Category Archives: Stash

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…

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!

 

Sock Knitting 2014

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve jumped on Knittingsarah’s  KAL for 2014 – to knit on a sock every day all year long, starting January 15. For those of you who have forgotten:

The goal of this KAL is to condition ourselves to incorporate sock knitting into our every day lives.

I was working on a sock when I joined and had a sock class scheduled, which went very well – both students knit a pair of socks with worsted weight yarn and were happy with their new skills. Last Friday the next class started (delayed a week because of snow) and Kristin is motoring along on her DK weight socks. Both classes elected to knit both socks at the same time rather than complete one and have to worry they would forget the techniques for the second sock and forever suffer from Second Sock Syndrome – that dreaded condition whereby a knitter only ever completes the first sock of the pair. I don’t understand, myself – the whole point is to knit a pair and wear them – anything else is just an educational exercise and wastes good yarn 🙂

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Dirt brown DK weight socks. Nothing interesting here – only practical

There have been a few days that I did not knit on a sock, but I have knit most days of 2014, completing five hats (one of which disappeared completely* two of which were ripped out and re-knit because of design flaws that could not be overcome) and three socks so far.

Last week after class I was wandering around the shop, Knitty Gritty, looking longingly at the new Opal yarns Maurine had ordered, when I spied a single ball of something unique: Opal X-Large (the link leads to the exact colorway right at the top of the page – LOVE!!!) Hmmm…I love the colors and patterns of Opal yarn, but it’s fine and requires 72 stitches per round on US 0 or 1 needles and they simply take foooor-eeeveeeer to knit so I tend not to make fine socks. I buy my shoes a half size larger to make up for my sock knitting laziness, in case you need to know.

But this X-Large stuff is DK weight – only 56 stitches – totally do-able! I snatched up the ball and headed home to do some chores.

Over the weekend, I knit both Opal socks to the heel flap (can’t go farther until class, where I’ll use them to demonstrate the flap and heel turn for Kristin) and then picked up another bit of Stash** yarn and started a third sock. Last night I knit the forth sock of what is starting to look like a series in DK weight yarn to the heel flap and picked up the second sock of the most recent worsted weight pair, which is almost ready for the heel turn.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhew! That’s five socks on the go – a new personal record, I think. I’m usually monogamous with my sock knitting but the Opal has inspired me to get my sock drawer filled up before nicer weather drives me outside for the season.

So far the socks I’ve knit have been plain stockinette, samples for an upcoming pattern, but I’m feeling the draw towards a new cabled design, or maybe something with a simple all-over pattern suitable for beginners. It looks like my Knitting Mojo may have found its way home 🙂

* I suspect the cat has hidden it somewhere, along with a couple of single socks. I haven’t yet found his hiding place, which boggles the mind as we live in a 30-foot travel trailer and I’ve been re-arranging furniture for well over a week now. It couldn’t have just vanished into the ether, could it?

** There is quite a bit of nice wool yarn in The Stash and a rather embarrassing amount of handspun suitable for socks that should be used before buying any more yarn. Space is at a premium and I am determined! The Plan was going so well, four pairs of socks with the boring cream Phildar, the DK socks in dirt-brown that was originally marked for a sweater but refuses to even swatch properly, even the Opal bought I don’t even know how many years ago – yarn into socks, no money spent. This new Opal X-Large has totally de-railed my stash-busting plans. And last night Maurine told me that she’s ordered more…

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.

Epic Fiber Haul

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A chilly walk above the beach near Yachats. Down below was a woman throwing sticks for a very happy Doberman. Sabu wanted to join in, but we had no way to get down to them.

Sigh. It’s becoming a Regular Thing, this stash acquisition. I don’t set out to make it happen, really I don’t, but it does, every time.

You see, I left for the Coast on Friday, car filled with stuff to give to other people, including the spinning wheel for Rebeccca, and somehow came back with even more stuff! I drove away from Towanda with the very best of intentions, I swear!

What was the haul?

  • Food. The Saturday Market in Newport was overflowing with lovely veggies that just begged to go home with me.
  • One gallon of Pomace for soap making.
  • A huge bag of large-ish wool fabric remnants from Elise that will be made into cute tote bags and maybe a vest or tunic or two.
  • One unwashed but quite clean Romney/Corridale fleece in a lovely shade of gray/brown, also from Elise. It’s old, so it may not be salvageable, but I’m gonna give it a try.
  • One unwashed, old and fairly dirty “medium wool” fleece, also from Elise. It has yellowed a bit with age so I plan to dye it as is, washing as I go to save a step. Tutorial coming right up!
  • One small bag of unwashed, older Romney fleece in a light gray with sunburnt tips (my personal Kryptonite) also from Elise.
  • Various bits of fabric from Awana, one of which is a lovely Art Deco inspired piece of coarse linen for crewel embroidery, wool yarn included! I plan to work an outline stitch on the piece and use it as a curtain if it will fit.
  • Four balls of fine wool top that are actually mine but were being stored at Awana’s because I didn’t think I would be spinning any fine stuff for awhile, but now that I have a wheel that prefers to spin fine I find myself needing more fiber to fondle. You know how it is, I’m sure 🙂
  • A super-cool wool drying rack that Awana spied at a local Goodwill that works a treat – pics of it in use to follow.
  • The last fabric bin (Cordura and heavy fabrics) left in storage at Awana’s. Needed for bags very soon.
  • Two boxes with lids, one box with no lid and a decorative tin that I found at Jo-Ann’s and simply had to have for photo props.
  • Two yards of fusible fleece for bag projects, four yards of sticky-back velcro for Stuff Curtains and a yard and a half of double-wide bleached muslin for dish towels. The first two items were what I was actually walking into Jo-Ann’s for in the first place. Thank goodness they were closing or who knows what I might have bought!

All of this in addition to the typical Stuff I take with me whenever I go visiting over night. And the dog, of course, who was not at all happy to have to share the back seat with my Stuff.

But we made it home safe and sound and got most of the stuff unloaded from the car. It looks like I’m becoming that Crazy Lady with garbage stacked under her trailer because of the bags of wool – need to remedy that in a hurry or someone will be sayin’ something about it.

Whew! What a busy, wild weekend, but so much fun!