Saturday was a huge outing for me and my spinning wheel. The wheel has been sulking for weeks, but when I strapped it into the car Friday night it perked right up. Saturday morning we headed up to Boulder, Colorado for a class in how to prepare, spin and blend camelid fibers. We started out with half an hour of travel time to spare. Right. We got caught in traffic (An accident? Construction? I never figured it out, but we were stuck on the road for more than a half hour…), struggled to find a parking spot with enough space to allow me to safely pull the wheel out of the car, and then when I finally got the wheel safely to the ground it immediately fell apart. Parts rolled away across the asphalt. Sigh. Not the best of beginnings.
Look, any day spent in Boulder (which is right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains) is a good day. I patched the wheel back together and rolled off towards the class with excitement in my heart. The wheel was almost besides itself in anticipation of meeting other members of its species. We were late, but Boulder is one of those places where time is sort of flexible. This was going to be a day in the shadow of the Rockies spent in a yarn store (Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins) spinning exotic fibers with other people who think it is more important to have cool homemade yarn than a new car. In other words, a seriously good time!! OK, I’m a little bit of a fiber geek, but let me tell you, on Saturday I was with my peeps!!
Chris also had bison fiber for us to spin. Very nice. Very soft. A ton of work to prepare as the original fleece is uber hairy. You will never look favorably on hay and vegetable matter again after a few hours struggling to get it out of the undercoat that is the spinnable fiber. Chris’s advice: if someone offers to gift you with a bison fleece, decline. 🙂
I really learned a lot. Suddenly I feel like I could successfully spin that paco-vicuna that I bought two years ago. My spinning wheel is practically hopping up and down to get started (even though it really needs its new part installed before we do that; right now the flyer falls off without warning). I felt so positive about all of this I pulled down the alpaca fleece that I had stored in the garage since 2007 (gasp!) and took a really good look at it.
The fleece is mostly light caramel colored with some cream patches. I may even play with dyeing it. Chris really stressed being gentle in the preparation of these fibers since they are easily broken, and favored hand carders and spindles, but I’m going to made the drum carder work somehow. I’ll be using the spinning wheel, too, as with my scleroderma-hands the less I stress them the better it is. Still, I feel empowered to experiment and super-soft yarn of the paco-vicuna and alpaca variety is right around the corner. Thanks Chris! It was a great class!
I know that I have been a little whiny lately. I started methotrexate a little over a month ago and the adjustment to the new medication has been challenging to say the least. This week was better. Much better. So sorry for the whining. I promise hope that I won’t be doing that again for a long time. Check out all the things that were accomplished this week.
The whole time I was knitting this tee I worried about how big the neck opening was. As soon as it was cast off the needles I tried it on, and yep, too big. I ran a drawstring around the neckline on the inside to draw it up a little and to prevent more stretching. Neckline problem totally fixed: it fits great! The top is loose and a comfy layering piece. I’m thinking that I would like to make a second one with long sleeves using a winter yarn that will be lighter in weight. Maybe in navy blue. I plan to keep that garter stitch band on the sleeve and will continue the sleeves in stockinette below the band.
The lawn seat is coming right along. The fabric will stretch when I sew it into place so it will be more open looking when it is done. I haven’t completely decided how to attach it to the side pieces of the frame. I’m afraid that the attachment solution won’t be very elegant, but hopefully it will be functional.
Wednesday I went out to visit a friend’s alpaca ranch (she has sheep too!!). I am consumed with jealousy. Such cool animals wearing fabulously cool fiber; she has a whole dyeing and processing operation going. I didn’t take any pictures because next week there will be a summer camp there and I get to teach kids how to spin! Ha! Stay tuned for the summer camp report. 🙂
Today I took the car to get its oil changed and battery replaced. I know that this sounds like a small thing, but I am rocking my good week and getting a lot of things done. After I got home I cleaned out the garage and packed my spinning wheel into the car because tomorrow we go to a class to learn how to spin camelid fibers.
That’s right. I still have a bag of paco-vicuna that I am nervous about spinning. The spinning class is taught by Chris Switzer who has quite a reputation as a master spinner of these fibers in this part of the world. I am taking the paco-vicuna bag and a chunk of my alpaca fleece with me to the class to get feedback on spinning techniques for the yarn that I dream of creating. Not that I’m intimidated, but the class registration says to bring some things that I’ve made from my homespun yarn with me. I have spent an hour finding things that I’ve made; I’ve decided to only take two three things. Maybe three is too many? If I take two substandard items she might think it’s a fluke. If I have three, it’s pretty sure that’s the type of spinner I am. Whatever. It’s best to not overthink this. I’ll take three that I like and that will be that. I’m taking the class with a friend who likes to spin crazy lace weight yarn and it is going to be wonderful!!
I finished reading all of the bee books this week too. I feel another post coming on. Some of the books were a little bit of a chore to finish, others were just amazing. Hmmm….
Last Saturday I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado with my friend Margie where we met up with other friends (AKA fiber addicts). I’d been looking forward to this outing for weeks, and had organized myself with specific shopping goals. Yeah, whatever. This is one of these deals where it is best to not over think things. Still, here’s what I hoped to accomplish.
Hunt for some great gradients or ombre yarns that I could use for shawls.
Buy unique yarns that I probably won’t see in my LYS.
Make arrangements to visit the paco-vicuna Gulliver who is a resident of Jefferson Farms. I have 6 ounces of his very expensive roving that I want to spin up for a lacy shawl. OK, this is one of my New Year resolutions. I’m also terrified to start on this project without some lace spinning lessons. Maybe I can make arrangements for a class while I’m there…
Score some great new patterns.
Run wild with my friends!!
With every intent of exercising some self control I entered the marketplace with Margie and stopped dead at the first booth. OMG! Yak yarn! Dyed by Ms. Babs in a colorway called Red Rock Canyon. The exact colors of the national parks in Moab, Utah. Oh my goodness, I just love Moab, and I really love those colors. Here it is.
What wonderful, soft yarn. This is yarn that a person can fall asleep while clutching in happy exhaustion at the end of the day (true story). Out came the credit card and this yarn was mine!
In a booth nearby I met Chris Switzer and learned that she was teaching a class on how to spin camelid fibers this July. I had to wait until Monday to sign up for the class, but I did. The class is July 18th, so I still have time to make sure my spinning wheel (which was sadly dropped last year) is in working order again.
Other yarn acquisitions included:
After hours of gabbing, playing with fiber and catching up with friends we called it a day. I didn’t get much more yarn, but there were some other great finds. These included:
I met the owner of Jefferson Farms, which is the home of Gulliver, the paco-vicuna that I have fiber from. She is happy for me to visit him and to facilitate our meeting she is transporting him up to the Denver farm this week. Look forward to a post about paco-vicunas and Gulliver!
I never did find a great yarn gradient, but boy did I find a great pattern to use color gradients with. The pattern is called Beyond the Pale, and it is from Wolly Wonka. I saw it knitted in three different color combinations, and it is stunning. I already have it in the Ravelry shopping cart, and I’ll be buying it tomorrow.
I love to knit cables. Really, I do! There was a booth with the most wonderful patterns with Celtic cable work from Black Water Abbey, which is located in (gasp) Aurora, Colorado not far from my house. I bought several patterns. The most wonderfully soft tweed yarn (Brooklyn Tweed) that I have ever handled was in another booth. I’ll be buying some of that down the road to knit the patterns that I bought from Black Water Abbey.
You know, I did meet all of my goals for the trip. I didn’t get as much yarn as I wanted, but I made lots of connections and am inspired to get going on on many, many different projects. How fun it was to be in a place where everyone was wearing a hand knit or woven shawl/scarf and carrying a knitting project. It was great! I was with my peeps!!