Saturday, June 14, 2014

Spinning and the Central NY Fiber Festival

       I was chatting with a friend at the fiber guild and watching her spin.  Her work is gorgeously smooth and even.  She recommended that I spin every day - even if it is just 10 minutes - not just to get better, but to keep the muscle memory going.  I have taken it to heart and dusted off my somewhat neglected spinning wheel.
      At first I had to ply some singles so I would have some empty bobbins.  A couple years ago I experimented with fracturing icing dyes and loved the result.  I had two bobbins of singles from this precess, and  never plied them because I couldn't figure out what might look good with them.

The  dyed roving
the singles
Since I had no brilliant ideas, and I did not like charcoal with it, and plying it with white just looked too flat, I just plied it together and came up with this:

My "oh so expensive" niddy noddy - pvc from the Home Depot!

The greens, pinks and purples make me want to knit socks (and that's saying something as I started my first pair of socks YEARS ago and they are still not done)!
       Today I went to the Central NY Fiber Festival.  It was the first fiber festival I have ever been to and I really enjoyed myself.  I went at the suggestion of a friend, and it was good to see the way it was run, how the booths were set up, the various demos, and it was great for getting information!  I have found that people who own animals, keep bees, make things with their hands, are really easy to talk to.  They want to share information about the things they love.  I spoke to sheep people about their breeds, the uses of their fleece, etc. I talked to llama folks, alpaca people, and chatted with a sheep shearer for a while after watching him shear a merino. I took notes on how people set up their booths, what value added products they came with.  I got the information on three different "local" fiber mills - all no further than 3 hours from our farm.  A couple of people were really helpful in discussing fiber blending (llama on its own has little memory) as well as  cross breeding sheep for characteristics you like. Lisa Merian of Spinner's Hill was very generous with her time and information.  A big thank you to June of Preston's Alpacas for suggesting I start going and investigating fiber festivals. 
     Now, I am not a shopper when it comes to most things.  However, there are a few places I have NO sales resistance; a book store is one place, and any place selling wool is another.  I arrived 15 minutes before the festival opened to be certain to get to the fiber sale tent while there was still fiber to  buy.  I wanted to see about getting some raw fleece.  If I am going to have sheep, I want to learn how to wash fleece.  I found some Border Leicester that was $15 for just over 3 lbs.  There were many other fleeces that were much more expensive, but this was perfect for my first attempt to wash fleece.  If it ends up being a very large felted mess, it will be an inexpensive lesson (and might make a good dog bed).  I am hoping I am successful, as I love the grey and brown wool!
Border Leicester fleece - unwashed
I also indulged and bought a small bag of angora fur - soft as a cloud and about the same colour.
I got some beautiful green roving for no reason other than I fell in love with the colorway.
The greens really spoke to me.  And finally, as I was leaving, I stopped to talk to some women from a fiber mill near Syracuse, and saw a hank of 100% Finn wool.  Since this is the breed our sheep are, I had to get it to see what it felt like as a finished yarn.
Plus, it was a plummy brown, and I am a sucker for browns.
    After this easy introduction to fiber festivals, and knowing  that I must set and keep to my budget (I came home with four dollars to spare), I am looking forward to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival, and then Rhinebeck.  I hear Maryland Sheep and Wool is one of the country's best, but that has to wait  until next year!

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