Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

......And the Fiber Adventures Continue

Wow! Just when you think that the week can't get any better.....

Yesterday, some more fabulous fiber goodies arrived. Oh....and I'd forgotten about a "recent arrival" from last week.

First, the "goodie" from last week. I know that cotton is difficult to spin, but I still want to try it. So, I've begun the quest to obtain all the necessary tools to accomplish just that. Last week, I got a set of used "cotton cards". Now I'll definitely be able to properly prepare the fibers for spinning.....just in case it's not roving, but simply ginned cotton instead. Next on my list is the quill for "Lizzie" (my Ashford Elizabeth).

DH went off to visit his grandma and his folks while I "played" at the yarn shop yesterday. I baked some fresh blueberry muffins to send along, though, so I was there in spirit, even though I couldn't go in person! His folks just got back from a whirlwind trip across the US - a big loop from the desert southwest, California, Canada, South Dakota, and back. All told, they spent a bit more than a month traversing a number of states and viewing many fabulous national treasures - both natural and man made. They even brought me back a souvenir - and it's perfect! They know how "into" the fiber arts I am, so they picked up a Navajo and Hopi Dye book - how cool is that? I can't wait to "discover" the natural dyes they used - and perhaps employ them in the "Shepherd's Rug" I plan to make out of the Navajo Churro wool that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool

I also received the 10 flax stricks I ordered from "Dave the Flaxman" - I ordered 5 fine stricks and 5 average ones last Saturday and they've already arrived! Wahoo! Here's a photo of what a strick looks like. He even included a fabulous one page tutorial on how to dress the distaff and his fast and easy method of spinning flax. I can't wait to get started! His prices are fabulous and he was an absolute joy to speak with! He's been spinning flax for 40 years, so he definitely is a wealth of information and tips about spinning flax! I'll be sure to take photos again once I "dress" a distaff and start spinning. Oh....that reminds me....I need to also order a distaff for "Lizzie" as well (The distaff from my Finnish flax wheel is missing the upright piece of wood, otherwise, I'd use that for spinning the flax).

My final "treat" was some delicious roving that I ordered directly from Lisa at Somerhill Farm - wool from her sheep! And the colors are just divine! The Raspberry colored roving (the BFL Cheviot cross) is sold out. She still has a bit of the "Wisteria" (pure BFL) remaining, but you better hurry if you want some....she doesn't have much left!

I'm planning to make a sweater using a Celtic knot design of some sort with the BFL Cheviot cross as the color will definitely show off the detail. The purple will become a less textured project as the magenta and other more subtle colors blended in will give it richness and depth. The small baggie contains color coordinating dyed BFL locks that I can use to make designer yarn, or add to accessories or the sweater I intend to make from the purple BFL. Oh the possibilities!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"My Precious......"

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I found my fabulous package from the Goldings waiting for me. It's BEAUTIFUL! I absolutely love it! And the best part is that not only is it gorgeous, but it spins like a dream!

Here's a few "glamor shots" of the "Tree of Life" resting seductively on some of my handspun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Goldings Are Awesome!

Less than a week ago, I contacted Tom Golding of Golding Fiber Tools to order the custom spindle I'd discussed with him a couple of weeks ago at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

Tom is a master woodworker, but I never thought my spindle would be completed this quickly! The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival was the first weekend of May...and the New Hampshire show was the following weekend. Last Wednesday, I officially submitted my custom order, fully expecting that it may take a while as he's a very popular craftsman of high quality spinning and weaving tools.

I got an e-mail very early this morning telling me that my spindle is done and ready to ship - in LESS than a week no less! Wahoo! What fabulous service!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sittende Mai!

Hurrah! Today is Sittende Mai - Norwegian Constitution Day!

On May 17th, 1814, Norway's Constitution was signed and they began the road to independence....first from the Danes, and then the Swedes. Their constitution was modeled after our Constitution - and was signed a few decades later.

This is definitely a great day to be a Norwegian - I'm only half by heritage, but 100% in spirit! Many of the attendees were dressed in the traditional clothing of the region - everyone looked fabulous! (I definitely "need" a bunad!)

The celebration was held in Carderock Park....just outside of Washington, DC. We had the use of a pavillion as well as a live band to play the Norwegian Anthem and our National Anthem. It was a picture perfect day - warm, bright, and sunny - you couldn't ask for better weather. Our friends in Norway didn't fare as well....Oslo had some snow today and another town was blessed with half a meter of snow!


The Norwegian Ambassador gave a wonderful speech - he's a very engaging speaker with a fabulous sense of humor. His wife and daughters were there as well - they were dressed in traditional bunads.

This was followed by a parade and a picnic. We all gathered together to line up for the parade and then began waving our flags and parading through the park.

There were even games and activities for the kids....and the kids at heart!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Very Happy Mother's Day!

I guess I'll have to call this my "Flower Post". Not only did I get lovely flowers for Mother's Day from DH, but also from my DD! They're all gorgeous!

DH selected tulips and irises.....lovely pink tulips and the traditional purple irises with the bright yellow centers.

DD selected a variety of lilies, roses, daisies, with tons of lovely flowers. I'll get to enjoy these all week at the office! Everyone has been commenting on the flowers - they really are spectacular.

Even the roses in my garden participated in the celebration by providing my first rose of the season!

In addition to the flowers, my DH and SD bought me some lovely Golding Drop Spindles. They're so wonderful to spin with! I LOVE them!

DH also managed to find a cute little "Viking" finger puppet as well as some little "sheepie" earrings. They're even Blue Faced Leicesters - one of my favorite sheep breeds! Believe it or not, DH ventured into the world of "etsy.com" to find these lovely handmade items. What a sweetie! The envelope for the finger puppet was a work of art as well, so I "had" to include a photo of it as well.

I was definitely a very spoiled mom on Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Frying Pan Park Sheep and Wool - May 10

On Saturday, several of us volunteered to help at the Frying Pan Park with the Sheep and Wool Day. Most of us were from the Purls of Distinction Knitting Guild. This is the 5th time we've been asked to perform demos at the park as part of the festival. This year there were 5 of us helping out - Jo Anne, Kay, Jo, Brenda, and me. Unfortunately Brenda left before I managed to get a photo of the group.

It was a bit chilly and rainy, but several folks still came out to see the sheep shearing, puppet shows, and to see the baby animals. As always, we had an absolute blast chatting with the kids and the parents about everything dealing with sheep, knitting, spinning and weaving. This is such a fun event - it's all about the kids and family fun.

I took a short break and happened to catch part of a sheep shearing demo. The expression on this sheep's face seems to say, "Oh... the indignity!" As summer arrives, I'm sure this sheep will be glad that to have shorn the "winter coat".

We shared the barn with the Capital Alpacas. The alpacas were very very cute. They even got to go out for a stroll.

I love all the fabulous shawls, scarves, and tops that they've made out of Alpaca. It's so soft!

Of course I had to take numerous photos of all the animals. In the barn, I found a very friendly sheep that loved to pose and the Mama with the "glowing eyes". The goats were romping all about and stumbling over each other - you know how kids must play...LOL! I also found some very hungry little piggies.

The little lamb in front nibbled and licked my knee so much that it tickled. Every time I stood by the fence, the little lamb would rush over to nuzzle and lick my knee. After a while, it tickled so much that I had to back away. The little lamb then toddled over to nibble on someone else - it was so cute!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sons of Norway - Rosemaling - May 9

The program at our Sons of Norway meeting was a fabulous presentation by Christina Keune - a prize-winning Rosemaler. She's studied in numerous places - including Norway! Her work is absolutely beautiful! She's received many prizes and ribbons for her work....I'm sure you can see why!

Christina presented a slide show where she chronicled her journey from a novice Rosemaler to the expert that she is now. The presentation was peppered with personal tidbits that were both amusing and informative. I got so caught up in her description of her journey, that I felt like I was there as she learned and honed her craft.

These samples show the "sample" plate she made to show 10 major steps in Rosemaling from the bare wood to the finished project. There are many more than "10 steps" involved in producing the final piece, but this definitely shows key changes. Notice how angular the designs are in the plate on the right. That plate shows a more modern interpretation.

The items here on the left show some more examples of traditional Rosemaling. The focus always returns to the center of the plate...whether it's a traditional interpretation or a more modern interpretation. The central focus is one of the key elements in Rosemaling.

The item that looks like a bucket is a "Tine" - it was a lunch box that was taken out to the field. The lid is painted as well and fits on top of the "bucket" and is carried by the handle on the lid. It's definitely a work of art - both the woodcraft and the painting. These were considered more utilitarian than ornamental. I definitely find them to be beautifully ornate and couldn't imagine bringing something this lovely out to the field!

I was absolutely intrigued by the wall hanging of the entire cycle of flax processing - from planting to spinning. It's done in the Swedish style. It's simple, yet very ornate...there's something soothing about it as well. Perhaps it's just the thought of "spinning" that I find so soothing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Maryland Sheep and Wool - Sunday May 4

Believe it or not, I had such a wonderful time on Saturday, that I returned again on Sunday....this time even EARLIER!!!! Once again, the weather was absolutely perfect! I showed up at 7:25 am so I'd be there for the "Sheep to Shawl" competition that began at 8 am. A friend of mine was one of the competitors...and I really wanted to be there to cheer her on.

Linda Witt of Misty Mountain Farm donated the fleece from her Finn Sheep for the effort. Here's Liz (left) with the Finn before shearing.

There were 3 spinners: Liz, Martha, and Diane as well as the weaver, Mickey. The sheep shearer was Anne Schroeder of Star Gazing Farm . It was Liz's first time competing! You go girl!

Anne is busily shearing here....she's almost done. Ideally, you want to be one of the first ones done and not lose any points.

The shearing is finally done....now to wait for the judge to examine the work. The judge examines both the fleeces and the animals to ensure there were no second cuts in the wool and that none of the animals were nicked in the shearing process.

The next step was to start weaving - the team had to submit a schematic of their weave and detailed information about the team as well as the sheep and shearer. A sample shawl was woven prior to the competition and it put on display - the shawl produced today should be its twin!

All the competitors had pre-warped their looms - they were required to use non-commercial warp, so these girls hand-dyed theirs to make it very bright and unique! Here you see Mickey busily weaving away.

Here, you can see everyone working away (left to right) - Diane, Liz, Martha and Mickey.

At one point, Liz didn't have to flick or card the fleece at all....she just worked from a long "chunk". I captured a good photo of her spinning the long "chunk". I also captured a couple of videos of her from both the front and the side so you can see how she was spinning right from the fleece without any raking!

Their finished shawl sold at auction for $110.00! Wahoo!

I strolled through the sheep barn as well and took photos of MANY sheep. This time, however, I made sure I wrote down the breed and the number of pictures taken. I hope to eventually put them in an "album" and label them so I can then recognize the various breeds.

I did find two very intriguing groups of sheep in the barns. First, the Jacobs with LOTS of horns - boy did they look cumbersome! I also found some Texel Sheep (a rare breed from the Netherlands). My secret pal from the Netherlands had sent me some hand spun skeins of this yarn last year along with an info sheet about the sheep. I'd never seen them in "real life" until I found them here! They're very cute.

I found a little sheepie taking a stroll with her owner....soooo cute! I also found a shepherdess who is a painter as well - she's painting her flock.

Of course, I continued to shop as well - this time, my main purchases were several pounds of Navajo Churro in natural whites and browns for a rug and a gorgeous black wool cape. I've always wanted a cape...and this one was absolutely stunning - I just "had" to have it! LOL!