Tag Archives: Fiber Festival

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!

 

Midsummer Spin In & Fiber Faire

The Sweatshop Girls* will be at the Spin In at the Wren Community Hall on Saturday from o’dark-thirty until 4:00 with stuff to sell –

Wren FlyerThe Sweatshop has been humming with activity these past two weeks and more and we have some fabulous New Stuff for your fiber needs:

  • Cotton storage bags for your washed wool – these are fantastic for storage: pack your washed sheep’s wool tight (don’t worry, it won’t felt) pull the drawstring and store in a copier paper box. You’ll be amazed how much you can fit into one box. A handy clear window on the bag provides an easy way to add a label. I’ve stored washed wool this way for years and it was in perfect condition for further processing after a little bit of fluffing. No worries about moths or condensation, either, provided you keep the boxes dry and inspect periodically.
  • Nylon storage bags for those fibers that stick to cloth bags – alpaca, angora, silk, etc. The seams are on the outside so there’s nothing for your fiber to snag on – just upend and dump, no wasted time (or fiber) left in the bag and you don’t have to use plastic and worry about condensation problems.
  • Our handspun yarns will be in the handspun yarn tent – come see what we’ve been talking about!
  • We’ll have a lovely selection of raw alpaca fiber for sale in pretty much every color alpacas come in, from white to almost-black (I kept the one True Black for myself and I’m not even sorry 🙂 ) and every shade in between.
  • Knitting patterns, blank greeting cards, stitch markers and stuff I can’t remember right now…

The SOD team has expanded to include Awana, who is learning all about fabric, sewing and cutting and using her powerful sense of color, texture and matching** to drum card some yummy batts for your next spinning or felting project:

AwanaAnd Jeanie who brings a breath of fresh creativity, mad organizational skillz*** and artist’s sensibilities, rounding out the perfect Design Trio we are becoming:

JeanieYou can find us under the black pop-up somewhere on the grounds outside – look for the red handspun shawl hanging from the awning. We’ll probably be the women laughing the loudest…

* The Studio is quite hot in the evenings right now. Even with fans, we’re all sweating, hence the new moniker. Of course, we’re also not getting paid, so in that sense the name also fits 🙂

** Awana has strong ideas about what “goes together,” something I’ve been told I lack. Letting her have at it and match fabrics and colors has really amped up our product quality.

*** Jeanie used to be an event planner and has an inherent need for a Schedule, a Plan, a Method of Attack – something sorely lacking here at SOD. Stay tuned for pictures of the new white board 🙂

Newport Spin-In Tales

DSCN0633Saturday’s Spin-In was a ton of fun, even if we didn’t make much money. All the Usual Suspects were there, spinning and talking a mile a minute. Our table:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASurprisingly, this being an event for spinners, our biggest sellers were stitch markers for knitting & crochet and greeting cards:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASabu and Endorsement Kitty were front and center until they were snatched up by happy customers.

We made some valuable local connections that will hopefully bear fruit in the near future. The only downside was that there was no Real Food on hand, and no hot water for tea!!! There were brownies (while they lasted) and danish and some really overpriced pre-made sandwiches, but nothing I wanted to eat. Maybe next year…

 

 

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.

Studio is all set up!

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The old Singer 301A all set up

 

Sunday I hauled the rest of the Big Stuff over to the studio and now it’s all set up to Get Shit Done. Looking at the back room, I wonder where all this stuff used to be. I also wonder WTF I’ll do with the stuff that’s left. I want to get a bed back there so I can quit sleeping on the fold-out couch* and get some paint on the walls. I have some ideas that I’ll share as they get closer to realization. Just let me say that having all the Crafty Stuff elsewhere is good for my mood.

The first project to be completed is a set of skirts for the table at the craft show this weekend – no pics because they are just tan twill and boring.

I haven’t talked about the craft show? Oops. Awana and I are going to have a table Black Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Not Quite 11th-hour Santa Holiday Fair” where we will be selling our wares in the hope of de-stashing some of the great stuff we have no room for. We’ll have washed wool and carded batts for spinning, stitch markers, hand knit hats, hand spun/hand knit shawls, handmade soaps, and knitting patterns. If I can find my sewing mojo again there will also be an assortment of wool project bags. Come on out and see us if you’re in town!

* It’s no longer the adventure it once was. I woke up Sunday morning with all the teeth on the left side of my mouth hurting. I mean, really hurting. Like I need to get to the dentist ASAP hurting. I need some work, so my thought was that finally everything is going to hell and the dentist will be able to buy a new car just from the cost of my new mouth. Monday I woke up with the upper teeth on the left hurting. Biting down, I can feel what happened – I think I’m grinding my teeth in my sleep. Probably because I’m cold. Another blanket on the bed and the heat turned up a few degrees should take care of it. I hope so – my dentist’s office is closed until December 2…

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival 2013

Here we are, another Monday dawning wet and windy after a wild & stormy weekend here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. We had no significant damage in the park; some of my friends on the Coast were not so lucky. Winds in excess of 50 mph blew well over an inch of rain sideways (why can’t I find any data on exactly how much rain fell and what the peak winds were? Any ideas where to look?) Staying inside with a nice pot of potato soup was a very good idea, but this die-hard fiber fanatic was on the road Saturday morning to Canby, Oregon for the 17th annual Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival. Believe it or not, I attended the very first OFFF back in ’96 and I can tell you from experience that it has grown by leaps and bounds!

Crazy Helper Dog and I got very lucky on the drive North and had no problems with rain, but the wind was whipping the big trucks around so much we had to wonder why they didn’t just pull over and wait it out. There were some white-knuckle moments but we made it in one piece and the journey was well worth the risk.

The outside vendors (hearty souls, indeed) had their pop-ups triple staked and the sides lashed down as tight as they could and the wind was whipping them about alarmingly. For all the rain showers and blustery winds, they were still doing brisk business, the Wooly Bears dashing from booth to booth, their purchases wrapped in plastic bags, laughing all the way.

The atmosphere was remarkably cheerful and remarkably crowded. I’ve never had to park as far away as I did this year. The main pavilion was a mass of talking, laughing, pointing and picture taking humanity, many of the booths spending hours at a time so overrun with people that one had to keep circling back in the hope of getting a peek inside. It was mayhem of the very best kind.

There were many inspiring entries into the various competitions as well as weaving demonstrations going on upstairs.

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This lovely hand felted cape won for it’s division, but not the overall prize – a sad omission, IMHO. The workmanship was superb, the fabric incredibly soft and the beading perfect. The lining was made entirely of money – bills from many countries.

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This cape was all about the maker’s Journey. There were several spirals made up of painstakingly perfect needle felted poems.

The themes of this year’s festival was Angora Rabbits and Dyeing and everywhere you looked was evidence of some very skilled artists. Of this hooked rug the artist says:

My brother is a professor of Oceanic and Fishery Sciences at University of Washington. In 1973 he found and named this fascinating angler fish from the pitch black depths of the ocean, where bio-luminescence is the light of day. The female is brightly colored, with large sharp teeth that snag the prey she lures with a bright light at the end of her tentacle. Her “husband” is a nondescript parasitic male which attaches himself to her body for his life. She nurtures him and he provides sperm for the next generation.

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I’m relying on Awana to fill in the blanks about names – I totally suck because I did not take notes 😦

Crochet works were everywhere, including this class winner, hand-dyed in shades of green:

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My picture does not do this shawl justice – free-form crochet all along the yoke in patterns that evokes the feeling of a flower garden under the sea.

This hand knit shawl won the Judge’s Choice award:

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The yarn was incredibly fine wool, perfectly spun and knit into a very old lace pattern whose name escapes me at the moment…

This tableau did not get the respect it deserved:

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The entire scene is needle felted and tells the story of an angora rabbit who is cold after being sheared. The angora goat dyes yarn spun by the cashmere goat who sits at the spinning wheel that really does work.

The workmanship was exquisite, each curly lock on the mohair goat a perfect spiral. The sheep are different breeds and you can see how detailed the features are.

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You can see the little white bunny snuggles up to the brown sheep, who is knitting him a pair of pants to the left. A white sheep cards wool while the dyed skeins dry on a rack.

Just gorgeous!

Of course there were sheep:

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An adorable Shetland ewe

And goats of all kinds:

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One of the residents at Goat Knoll Farm

This goat doesn’t even look real:

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No idea what breed this goat is, but its hair was long and straight and it almost looked like it’s face was shaved. It looks like it belongs in a Fairy Tale…

And lots of angora rabbits, but they were mobbed with people ooohhh-ing and aaaahhhhh-ing all over them – not great picture taking conditions.

There was yarn and fiber of all kinds, but that will have to wait for another post. It’s late and I am DONE. More about my haul tomorrow. Or, you know, Wednesday. Or whenever. Did I say I’m tired?

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…”