Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Sheep to Shawl demonstration at the Indiana County Fair

Discussing how we'll proceed with the demo
As I mentioned on my Facebook page, we spent last evening in Indiana at the fairgrounds. We were asked to do a Sheep-to-Shawl demonstration. For those who aren't familiar with this type of competition/demonstration, there is a team of 3 spinners, 1 sheep shearer, and 1 weaver. The loom is pre-warped with the wool yarns but that's the only preparation allowed. Once the shearer starts working with the sheep, the rest of the team may not participate till the shears are turned off and the shearer throws her arms in the air to show that she's finished. Then the team moves in, going through the newly shorn fleece for dirty bits and taking the best of the wool. All 4 start to flick the wood to remove grass and hay and open it up for spinning. Once there's enough to start, all 3 spinners hit their wheels at top speed while the weaver continues to prepare wool for the spinners. When one of the spinners has a full bobbin she winds her yarn off onto a weaving bobbin and hands it to the weaver, who begins to create the cloth for the shawl. When the weaving is finished, all team members pitch in to help the weaver remove the finished shawl from the loom and present it to the public (or the judges if it's a competition). And all of this must be finished in under 2.5 hours! In a competition, there are a set number of points that can be earned in several categories--shearing, spinning, weaving, overall appearance of the team, difficulty of the woven pattern, and length/width criteria for the finished shawl. But this was a demonstration, meant for the enjoyment of the crowd while the Lead Line competition was taking place. We love educating folks in the process of wool-to-garment, love answering questions and discussing how our equipment works, why sheep need to be shorn for their health, and why we each have chosen this particular path of creativity. It's great fun for all involved!

Shearing begins

Are we done yet?

We start preparing the wool for spinning

Spinning begins while the weaver prepares wool

The weaver explaining how the loom and pattern work

Working away at the shawl weaving

My biggest regret is that I did not snap a photo of the completed shawl (Wini? Will you take a photo and send it?). At was late by the time we finished and my brain decided not to work after 9pm. However, the shawl was won by a lovely lady whose tartan exactly matched the colors in the shawl. And half of the auction price goes right back to the Indiana Fair for future development of their wool program. We hope to do this again next year, perhaps as a real competition if local teams can be persuaded to join us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drips and drabs, bits and pieces

Not a 'themed' post today, just bits of life that have happened recently...

  1. Good thing--The blueberries are almost finished, only a few dozen berries left on the last bush. 
  2. Bad thing--The elderberries and red raspberries are starting up. Red raspberries are relatively easy to pick because they're big, and elderberries are harvested by cutting the stem of the large umbel. BUT....then you have to sit down and pick all those little berries off the umbel and allll it's branches. A good choice for tv watching in the evening, but it does leave one with blue fingers. The elderberry jelly during the winter is To. Die. For. and very good for you, too!
  3. My lamb is ready for pick up. I order one every year and am trying a new supplier this year. It's the farm that raises my Angus beef so I'm pretty sure that this lamb lived a pleasant life before coming to my freezer.
  4. A new boutique has opened in Latrobe, PA and she's carrying my yarns! We took a pleasant drive last Saturday and dropped off the skeins, and accidentally spent about an hour chatting about yarn, spinning, classes, etc. Husbeast was happy to sit in the display window reading his book. 
  5. A nice long bike ride last Sunday along the Freeport Butler Trail. Yes, folks, we seem to have found the one and only trail that goes uphill both ways!! It's a long grade uphill out of Freeport, about 2/3 of the trail, and another 1/3 of it is uphill out of Butler, which was the section we rode. But turning around and flying for miles all the way back to Butler--without much pedaling--was lovely. Wind in my hair, look Ma no hands!
  6. The Butler Spinners and Weavers Guild will be taking part in a Sheep To Shawl demonstration at the Indiana County Fair this Wednesday around 6:30pm. There will be 3 spinners and 1 weaver working with a raw fleece; fluffing the wool locks out for spinning, spinning it into yarn, winding it onto a bobbin for the weaver, who will operate the loom to weave the shawl fabric. Fascinating to watch if you've never seen the whole process, or if you're interesting in meeting other spinners and weavers. Demo will coincide with the Lead Line and will be nearby, although we're not sure of our exact location at this time. Completed shawl will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and our weaver has a great design on the loom.
  7. And last but not least, I saw my medical oncologist yesterday. The bloodwork looks good, there's no more lumps that he can find manually, he says I'm perfect!! A CT scan and one more visit in 6 months and I should be good to go for the rest of my life, yay!
Drive-by photos of the basil and parsley I harvested yesterday. Much pesto was made, much parsley was dried, and I still have a large bag of basil. I'm leaning towards Thai chicken curry with basil for dinner.....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last day for the 30%-off handspun yarn sale! And a new project is born....

Just a reminder that the sale ends at midnight tonight. At least 1/3 of the skeins have gone to happy homes already. These yarns won't be discounted again until after the holidays..... Use code FBaug13 when you check out to receive the 30% discount.


Field of Violets


Navy Fluoro

Golden Prism

New Project
A few months ago I started spinning some dyed top I bought 2 years ago. This was Mountain Colors Crazy Woman colorway, and I'd had it aging in the stash until it figured out what it wanted to be.

Crazy Woman--dyed top and spun singles

I found some blended Merino in Garnet that was hiding in the stash--it was a perfect color match for the Crazy Woman.

Garnet blended top in Merino wool

Fourteen bobbins later, I have 7 large skeins of yarn with over 1,000 yards of 2-ply yarn. Searching for a sweater, I decided that Knit One Crochet Two's Scalloped Cowl sweater was the perfect choice. The simplicity would show off the subtle colors of the yarn and the lace edges were the perfect highlight. I'm up the the arm divide and will post pix as I progress through this sweater.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oops....forgot a little something. A YARN SALE in my Etsy shop!

Announcing a *** Yarn Sale *** Get a good head-start on your Christmas crafting with a great deal on handspun yarn. Starting today and running through August 15, all yarns in my Etsy shop will be 30% off! The photo shows a little taste of what’s available.

Use coupon code BLaug13 when checking out to receive your discount. Offer does not apply to Clearance items, patterns or spinning fiber.

Charity knitting for the Women's Shelter, and a successful spinning guild program yesterday

Each year toward the end of summer I go through my inventory and select unsold items for contribution to my friend who supplies all the local women's shelters. These ladies leave home in a hurry, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, taking their children with them as they're fleeing from very bad situations. Their self-esteem is low and they have nothing, and that's not a place anyone should ever find themselves. The scarves, hats, mittens, pillows, etc are given them as soon as they walk through the door and is a sign to them that someone out there cares enough to make something especially for them. Since I no longer mentor young people, I feel this is something I can do to help others and pay back a little of the kindness that's been given to me throughout my life.

This year, my friend asked for ruffle scarves as they're very popular with the ladies. I had about 6 balls of the yarn around and threw them in a box for something to do on my vacation last week. Well, my SIL fell in love with the idea of making ruffled scarves, we made a few trips to the local Joanne Fabrics, and somehow I have 18 balls of ruffle yarn now. HAD 18 balls--there's only 2 left, one to go into this shipment and one for a gift for a relative. The other 16 became these:

Closeup of upper tier

Closeup of lower tier
Yes, there are three scarves in Steeler colors. I'm pretty sure those will go quickly!!  The purple ones are specifically for the October gifting because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and purple is the designated color. If this type of charity knitting appeals to you, look up Comfort Scarves of Western Pennsylvania on Ravelry, Barb would love to hear from you. BTW, my SIL has now taught HER SIL to make these scarves and both women are now addicted to knitting/crocheting ruffles scarves. That makes me giggle, I so enjoy enabling others.

Yesterday I presented a program to my guild, the Butler Spinners and Weavers Guild. I showed them how to spin beads and other fun things into their yarn. These folks are great friends and even better enablers. Usually I'm the one who is setting peoples brains buzzing with spinning, knitting and weaving ideas but these folks did me one better. Who woulda thunk that bells would be fun to spin into your yarn? We had felted beads, shank buttons, ribbon bows, ribbon bits, silk shreds and glass beads--all of it looked wonderful. One lady used locks of fleece to thread her objects, saving her a lot of time pulling off bits of fiber to thread. I have to try that next time I have a nice long-staple fleece (where IS that Icelandic fleece anyhow?). As always, I had a great time sharing ideas and homemade picnic food. Love y'all!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Just a quick fly-by post...

I've been away for a week, visiting relatives in the Northern Places. I got home at dusk, went for dinner and fell into bed. Having our coffee this morning, we glanced out the window to the lower front yard. Apparently last year's two fawns have grown up magnificently!

That's eight points on those antlers. Each. Animal. We grow 'em healthy here at Chez Feisty.