Monday, October 30, 2006

Fiber Works Guild Meeting

This Saturday we had the last guild meeting of the year (there is a holiday dinner, and the Fiber fest coming up and some other events) but this was the last official meeting.

The group:

I'm on the top right there, next to my friend Alyssa (who's 13 and spent the weekend with us, she already knits, so what else was I to do, I had to teach her to spin too!)

I took some photos of the Fiber Works Studio, which opened in May in Durango. It really is a cool place, in fact I signed up to take a class this coming Saturday...


Some of the fiber availible. All the fiber is local; one on the main purposes of the studio is to give local people a place to sell fiber and encourage people to raise animals for not only food, but fiber too. I'd say 50% of this is Churro, in about 6 colors, and I saw Icelandic, Rambouillet, Columbia, Llama, angora, alpaca, some nice batts of angora-alpaca blend, and my temptation, a 75% Churro 25% llama blend roving....I really want to try some of this.


A corner with looms, and weaving supplies.


More fiber and fiber prep stuff.


Some of the woven and felted pieces for sale by the artists; they also sell yarn....handspun and millspun from local animals.


And I couldn't resist. A sleeping cat trifecta. Tele on top, Clyde in the middle, Dory on the bottom. I love that my pets all get along.

Friday, October 27, 2006

FF Handspun Randomness

Ah. Since I'm working on the quiviut still and have no new handspun this week, and the weather was cold and dark this morning so photo opportunities were limited, this weeks Friday fiber installment is handspun, but not yet knit.


Ah, the lovely yarn spun from the batts my spining SP sent me, the green Rambo(uillet). Still want to knit a hat with you...I remember how nicely you spun...


The honey-mead alpaca I sent to Elizabeth as an early birthday gift. I can't wait to see what she knits with this! Hmmm, maybe it'll be something really cool, and she'll publish the pattern, and I can knit it too.....


Single on the bobbin from the Mountain Sunset yarn. It warms me up just looking at the colors. Also needs a final knitted destination, any suggestions?


And the teaser samplers from my two Taos fleeces...so inspiring. I have enough of each of these for a BIG project! And I love working from raw fleece through to the yarn, it's very meditative. Even if I wash a pound a week and comb a handful of locks every day it will be done in a year...really not that daunting after all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

S is for Symbiosis

One of Nate's hobbies is caring for saltwater fish. We have 2 tanks, a 55 gallon long tank and a 30 gallon tank.

One of the coolest inhabitants I think is this Condylactus anemone. The little Porcelain Crab lives symbiotically with the anemone, never leaving him. He cleans the 'nem, eats the same food as the 'nem, and basically hangs out with him all the time.

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Pretty neat, I think. (Click for big 'nem pic).

You may have seen Finding Nemo, and remember that Clown Fish also live symbiotically with anemones. This is true. But, they won't live with any species; only with host species, of which the Condylactus is not.

Our two little Ocellaris clown fish, Scratch and Patch, pretty much hang out together all the time, they're probably a mated pair, the female being the larger and more dominant of the two.

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Hanging out with Scratch and Patch is Sunflower, the Hawaiian Yellow Tang (my favorite). Nate took the smaller tank to his 7th grade biology class last year, and might again this year, the kids really liked it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Tale of Two Fleeces

At Taos wool festival, two fleeces came home.

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Chocolate Corriedale and CVM cross lamb fleece,

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And taupe, tan, cream CVM fleece.

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The chocolate brown Corrie/CVM fleece has a wonderful medium crimp, soft hand, and wonderful color. The CVM fleece has a nice fine, tight crimp, long staple, and is very very soft. Next to the skin soft.

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Yesterday in between working on Laura's quiviut, I washed samples of both fleeces, waited for them to dry, combed them and spun them into two ply mini-skeins to see what the yarn would be like.

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The brown Corrie/CVM cross likes to be spun a little thicker, and will make a lovely jacket/cardigan. The taupe/cream/tan CVM will make at least one nice sweater plus more! It likes to be a sport weight yarn. The Corrie/CVM likes to be more on the worsted side.

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They both combed out really nice. Easy to comb. Hardly any waste. Hardly any plant bits or bobs.

I'm thinking I'll send the brown one off to the processor, and save the CVM tan/taupe/cream one for hand processing. I really like the heathered look of the handcombed locks and isolated colors in it.

Oooh, both nice fleeces though. Real nice.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Fiber lovin'

The Crosspatch Creations/Three Bags Full batts that I posted about here, all spun up and pretty.

The single:

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(and do remember to click for pics of the fibers as big as your screen if you want fibery goodness you can almost feel!)

Plyed with a single of Churro-Corriedale cross wool from Pam Dyer's flock up the road from me:

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The colorway of the batts was "Gwen and her Daughter" (don't ask me what that means...)

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I was spinning the single and not really knowing if I loved it or not. The colors, though lovely weren't looking like they'd make a good plyed yarn, yet I was spinning it pretty fine (because of the silk), and I don't like singles yarn for knitting. Elizabeth suggested plying it with something else! Perfect!

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The colors in the batts were not evenly spaced enough or consistent enough for a good Navajo ply, and would have gotten muddled up with a 2-ply. The gray wool single really lets the color come through, but adds an evenness to the yarn I love.

How much of this do I have? 3 good size skeins!

Total weight of all 3 skeins: 264 g/9.2 oz.
Total length: 1001 yds!
(enough for something cool methinks...)
15-16 WPI (heavy fingering weight to light sport weight).

Oh, the fiber content!
The batts were a blend of wool (Corriedale cross), Bombyx and Tussah silk and rayon. The percentages weren't listed, but I'm guessing around 40% wool, 40% silk and 20% rayon. Then of course I plyed with the Churro-Corrie wool....
(I like how you can see the silk shine....)

I'm not sure what this wants to become. A nice lacey wrap methinks. Maybe like that River wrap that Vknits made...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Castlemilk Moorit Handspun

From the raw, washed locks:
(Remember to click on these small pics if you want to see big pics...)

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To handcombed locks:

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To a handspun 2-ply yarn:

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Part of the British Rare Breeds wool pack that Kristen and I shared, my first one of the 13...

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Castlemilk Moorit sheep are indeed a rare breed. "The Castlemilk Moorit is a short-tailed primitive breed, created from the Soay, Manx, Shetland and probably wild Mouflon, and kept entirely for its ornamental appearance." For Sheep breed info, go Here.

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The yarn and the fleece is lovely. The creamy tipped brown locks spun into a yarn with light heathery, tweedy patches. Nice hand too, similar to Shetland, though not double coated. I'd definitely look into getting more of this!

Yarn Specs:
Started with 50 g of washed fleece. Hand combed each lock to retain the tip color in the locks.
35.4g/1.25 oz of 2-plied yarn.
125 m/137 yds.

Oh yeah, the contest! What was that mystery fiber? Some of you got pretty close....it is in fact fiber undigested and passed through a horse! Horse poop. Hee. A little Friday the 13th fun! I actually threw everyone into the drawing. Cause apparently my contests are too hard for everyone to guess....and the winner is.....Pam!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday is for Fiber!

Interlacements Wool Roving (that I bought at Taos Wool Festival, of course!).

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In the New Mexico morning sun. I love the morning and evening sun here. So clear and golden. Warm even when it's cold.

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Since I got good feedback about using Flickr, and I like it, I'm going to keep using it. Much faster. Little pics that download on the blog easier, but you can click on for more detail...

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Color 403.

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8 oz of color. This is the only dyed fiber I bought at Taos. Everything else is natural; natural hues of chocolate, coffee, cream and tea.

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And since it's Friday the 13th, a little fun....what is this (the one below) fiber you see? Guess correctly* and you'll be put into a fun little drawing for a skein of handspun!

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*Due to previous disscussion with TurtleGirl about said fiber, no consulting with the Turtle. But, do make sure you check out this post about the generosity of Knitties!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Q is for Spin that Quiviut!

For Laura!

The Quiviut I'm spinning for her; the spin has begun!



Ala Turtlegirl, one of my favorite bloggers, I'm trying something new....Flickr! So, these little pics below...click on them and you get the big pic for even more detail! I've had it with the unpredictability of the blogger photo hosting.

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Quiviut is the down of the Arctic Musk Ox. Said to be one of the finest, softest, and warmest fibers in the world; it is definitely the lightest. It's also not cheap, and this stuff is per oz, the most pricey stuff I've spun to date!

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Of course, when Laura asked if I'd spin it, I said yes. It might be the only time I ever spin quiviut, and I love trying new fibers. Wild Fibers magazine has a really nice article on quiviut if you're interested in learning more about the musk ox.

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So, thus far what have I learned about spinning the quiviut? (Can you tell I love the word quiviut? Quiviut, quiviut, quiviut! I love saying it...)

1) When you buy raw quiviut fiber it takes a lot of work to get it to the spinable stage. This involves no combing or carding, but lots of dehairing (pulling out the guard hair and medium-coarse hairs) and pulling out bits of vegetable matter and chaff that are stuck in the fiber.

2) Once it's cleaned and dehaired, it's already fluffed nicely and you can spin it right away.

3) The fiber staple length of the down is short. About an inch to and inch and a half. It is also VERY fine (as to be expected). This means, it needs A LOT of twist to hold it together.

4) It is best spun slowly so you can concentrate, but on a high ratio. Short draw. You definitely need to be drafting only an inch or so at a time. And slowly and carefully.

5) The goal for me with this is fine yarn with as much yardage as possible. SO, I'm spinning slow, but with a high twist ratio, and a fairly slow take up on the bobbin. This way I can draft carefully and then hold the yarn for an extra second or so before letting it wind onto the bobbin thereby getting more twist into the single.

6) It IS soft! Even on the bobbin, I can feel the softness. Ah.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Taos!

Some pics now of the actual Wool Festival!


The fleece judging tent.


The Grand Champion Fleece! This was a gorgeous, clean pure black and white CVM fleece.


View over to some of the animals, and the park. Fall in Taos, and NM in general is really lovely.


Happy to have bought fiber!
My first 2 fleeces came home with me, A CVM, and a CVM-Corriedale cross!
The CVM-Corrie will be my first spin-knit a jacket for me. It's an amazing natural coffee color.


And....a little NM scenery for ya. The Brazos cliffs between Tierra Amarilla and Taos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Meet Brutus!

Well, Taos Wool Festival was wonderful. We had a great time all around. The festival itself was awesome, the drive there and back was beautiful. The best part? Our first fiber animal. Brutus!



An angora rabbit! He's a German/Giant cross, and a lovely black and silvery blue color. Both Nate and I had rabbits growing up, so adding a rabbit to the household was an easy descision for us. And, a fiber bunny!



As you can see, he's used to being in your lap (the grooming angora rabbits need, necessitates this). He needs to be plucked (have his fiber harvested...this process doesn't hurt the rabbits, as the old wool to be plucked is dead). The long fluffy gray fur will be plucked out, leaving his new coat to come in beneath it.

I have pics of the festival, of the fiber I came home with, and I need to get some better ones of the bunny too....all to come this week!

The festival was great. Truly more fibery goodness than I've ever beheld in one place!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fiber Friday RAK!

A lovely batch of tri-colored alpaca! Given to me by thistlerain (alas no blog to link to...) from the Knittyboards. Thank-you M! I love it!

A skein of her handspun cream alpaca nestled in a bed of lovely black alpaca for me to spin...



A ball of dark brown handspun alpaca with some tree apples...



A little more cream please...



But the cream nestled in the black fluff really seems to be a favorite...



So soft.



I'm definitely wanting to do a small Fair Isle project with my tri-colored tri of alpaca!

And, I think I'll pair it with the lovely light tan handspun alpaca that Spin gave me. Ah.

Now if only those little camelids weren't so expensive!

Off to Taos Wool Fest tomorrow, can't wait!

(Oh yeah, and Nate's football team won the game 42-6 yesterday, musta been that new cheer...)

Fiber Friday RAK!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

R is for Remember that Snake?

The snake in my stove?

Well, now we have the Woodpecker in the Bookshelf.

No, I'm not kidding.

Evidence part 1:



I came home yesterday evening, and as normal, checked on the pets, the house, where everyone was. And noticed that feather above (resting on some handspun alpaca, but that's another story) alone, on the stairs.

Of course, the lone Northern Red-shafted Flicker feather on the stairs is suspicious when you have cats and a doggie door. And yes, I knew it was a flicker feather from the moment I saw it. A flicker is a type of woodpecker for those of you who aren't into birds....

So...walked the whole house. No other sign of feathers or birds. Then, walking back around, happened to notice Clyde and Dory sitting in front of the tall bookcase staring intently at the crack between the bookcase and the wall.

Damn.

Move the cats.

Get the flashlight.

Yep.

Woodpecker.



I know it's a crap photo. But the poor guy was uninjured (apart from the loss of the single feather) and I didn't want to spook him (even more) by taking photos or messing around. But, it remains as evidence that yes, I had a woodpecker in my house.

So...tried to get him a few times. Was unsucessful. My main concern was that he looked fine, and I didn't want to hurt him or trap him to where he'd hurt himself. Eventually I called up my friends T & S who live just down the road to come help. They have lots of bird experience.

We got him out. He flew away! Just fine. Not a mark on him (or the cats to my surprise, his beak was pretty big).

Which all really leaves me wondering, what next?

Oh and HERE'S a better pic of one of these gorgeous birds.