colors as they simmered. Should have gotten a total Pounds of Yarn & Fiber Dyed that day, but sadly we were all so busy talking it was impossible.

Anyway. The yarn is nice and bouncy, light worsted weight and I knew I wanted to design and knit a simple shawl, putting the yarn on display to its best advantage.

I have always been enamored of the Hap* Shawl – that most practical of shawls, able to stand up to daily use over or under a coat or just tossed about the shoulders on a chilly morning, comforting and finally worn out with love and decided this would be my goal.

I prefer to knit a shawl from the top down, starting with 13 or so stitches and keeping a few edge stitches in garter to avoid that annoying tendency to curl. Having sold all of the Stash Shawls I had on hand during the blitz of craft faires the Sweatshop Girls attended before the Holidays, I knew it needed to work up fast because we’ve applied to a couple more coming up very soon, so a US #10.5 needle was chosen and off I went.

This is the end result blocking on the floor of the Studio –

About 600 yards total

About 600 yards total

The center is plain garter stitch with two Ostrich Plumes repeats giving that wonderful wavy edge. The final two rows and bind off were worked plain with a yarn from the same dye pot that started out a natural gray.

A closer look at the wavy edge before blocking –

20150219_193608Sitting atop a pile of freshly-washed Shetland fleece from Whistlestop Shetlands and a fab hard plastic strainer thing that warrants a post of its own.

You might have noticed the blotches of white here and there, a consequence of having the ties a bit too tight in places – the dye couldn’t penetrate to the center of the skeins in those places. While some see this as a flaw, I see it as an Artful Variation, something you just don’t get with factory yarn 🙂

I’ve had it in mind to publish a group of patterns detailing the construction and use of the Hap shawl for some time now. What say you?

* Hap is a general term for a cover-up to keep warm. Traditional Shetland Hap shawls are square in shape, with the “half-hap” being half a square, making this shawl technically a half-hap.

First wool sale of the season

Valentine’s Day found Awana and I doing one of our favorite things – visiting a local farm to buy wool –

2015 Wool Sale FlyerI was under the impression that the sale would involve last year’s fleeces in order to clean out the barns for the new shearing, but most of the fleeces were fresh off the sheep, Bide-a-Wee having sheared the week before. The weather here in Oregon has been crazy mild – we’ve already got Spring flowers blooming and the trees are leafing out.

There are few things in life I like more than a freshly-shorn sheep’s fleece!

Navajo-Churro Ram

Navajo-Churro Ram Photo used by permission of Bide-a-Wee Farm

I met Karen from Bide-a-Wee Farm many years ago, in a muddy field outside Scio, Oregon, back when there were actually sheep at the Lamb & Wool Show. Up to that point I had not spun any Jacob wool and only one Navajo-Churro fleece, which was hairy and horrible and colored my opinion of NC fleece for a couple of years.

Jacob Ram

Jacob Ram Photo used by permission of Bide-a-Wee Farm

That year I bought three small Jacob fleeces and one shockingly soft Navajo-Churro. All four fleeces were amazingly soft and I enjoyed every minute working with them. Whenever someone asks me about Jacob or Navajo-Churro fleece I direct them to Bide-a-Wee Farm.

Baling twine wreath and Karen's cool dred-lock hat

Baling twine wreath and Karen’s cool dred-lock hat

This year we bought three Jacob fleeces and one Jacob/Border Leicester cross fleece. All are multi-colored and soft, soft, soft!

Awana introduced me to Brandy of Whistlestop Shetlands a couple of years ago. I had bought several of her fleeces over the years but never met her in person.Riding ShotgunWe bought six Shetland fleeces, four white, one shades of gray and one as black as sheep’s wool can possibly be –

20150215_131430“What,” you may ask, “are you going to do with all that wool?” Good question! This time we had a plan. Not that we don’t usually have a plan, but THIS time we had a Real Plan – to purchase enough fine wool from shepherds we know to combine with alpaca we already had to make large enough batches to take to our local mill for blending and carding into sliver for spinning.

We took about 25 pounds of wool to the Snow Peak Fiber Mill here in Lebanon back in September. The wool was nice, Romney and Romney crosses mostly, but it wasn’t fine wool and it was dirty, so dirty we feared Kathy wouldn’t take it unless we washed it first, but she said it was fine (for the record, it was dirty, not poopy – we skirted very well 🙂 ) and would be ready in a couple of months.

A couple of months went by and the call finally came in. Three huge boxes of the most fabulous sliver, one a lovely cream color and the other two the medium gray I love so much.

We’ve been spinning it up a bit at a time, loving every minute and decided we were never going to be able to process all the alpaca fleece laying around and the search for the perfect blend-able wool began. It’s not as easy as it sounds because the wool has to have similar staple length and crimp as the alpaca, and we wanted to match colors as much as possible so as not to end up with a muddy brown that nobody likes.

Most of the blends will be about 50/50 wool & alpaca, but one batch will have silk added and one very special batch will be mostly alpaca with only a bit of wool and bamboo. The black fleece is from a male called Blackjack and it is a True Black and it’s mine, all mine!

Updates as events unfold…

UPDATE: Finally tally for this shipment to the mill is 41.5 pounds! Pictures when it comes back in a month or two. We can’t wait to get spinning!