Monday, September 28, 2009

Fingerlakes Fiber Festival

We took a week of vacation, ostensibly to visit the son in NYC but really just a way to drag hubby to Fingerlakes again (sshhhhh, don't tell him). In the last several years I have become disenchanted with the bigger festivals. It's not that they aren't nice, but I always enjoy being able to talk with the vendors and stroll the grounds in a leisurely manner. There's less of the hottest trendy stuff, but there's so many little treasures tucked into those booths if you can get in there to look around--I just love the little festivals. Last year we spent at least an hour solving the world's problems with Jonathan Bosworth--try THAT at Maryland!

The purchases. Usually, when I attend a festival with like-minded addicts, we throw all our days' purchases on the bed and play Show n' Tell. Since I was with hubster, you folks will have to play stand-in so I can show off my stuff. I usually have specific colors or fibers in mind; this year it was blues, greens and reds and BFL.

First stop was Winderwood Farms tent (actually it's always my first stop). I love Bob's dyework and can't get enough of his tops.

I found some really superb dyed tops at Cloverleaf Farm in the main barn. She repeats the same colors in various blends, so if you want to make plied yarn of different fibers it's quite possible with her tops. Here we have (l to r) Merino in Craisin colorway, Wensleydale in Southwest colorway, BFL in Raisin colorway, and Wensleydale in Gems colorway. The Wensleydale is for an experiment I have in mind. She also dyes silks in the same colorways, wonderful if you work in fabric!

Then back to the Ag Building to visit Maggie's Farm. She's a teacher in central NY who also happens to have a farm where she raises sheep, angora bunnies, makes soap and sews the greatest bags. I bought Mother Fiber (wool IS the Mother of all fibers, isn't it?) in Magenta and Navy to ply with some of the roving you'll see next.

The photos just don't do these fibers justice, but all I had for studio space and lighting was the window of the hotel room with early evening light. Ah well, we do what we can.

Last stop was Bob Geigers Farm. I'd met his wife Linda last year when she tried her hand at dyeing. What an enthusiastic lady, with a good eye for color. Sadly, she passed away this year but I undersatnd that her husband has vowed to carry on her dyeing. He's done a great job of it if you ask me! All fibers are BFL, my fav to spin.

That pink/purple one in the middle is a thank-you pressie for my kitty sitters. They take care of the boys just like I would if I were home, and the cats love them. Hope you liked your pink, Margie Girly-Girl! The other two will look smashing plied with the navy Mother Fiber in some way. I'm just not sure which novelty technique I'll use for spinning the yarn but it WILL be interesting.

Enough for tonight. I've had a long day, including packing up my samples for the October Phat Fiber box, and need to climb into bed so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow. 'Night all.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh dear, I'm off-schedule yet again

Well, I really had the best intentions to post the beginning of the Sweet Peas socks this week, I really did! Then life got in the way again. We're heading out for a short vacation soon and there was lots of day-to-day stuff to be done before we can leave--like washing my clothes so I can pack them. And then there was the knitting to be packed, which is always the first thing I do when I'm heading out on a trip. Yep! I packed the Sweet Peas sock, so no stats on it and no pix. I CAN say that there was a total of 406 yds spun and they came out at 16 wpi, just like the Snake Plant yarn.

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to see some friends at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival next weekend. I'll be the short chubby one with the dazed look on her face, wearing a Steelers shirt......stop me and say hello!

Friday, September 4, 2009

How to Spin My Posy Toes Batts--Sweet Peas

I apologize for being a few days late with the blog post. I ate some eggplant on Monday that didn't agree with me and have been sick for several days. It was not wasted time, as I started work on a Christmas present--can't say who or what because they will read my blog and spoil the surprise. At any rate.....

For the second technique and pair of socks, I chose the Sweet Peas colorway because....well, I just wanted purple and deep pink socks! And I know that the worsted technique described on my handout as 'stripping the batt lengthwise' will yield long repeats of color. I usually spin up 1-1/2 batts onto a bobbin and then ply it on itself from a center-pull ball, then repeat for the second 1-1/2 batts. This mixes the colors in a way that I enjoy. I started by unrolling the batt on my dining room table.

Then I split the batt down the middle, leaving about 1-2" still joined.

I then split each of those halves in half again in the same direction, leaving a join at the ends. With this batt, I split the batt so each color would have just a bit of the next color included. Once I have 4 sections split, I start from the other end and split those 4 in the opposite direction, leaving a join at each of those ends. When finished, you should have 8 sections of the batt pulled apart lengthwise like a series of Z's. When I was a kid we used to cut a piece of paper in this fashion and open it up to make a long 'rope' of paper (we were easily amused kids).

The next step is to attenuate these Z's into a useable 'top' and rolling it into a ball. Starting at one end, with your hands about 5" apart, gently start to seperate the fiber as though you're drafting to spin. Actually, you ARE predrafting the fiber. Doing this makes spinning a fine yarn much easier as most of the work is done for you before you sit down at the wheel.

This is the yarn I've spun up on the first bobbin. This bobbin has been plied and the sock begun, but we'll talk about that next week.

I'd like to end with a little philosophy I learned in the last few months. As you've heard me mention ad nauseum, we've moved into the family home which my oldest brother occupied for many years. He managed to alienate himself from just about everyone and almost lost his life because of it. He had a 45-year long argument with the next-door neighbor who wanted him to cut down the walnut trees, and they haven't been on speaking terms for 20 years. It was this neighbor who called the EMS when the wife noticed that my brother had not been out of the house for 3 days, and she thereby saved his life. Tonight I delivered homemade soup and muffins to them because she's had a hip replacement and can't be on her feet long enough to cook (no, her husband can't cook--he can't even boil water!). And WE haven't cut down the walnut trees either, although we did have them trimmed thoroughly, and they've stopped asking us to cut them down. It was so simple to have a conversation about pruning the branches that hung over their yard and solve the problem instead of the name-calling and silence that had ensued for 45 years on BOTH sides of the fence. Life is too short to hold grudges and hate people (unless they're dangerous). Most problems are solvable with good communication; silence is the weapon of the truly stupid, and it NEVER works the way they think it will.

Off my soapbox and on to the knitting.....