Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another productive weekend

How does a fiber artist spend their weekend? This one wasn't typical for me, but it was a lot of fun.

Yesterday I got up early and drove to a local fiber mill to drop off some fleeces to be washed and made into roving. I found a local source for Polypay wool and bought thirty pounds. My goal is to dye more local fiber whenever possible. It helps the farmers and it really interests me. I like having that connection to local sources. The opportunity to buy fleeces other than merinos is worth the extra effort. Polypays are bred to be good all-around sheep. They have lots of lambs, good weight gain for market and their fleeces are good quality. They aren't as super fine as some breeds and they can really vary, but I picked through and found the softest and crimpiest ones possible.

Three ewes missed their original shearing date and were done later, so their fleeces were longer. Although the mill equipment couldn't handle the length, I couldn't pass them up. The fiber is really soft and it's 6-8 inches long! I'm going to hand wash and comb these fleeces and see what happens.

After visiting the mill and meeting the very nice owner, I came home to warm up the dye pots. I focused on merino/silk yarns, firestar and the fiber for my April Phat Fiber samples. I stopped when my shower was filled and I needed to get to bed. I tried a new technique for the yarns, including an overdyeing step for some of them. I really like some of the colorways that resulted. One of them is gross and I need to re-do it, but I'll have to think about what colors I'd like to overdye with. Not every color blend is a success. In the photo, it's the weird pinkish-salmon and brown one. The red dye I was using didn't bond to the silk very well and it made this bizarre pastel color.

This morning I got up and headed to a local farm to demonstrate spinning. They open their farm for visitors to come see the new lambs and it's quite the event! Hundreds of people came through to watch me spin and ask questions. I like sharing my experiences with learning to spin and it gave me about six hours of spinning time. I took two bags of past Phat Fiber samples in blues and pinks and spun them one after the other to make a variegated yarn in each color group. I already did one in natural tones and I love how it turned out so I want to make more. These still need to be plied, but I think they'll be beautiful.

The best part of the farm visit is seeing the lambs. I still hope to have a farm someday and being around sheep makes me happy. The lambs were napping in a huge pile in the creep feeder pen this morning. Watching lambs dozing in the sunshine was a good way to start the day.

These are Targhee x Texel sheep and I brought home three fleeces from this farm as well. They're softer and springier, but will make very nice roving. I bought a sample of the roving from last year and really liked it. These will be going to the mill the next time I have a minute.

Tonight's plan is to wash some of the long Polypay fleece and then sit back with a glass of wine. I'm tired!

1 comment:

  1. I was there! Thanks for chatting about spinning and dyeing. I hope to get to that some day. I like your green rovings especially. What type of mill do you take your wool to? Do you pay per pound or something? Never heard of that.

    Happy Spring!
    Kristin (Minneapolis)