Monday, April 30, 2007

Sheep Shearing is Harder than it Looks

First, Thank-you everyone, for the messages of support. It means a lot to me.

Now, on to the fun stuff! We went to a sheep shearing clinic sponsored by the San Juan Wool Growers Association, because wool producers have a hard time finding shearers to come out. Doug, of La Plata Farms and his daugther Cassie showed us 2 methods of shearing.

Then, Nate got to try his hand at it.

The sheep, a Rambouillet/Columbia cross ewe:

Shearing! Doug is helping Nate secure the sheep with his feet. Sheep are funny, if you grab them and pull them, they fight back. Instead, you push them and restrain them by positioning them in such a way so that they actually can't get up unless you move.

Nate is using a pair of Shearmaster clippers, there were a few people at the clinic with us, that had only ever sheared with the traditional hand shears.

The ewe, laying on her fleece, with her new summer 'do! The goal is to shear the belly, legs, and lower neck/face first and put that wool into the skirtings pile. Then, shear off the sides, back and upper neck in one piece, this is the fleece.

I brought home a few locks to test spin, to give me a better idea of fleece to yarn wool characteristics. Washed, they are almost pure white! Man, they looked creamy colored to me before the bath.

The washed and flick carded locks spun up into a nice yarn. All purpose garment quality, soft, but not as soft as merino. Socks, hats, sweaters would all be excellent from this wool.

AND...last, but definitely not least...I bring you, a package from the wonderful Valkryie. She stepped in and did something wonderful for me.

As you can see, that is FOUR skeins of handpainted sock yarn, kinds I've never tried! Bath fizzies, chocolate, a really cool magnet set, and an awesome black sheep ornament (did you knit this?) were all in the package. Thank-you again, I love it all!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thank you Spinny.

I've been having a REALLY bad week. One of the crappiest things ever happened to us this week, and we've been dealing with it.

One of the things that makes it easier is having friends. Spinndiva sent me a lovely little packet of fiber. The teal and gray called to me, and I spun it up last night. Thank you spin!

I wish I knew what it was! Mystery Mill Ends.

Mallard I'll call it. The color of the male green and the female soft gray brown...all in one.

I think it would make nice socks...but, do I have enough? I guess I'd have to count wraps to find out, nah.

And, I also have a sock package, and an SP box to share....


Friday, April 20, 2007

Cotswold Locks Sampled

Another mini-skein to go in the Natural Wools Blanket pile! Another sample that Tania sent me from her Rhinebeck stash.

Dark gray to brown to ember gray Cotswold locks. These locks were in MUCH better shape than the last Cotswold I tried. These were actually FUN to spin, unlike the last batch! I simply Flick carded the ends and spun.

You can easily see that this wool is of the longwool variety, more like hair than a traditional wool. Shiny and silky, not fuzzy and sproingy. I've found that with the long luster wools, bad condition of the fleece leads to lots of frustration in spinning. More so than with the "regular" wools. I think I wouldn't buy un-combed luster wool fiber without seeing it first.

So, just a small sample skein. Little and soft. In the pile for the blanket. (I think I only have about 6 or so more wools to sample before I can design and knit!)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yak Yarn

Well, only 22% yak yarn. The rest is wool and silk. This was a bag of Paradise Fibers Microblends roving, 5 oz. Fingering weight yarn, destination unknown.

I haven't given it it's final soak yet so I haven't counted yardage, but I'm thinking I have at least 500 yds here.

I like the color and softness of this yarn a great deal. Did I like spinning it? It was OK. There were areas that just didn't want to draft evenly, and then there were areas where it wasn't as completely blended as the rest of the roving. I'm betting this could have used another trip through the carder.

Thanks for all the comments yesterday about my socks (and shoes!). If you're truly loving the shoes as much as you say you are, you can buy your own pair HERE! (those red ones are tempting me...)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spring Socks

Tulips and Easter Egg colored socks. Spring is here! (and the ditches are flowing, the dogs running up and down them becoming more mud than fur I think...)

Simple 'car' project socks I started 12 days ago, making these officially the second fastest pair of socks I've knit to date.

Opal Petticoat, color 1296, basic top down stockinette body with an eye of partridge heel. Easy, pattern memorized sockies.

Other than that, we've been working on the ditches, the pasture, the fencing, the garden...the llama...all kinds of Spring tasks that are accumulated faster than weekends around here!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Arches National Park

Sorry I've been gone a while! We had a nice visit with Nate's mom, then I've had a seminar at work for the past few days that kept me busy, and haven't had time to blog!

We spent a day in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah (La Sal Mountains in the background there) and enjoyed the southwest scenery. Mountains and red rock. What a goregous combination.

It was the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab too, so the little town was packed, wall to wall with jeeps and people.

I haven't really gotten much knitting or spinning done. But I do have a green skein of yak-blend handspun saved for tomorrow's post!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Baby Kimono finished.

I'm so bad at getting around to my seaming and finishing. I don't know why, when I actually sit down to do it, it isn't half bad. The M/D Baby Kimono, finished. I decided to do simple matching ties instead of something more complicated. The variegated yarn seemed enough for this little wrap.

And yes, The Stump is the new backdrop for many of my photos, since it gets the Good Light early and late.

Now, I really need a new knitting project. I really want something fun, to keep my attention, but not *too* hard. I want to knit the Urban Aran, but not so much in the summer...maybe Trellis now? I kind of want a hand knit vest for me too. Choices!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Tamarack and Spruce Mer-Ten

Navajo plied, a little heavier than 'normal' sock yarn, but will still make nice socks for Nate.

Love it! The colors really work together. I admit, I was suspicious when I first saw the roving.

8 oz...700 +/- yds. Tamarack and Spruce colorway of the Merino-Tencel from Spinning Bunny.

Now if I could only be inspired to knit...I've been so busy with everything else lately, I haven't knitted much. And spinning requires less thought, so in the evenings if I'm ready to relax, I'm choosing the spin lately. I guess it always goes in phases though!