Category Archives: Spinning

“The Speed of Sound”

I’m calling this pattern “The Speed of Sound” in honor of the handsome llama who donated the fleece, Mach One of Llama Dreams Argentines.

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The fiber is wonderful to work with, not at all like llama I’ve spun before, but it does have the camelid characteristics of being heavier than wool with a magnificent drape but little “memory.”

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This shawl is not large, but it is very warm! It hangs to mid-back on me and that’s plenty.

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The semi-crescent shape makes it naturally want to wrap around the neck in soft folds. Held in place with a pin or shawl stick, it’s perfect over or under a jacket during this season of layers.

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I separated the colors before spinning and created a graduated pattern – my favorite!

It was very interesting to see how different the fibers of each color were, even though this was all one fleece. The white wanted to spin the finest, while the grays got progressively more coarse (it’s all relative – none of the fibers are really “coarse” except in relation to each other) as they got darker. The very darkest gray would have been happier spun up as a worsted weight two-ply, which is what I’ll do for the next project.

Stay tuned…

Have you tried Argentine Llama yet?

A(nother) Sneak Peek

20150915_185634That’s the first bobbin of the epic project that I’ve been working on, but, sadly, not blogging about. Time has gotten away from me and I haven’t been taking as many pictures as I should have been.

What’s on the bobbin? I’m glad you asked! It’s Argentine Llama from right here in Oregon, just over the mountains from here. The wonderful llama who donated this fiber is Argentine Mach One, or Machie to his family:

Mach OneI’ll be posting in detail about Machie and friends another day, but I will say that you don’t know llama until you’ve felt Argentine llama! The only llama fiber I’d had any experience with is the coarse, hairy, nasty stuff I’m sure you’ve all seen. There’s really no comparison with Argentine llama fiber – it feels like a cross between alpaca and silk. Really.

So the Sweatshop Girls brought home a car full and got to work. I decided to separate the colors from Mach’s fleece and carded and spun them up separately. I’ve finished a small shawl and am working on a lacey scarf. Pics to follow later in the week!

Catching Up

The Summer of 2015 has been the busiest yet in this little Oregon town.

Remember the fleece sale back in February? Well, we hauled all that alpaca and wool off to the Snow Peak Fiber Mill here in Lebanon, Oregon and Kathy worked her magic and turned it into 36 pounds of the most wonderful sliver for spinning –

Sliver CollageClockwise from upper left: light gray, dark gray, creamy white and dark brown. Please forgive the crappy cell phone pics – more will be added as we start to spin up all this wool-y goodness!

Not pictured is a creamy/gold batch that has a bit of Honey Silk added.

And here is my personal favorite –

BlackjackBlack fleece is impossible to photograph, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that this alpaca fleece is as black as black can be – not a hint of red highlights or a brown tip to be found. Blackjack’s fleece was combined with a 20% dyed black bamboo and 10% dyed black superfine Merino for a sliver that is, well, let’s just say I doubt I’ll be sharing this batch with anyone else 🙂 JK, girls! I might have some to spare after I spin enough for a sweater for myself…Maybe.

The Sweatshop Girls have all been very busy this Summer, hence the lack of posts. We made a trip over the mountains and met some new friends, leading to a Great Fiber Adventure that I’ll be writing about very soon.

We also had a Dye Day (where, oh where, did I stash those photos?) and have been making soap, as time and weather allow, for the Holiday craft shows coming up very soon.

I’ve also started a blog for The Sweatshop Girls and hope to entice Awana and Jean into posting because this isn’t all about me. Really 🙂

Stay tuned for more updates and some current events – the weather has turned here and Autumn is on her way, “forcing” us to come inside as dusk comes earlier every day and bake bread, spin and knit late into the evening…

Newport Spin-In

It’s that most wonderful time of year! What? No, not the Holidays. Saturday marks the first Fiber Fest of 2014!

Newport Spin-in HalfThis event is held every year in Newport, Oregon as a fund raiser for the Yaquina Fiber Arts Guild and also hosts the NWRSA Winter board meeting.

Last year there were 197 attendees spinning in chairs arranged in circles that covered the Newport Middle School gym floor and flowed out into the lobby. There will be food vendors and fiber of all kinds for sale if you are in need of Stash Enhancement. I will be there with Awana selling a variety of spinning fibers and accessories as well as some yummy alpaca from Maurine at Knitty Gritty/Alpaca Alley.

Get a jump start on your fiber projects and reconnect with all your fiber friends at the Newport Spin-In!

Very soon Shearing Season will be upon us and fresh fleece will be available up and down the Valley as local shepherds shear the sheep before lambing starts, marking the beginning of the Fiber Festival season. Stay tuned for updates and info about the Festivals happening in my neck of the woods.

Update and a little self-promotion

See the white embellishment? That’s my handspun angora yarn adorning the body of a model for Natalia Fedner Design in Hollywood! I know, right? She found my bunny blog and sent me an e-mail asking if I ever did custom spinning orders. She was looking to use some angora yarn for embellishment on some Couture Dresses and this is the end result. We’re in the Big Time now, baby!

The Great Soap Marathon 2013 is all over but the cursing when the bars don’t release from the molds shouting. Eight different batches. One gallon of Pomace (extra virgin olive oil is actually not as good for making soap – pomace is what you want) 1.5 pounds of coconut oil, assorted fragrances, well over a pound of lye combined using Science and Towanda smells like a bordello. What with the underlying odor du dog and cat hair floating on the breeze from the open vents, it’s a little slice of heaven right here in the Willamette Valley.

It was only slightly more complicated that I imagined it would be. I’ll be posting about the idiocy of making soap in a travel trailer over at Travels with Towanda tomorrow.

The next Big Project will (hopefully) be the move into Studio T – Annex One followed by a bunch of sewing for the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s (almost) Eleventh Hour Craft Faire on Black Friday and Mauve Saturday (I totally stole Mauve Saturday from a blog that I can’t remember now…) Stay tuned for more info and Sneak Peek photos as things get done.

Running concurrently with The Move will be NaNoWriMo. Go ahead and tell me I’m crazy. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I feel energized when I have deadlines and Big Projects on the horizon so don’t expect any, “OMG! I haven’t showered in a week and my stomach aches from all the coffee I’ve been drinking and my characters aren’t playing nice with each other, what am I gonna do?” posts. I got this. I am Superwoman.

If any whiny posts do appear here, rest assured it won’t be until after I’ve deleted the preceding paragraph 🙂

Anyone else up for NaNo? I’m Sofia Leo over on the forums. Let’s be writing buddies!

Wednesday: Fiber Night

Every Wednesday evening from 6:00 – 8:00 (or even later) you can find me over at Knitty Gritty, the local shop for all things fiber, knitting or spinning with a fabulous group of ladies. This was last week –

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Everyone but Shelly was spinning. From left to right: Shelly, Elizabeth, Tracey and Maurine, the owner of the shop.

I plan to take the new wheel and spin the alpaca/angora/merino blend I picked up at the Midsummer Spin-In a couple of weeks ago.

If you’re in the area, do stop by – there’s plenty of room to bring a spinning wheel and you’ll find yarn, fiber and accessories for sale. We’re a very friendly group who welcome all fiber enthusiasts.

Midsummer’s Spin In & Fiber Fair

Midsummer Spin-In 08-03-13Today was the first annual Midsummer’s Spin In & Fiber Festival held at the Community Hall in Wren, Oregon, and what an event it was! I hope the organizers were pleasantly surprised at how many Wooly Bears showed up to spin, chat and spend their hard-earned Fiber Budgets.

DSCN0032Rebecca (left in yellow) and Awana (right in yellow) came over from the Coast for the day. Myrna (facing away in blue,) still a Muggle but very close to assimilation, hung out, getting her head filled with fiber information and fondling the fleece selections available on every hand.

The usual suspects were there, including Connie with Spindlewood

DSCN0016And Janice who’s picture turned out too blurry to post (sorry, Janice!) Linda and Paul were there with a pair of alpacas and a pair of Shetland sheep, representing Goat Knoll in Dallas –

DSCN0026The Bellweather Wool Company, Mountain Shadow Ranch, and some new-to-me vendors including Kings Valley View Farm, Karl Smiley and his lovely yarn bowls, StitchJones, Creekside Fiber Mill and Three Fates Yarns and many others, but I got distracted.

There wasn’t time enough to talk to everyone and take pictures of every booth because near the entry door was Bonnie Albright and her Irish spinning wheels. I passed right by, giving them only an admiring glance because they are always way over my budget and there’s no sense drooling on something you just can’t have, right?

Myrna asked for some advice about spinning wheels and fiber and I took her on a tour of the vendors outside, stopping to point out the little Irish wheels. One look at the price tag and I said offhandedly, “at this price it must be a reproduction,” and we were walking on by when a voice behind me said, “No! Those aren’t reproductions! They came from Ireland and that’s the real price. The wife is de-stashing!”

Well, huh. We stopped and took a closer look. One of the wheels had a lovely black patina to it, intricate turnings, a distaff and some bright red yarn on the bobbin. Pretty soon Bonnie was at my side telling me that she bought the wheel in an antique store in Dublin, packed it in a box and carried it home on the plane. She asked if I wanted to give it a spin and there was her husband with a chair and I was lost.

Not only is she beautiful to look at, but she’s also fully functional, spinning smooth, with nary a wobble, churning out the lace -weight singles with no more effort than a leisurely stroll down the beach on a sunny day.

I walked away because, although the price was a steal, I live in very small quarters and already have a wheel that does its job very well and has been my Only Wheel for nigh on twenty years now. We’re good friends, we know what we can create together and we are quite comfortable.

I went back inside to finish turning the heel on my latest sock project and found Rebecca telling Awana that she was dying to get a wheel but didn’t know what kind to get and…I tuned her out about then because a Plan appeared in my head, full-blown and demanding to be put into action.

“Hey! I have an idea!” I declared.

Heads swiveled in my direction. “How about I loan Rebecca my Ashford Traditional to learn on and I go out and buy that little Irish wheel out there? I don’t have room for two wheels, so it’s a win-win, right?”

“I could justify wheel-sitting!” Rebecca declared. “It’s only a loan so my sons couldn’t say anything about me getting yet another Hobby Accessory!”

We made plans to meet up next weekend for the hand off and the lovely Irish wheel came home with me –

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Crazy Helper Dog is not amused. She had to stay home while I was off fondling wool and spinning and getting all the cookies.

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Forgot to put the distaff back in!

 

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How can I NOT spin for awhile? Just look at her!

I should be doing something more productive, but instead I’m getting to know the new wheel, spinning up some angora/alpaca/merino fiber as the sun goes down. Curtains will have to wait. The blinds will do for another day. Or week…

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Alpacas in the shade

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Cashmere goats very interested in something off in the brush

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“If I just close my eyes they’ll go away…”