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  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2017 Wrap-up

    Saturday

    This year's festival felt a bit different for some reason. Maybe it was the unusually cold, rainy weather. I used to take a bus with my LYS, but they closed this past year so I ventured out on my own Saturday. The weather was a concern since the night before I had put rainbow hair chalk in my newly bleached hair. I was worried I would end up looking like a drowned unicorn, but for the most part it was just misting on and off throughout the day. The illusion was safe.

    I had thought to give a free guided tour on Saturday but I didn’t get any RSVPs and it looked to be a soggy mess anyway. Also new this year, the festival was charging $5 admission. I admit I thought there would be a big line at the gate, but I had pre-paid using the app and thankfully there was no wait. One thing noticeably missing was the big Maryland Sheep and Wool sign at the gate. I kind of missed it. I feel like the entrance used to be more fun when they had yarn bombing leading up the path. I’m not sure why they don’t do it anymore.

    A welcoming sight was the Rare Opportunity Bakehouse where I bought some fresh baked cookies. They usually run out pretty fast so I made sure to buy some on my way in. They have some amazing vegan peanut butter cookies and chocolate peanut butter brownies that I went off the sugar wagon for.

    Baked goods in hand, I made my way up the hill to the Skein and Garment Competition building.

    This year I entered a couple skeins of art yarn and two photos (for the first time) and I needed to check and see how I did. To my surprise I got 1st and 3rd place ribbons in the art yarn category and a 3rd place for a black and white portrait of a BFL sheep.

    My first yarn is called “A Walk on the Beach as I Remember it” and the other is “May the Force Be with You”. Both are story yarns that I spun for the Twist Exhibition. The Beach yarn is comprosed of a collection of shells and driftwood from a walk with my father last summer on the beach in the town where I grew up.

    The other yarn represents the themes and hero’s journey in the Star Wars sagas through use of color and symbolism. In a bold move, I turned on the LED lights on my Star Wars yarn that was sitting on the table. I also pulled forward the vintage R2D2 and Chewbacca charms and some of the elements so people could see them. The LEDs represent the light sabers and I wanted people to see the full effect. The white-gloved volunteers guarding the entries must have thought I was a little nutty. But it was meant to be viewed with the dueling lights.

    One thing I hope they could  improve in the future is the display of the novelty/expressive yarns. It’s really hard to see all the elements when it is twisted in a skein and I’d love to see them hanging on the wall displays. Although the fiber art world is making strides with this category, I feel like it’s still not well understood or appreciated as stand alone pieces rather than just material for a garment or larger compilation.

    When walking outside I saw this beautiful shawl and I kind of stealth snapped a shot of it as she walked by. I wanted to ask her what pattern she used, but she was too quick and got away. Plus I didn’t want her to think I was stalking her. Even though I was definitely chasing her for a bit to snap a couple photos ;)

    Next stop was the Main Exhibition Hall where I was consigning yarn at Folktale Fibers and Middlebrook Fiberworks booth again this year.

    Besides dropping off yarn and saying hello, I also wanted to scoop up a skein of Anne’s new line of Vintage No. 2 yarn. It’s a special blend of locally grown 40% Cormo x Merino lamb's wool, 35% superfine Shetland, 15% prime alpaca, and 10% cultivated silk that she hand dyes. It’s beautifully soft and luxurious with subtle light blue color that would go beautifully with just about anything.

    Another crowd favorite is Loop. I snagged a rainbow center-pull bullseye bump and some loose carded fiber in my favorite hot pink and turquoise colors. I seem to have a collection of these bullseyes that I haven’t spun yet. They are too pretty to spin!

    Strauch Fiber Equipment - home of the Mad Batt'r. 'nuff said.

    I stopped by to say hi to the ladies at Solitude Wool in their usual spot in the Main Hall. They were featuring the beautiful Clearview sweater pattern by Amy Herzog in their Coopworth sport yarn. It makes me wish I could knit better.

    This year, Maryland Sheep and Wool featured Romney sheep so this was right up their alley. One of the very first raw fleeces I bought was a Romney from Solitude Farm, and I think it’s a nice all around breed that can be used for a variety of projects. Although classified as a longwool, it is more of a medium staple length and can be pretty soft. It’s good for new spinners and even better if you haven’t scoured a fleece before because it is not as temperamental or greasy as a fine wool. They’re a cute looking sheep too, ranging in white to various shades of natural colors. If you get a chance to go to one of their open houses in scenic Northern Virginia, you can see their fiber flock up close and purchase hand dyed yarn made from their wool.

    My fiber friends Christiane and Melissa were a joy to see at Wild Hare / ThreeRavens. They are so talented and share my love of vivid colors and art textures.

    After making the rounds at the Main building, I went outside to see some of the outside vendors and sheep in the show ring. Near the main gate is a beautiful booth run by Dalis of Dancing Leaf Farm. She sells beautiful hand dyed yarn and hand felted wearables and is always fun to stop and have a chat with. She was one to appreciate my rainbow hair roots.

    I passed by some Jacob, Bluefaced Leicester, and other longwool breeds being shown.

    I was particularly impressed with a young girl who took great care and pride in showing her sheep. She was all smiles and really seemed to be enjoying the whole process.

    I waited in line for my favorite vegetarian food vendor, Artichoke French. It started to rain but it was so worth it. I googled the recipe and I think I’m going to try to make some at home.

    After stuffing my face, I had the energy to brave the fleece sales. The crowds had actually gone away and a huge improvement from last year was adding a tent at the back for checking out. There seemed like a lot more room to maneuver and I took some time looking at fleece.

    I found two Finn fleeces that I loved. They were pretty pricey (this show seems to have prices jacked up a bit) but I thought they were worth the splurge. One was coated and felt like pristine clouds of soft fluff so I knew I’d enjoy washing it. I also bought a white merino that was not coated and I knew would be a little more work.

    Sunday

    I returned on Sunday and met up with my friend Kristin (August Moon Farm). We made our way to the Main Exhibition Hall. I wanted to buy my first Bosworth spindle and I was sooooo excited.

    I decided on a small zebra wood spindle that I can travel with. I went to show my treasure at my home base, the Folktale/Middlebrook booth, and Anne did a test drive with some of her fiber. It’s lightweight and spins beautifully. I will treasure it always.  

    I also met up with Jennifer who curated the Twist Exhibition I was in last Fall. She was with her friend, Jolie, who created the other Star Wars story yarn from the show and it was so cool to finally meet her and talk about our yarn. The fiber world is small indeed.

    I went for a last look around the Main Hall and then headed out to the Lower Corral to stock up on some spinning fiber. Miss Babs was still hopping.

    Other inside vendors

    Feederbrook Farm has some of the nicest BFL washed locks you can find, so I bagged up a couple pounds (Oops! I had no idea I stuffed that much in there). I use the locks in my art yarn - I just love the little curls. Lisa also sells beautifully hand dyed yarn from her own flock of sheep.

    I had to buy some rainbow-y battlings at Hobbledehoy to lift my spirits as the clouds were still looming. I’m not sure what I will make with them yet, but it will be super cute no doubt.

    I waded through the mud a few tents over to say hi to my other fiber friend, Karen of Avalon Springs. Her colors are so amazing and bright and I always just stare in awe and take lots and lots of pictures.

    Outside vendors

    I wanted to get see the sheep so I went back up to the barns and saw Martha from Black Sheep Farm and her moorit colored yearling Merino ram, Cinnabar.

    He was competing for Best Overall Fleece and had already won ribbons for Champion Colored Merino and Best Natural Colored Fleece. I’ve previously bought a couple amazing fleeces from her so I was cheering him on. I think a longwool sheep ended up with the ribbon, but he was my favorite. Also pictured here is Letty (I photographed last year) showing her Karakul ram, Cleatus.

    One of the more photogenic breeds is Scottish Blackfaced sheep and they seem to always have the best lighting in the barns too. I met another photographer and the woman who raises them and we talked about a visit to see the farm. Their wool is not very soft and is better suited for a rug wool, but they are really beautiful to look at.

    Other sheep in the barns:

    Look at those ringlets!

    As I was leaving this sheep was looking to get some handouts. He was the size of a small pony. Thank goodness he didn’t try to break out in earnest.


    At the end of the day I collected my ribbons and entries from the competitions and headed back home. Another year come and gone by so fast. Where did the time go? Next year I hope to do a better job organizing a trip to the festival. Maybe on the Sunday when it's less crowded? Hope to see you there in 2018!

  • August Moon Farm Visit and Shearing Day

    I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Kristin's farm this weekend and again early in the week to watch the sheep shearing festivities. The farm is a lively mix of three sheep (Luna, Pheobe, and Cocoa), a dog, four cats, and around nine chickens at last count. It's situated in Northern Virginia on a slope that catches the sun going down just perfectly behind the barn on top of the hill.

    All images and content © 2017 222 Handspun. Do not reproduce without permission and attribution.

    Part 1 - Prep Day

    Kristin is a very talented spinner, artist, and kindred spirit when it comes to the love of fiber, color, and animals. She was gracious enough to invite me over while she prepped and then watch the sheep being sheared by one of the best in the business, Emily Chamelin. To learn more about Kristin's farm and where to buy her yarn and fiber, visit:

    CocoaCocoa

    Luna

    Phoebe

    She has some ameraucana chickens and I was pretty excited to take home some beautiful different colored eggs.

    Bob keeps an eye on the farm although he is a bit older now. He's very sweet and quite a handsome fella.

    She's done a beautiful job planting various flowers and vegetables with some of my favorites coming up now that spring is here.

    Part 2 - Shearing Day

    Emily arrived in the late afternoon and the sheep were in the pen ready to be sheared. The sheep are actually pretty relaxed and are in good hands with an experienced shearer. It takes strength and understanding of their anatomy and technique to be able to shear quickly and well without stress to the animal and to minimize second cuts of the fleece. It's like getting a haircut and doesn't harm them at all. In fact, because improved types of sheep have been bred to have continually grow fleece, it is a necessity. A fleece can weigh anywhere from a couple to a dozen pounds so on a hot day it must be nice to have all that wool come off.

    There are various positions and precise cuts that the shearer uses to remove the entire fleece in one single piece. The sheep are held in place and relax when moved into position. Sometimes they make funny faces.

    Afterwards they are free to go. These ewes were chatty after their new haircuts.

    As the sun went down it was time for me to go home and get a couple last pictures of the chickens. I'm so grateful to have such generous friends to allow me to share these fine days with them chatting about sheep and spinning.

  • Twist: The Art of Spinning By Hand Wrap Up

    Here are my photos from Twist: The Art of Spinning by Hand (at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD through Dec 17, 2016). I'm very honored to have my yarn and fiber in the exhibition. I wanted to thank the curator, Jennifer Lindsay and Gallery Director, Anne Burton, who have done such a fabulous job bringing this to life. Jennifer has put so much thought and effort into the exhbition for months and it really is a fabulous respresentation of the fiber arts.

    If you want to see all the photos, please visit my album on facebook.

    My handspun art yarn

    L-R Spring Garden, Walk on the Beach as I Remember It Story Yarn, May the Force Be With You Story Yarn. The Star Wars yarn on the right has mini LED lights that blink!)

    My hand carded art batts

    on the top left and mini batts in the bowl on the bottom left

  • Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2016 Wrap Up

    I volunteered again at the fleece sales and helped some first time buyers, one in particular bought a beautiful Romney lamb fleece from Solitude. It was great first fleece choice and a bonus to be able to tell her a bit about the farm and the breed. I sent her over to their booth to meet them and she was thrilled. To me, the experience of meeting and talking to the artists and shepherds is the epitome of what fiber festivals like SVFF are all about.

    For some reason I can't upload photos to my blog right now so here's the Facebook album.

  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 Wrap-up

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Yet another year has come and gone so fast. I spent the last couple weeks getting prepped for Maryland Sheep and Wool and completing some projects I am working on. This year the weather was a bit iffy Saturday with lots of rain and soggy mud in the morning. It did clear up a bit in the afternoon and the sun came out so it was pretty enjoyable. I just had to remember to take all my fleece out to dry when I got home since a lot of things got damp Friday night.

    I took the bus again with the fabulous Cutthroat yarn crew Saturday morning. We got there nice and early and I scurried over to the Folktale Fibers and Middle Brook Fiberworks (formerly A Little Teapot Designs) booth in the Main Exhibition Hall to drop off my yarn I was selling there.

    Folktale Fibers, 222 Handspun art yarn -© 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    Anne’s (Middle Brook Fiberworks) beautiful weaving

    Folktale Fibers, Middle Brook Fiber Works, 222 Handspun art yarn © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    My yarn is hanging with the pink ribbons

    Folktale Fibers, Middle Brook Fiber Works ,222 Handspun art yarn © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    Folktale Fibers, Middle Brook Fiber Works, 222 Handspun art yarn © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    Folktale Fibers, Middle Brook Fiber Works, 222 Handspun art yarn © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    I did the rounds and caught up with some of my fiber buddies, the talented Christiane of Three Ravens and Melissa of Wild Hare Fiber Studio. I bought some of Christiane's fabulous yarn to wear as un-knit necklace which I got compliments on all day.

    Wild Hare - © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016Wild Hare and Three Ravens- © 222handspun.com - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

    I bought some really nice treats that I missed in previous years like Artichoke French. This is one of the few vegetarian options at the fairgrounds. Yeah, I know, I go to sheep shows and get all sad about the lamb chops - I’m one of those people.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    I also bought some really yummy gluten and dairy free peanut butter choco chip cookies from Rare Opportunity Bakehouse. They were good enough to get me thinking about getting back to a gluten-free diet again. I started for health reasons years ago and fell off the wagon, more because it was hard to maintain, not because I didn’t feel a lot better. Sometimes you go to events thinking you will find inspiration for one thing, and end up be inspired by something else in an unexpected way.

    Talking about inspiration, I found some new to be vendors this year and had fun looking at all the beautiful items at the Skein and Garment Competition.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    I didn’t win any first place yarn ribbons this year, but I got a 3rd, 4th, and 5th place. Considering two were for types of yarn I don’t spin often, I was pleased. I already have some ideas about what I want to make for next year too. This yarn was spun using baby BFL wool from Feederbrook Farm that I hand dyed. I wanted to preserve the beautiful soft curly locks so I didn’t card it or anything. I just spun it straight from the fleece and then plied it from a center pull ball.

    My Baby BFL Yarn

    Handspun Yarn - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The Best in Show Ribbon was awarded to a beautiful yarn basket (1lb. + hand dyed yarn), with the basket knitted from that same yarn. It was really impressive.

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    My very talented friend Bridget (Bridget’s Farm Cart) won a ribbon for this felted wool painting. She uses wool from her sheep to delicately needlefelt these beautiful farm scenes.

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Lots of other lovely items at the competition:

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.comSkein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Skein and Garment Competition, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The Fleece Show and Sale barn had a long line in the morning as usual so I went later in the day.

    Fleece Sales, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Despite their really good organization, it still took me about 40 minutes to check out. I only bought one fleece this year, a small Gotland. It was pricey but since I haven’t bought a Gotland before I figured this would be my one big splurge.

    Fleece Sales, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Fleece Sales, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Fleece Sales, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The Show Ring and Sheep Barns

    BFL Sheep waiting for the show ring

    Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Saturday morning I got side tracked by the sheep and ended up spending some time watching and photographing the Karakuls in the show ring. I ran into Sue of Solitude Wool who raises Karakuls and she introduced me to Letty of Pine Lane Farm Karakuls. They are such a beautiful breed and she has one in particular, Appy, who is quite a handsome fella.

    UPDATE:

    I am told that Appy now lives in Colorado and his fleece Is in Texas. The little red and white ewe lamb, Sadie, and the black ewe lamb, Raine, both now live in PA. Good luck to all three in their new homes!

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Appy took home ribbons for champion Karakul ram and best fleece.

    Here he is winning a ribbon:

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Unlucky for me, his first fleece was already sold. Look at the colors and those curly lamb tips!

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Karakuls Judging

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Sadie

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.comMaryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Raine

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    I ran into Letty and Appy again on Sunday. Great timing.

    Karakul Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Lately I’ve become fascinated with sheep faces and profiles in particular. Probably because of the beauty and charm of the Bluefaced Leicesters’ distinctive roman nose.

    It amazes me how different they are so this year I took a bunch of photos of sheep faces to compare. 

    BFL (Bluefaced Leicester)

    Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Colored BFL

    Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Merino

    Merino Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Colored Merino

    Merino Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Lincoln Longwool

    lincoln longwool sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Romney

    Romney Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Romney Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Romney

    Romney Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Romney Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Scottish Blackface Sheep

    Scottish Blackface Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Overhead view of the amazing horns

    Scottish Blackface Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Scottish Blackface Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Suffolk and Hampshire

    These were being raised by kids in one of the youth programs. I wish I caught their names.

    Suffolk and Hampshire sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Suffolk

    Suffolk sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Hampshire

    Hampshire sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Another stunning Karakul sheep

    Karakul Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Karakul Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Karakul Sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    American Teeswater

    American Teeswater Sheep - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Suri Alpaca (just seeing if you are paying attention)

    From Ameripaca Alpaca Breeding Co., Inc. - I bought some alpaca fleece from them.  

    alpaca - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Huacaya alpaca

    alpaca - Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The parade of sheep was at the end of the day Sunday and I watched this giant Columbia X Rambouillet X Dorset being led out of a pen. He was the size of a pony. I can’t imagine shearing him.

    Columbia X Rambouillet X Dorset sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    parade of sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Jacob Sheep

    parade of sheep, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Sheep Shearing Demos

    Speaking of shearing, I got to watch award winning Emily Chamelin Hickman and Kristen Rosser do sheep shearing demos.

    sheep shearing demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    I love this face!

    sheep shearing demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    sheep shearing demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    All done!

    sheep shearing demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    sheep shearing demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.comMaryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.comMaryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Working Sheepdog Demonstrations

    I also watched Nancy Cox Starkey working with her Border Collies herding BFL sheep.

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

     Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Border Collies herding BFL sheep demo, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Outside and Barn Vendors

    There was so much to see and do in the Lower Corral and the other barns. Here are a few of my favorites:

    Autumn House

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Avalon Springs

    I stopped by Karen's booth for some dyed silk and BFL locks in my favorite colors and this yarn caught my eye. This is my latest color obsession - gold, mustard, curry - whatever you call it I dig it a lot.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Bartlett Yarn

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Feederbrook Farm

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    I bought some washed BFL X Longwool fleece and some Shetland roving.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Good Karma Farm

    Yarn growing on trees!

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Grindstone Ridge Farm

    She was making a sweet needle felted Santa.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Hobbledehoy

    I bought some really nice battlings here. Drool.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Marigold Jen

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Some Jacob Sheep items from Spot Hollow Farm 

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Jill Draper Makes Stuff

    I bought one of these adorable little notebooks

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Loop

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Miss Babs

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    On The Round

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Sarafina Fiber Art

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Sheep Thrills

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Solitude Wool

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The Bee Folks

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    The Wool Room

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Unique Designs By Kathy

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    After two very full days of yarn and fiber it was finally time to go home.

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com

    Here’s my haul. I found some unusual things this year - a couple favorites are the antique sheep print and toy and the sheep notebook from Jill Draper. I came home with lots of treasures and projects to work on this year!

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2016 - © 222handspun.com



     

  • Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2015 Wrap Up

    This past weekend I volunteered again with the fleece sales at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. This is one of my favorite fiber events - it's not too far from me and seems to be just the right size. There are plenty of really good vendors, and I always meet wonderful people every year and get a chance to catch up with people I don't get to see often enough.

    Outside Vendors at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Outside Vendors at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

    Outside Vendors at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Outside Vendors at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

    Fleece Sales

    Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival - Fleece sales

    Fleece For Sale at the Fleece Sales

    Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival - Fleece sales

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    One of the benefits of working at the fleece sales is that you get to really look everything closely and find out more about the fleece, sometimes even meet the grower. I got there a little late - after 12:00, but there still were many great fleeces to choose from. I was looking for something unusual (other than white or something I already have) and I came across this giant 12 pound moorit Merino. So we took it out of the bag and spread it out on the skirting table to take a closer look. It has a nice long staple length and fine crimp, but the color really caught my eye. It ranges from a soft silvery gray to light brownish streaks and patches. The price was really good so I decided to claim it before anyone else did. I later talked to the seller and found out it the sheep's name is Harvey, a four and a half year old ram originally from California.

    Moorit Merino Fleece at the Fleece Sales

    SVFF merino fleece at the Fleece sales

    Examining a Merino Fleece

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    SVFF merino fleece at the Fleece sales

    SVFF merino fleece at the Fleece sales

    The lighting is pretty bad with my iPhone here but you can see the crimp and streak of brown. I love this fleece!

    SVFF merino fleece at the Fleece sales

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    I spotted another really pretty fleece which is not one you see too often - it's a Karakul from my friends at Solitude Wool and was purchased by someone I know. I'm really excited for her because this is a gorgeous fleece.

    Karakul Lamb Fleece 

    SVFF Solitude Wool Karakul sheep fleeceKarakul is a double coated wool, which means that it has a coarse outer fiber and finer undercoat. You can tell it's a lamb fleece by the curly tips. This type of fleece is lovely but not very soft, so it's primarily used as rug wool. 

    Here are some other fleeces at the sales.

    Romney Fleece 

    Romney Fleece at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival fleece sales

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Gotland Fleece

    SVFF 2015 Fleece sales

    This was an unusual mix - a Harlequin and Jacob cross breed. It had some nice parts that looked like a Jacob but some of it was more coarse so I passed on it. 

    Harlequin x Jacob Fleece

    SVFF 2015 Fleece sales- Jacob sheep wool

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    On Saturday I had to make some quick rounds before reporting to the fleece sales so I missed most of the animals. But I did see some cute bunnies and judging of the Angora goats.

    Angora Rabbit at Aker's Booth

    SVFF 2015 Angora Rabbit from Aker

    Angora Goat Judging

    SVFF 2015 Angora goats judging

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Angora Goat Judging

    SVFF 2015 Angora goats judging

    Angora Goat Judging

    SVFF 2015 Angora goats judging

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    I had a little bit of time to get my color fix from Karen at Avalon Springs. I snagged the last of the neon pink Firestar from her before I had to get back.

    Avalon Springs

    SVFF 2015 Avalon Springs Farm

    Avalon Springs

    SVFF 2015 Avalon Springs Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Avalon Springs

    SVFF 2015 Avalon Springs Farm

    Avalon Springs

    SVFF 2015 Avalon Springs Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    There were some vendors that I didn't know very well so this year I tried to take the time to visit their booths. I kept passing by Knitty and Color, who was in the Fleece Sales building this year, and stopped to admire all the color.

    Knitty and Color

    SVFF 2015 Knitty and Color yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Knitty and Color

    SVFF 2015 Knitty and Color yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Knitty and Color

    SVFF 2015 Knitty and Color yarn

    Knitty and Color

    SVFF 2015 Knitty and Color yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Knitty and Color

    SVFF 2015 Knitty and Color yarn

    I soooo want my own yarn truck!

    Knitting Addiction 

    SVFF 2015 Knitting Addiction yarn truck

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Homestead Hobbyist

    SVFF 2015 Homestead Hobbyist

    I also visited some of my favorites like Hobbledehoy and MarigoldJen and bought a couple lovelies.

    SVFF 2015 Hobbledehoy and MarigoldJen Yarns

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hobbledehoy 

    SVFF 2015 Hobbledehoy and MarigoldJen Yarns

    Hobbledehoy Handspun Yarn

    SVFF 2015 Hobbledehoy and MarigoldJen Yarns

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hobbledehoy 

    SVFF 2015 Hobbledehoy and MarigoldJen Yarns

    Cutthroat Yarn had a booth this year and was selling some gorgeous hand dyed yarns.

    SVFF 2015 cutthroat yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Cutthroat Yarn 

    SVFF 2015 cutthroat yarn

    I had so much fun meeting up with the lovely people at Mary's Alpaca Farm and their sister company, Unicorn Fibre. They were selling some amazing alpaca fleece and fertilizer. I also bought a gallon of Power Scour to wash my new Merino fleece.

    Mary's Alpaca

    SVFF 2015 Mary's Alpaca Farm

    Alpaca Fleece - Mary's Alpaca Farm

    SVFF 2015 Mary's Alpaca Farm

    Unicorn Fibre

    SVFF 2015 Unicorn Fibre

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Unicorn Fibre

    SVFF 2015 Unicorn Fibre

    On Sunday I had a little more time to stop by and say hi to some of my favorite fiber friends like Christiane of Three Ravens and Melissa of Wild Hare, and I got to shop a bit too. Happily Xiane still had one package of rolags left that I had been eyeballing on Facebook the other day. Lucky me!

    Three Ravens

    SVFF 2015 Three Ravens and Wild Hare

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    SVFF 2015 Three Ravens and Wild Hare

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    SVFF 2015 Three Ravens and Wild Hare

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    New Wild Hare Fiber Studio Circular Loom 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    SVFF 2015 Three Ravens and Wild Hare

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    SVFF 2015 Three Ravens and Wild Hare

    I was so happy to see some familiar faces at Solitude Wool's booth when I stopped by to say hi. They always have such beautiful yarn and fiber.

    Solitude Wool

    SVFF 2015 Solitude Wool yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Solitude Wool

    SVFF 2015 Solitude Wool yarn

    Solitude Wool

    SVFF 2015 Solitude Wool yarn

    Solitude Wool

    SVFF 2015 Solitude Wool yarn

    There were so many other amazing vendors and things to see, but I ran out of time to visit everything. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye.

    The Verdant Gryphon

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    SVFF 2015 Verdant Gryphon yarn

    The Verdant Gryphon

    SVFF 2015 Verdant Gryphon yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    The Verdant Gryphon

    SVFF 2015 Verdant Gryphon yarn

    The Verdant Gryphon

    SVFF 2015 Verdant Gryphon yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild Spinning Demo

    Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild Weaving Demo

    SVFF 2015 BlueRidge Spinners and Weavers Guild

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild Weaving Demo

    SVFF 2015 BlueRidge Spinners and Weavers Guild

    Well, that's my wrap up for this year's festival. Hope to see you next year!

    Here's my haul:

    @hobbledehoy batt, @xiane_threeravens rolags, @marigoldjen yarn, @avalonspringsfarm firestar, @knittyandcolor dyed merino top, @wildharefiber faux cashmere top, @unicornfibre gallon o' Power Scour, ‪#‎MarysAlpaca‬ fertilizer, and a sample of my washed merino fleece. 

    Harvey's fleece was too big to be in the picture!

  • Mary's Alpaca Farm Visit

    This weekend I had a wonderful time visiting Mary’s Alpaca farm which is home to 160 alpacas on rolling hills in Northern Virginia’s wine and horse country. A chance introduction from a mutual acquaintance to Georgette, who is in charge of sales and marketing, led me to this amazing fibery treasure trove. This is a dream farm for Mary, a breeder since 1994, who showed me around the state-of-the-art facilities and introduced me to all of their walking puff balls. 

    It seems every farm I visit has at least one free spirit roaming the grounds, and here it is the six month old cria (baby alpaca), Suzu. She loves to be petted and gives plenty of kisses when making the rounds to check up on the new babies and see how everyone is doing. Of course, we all got some kisses from her and she posed for some pictures with Mary. I think she pretty much runs the place.

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

    There was a new cria, Polly, born the night before and still a bit wobbly on her legs. She just had some medicine so there was some blue goop on her mouth. Her very protective mother made some warning sounds when we got too close. Some alpacas are more friendly than others, and this one just wasn't in the mood for any nonsense after giving birth the night before. I don't blame her.

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.comThe lovely kitty Bijou (I hope I got the name right) followed us around and made sure she gots lots of attention too. 

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

    Her buddy Tom, who looks like my Bleu, got a few pats also.

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

    Here is the two-story barn which also has room for plenty of fleeces and workshops. My mind was spinning with all the possibilities...

     Mary’s Alpaca farm - © Elysa Darling 222handspun.com

    I took home a stunning fleece that I washed immediately (you know it has to be amazing if I wash it the same day!). All I can say is WOW. Here it is straight out of the spin cycle. It's almost too nice to spin. I just keep petting it - it's crazy soft and fine. I think it's the nicest alpaca fleece I've ever come across.

    Until next time...

    All photos © Elysa Darling. Please do not reproduce or distribute without permission or attribution. 

  • Madison Wool Workshop - July 2015

    Last Sunday I visited Madison Wool in CT to teach a workshop. Many thanks to Dayna, who is a gracious host and runs one of the best shops for spinning pretty much anywhere. I love visiting MadWool - I'm always inspired by the surroundings and great people. 

    We had a nice quiet day spinning outside after the morning rain cleared up. The workshop was about creative spinning and how to design a story yarn. We looked at storytelling techniques and color theory before spinning our final yarn. Here are some photos from the day:

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    I brought lots of fiber to spin!

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    We also had fiber for sharing.

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    Thanks to my brother Chris for taking some photos of me spinning. The yarn I chose to spin was based on the tragic story of "Ophelia". The flowers and colors all have symbolism and I even included some tiny bells to signify her singing and laughter.

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    Inside the MadWool back room where all the fiber secrets are kept ;)

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    There is also a dye garden among the yarn bombs outside which makes for some great color schemes.

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    222 Handspun Workshop at Madison Wool

    Until next time...

  • Field Trip: Bridget's Farm Cart

    If you've read my post from last year's Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival you might remember me mentioning a fleece I bought from Bridget Brown, owner of Bridget's Farm Cart. The fleece was from a beautiful dark brown Shetland X Finn sheep named Kitty that I spun and crocheted into a lap blanket. In fact, I have the blanket right here. My kitties love to snuggle with it and have claimed it as their own. I guess I really made it for them. When you have cats that love wool as much as you do, you just go with it. I lost the battle keeping Bleu-Bleu out of the woolies long time ago. 

    This was kind of the perfect project for me. The sheep was named "Kitty" and the pattern was named "Darling". It was great except I'm not good at reading patterns. When I took a look at the finished blanket I realized I messed up all the bobble stitches. It still looks OK, but not like the one in the picture with the pattern. So I decided I should try it again.

    Lili with the Darling Blanket

    On a whim last weekend, I got in touch with Bridget and asked if she had any more fleece for sale. Shenandoah is a few months away and I really didn't want to wait that long. Her answer was a resounding "Yes!", so I headed out to West Virginia yesterday to check out her new Wool Shop at her farm. It is just outside of Berryville, VA over the border and about 50 minutes from where I live.

    Bridget's Farm cart - Wool Shop

    I got a cute text from Bridget warning me of two naughty lambs in the driveway, and sure enough they were there when I pulled up. I was met by Pink and Orange, who are two and half month old brother and sister bottle fed Finn lambs. They were very curious and sweet and followed us all over, bahhhing plaintively when they were shut out of the shop and couldn't come in.

    Pink and Orange

    Orange and Pink Following The Leader

    The Wool Shop is full of yarn and spinning fiber and is also a great studio space. She had another visitor right after I arrived so we sat and chatted for a while. Bridget was making some lovely needle felted paintings and I ended up buying a pretty little landscape with sheep in it.

    The Wool Shop and Studio

    Needle Felting

    Needle Felted Paintings and Yarn in the Shop

    Yarn From The Farm

    Spinning Wheel

    Next, we went to look at fleeces. Beau, the livestock guardian dog (LGD), came over to greet us. He's a big sweetie and was shedding like crazy in the heat, so I got some of his fur to spin. I've never spun dog fur before, but I think it might be fun.

    Bridget has such a wonderful variety of sheep and although it is a hand spinner’s dream, it's really hard to choose. I looked at so many fleeces and they were all amazing, but I could only take a 'few" home. I tried to pick ones that I didn't have a lot of already or that were unique. This is Kitty's fleece below. I definitely had to get hers plus some other outstanding ones: a silvery Shetland named Salty, a Jacob named Flake, and half of a Cormo named Po. I also got some roving from Kitty's sister, Spicy.

    One of the highlights was seeing Kitty and her two lambs! Here she is on the right with one of her babies.

    After I picked out fleece, we walked around a bit. Most of the sheep were in the barn staying cool, but they came out when they heard us outside.

    The black and white lamb on the right is an apparent "oopsie" where a Cormo and Jacob got together. I think he's so cute!

    The guinea fowl were doing their job of eating bugs and pests in the grass.

    I had a fabulous time at the farm, but I had to go home eventually. I'll spend the next few days washing wool and picking out a pattern for my next project.

    One of the fleeces I took home was a Shetland named Salty. I have to say, it was partly because of a cute little black spot that I couldn't resist. I couldn't wait so I washed the whole fleece last night. Here is a close up of the spot. Precious!

    If you want to visit, check Bridget's Farm Cart website for hours.

  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2015 Wrap-up

    Maryland Sheep and Wool signAll images and content © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. To license an image please contact 222 Handspun

    Sit back and grab a cup of coffee because this is going to be a long one!

    Last weekend I went to the 42nd Annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (MDSW) which is one of largest and one of the longest running fiber festivals in the United States. They were also celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Leicester Longwool sheep returning to the U.S. 

    For those who are not familiar, the event features over 200 vendors, fleece sales, classes and workshops, sheep breed shows, skein and garment and sheep to shawl competitions, sheepdog and shearing demos, and live entertainment. It’s held over the first weekend in May at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland and about 60,000 – 70, 000 people attend each year.

    Festival Entrance - Saturday Morning Early Shoppers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Maryland Sheep and Wool entrance

    Leicester Longwool Sheep

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Leicester Longwool sheep

    On Saturday I took a bus from my local yarn shop, Cutthroat Yarn in Leesburg, VA, and I got to hang out with a really fun group of ladies. I took a bus for a few reasons: 1) It forced me to get up and go really early. 2) I didn't have to drive so I could enjoy the scenery and conversation. 3) It's a chance to meet other people who are just as crazy about fiber as myself (or close to it).

    They had breakfast food and drinks and were crocheting matching headbands for everyone. We made good time and got there early at around 8:45.

    Cutthroat Yarn Bus Trip to MDSW

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. Cutthroat Yarn bus

    Cutthroat Yarn Bus Trip to MDSW

    Cutthroat Yarn bus

    Arriving at the Festival

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW

    There is an air of excitement as you approach the festival. They were already letting people in the gates early and you could see vendors scurrying to complete their last minute preparations. The Central Maryland Knitting Guild did the yarn bombing for the festival again this year and they did a fabulous making the path to the main gate look festive and inviting.

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Tree

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Tree

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    Yarn Bombed Fence

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Yarn bomb

    I spent a full Saturday and better part of Sunday visiting and talking with as many friends (new and old) and sheep as I possibly could. The weather was great and there was lots of food and folk music to enjoy while you shopped or relaxed in the shade. There is a lot to see and do besides shopping from sheep herding and shearing demos, to entering contests and competitions. 

    For first time attendees it can seem a bit overwhelming, especially on a Saturday. You will find long lines for some of the necessities such as the fleece sale, a few very popular vendors, restrooms, and food trucks (in that priority order!). But don’t let the lines deter you. That’s where you meet the best people and kindred spirits and you get to talk about your love of all things fibery and not seem weird at all.

    Lining up for the Fleece Sale Early Saturday Morning

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Festival Lunchtime Crowd

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival crowd

    Relaxing and Spinning in the Shade

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW festival crowd

    Sheep Going For a Walk

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Border Leicester sheep

    As soon as I arrived, I passed the line for the Fleece Sales and I made my way to the Main Exhibition Hall to drop off some handspun yarn I had the honor of consigning in Folktale Fibers / A Little Teapot Designs booth. They were a late addition to the festival this year and as first time vendors, did an amazing job pulling it all together last minute. These are some super-talented ladies and I was so happy to hang out and be a tiny part of their fibery world for a couple days.

    Big Pile O' 222 Handspun Yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    222 Handspun yarn MDSW 2015

    Folktale Fibers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers Booth

    Spot the 222 Handspun Yarn!

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth featuring 222 Handspun

    A Little Teapot Designs

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Fiber Bonsai Trees. How cute are these?

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    I had to get some of this honey and oatmeal soap. I couldn't resist handmade soap that looks and smells this good.

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Folktale Fibers Handspun Yarn. Yarn rainbows. 'Nuf said. They disappeared in the first hour or so before I had a chance to snag one.

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    A Little Teapot Designs Jewelry

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    A Little Teapot Designs Handspun Yarn. I couldn't stop petting this yummy soft yarn!

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Making Some Fresh Art Batts

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Folktale Fibers and a Little Teapot booth

    Sunday - Anne Spinning Yarn  

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Spinning yarn - a Little Teapot booth

    Spinning yarn - a Little Teapot booth

    Next, I went to say hi to my buddies at Wild Hare Fiber Studio's booth. I’m always attracted to anything bright/neon and Melissa had the coolest animated sign outfitted with a blacklight to show off her neon yarn. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    Wild Hare Fiber Studio

    Three Ravens was sharing the booth space and had some yummy squishy hand dyed faux cashmere top in bright colors that I grabbed right away. I also picked up some special order size 100 knitting needles that are going to be a gift for someone. I kind of want to keep them though because they look so cool (even thought I don't knit). They kind of inspire me to want to learn.

    Three Ravens Fiber 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Three Ravens

    I made a quick stop to say hi to my friends at Solitude Wool and checked out all their pretty yarn and fiber. If you haven't tried their new Llama-rama yarn you need to. It's a lovely soft blend of Virginia grown 50% llama & 50% Romney wool. 

    Solitude Wool

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Solitude Wool

    Solitude Wool

    I hurried over to Loop to get my bullseye bump fix. I was not going to miss out this year no matter how packed it was in there!

    Main Exhibit Hall Shoppers

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Main Exhibition Hall

    I pushed my way in and grabbed two bumps and got out. 

    Loop Bulleseye Bumps

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Loop Fiber

    I didn't want to miss the Fleece Sale this year either, so by the time I had gotten set up in the booth and shopped a bit, the line to get in had mellowed out. There were literaly piles of bags of fleece so deep on the table on the left that I couldn't see them all. I just grabbed a BFL and Merino and got in the check out line. They are two staples that I will dye and add to art batts. I have enough colored merino so I went with the white. I really should have taken a closer look at some of the more hard to find breeds but it was too chaotic for me and I didn't have a plan.

    Note to self: Know what you are looking for before going to the fleece sale, otherwise you may spend a lot of time aimlessly looking in bags of fleece and trying to remember what you just looked at on the other side of the room. It can be a bit like the wedding dress sale at Filene's Basement. Have a price in mind that you are willing to pay for a breed and VM (vegetable matter) state (covered or uncovered?) as well as a total budget. If you can get a buddy to go with you, you can split a fleece. I did not have a fleece buddy and missed out on some nice ones that were just too much for me. 

    Fleece Show and Sales - Showing different breed samples

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Fleece Sale

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Piles of Fleece 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    Colored Wool

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale

    My BFL Fleece

    It's pretty dirty but I think it will wash up nice. Good price at $36. 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Fleece Sale BFL

    My Merino Fleece

    A nice cleaned covered fleece. Sound with no breaks and good staple length. Fairly soft and good overall for the price.

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    merino wool fleece

    This year, I tried something for the first time. I entered the Skein Competition. I have to admit I was pretty sure I wouldn't do very well because most of my yarn is not very traditional and other competition winners that I have seen usually are all pretty uniform and neutral looking. Not that that's a bad thing. I really admire a well-spun perfectly balanced fingering weight yarn in natural gray, that's just not what I usually make. So I had myself convinced it was a wasted effort, but I was up for proving myself wrong.

    I entered three yarns, one that I actually really liked which was a worsted N-Ply "traditional" style yarn from a Loop bullseye bump in the Plied category, a super bulky 2-ply with beehive coils in shades of bright lavender, and a "story" art yarn (both in the Novelty category).

    I walked into the Skein and Garment Competition building and went to the back where the yarn was and I spotted my traditional style yarn. No ribbon. I thought OK, I'll do better next time.

    Then I went to the other table with ribbons and my Lavender beehive yarn had a second place ribbon! I was so excited but I couldn't see my other yarn. My first thought was they tossed it because they didn't know what it was or something. Feeling a bit confused, I went back to the front and there on the table where you walk in was my Monster Mash-up Story yarn! I had walked right by it. It had a blue first place ribbon and a special award ribbon for the Novelty class. I was so excited. Not just because I had won my first ever skein competition, but the fact that the judges "got" my crazy looking art yarn. So I guess you never know until you try and this was really encouraging for art spinners like myself. Here are my skeins and descriptions:

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. MDSW 2015 ribbons-skein competition

    “Friendly Monster - Mash Up” Story Yarn. S11 Expressive (novelty) yarn. First Place and Special Award - Novelty Yarn Category

    Fiber content: wool, llama locks, recycled sari silk, cashmere, acrylic. Corespun, autowrapped, coiled, and chain plied. 18 Yards, 2.7 Ounces

    This is a highly textured story yarn meant to be worn on its own or used as an embellishment in a finished piece. This was wheel-spun using a combination of some of my favorite fiber I've collected recently, much of it from locally grown farm fleece that I processed, drum carded, and dyed. I combined several techniques to trap wild locks and suspend more delicate fibers. 

    It tells the story of a friendly but misunderstood monster, with each section of the yarn representing a moment it's journey to love and acceptance. Or, it's just a really weird looking yarn. Your call.

    MDSW 2015 ribbons-Special Award Novelty Skein

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    “Lavender Bunches” S11 Expressive (novelty) yarn. Second Place Novelty Yarn Category

    Fiber content: Merino and Corriedale X Wool, Angelina, Recycled Sari Silk. 46 Yards, 3.5 Ounces

    I wanted a soft and bouncy yarn with that could be used for next-to-skin soft wearables like a knitted cowl or scarf. I started by drum carding top (some I dyed myself) with sari silk and Angelina fiber then I spun two singles on a wheel, one very thin and the other thick and thin, and then plied them together. 

    This was inspired by a photo I took of bunches of dried lavender tied in purple ribbon.

    MDSW 2015 2nd place-novelty yarn

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Skein and Garment Competition Special Awards

    These were the Special Award winning skeins. The junior category winners were really impressive. Coincidentally I ran into the Junior winner with the purple skein at lunch. She was very excited and I was really happy for her. It's so cool to have that much talent at that age. 

    MDSW special awards skein competition

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    This was just stunning.MDSW 1st place skein competition

    This shawl was knitted from yarn spun from an entire handspun Jacob fleece and won Best in Show.

    Best in Show Shawl

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW 2015 skein and garment competition

    Photo Competition

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW photo competition

    Over the years I have developed relationships with other spinners, fiber artists, and farmers and this is my main opportunity to catch up with them and do some serious shopping. Although I got to see the vendors I really wanted to, I missed a lot of people I had hoped to run into that I basically only know online. I think I'll have to do a better job next year planning a meeting place and teaming up for the fleece sale etc.

    What I really like about this event is that it’s not just for knitters. There is a big hand spinning community in the area and many vendors cater to art yarn spinners and carry premium fiber in an amazing array of colors and textures. If you are looking for eco-friendly small farm raised fleece and rare breeds you will not be disappointed by the huge selection.

    One of my favorite vendors is Avalon Springs Farm. Besides gorgeous hand dyed yarns from her own fiber animals, Karen carries Blue Faced Leicester wool locks in my favorite color, hot pink, which I always make a point of stocking up on. I really hope to visit her farm this year and photograph the sheep.

    Avalon Springs Farm 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Avalon Springs Farm

    Another great source for hand spinning fiber and some of the softest, loveliest wool you'll find in the greater DC area is Feederbrook Farm. I bought a bunch of hand dyed BFL locks and some natural colored washed fleece here too. 

    Feederbrook Farm 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Feederbrook Farm

    Hobbledehoy is a another favorite of mine with her bright colors and luxury fiber batts. My only problem here is deciding which ones to choose so I got a couple.

    Hobbledehoy

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hobbledehoy - 222 Handspun

    Hobbledehoy - 222 Handspun

    The force runs deep in this family. Liz shares a booth with her talented mother, MarigoldJen.

    Yarn From Marigodjen

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Marigoldjen - 222 Handspun

    Outdoor Vendors

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Vendors - 222 Handspun

    Dancing Leaf Farm

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Dancing Leaf - 222 Handspun

    Felted Wool 

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    wool - 222 Handspun

    One of my favorite activities at the festival is watching the Sheepdog Herding Demos. They usually have some less experienced dogs mixed in with the older ones and it’s really fun to watch them do their job so enthusiastically. The demo I went to had some seemingly laid back Bluefaced Leicesters and a young sheepdog who was very eager to herd them. He did a great job despite not wanting to “lie down” when he was asked a number of times.

    Sheep Herding Demo

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    It’s amazing how the sheep really stick together as a tight unit. I was admiring the way their fleece swayed as they ran around the ring.

    Sheep Running Together

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheepdog Getting the “Lie Down” Command (Again)

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    MDSW Sheep Herding demo - 222 Handspun

    Sheep, sheep, and lots of sheep. I missed them last year so I was determined to get some photos this time around. They had lots of ewes with their little lambs in the barns, which of course meant every time someone walked by there were “oohs” and “ahhs” (myself included).

    Bluefaced Leicester Lamb

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    lamb - 222 Handspun

    Gotland Lamb

    Gotland Lamb - 222 Handspun

     © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Bluefaced Leicester Sheep

    BFL sheep - 222 Handspun

    Natural Colored Border Leicester Sheep

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

     - 222 Handspun

     Border Leicester Sheep Border Leicester sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    American Teeswater Sheep 

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    American Teeswater Sheep

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    American Teeswater Sheep 

    American Teeswater sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Hog Island Sheep

    Hog Island Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    Romney Sheep

    Romney sheep - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Jacob Sheep

    Jacob Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Border Cheviot Sheep

    Border Cheviot - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Leicester Longwool Sheep

    leicester longwool Sheep - 222 Handspun

    Getting Ready for the Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    The Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    © Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce or share without written permission and attribution. 

    Posing at the Show Ring

    Showring - 222 Handspun

    Each year I go back, it seems I know more and more people and get to make new friends from all over when standing in the line to buy fleece or just chatting on a bench outside. “What did you buy?” or “Did you make that?” are great conversation openers. I always bring business cards with me and have Facebook and Instagram open so I can follow other fiber enthusiasts whose names I might otherwise forget.

    How do you best enjoy a huge festival like Maryland Sheep and Wool? My advice is to plan ahead. I wrote down the booths I wanted to go to and circled them on the vendor map the day before. I brought some cash, but most everyone takes credit cards (except the lemonade stand and some food vendors). If you can carpool or take a bus, that’s a nice way to enjoy the ride.

    So pack some snacks and water, wear walking shoes, and bring extra-large collapsible bags. You never know when you might score a freshly shorn fleece just about to be thrown out with the trash like I did late Sunday afternoon. Remember to keep your eyes and ears open (free fleece!), and don’t be afraid to ask questions or chat with strangers. Most of all have fun!

    My Saturday Haul. I managed to check of all my to do list items plus a little more.

    MDSW haul - 222 Handspun

    My score of the day - the mystery trash fleece that is actually pretty nice.

    Here it is after I skirted it.

    trash fleece - 222 Handspun

    All images copyright 2015 Elysa Darling. Do not reproduce without permission. 

    View this story on Steller 

     

  • Open House at Solitude Wool

    Today I was asked to do a carding demo at Solitude Wool's Open House. 

    Solitude shares part of the Endless Summer Harvest wharehouse. It's like a fiber candy store.We set up a fiber sharing table and carding station with lots of fiber to play with.

    I had some of my handspun for color inspiration and a table with some little fiber goodies. I was a little worried going in that people would be put off by all the neon, but it was well received. ;)

    Some people were spinning in the circle at the back. Glad to see some men represent!

    I picked out some fiber for my carding demo:

    I brought along a basket of colorful fibery goodness to card:

    Solitude had some beautiful fiber on the sharing table. I got my grabby hands all over this Karakul from Sue's farm to tailspin:

    I don't have a picture, but I brought home some cashmere fiber from their dairy goats. It has all the guard hairs mixed in with the soft down. I am determined to comb it out. This may take a long time, but I think I'm up for the challenge.

    We had a nice turnout and I met some lovely people who were intrigued by the process. I get a kick out of showing the uninitiated how carders and spinning wheels work. After I did a demo, it was their turn to give it a try.

    The smiles on their faces says it all! 

    Got the carder cranking now. So. much. fun.

    Blending colors on the Fusion Engine. (This is how it all starts, folks.)

    Solitude had a huge bag of yarn scraps to cut up and blend in art batts. Needless to say, I went a little nuts with this stuff.

    Card all the things!

    Did I mention Solitude had an awesome sale today too? I really should have grabbed some of this beautiful yarn. But I got distracted everytime I went to go look at it. I'm so ADD at these things I forget what I'm doing half the time.

    Beautiful racks of yarn...

    Outside Gretchen had a dyepot going with Daffodils and fresh cut grass clippings. It made a lovely shade of spring yellow.

    Daffodil Soup:

    After being strained:

    Yarn dyeing in the pot:

    Pretty yellow yarn. This will sit overnight and be a darker shade of yellow when done.

    Gretchen's dye notebooks:

    And of course I had to get some of their famous honey for my allergies. This is the best tasting honey ever.

    So that's the wrap up for today. I had a great time and want to thank everyone who came out. Next time I will be reporting from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm hoping to buy some fleeces and this year I am determined to get some photos of the sheep. 

  • Uniquities Spring Fiber Farmer's Market

    I went to Uniquities Fiber Farmer's Market in Vienna, VA on Saturday and this time I brought my camera along to take some pictures of all the fibery things. This is one of the best kept secrets of the local DC area fiber world. It's held twice a year and is free to attend. Unfortunately, the artificial lighting in the Community Center is pretty bad, so please forgive the grainyness and green cast to everything.

    My first stop was to say hi to some of my favorite local fiberistas, Solitude Wool. They have some gorgeous new yarn and lots of lovely fiber to spin. Gretchen had a sample she made of a woven scarf for their upcoming Dyeing to Weave Workshops in May. Oh, and I will be doing a drum carding demo at their April 19th open wharehouse event. I'm really looking forward to it. They have a really cool space next to Endless Summer Harvest. Bring your wheel, knitting, crochet and hang out. There will be house specials and I will also be bringing some of my handspun yarn. Check out Solitude's website for details.

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Gretchen's Dyeing to Weave Scarf

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Solitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Solitude Wool Knitted Hat

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Solitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool YarnSolitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool 

    Solitude Wool YarnNew Solitude Wool Yarn

    Solitude Wool Yarn

    Next up I visited Strauch Fiber Equipment Company. Unfortunately they had the worst overhead lighting glare so my pictures are pretty crummy. I finally got to meet both of them, and I stayed and watched Otto and Joanne demo their products which are all made here in Virginia. Boy, I'd love to get one of their motorized drum carders one day...

    Otto and Joanne Strauch

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding DemoStrauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Motorized Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum CarderDrum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum CarderFresh Batt Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Drum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum CarderDrum Carding Demo

    Strauch Drum Carder

    Despite the cold blustery day, it was really crowded and I had to wait to get some clear shots of the booths. I ran into some people I know from attending year after year and it's always nice to see familiar faces and catch up. One of the things I really love about fiber events is that I end up talking to total strangers. I have a (probably bad) habit of overhearing people's convesations and interjecting with things like "Of course you can learn to spin. You can never have too many hobbies!" or "You can never have too much fiber/yarn. Go ahead, buy it!". I don't know why but I feel a need to relieve perfect strangers of their fiber addiction guilt. Maybe it's because it makes me feel like I'm not the only one who goes overboard with the woolies. 

    Here are some of the lovely things I saw Saturday.

    Spinning Circle

    Uniquities spinning circle

    Spinning Circle

    Uniquities spinning circle

    Karen of Avalon Springs

    Avalon SpringsAvalon Springs

    Avalon Springs

    Avalon Springs

    Avalon Springs

    Avalon Springs

    Avalon Springs

    Central Virginia Fiber Mill

    Central Virginia Fiber Mill

    Checkmate Farm

    Checkmate

    Kathy of Checkmate Farm

    Checkmate

    Checkmate FarmCheckmate

    Dancing Leaf Farm

    Dancing Leaf

    Dalis of Dancing Leaf Farm

    Dancing Leaf

    Dancing Leaf Farm

    Dancing Leaf

    Dancing Leaf Farm

    Dancing LeafFeederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook

    Feederbrook Farm

    Feederbrook

    Finnegan’s Flock

    Finnegans Flock

    Finnegan’s Flock

    Finnegans Flock

    Mt.Airy Farm

    Mt Airy Farm

    Platinum Alpacas

    Platinum Alpacas

    Platinum Alpacas

    Platinum Alpacas

    Wool N Quilts

    Wool N Quilts

    Wool N Quilts

    Wool N Quilts

    Uniquities 

    Uniquities

    Uniquities - Wild Hare 

    Uniquities

    Uniquities 

    Uniquities

  • The Golden Fleece Course Module 8 Final Weaving Project: Imparting Wisdom

    After almost a year, I finally reached the end of the Journey to the Golden Fleece Course and finished my final project. This module is about coming to the journey's end and creating a statement piece to tell your story using the yarn you made during the course. I chose to use the Majacraft circular loom from the course and then quickly realized that it was way too small for all the yarn I wanted to use. So I took that center piece I had started and attached it to a giant embroidery hoop I had stashed away for a rainy day. 

    For whatever reason I decided to have the center offset with the design radiating outward like sunshine rays. I used a mini crocheted piece and my first yarn with the Frozen Charlotte at the start of my journey and wove my way outwards. I actually cut up skeins of yarn which is something I never do because I wanted similar colors grouped together. Once I got started, I ended up with lots of smaller balls of yarn. It might seem crazy, but I usually don't use my yarn from courses because I like to keep them intact as sort of a record of what I did. I think I will weave something else with the leftover bits. It was kind of a fun exercise looking at all the individual parts of the yarns again and pulling out the good parts to play with. I don't have the same sense that I did after finishing Mod 7 where I was almost feeling a bit lost. I think pulling together a final piece was a really fun way to have a retrospective of the course and try a technique of circular weaving that I wasn't too familiar with.

    When I took a step back, I thought it kind of looks like the eye of a hurricane on a Doppler radar. Also a little bit yin/yang. So it's a little haphazard, chaos, and balance all in one. I'm still not entirely sure if I really like it or if it's goofy looking, but the process was fulfilling.

    I made a mistake taking it off the hoop and had to go back and reattach it. I'm not sure how I will finish off the edges to make it look nicer yet but here it is for now:

    Secret Garden in the Eye of the Storm - Final Weaving Project

    Golden Fleece handspun yarn course circular loom weaving final project - 222 Handspun

    Update: I decided to finish the edges with some simple wrapped natural white yarn:

    Golden Fleece handspun yarn course circular loom weaving final project - 222 Handspun

  • The Golden Fleece Course Module 7: Master of Two Worlds and the Freedom to Live

    During Spinzilla I decided to work on a special yarn. This is the last yarn (Mod 7) for the Journey To The Golden Fleece Course I have been taking all year. My next module is the final woven mandala piece that I am planning right now. It will incorporate all of my yarns I created during the course into a circular dream catcher like thingy.

    This Mod is called "Master of Two Worlds and the Freedom to Live". It is a balanced yarn that represents the ability to master the opposing forces between the Real World of Responsibility and expressing your creative self after completing the journey.

    For me personally, it's kind of like that let down feeling you have after planning a big event for months and months and then its over and...POOF! the feeling's gone and you're all alone in the quiet aftermath and the rest of the world spins on.

    You might have finished the project or graduated but there is some sadness or emptiness in moving on and getting back to the drudgery of the day to day, or even a sense of loss. Even though you've accomplished a lot and done the job well, how to you come off that creative high? The forces that were driving you are no longer there to push you along and kick you in the butt when you need it. It's easy to relapse into a lull or even laziness. What do you do with all your free time now? What will you do when you finish your final project and now you're left with a blank slate all over again?

    Just try to keep busy I guess!

    This is a 2 ply yarn - the first single is kind of wild, bumpy, soft yarn with tailspun wool, mohair, and alpaca locks and autowrapped in some parts with a cashmere blend laceweight yarn. The second ply is just a simple undyed white Corriedale X wool that I overspun. My goal was to balance the craziness colorfulness and texture of the first yarn with something trusty, plain, and secure.

  • Spinzilla 2014

    Here are my Spinzilla 2014 yarns. I came up about 64 yards short of a mile with 1696 yards. I demand a recount! 

    Oh, well. Actually, I just figured out how many yards were in a mile. If I had planned it better I'm sure I could have spun enough to break that mark. There's always next year I guess!

    Spinzilla 2014 handspun yarns - Elysa Darling - 222 Handspun

    I did manage to spin a yarn for one of my  Journey to the Golden Fleece course modules though so I can check that off my list. That's a spinner's version of multi tasking.

    Spinzilla 2014 handspun yarns - Elysa Darling - 222 Handspun

  • Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2014 Wrap Up - Sunday

    SVFF 2014 Hand Dyed yarn by 222handspun.com

    You can read my Saturday recap here.

    Sunday was another gorgeous day. I went to Cutthroat Yarn's hospitality tent to check on their new bunny, Snugglebunny, and the ladies were practicing spinning for the competition that afternoon.

    Spinning Yarn on a Wheel

    SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

    SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

    SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Outdoor Vendors and Animal Exhibits

    SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Honeysuckle Pottery

    SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    This time I was on a mission to take pictures of the wonderful array of animals at the festival. There was Junior the Camel, who is a mainstay at the event every year, Freestate Llamas, Angora goats, Angora rabbits, and the Sheep Herding Demo.

    Freestate Llamas

    Llamas at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Freestate Llamas was outside in their usual spot and I stopped to take pictures and chat with the owner, Marian. She had three llamas with her and one really caught my eye. He was a cria (still a baby) born in Dec. and had some really nice markings. He was kind of a breeding accident - someone left the pen open (oops!)  and he was born in the dead of winter. They weren't sure how he would do, but he made it OK. He was aptly named "Freestate Coldcocked".  But he was good looking and I think she said he had already won a prize in the show ring. They were all very gentle and seemed to not mind all the people and sounds. She said they were bred for their nice disposition and were pretty much "bomb proof". 

    Coldcocked was whining the whole time because he wanted to go home. It's actually kind of a sweet "baahhhh" sound he was making. Not too loud, just kind of like a snooze alarm to remind you he was over the whole show thing. Anyway, I thought he was charming and absolutely gorgeous. 

    Freestate Llamas "Coldcocked" 

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comFreestate Llamas "Coldcocked" 

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comFreestate Llamas "Coldcocked" 

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comFreestate Llamas "Coldcocked" 

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Llama from Freestate Llamasllama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comLlama from Freestate Llamas

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Llama from Freestate Llamas

    llamas at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Llama from Freestate Llamas

    Llama at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Rabbits

    Several people were selling Angora rabbits at the festival. I'd really love to get a rabbit one day but I don't know how my kitties would react to that. They are so irresistible though! One vendor, aBUNdance Acres Farm, had Giant Angora and French Angora Rabbits. I stopped to pet the bunnies and talked to the owners, Phill and Judy. Phill explained that their naming convention was taken from Iroquois nation names. They had two rabbits out that people were petting, Onondaga and Tuscarora. They are brother and sister French Angoras. 

    Onondaga - French Angora Rabbit

    angora rabbit at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Onondaga - French Angora Rabbit

    angora rabbit at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Tuscarora - French Angora Rabbit

    angora rabbit at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Goats

    For those who don't know, mohair is the fiber that comes from Angora Goats, and is not to be confused with the Angora Rabbits!

    Mohair Fleece Sales 

    A Prize Winning Mohair Fleece

    Angora Goat

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Goat

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Goat

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Goats

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Angora Goat From Giant Cricket Farm 

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    There was one goat walking around freely inside the barn. She was well behaved and kept going back to this one pen and trying to get the attention of another goat behind the bars. She was from Pinxterbloom Farm, and her owner, John, said that her name was Vaseyi and she was trying to get the attention of her boyfriend, Yunni, inside the pen. She was a real sweetie and didn't mind being petted (he said she thought she was a dog) but she was totally fixated on Yunni and mostly ignored everyone else. Yunni seemed only mildly interested in her though, so this was more of an unrequited crush that she had on him. The owner explained that once mating season was over they would go their separate ways. Ahhh, young love. 

    Vaseyi checking out Yunni and deciding if she should go see him again

    Vaseyi on her way back to see Yunni

    She made up her mind to go back. The other goats were just not as interesting.

    ANgora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Yunni is a handsome fella

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Saying hi again

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    The Kiss

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Seriously Cute

    ANgora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Yunni wondering what just happened

    Angora goat at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Well, no matter how much of a pushy broad she was, there was no jailbreak happening in the show barn that day, so I moved on. 

    Breed Exhibits

    In another barn was Junior, a 15 year old two-humped Bactrian camel from Wilson's Wild Animal Park in Winchester, VA. I think it is Junior that has been at the festival for several years (that I can remember). He's very docile and has a nice disposition and seems to be pretty used to events like this. And no, he doesn't seem to spit at people or anything like that. There is a cute article in the Washington Post from last year that talks about Junior and the camels from Wilson's.

    I was a bit disappointed that I must have missed all the other animals because he was the only one in the barn on Sunday afternoon. 

    Junior the Camel

    camel at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    The only sheep I saw were at the Sheepdog Herding Demo which was actually pretty funny. They had a group of Katahdin sheep that they were working (the darker colored one was a breed that the announcer didn't know). Katahdin are a type of hair sheep that sheds its winter coat so they don't have to be sheared. 

    Sheep Waiting in The Barn Before The Show

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo


    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    One ewe discovered how to jump through the fence and kept getting out, and of course the others followed. It was really comical watching them chase these sheep all over the fairgrounds - almost like a Benny Hill skit but without the music. Sheep are smarter than people give them credit for and once they figured it out, they kept trying to escape again through that part of the fence. This actually happened several times so they called it quits on the demo. At one point I had gone to look at some alpacas on the other side of the fairgrounds and they perked their ears up - they had spotted the ewe still running loose and being chased by one of the dogs. 

    Sheep Herding Demo - Jail break!

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Sheep Herding Demo - Katahdin Sheep

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comSheep Herding Demo - Katahdin Sheep

    sheep herding at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Alpacas

    Central Hill Farm and Butterfly Hill Farm had some lovely alpacas at their booths. I love their fuzzy little bobbleheads!

    Central Hill Farm Alpaca

    alpaca at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Butterfly Hill Farm Alpaca

    alpaca at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Yarn and Fiber Vendors

    Next up, the yarn and fiber vendors!

    Hobbledehoy

    Hobbledehoy is a favorite of mine. She always has such beautiful art batts and handspun yarn. We chatted for a while and even though I swore I wasn't going to buy too much this year, I got some of her handspun yarn. It's seriously so pretty, I couldn't resist.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Hobbledehoy Handspun Yarn

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    I got the purple and green one in the bottom center:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Hobbledehoy Art Batts

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Hobbledehoy Hand Painted Roving

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Talent runs in this family. These are her mother's (Marigold Jen) handyed yarns:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Hipstrings

    I discovered Hipstrings when I walked by the booth and spotted something neon on the table and I was immediately drawn in. I had been looking for a good spindle for the cashmere and cotton I got back at SpinQuest and they had some fabulous handmade Tahkli support spindles in even more fab colors. Of course, I bought one in neon pink acrylic with an etched design.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Hipstrings Hand Dyed Fiber

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    The Show Barn

    Inside the Show Barn were more fiberistas I had to say hi to - the lovely Karen of Avalon Springs Farm and Christiane of Threeravens Fiber Studio who was manning the booth at Lovelyarns and selling their BA knitting needles and yarn and fiber.

    Avalon Springs

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Lovelyarns

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Threeravens Fiber Studio at Lovelyarns

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Threeravens Fiber Studio - BA Knitting Needles

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Threeravens Fiber Studio Handspun Yarn

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    The Dairy Barn

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    I found some real gems in the Dairy Barn - Dragonfly Fibers and Neighborhood Fiber Co. If you like rich, modern color palettes in your hand dyed yarn, these are the places to go.  

    Dragonfly Fibers

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Dragonfly Fibers

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Neighborhood Fiber Co. collaborated with Gourmet Stash to come up with some super awesome fiber this year and I couldn't resist buying some Tribbles in the "Hydra" colorway at Gourmet Stash's booth. They were also selling the same fiber at Neighborhood's booth - you can see the one I got in the top left corner of the picture below (purple/red).

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Neighborhood Fiber Co.

    These colors are just amazing. It was like a wall of rainbow awesome.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comNeighborhood Fiber Co.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comNeighborhood Fiber Co.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comNeighborhood Fiber Co.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Well, this wraps up another fabulous weekend at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. As I am writing this, I've already washed the Shetland X Finn and CVM fleeces and I'm really happy with my purchases. I'm getting ready for Spinzilla so I'll have plenty of fiber to spin. I had fun volunteering and as always, I learned some new things too. I look forward to next year. 

  • Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival 2014 Wrap Up - Saturday

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comI spent two days at SVFF taking pictures and volunteering at the fleece sales last weekend. Once again, we were lucky with the weather and there were two glorious early Fall days for the festival. I had been recruited to volunteer by the Coordinator of the fleece sales, Debbie, at Solitude's Open House. I have never volunteered at the festival before so when I asked her what I needed to do, she said "just help people pick out fleeces". I always have an opinion (ha-ha) and I like helping newbie spinners, so I thought that sounded easy enough.

    I also wanted to cover the event for myself and get some good shots of the animals so that worked out great. I brought my brand new 18-200 lens so I didn't have to carry two lenses for wide and zoom and I really liked the way it performed. It took some time for me to get used to the particulars of the lens and this was a good way for me to try it out without risking an important job and not getting any good shots. The first day had some crappy shots with poor exposures and I had trouble with the action shots and some mixed lighting with outdoor and fluorescent combined, but other than that I got some pics I was happy with. I edited over 150 so I'm only showing a handful here. The rest are on my Flickr and Facebook pages or you can click on the gallery below to view the entire Flickr album.

    Photo Album (Sat. and Sun.)

    Saturday

    The Fleece Sales

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.comI checked in at the volunteer table, picked up some nice swag, and then made my way to the Fleece Sales. I was there for about four hours so I didn't have too much time to walk around and see other things. I picked out two really nice fleeces for myself when I got there. I wanted to buy one of Rivanna River Farm Alpaca fleeces since they are retiring and this would be one of my last opportunities to do so. They really have some of the most beautiful alpaca fiber I've seen and I'm kind of hoarding what little I have left. Needless to say I am very bummed they are retiring, they are super nice people and they love their animals and it really shows in the quality of their products. I bought one of the first peg looms they sold and some amazing corespun jumbo yarn that I wove into a cat mat on my loom.

    This is the fleece I purchased. It is an award winning Grade 1, 19.5/20 fineness fleece; 1 lb. 14 oz. It's super soft with a nice sheen. I will probably dye this and blend it with other fibers like merino and kid mohair for some really soft handspun yarn. 

    Rivanna River Farm - Huacaya Alpaca Fleece

    alpaca fleece at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    I wanted to buy some other fleeces that I normally wouldn't buy or haven't worked with much. They didn't have any BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) - those always go fast and I think there were only a couple to begin with. Why are BFL's so hard to get?

    Anyway, I have plenty of white fleece so I was looking at the colored ones and spotted a really nice Shetland X Finn in a chocolate brown with sun bleached gold tips. This is a cross between two breeds of sheep and is one fleece, not two fleeces from different animals! I thought I'd mention this because someone asked me that on Saturday. I guess it isn't obvious to someone who is not familiar with sheep breeds and how fleeces are sold.

    Checking Out the Shetland X Finn Fleece

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    I grabbed it and made my way to the sales table. Bridget, who was also volunteering, saw me holding it and said "hey, that's my fleece, Kitty!". Bridget owns Bridget's Farm Cart and raises a variety of breeds of sheep. I have purchased fiber from her before and was happy to know that it was one of hers that I was getting, because in my excitement I didn't even read the tag and see it was hers. The description on the label says "It was hard to part with this fleece. Kitty's mom was a beautiful red Moorit Shetland and her dad is Phinneas 360, our dark brown Finn ram. The result is a beautiful reddish brown fleece with long locks that will be gorgeous when spun."

    Kitty's fleece is super soft (some Shetlands and Finns can be more coarse) but has a lot of VM. That's OK though. I washed it up this week and it's wonderful. I picked out the burrs (ouch!) and I've really fallen in love with it. 

    "Kitty" Shetland X Finn Ewe Yearling Fleece from Bridget's Farm Cart at Sunnybrook Farm

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    This is a crappy pic (the daylight was going fast!). It looks like a bear skin rug when laid out flat. I think the tail end is at the top of the picture. After being sheared, the fleece is skirted which means removing any poopy tags, belly wool, and second cuts (shorter fiber that is passed over twice with the clippers). It's so cool how the fleece holds it's shape after being sheared off the sheep. After it's sheared it comes off in one big piece and they roll it up and pack it in a plastic bag with a label usually indicating the name, breed, weight, ID #, price, and comments or description for the buyer. I unfurled it so I could get a sense of how big it was and how much VM (vegetable matter) it had. The fleece weighs only two pounds so that's actually not very big. It doesn't have as much lanolin in it compared to a fine wool breed so that means it weighs less and you won't loose a lot of the weight after scouring it when the grease and dirt go down the drain.

    "Kitty" Raw Shetland X Finn Wool Fleece  

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    I really enjoyed helping people pick out fleeces and educating about the different characteristics of each breed. I'm not an authority, but I buy from many of the farmers there and I am familiar enough with their offerings to judge them in an impartial way. When I started out, I had to learn a lot on my own and some people and situations were a bit intimidating. I think the first fleece sale I went to was at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and I went in the wrong way or something and got dirty looks and a "Can I help yoouuuuu???" from some bitchy lady. That kind of scared me off for a while. So I think I sold about four or five fleeces Saturday and I could tell how excited and grateful the newbies were with help and advice. That's always a nice feeling. 

    Buyers Examining a Fleece

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Later in the day, I was helping one woman decide between two California Variegated Mutant (CVM) fleeces which I had also been interested in. The fleece we liked the best was bigger and was $88 for 4 lbs. which is more than what I wanted to spend since I had no real plans for it other than it caught my eye and I haven't played with CVM before. She was on the fence about it so I offered to split it with her and she immediately said yes (score!). So we both got some awesome fleece to take home. If you haven't bought at a fleece sale before you can get some good deals this way. We literally split it down the middle lenghtwise and put it in bags and weighed it. It was almost exactly 2 lbs. each. This is a fair way to split a fleece - each person gets the same (more and less desirable) parts of the wool from head to tail. 

    Examining Our CVM Fleece on a Skirting Table

    CVM's are a type of Romeldale sheep (fine wool) that had a mutation and resulted in a barred multi colored pattern that was then developed as it's own breed. They are not all that common and this is why I was interested in buying it for my breed studies. They come in a wide variety of color patterns including dark gray, black, brown, moorit, and spotted, and typically have a barred face badger pattern. This fleece is almost mostly lilac light gray, medium gray with gold tips, and some dark chocolate brown and is reminiscent of a Jacob in coloring.

    CVM Raw Wool Fleece

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    The Fleece Sales

    fleece sales at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Outside and the Ruritan Building

    I had some time to take a quick break in the afternoon and stopped by some of my favorite fiber people's booths. The fiber community is really strong in this area and it's nice to see some familiar faces and even run into customers of mine from time to time. 

    Here are some of the folks I visited and their gorgeous products they had for sale. There are more pictures in my photo album.

    Gourmet Stash

    Kate signing a one-of-a-kind dyepot painting. Genius.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Ahhhh! I love these colors! 

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    WIld Hare Fiber Studio

    Melissa with some of her amazing fiber:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    She's also a very talented spinner, weaver, and knitter:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Solitude Wool

    Solitude feaures hand dyed, locally grown, breed-specific wool yarn and fiber:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Solitude Dot Hat Kits

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Cutthroat Yarn

    Jeanette got a new bunny at the festival and named her Snugglebunny! I'm so jealous. She's a shop bunny now so at least I can visit.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    They also had a hospitality tent with some lovely yarn and fiber displays:

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Meanwhile back at the Fleece Sales

    Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild

    A lot of the ladies helping with the fleece sales are members of the guild and were doing spinning and weaving demos. They are a super great bunch of people and a lot of fun to chat with.

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    yarn and fiber at SVFF 2014 by 222handspun.com

    Well, that wraps up day one! There's more to come with Sunday's recap. So stay tuned, there will be llamas!

  • I Joined a spinners guild

    I've wanted to join a spinners guild for some time now, but for various reasons I hadn't until last weekend. I sat in on the Foothills Spinner and Weavers Guild meeting in Herndon,VA on Saturday. They were a welcoming group of ladies with a variety of skills in the fiber arts from spinning, weaving, knitting, and felting. Part of the meeting was introductions and then they had show and tell. I was very impressed with the projects they had worked on and I think I'm going to learn a lot from the group. 

    They had a guest speaker, Nancy Reaves, who gave a talk on dyeing fiber with mushrooms. She had taken a class at the Mannings and shared her dye experiences and samples. I've never tried dyeing with mushrooms before and it was fascinating to see the different colors you can achive with them. 

    Please excuse the crappy iPhone pictures.

    The Hapalpopilus Nidulans makes a pretty purple dye which is more unusual than the brown, russet, and gold colors you normally see with mushrooms.

    Nancy is wearing a sweater that she dyed using mushrooms!

    After the regular meeting, there was a spinners study group where a few spinners are doing breed studies and discussed the characteristics of the breeds they covered during the month. I've been doing breed studies and following along with the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, so I was thrilled to get a chance to discuss our observations with other spinners. I'm going to have to look for some samples of the next month's breed which I think is Norwegian.

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  • Finally, I have a new knit sample!

    I'm so excited about this new hand knitted cowl sample from the fiber superstar Taylor Chona. I mean, seriously thrilled. I met Taylor at the Madision Wool trunk show last month and she spun up one of my Wes Anderson Inspired Colors Life Aquatic fiber batts. I was moaning about how I can't knit and nobody will knit samples for me wah, wah, wah, and Taylor came to the rescue!

    She followed the free Posie Moebius Cowl Pattern by Kristi Pyatt on Ravelry using size 9 needles and 270 yards of worsted spun N-ply yarn. I love how she kept the color gradients and incorporated it into the pattern for a nice striping effect. All this from about 4 ounces of fiber! Amazing. Steve Zissou would be so jealous!

  • Strauch Fiber Blog Feature

    222 Handspun is featured on Strauch Fiber Equipment's blog this week. I'm a big fan of Strauch products, including my favorite drum carder, the Mad Batt'r. They're a family owned Virginia based company that produces quality fiber equipment and tools for fiber artists.

    You can view the drum carder it in action here in my YouTube video.

  • Solitude Wool September Open House

    I spent a lovely September afternoon at Solitude Farm in Round Hill, VA on Sunday. Gretchen and Joan hosted an open house on their small Western Loudoun County 1790 farm where they raise Romney sheep for wool, Alpine Dairy goats for what else - goat cheese, and have yummy honey from their bee hives.

    Solitude Farm

    They had their gorgeous yarn and fiber for sale including kits like this cute new Solitude Dots knit kit pattern designed by Mari Chiba Luke:

    Pssstt... I really went back for the chevre. Too bad they don't sell it. :(

    Fresh chevre from Dora the Alpine dairy goat

    But they do sell honey!

    Side note: I'm becoming interested in honey bees. I got very close to the hive and didn't spook them at all. I kind of forgot they could sting if they wanted too. But they just went about their business and ignored me. Sue's husband, Bill is a beekeeper and said that he didn't wear any covering the other day checking the hives. They also make the best tasting honey I've ever had. 

    Making Honey

    Gretchen dyes the fiber for Solitude Wool and taught a class on hand painting yarn. She also gave a demo on using natural dyes including indigo and dyes from various plants found in their dye garden. I'm fascinated with the whole dyeing process, and although I haven't done much with natural dyes, I was definitely inspired to try again. You may find me foraging in the woods for plants soon.

    Dye Class

    Looking at Natural Dye Notes

    Um, I really need to take better dye notes and put them in a notebook like this. All my color mixes are in my head. Gretchen is so organized. You can see the different mordants (the number of knots indicates the type of metal). It's amazing how the color can vary so much with a different type of mordant and the same exact dye.

    Gretchen teaching yarn dyeing

    Checking the indigo dye 

    Here Gretchen is examining the test yarn. She uses a certain number of knots in the yarn to indicate the type of mordant used for record keeping purposes. 

    Student learning to hand paint yarn

    Dyes

    Student Hand Painting Yarn

    Indigo Dye

    Checking Indigo Dyed Yarn

    Hanging Indigo Dyed Yarn To Dry

    Indigo Dyed Yarn

    The indigo dye oxidizes as it hangs to dry.

    Students collecting pokeberries for dye

    Cutting flowers for dye

    Late Summer Dye Garden 

    I don't know why but I love chicory. I wish I had it in my garden. I always see it on the side of the roadway. It seems pretty hardy.

    Joan was showing me the tomato hornworms with parasitic wasp eggs. They were gross but fascinating at the same time. They let the infected ones stay so the wasp eggs would survive and continue protection of the tomato plants.

    This one had not been attacked by the hornworms yet so she removed it from the vine and it oozed green gunk all over her hand.

    A friendly praying mantis watched over the proceedings most of the afternoon from atop the tent.

    The porch and patio are nice places to sit and knit or spin. I spun last time but was too busy taking photos and watching the dye demo that I didn't have time.

    Collecting Walnuts For Dye

    Wingstem natural plant dye

    Natural plant dye 

    Natural plant dyed yarn

    The Big Reveal

    After steaming, a student unwraps her hand painted yarn to see how it came out.

    Checking student dyed yarn

    The sheep and goats were pretty mellow. The Romneys are pretty shy and kept to themselves most of the day and the goats hung out in the barn.

    Even the cat wanted nothing to do with me. And I'm usually a cat magnet. Hmmm.

    I stayed on a bit to help them pack up the yarn and enjoyed some nice refreshments and socializing on the patio - a great end to a great day. 

    If you're interested in learning more about farm life, sheep, wool, dyeing, or anything fibery, this is the place to go. I'm hoping they have another one in the Spring, I had so much fun. Visit Solitude Wool for more information. 

  • SpinQuest 2014 and Madison Wool Trunk Show Wrap Ups

    I've been jetting around the last couple weekends (not really jetting - but that sounds fancy) doing my fibery road show thing.

    First up was SpinQuest 2014 in Front Royal, VA. I splashed out on a hotel room so I could be up there Friday night and hang out and spin in public with the other ladies. Friday night hey had a Beatles cover band playing live music across the street from the event venue (the Blue Ridge Arts Center). We had fun spinning and chatting with the locals who were curious to learn what we were doing with these wheel thingies.

    I spent the next day at SpinQuest where it's always nice to meet new people and socialize with the other vendors. I love listening to their stories about life on their farms and their critters. I bought some cool fiber too - USA grown cashmere and some cotton. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but I'll find a special project.

    SpinQuest 2014

    Karen of Avalon Springs Giving a Talk on Fleece

    Three Ravens 

    Avalon Springs

    Flying Goat Farm and Grindstone Ridge

    222 Handspun

    Trunk Show at Madison Wool

    The following weekend I flew up to RI to see my family and took a day drip to CT for a trunk show at Madison Wool. Dayna has one of the best yarn shops and was a very gracious host. We had a nice gathering of spinners and knitters and although it was a bit sticky, we spent the afternoon outside spinning and chatting. Some of the ladies already finished their yarn and made some awesome things using my fiber. This is the best part about spinning and the fiber community in general - having the chance to connect with other fiberistas and make new friends. I had so much fun that I'm already plotting (er, planning) to go back in December. 

    Flying Into Rhode Island 

    We had amazing weather on Saturday and my Brother and I went to GreySail Bewing and did some taste testing.

    I really wanted to go to the beach and dip my feet in the water and walk in the sand so we went to Westerly and Watch Hill.

    Sunday I drove to CT for my trunk show at Madison Wool. 

    I taught my nieces how to spin on a drop spindle.

    After a long wonderful day, I left Dayna with a pile of yarn and Teeswater locks to take to Stitches East just in time before it started to rain. (Madison Wool photo) 

  • Tour de Fleece 2014 Wrap-up

    Well, I just realized I never did a wrap up for Tour de Fleece 2014. I didn't do as much spinning as I did dyeing and carding since I had some orders to fill and I'm getting ready for shows. Overall I was pleased with the results though. I managed to try some techniques (like spinning thin) that I don't normally try. Here are my yarns from the tour:

  • New Wes Anderson Inspired Color Collection

    I've been busy cooking up some new goodies for my upcoming trunk show at Madison Wool on Aug. 31. I was really inspired by the Wes Anderson Tour de Fleece mini challenge so I decided to create a short run of art batts based on the movies: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Each jumbo batt is a super soft smooth hand carded blend of Merino and Corriedale Wool with Angelina and some contain Bamboo. These are very fluffy and a dream to spin. They're also in limited supply so get them while they're hot!

    Wes Anderson Inspired Ltd Edition Fiber Batts by 222 Handspun

    Wes Anderson Art Batts Spinning Fiber by 222 Handspun - The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Tour de Fleece 2014 - Team Nevermore

    I'm spinning again this year in the Tour de Fleece on Team Nevermore. I spent most of the first week dyeing wool but I did manage to get in a spin for Day 1. This is a 2 ply merino, Corriedale X, and Angelina yarn I spun from one of my art batts. I divided the colors into long solid sections and spun a single then plyed the yarn back onto itself so the complementary colors would contrast each other.

    Check out my Instagram for more pictures!

    Here is my final wrap up post for Tour De Fleece. 

    Finished 2 Ply Handspun Yarn

    Hand Carded Wool Blend Art Batt

    Hand Carded Wool Blend Art Batt

  • The Golden Fleece Module 5: The Boon

    The goal of this module is to pushing past resistance and obstacles and to design a yarn to showcase your best skills with different interpretations. For this yarn I chose some of my favorite fibers in my stash and incorporated several spinning techniques. I spun the yarn over a thread core and alternated autowrapping the core and additional threads and yarns around the fiber. I also added some crocheted flowers that I had made (after just learning to crochet this year!).

  • The Golden Fleece Module 4: The Meeting With the Goddess

    For this module we were exploring the nature of our truest love in order to create a yarn that encompasses the feeling of discovery or connection to your True Love. I was inspired by a kimono print robe someone was wearing in a movie I watched a while ago. The robe was beautiful and sensual looking and the colors of the flower print were gorgeous on a black background. I did several takes on this yarn from a thin corespun base with the final one being a Coil Boil  (Navajo /Chain Plyed Corespun Coils).

    An outtake - Thread Plyed with Coils

  • The Golden Fleece Module 3: The Vision Quest Yarn

    I've had a lot of catching up to do for the Journey To The Golden Fleece Course. I had made several attempts at different techniques I wanted to try, but nothing I was really happy with, so I decided to power through it and finish them all this weekend.

    Concepts for the third module are finding (or rediscovering) your own individuality, style, inspirations, and developing your unique creative voice. For this yarn I was inspired by some styles and techniques that I wanted to emulate. I used mostly fiber that I purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and some I had in my stash. This is a very thick jumbo yarn with wool, alpaca, mohair, recycled sari silk and ribbon, angelina, and hand dyed wool locks spun around a thick nylon craft cord.

  • Solitude Farm Open House

    Today I spent a glorious afternoon at Solitude Farm in Round Hill, Virginia for their open house. I buy fleece and wool roving from them fairly often. We've had a lot of rain and flooding lately but the weather cleared and it was a perfect 72 degrees with blue skies. Solitude had their little tent set up with their yarn and fiber and we were able to walk around and see the various animals on the farm which include Romney sheep and American alpine dairy goats.

    The Romney sheep were grazing in the field. 

    Inside the barn, the goats were staying comfortably in the shade. They had three generations of American Alpine dairy goats, with two new kids who were very curious and friendly. 

    After visitng the goats and sheep I took a wall down to the creek. It was so peacful and quiet there that I could see why they named the farm "Solitude".

     I headed up the slope and took a walk around the garden where some flowers were still in bloom and the bees and butterflies were buzzing around.

    There was lots of clover and bees in the fields. I bought some of the honey collected from the hives this week. 

    After I took a tour around the farm I went up to the house where they were serving really delicious fresh homemade goat cheese on the porch (from their dairy goats of course!). It was soooo yummy. A few of us hung out there chatting, spinning, and knitting. I spun some yarn on my new Majacraft Aura spinning wheel with the overdrive head for a while, then it was time to go home. The perfect end to a perfect day.

  • Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - 2014

    Yesterday I made my annual trek to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (MDSW). I've been going there for the last several years and I'm lucky enough to live within about an hour and 15 minutes away. I wanted to catch up with some fiber friends but sadly I got a late start and missed some people. I did get a chance to visit my favorite booths though and take some pictures. I didn't really get to see the animals because I spent so much time chatting with people. Next year I'll try to get more pictures of the woolly critters. Luckily the weather was gorgeous and so were all the fibery displays. 

    Here is my haul with Bleu doing the usual inspection:

    I really loved the yarn bombed fence line leading up to the main gate. Some volunteers really took the time to go all out. How fun is that?

    My first stop on the way in was Dancing Leaf Farm's booth where I purchased a really cool handspun yarn necklace from the very talented and always lovely Dalis (who was kind enough to pose for a quick picture in her booth).

    My new necklace (crappy iPhone pic, sorry):

    Outside Dancing Leaf Farm's booth

    Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    Fibery Goodies Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    Yummy Yarn Inside Dancing Leaf Farm's Booth

    My next stop was Mangham Wool Farm where I couldn't resist buying some fuchsia sari silk ribbon and Knit Collage yarn from this gorgeous display:

    I made my way around the outside vendors and stopped by to say hi to Kate of Gourmet Stash where I bought some of that hand dyed green merino top in the center of the pic and some SOAK wash for my yarn. She had reminded me that I wanted some and had a stash set aside. It smells great. I can't wait to use it on my next yarn rinse.

    This was her first year at MDSW and she really did a great job pulling it all together. I don't think people realize how much preparation goes into getting ready for a show like this months beforehand. We're talking pounds and pounds of hand carded punis. Congrats to her.

    Another favorite vendor of mine is Lavender Hills Farm. They raise cormo sheep which is one of the absolute nicest types of wool. I stopped in and chatted for a long time and picked up some roving from them. They also had some Angora bunnies in the tent. One day I will come home with one, I swear. I wonder what my cats would do?

    Walking To The Lower Corral and Main Exhibition Barn

    Next I walked down the hill to the Lower Corral area. There were a bunch of booths there that I always make a point of visiting. The first one was Avalon Springs Farm. I usually buy hand dyed BFL fleece and silk from her and of course, stop to chat. Karen is super nice and doesn't mind me asking all sort of questions. We got to talking about photography too, which is one of my favorite subjects (I was using my Nikon D5100). Here she is with friends and family:

    Inside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    This dyed cultivated silk is gorgeous. I've been using it in my art batts.

    Inside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    Outside Avalon Springs Farm Booth

    A new discovery for me was Rainbow Rapunzel. Her booth is so whimsical and full of colorful freespirited yarn. I'm so happy I stopped in. I ended up getting some cool old mill spindles and some dyed fiber.  I also got some yarn by the yard. She has a really cool display for some huge skeins on giant spools like they use for industrial wire reels. I almost got a tiara too but I don't think I could pull it off ;)

    I didn't know it at the time but one of my fellow fibertistas whom I know through Facebook, Stacy, was helping out in the booth. We were talking but I didn't know it was her until I got home. It's funny how I know a lot of people in the fiber community online-only and wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them on the street, or in this case, MDSW. I did immediately recognize the OMG crochet hook from Three Ravens hanging on the rack though. You can't miss it! This was a custom order for her that Rob delivered at the festival. There are lots of jokes about that one. I have a smaller version that is still ginormous.

    Hand Dyed Fiber at Rainbow Rapunzel

    I grabbed some of this fibery goodness too.

    Rainbow Rapunzel's Booth

    Check out the giant spools of yarn on the left!

    Here's some of the yarn from a giant spool (crappy iPhone pic, sorry)

    Outside Rainbow Rapunzel's Booth

    A perennial favorite is Hobbledehoy. She has such a great sense of color and texture. I fell in love with all of this yarn:

    And I bought some batt-letts too

    I stopped to take an Instagram since she said I should do so on this sign in order to win some goodies: (bonus points for the awesome marketing by the way)

    Last stop in the Lower Corral was Feederbrook Farm. They raise BFL, Teeswater, and Shetland sheep. She's super nice and I chatted with her for a while as I bought some of her gorgeous undyed and dyed BFL locks. I'm going to wait till the Fall and see what she has for Teeswater fleece. That's something to look forward too.

    Inside Feederbrook Farm's Booth

    Inside Feederbrook Farm's Booth

    Dyed BFL Locks and Raw Shetland Fleece from Feederbrook Farm

    Into the Main Exhibition Hall I found Susan's Fiber Shop. She was featuring yarn and fiber from Jazzturtle, Wild Hare, and a brand new 'pick me picker' which I missed apparently in all the chaos. 

    Jazzturtle

    Susan's Fiber Shop Booth

    This looks like Ashland Bay merino top. I like this display. Did you know I'm an Ashland Bay dealer? I always forget to mention that. I'm probably going to start listing their fiber in my Etsy store soon.

    Then, I stopped by Loop and was confronted with this wall of awesomeness:

    They looked wiped since it was the end of the day, but she was gracious nonetheless and I bought some spinning cloud fiber from her. I admired her handspun yarn while I waited to check out.

    The troll doll one was the best. I love how her yarn is all so fat and ropey. I found so much inspiration on this trip. I'm gonna try more corespinning when my Aura wheel with the Overdrive Head finally arrives.

    One last look at Loop. Ahhh....

    I had to swing by Solitude Wool and pick up some Clun Forest roving in this amazing peachy salmon color. I think I've bought most of what they have in that colorway. They were still busy and I was tired, so I didn't stay for too long. After the main barn I had to get some food for the road. They always have really good fresh squeezed lemonade, which totally hit the spot. As I made my way back to the parking lot, I paused to take some pictures of the yarn bombs.

    Some final thoughts and minor regrets (what's a journey without a few regrets, I say?)

    * I wish I had the energy to go back on Sunday but I was just too pooped. I got a late start on Saturday and didn't see all the things. I also missed some folks I wanted to meet. We introverts need to recharge after a long day, after all.

    * I totally forgot to get Maple Sugar from Justameer. Dangnabbit. I get some every year - it's tradition! (even though I haven't used up last year's yet).

    * I forgot to ask what fiber was in the spontaneous spinning cloud floof I bought from Loop. I was also so overwhelmed with the self-striping bumps in her Wall of Awesomeness at the end of the day that I didn't even buy one. I should have just grabbed one, any one.

    * I always lose my car. This year I even took a picture of the sign where I was parked in "D" (as in Darling) section on my iPhone when I got there. My proof:

    I still couldn't find it and I was so fed up and tired, so I enlisted help from the boyscouts who looked bored and were tooling around in a pair of golf carts since there wasn't much traffic to direct anymore. (OK, I was tired, walking up hill 2x in the long grass and carrying two giants bags of fiber, with a blister on my foot - all after not eating lunch yet at 4:00). The troop master sarcastically remarked that no one in 40 some odd years of the festival had ever lost their car, especially since they put up signs. Yeah, yeah. Funny. I'm that girl, OK?

    So then he asked me for a description of the car, which I realized is sooooo generic (gray Toyota Sienna) until a light bulb went on in my head and I blurted out "The license plate says YARNIE, it's a Virgina Farming plate". Thank goodness for that - a distinguishing feature. I knew there was a reason to get a vanity plate. One of them remarked that he remembered seeing the YARNIE license plate earlier and thought it was cool, so he was sure we'd find it in no time. They got all excited by the mission (I think they were super bored at this point in the day) and I hopped in one of the golf carts and the boyscouts had a race to find my yarn mobile. We whizzed up and down the rows and aisles at top speed. I had been warned by the troopmaster that none of them had driver's licenses yet, but somehow I was feeling reckless, albeit a little old at the same time. But that's a story for another day.

    Sure enough, our cart won the race and I got in my car and promptly ate my cold grilled cheese sandwich and remaining sip of fresh squeezed lemonade that I bought with my leftover cash. I had exactly one dollar left in my pocketbook. Just then it started to rain a little bit.That was a fun ending to the day.

  • Cormo Clouds

    I just recently washed up the most amazing Cormo wool fleece from Namaste Farms (of Shear Madness on NatGeoWILD fame). I buy quite a bit of fiber from her. This is why I don't want to buy uncoated fleece anymore (at least not fine wool). You just can't get the same quality when it's not blanketed. I've become a bit of a fleece snob but I can't help it. You just can't go back!

    Here's what it looks like all clean:

    Here's Natalie's picture of the raw fleece:

  • The Golden Fleece Module 2 Yarn - The Road of Trials

    My “Road of Trials” yarn for The Golden Fleece Module 2 was surprisingly very enjoyable to make. I decided for this that I would do a bumpy textured yarn to represent the bumps in the road that I’ve encountered along my journey - missed opportunities, self-doubt, and rejection among them.

    I core spun and then coiled the yarn from an art batt that I hand carded. It’s wool with a bit of Angelina to add some tiny sparkles and bright points in the darker parts of the yarn. I liked the simple corespun which was much smoother. At first I almost kept it that way, but I gave the super coils a try to see what would happen when I added all the “bumps”. What I discovered is that I really loved the texture of the coils and they added a whole new dimension to the yarn. Without all the bumps it would be pretty simple and although nice, a bit boring - just like my journey so far.

    I was really digging all the fuzzy squishiness so I chained a piece to wear as a necklace using a jumbo crochet hook.

  • The Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Certificate - Starting My Journey and Module 1 Yarn

    Back in November I signed up for a brand new online creativity course, Journey to the Golden Fleece, from the Fibery Goodeness masterminds Arlene (Spin Artiste) and Suzy (Woolwench). I've always been fascinated with myths and tales of heros and their epic journeys since listening to Joseph Campbell lectures in my college days. Arlene and Suzy have pulled together a fantastic course based on the journey of Jason and the quest for the legendary golden fleece. The goal is to boost your creativity through exploration of the course themes and challenges much in the way of the hero's journey.

    I created my first yarn in December. The Module One theme isThe Call To Adventure. The goal is to spin a yarn that represents who you were at the beginning of your path to creative discovery. Granted, it was right before the holidays and I had a lot going on so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time spinning, but I was inspired early on to do some self-exploration on how I got started spinning. Recognizing what came “before"  and confronting the agents for change was an important part of the first module theme. I started looking around and collecting objects that I felt represented myself and my environment before I got started in the fiber arts. 

    Collection of Materials for My Mod 1 Yarn

    Cotton boll, mini crocheted flowers, Frozen Charlotte Doll

    I used a variety of fibers in the yarn and actually built some of the sections separately using a drop spindle, crochet hook, and a spinning wheel to chain ply most of it. The start of the yarn contains mohair yarn with pearl beads. I then crocheted (I just learned to crochet!) metal wire and threaded the yarn through the chain and secured the Frozen Charlotte doll with the wire to the strand of yarn I was building. 

    Crocheting the Frozen Charlotte Doll With Metal Wire

    I incorporated other fibers and sections of yarn spun from raw cotton, cashmere, wool locks from local farms, Angelina, and bits of fabric and sparkly trim and chain plyed the finished piece.

    Detail of My Module 1 Yarn

    When I first became intrigued with the idea of spinning my own yarn, I had no idea where to start and I was just learning about different fibers. I’ve always loved cotton (I even tried to grow some but it never sprouted L). I had purchased a kit with raw cotton of different types and then put the box away and never touched it. This this yarn represented the beginning of my journey I decided it was finally time to take the cotton out and try to spin some. I used a drop spindle and really didn’t do anything to prepare the fiber – I just jumped right in. Cotton has a short staple length so I had to get used to spinning it, but I found it lovely to work with. It’s so amazingly soft and there is something very pleasing about the feel of cotton. I had that commercial theme song in my head the whole time as I was spinning (the touch, the feel of cotton…) I know, goofy but they were right. I’ve lived in Virginia for 18 years and cotton has a rich colored history here in the South (being raised a Yankee girl that’s still hard for me to admit). But controversy aside, I think it’s underrated as a foundational fiber by a lot of handspinners.

    I’ve mainly stayed with protein fibers in my yarn (wool, alpaca, mohair) and haven’t ventured too much into cellulose or synthetic fibers. I kind of have a tendency to stick with what I know so this was an opportunity to try something news. One fiber I had never spun (most because of the cost) is cashmere. This represents to me some of my earlier perceptions about fiber – it’s sort of considered the Cadillac of fleece and produces the ultimate luxury yarn. It also brings me to the beginning of my journey and how it ended up in my Mod 1 yarn…

    The weekend I received my first course module I felt like getting out of the house and was looking for something different to spin, so I decided to go to a yarn store about 25 minutes away. I’ve always thought that things that were meant to be happened for a reason, even the bad things. This is kind of a long story but about five years ago I started working for a company on a short term six-month contract. I had just been laid off from my previous job and was willing to take a job with a longer (terrible) commute. I wasn’t totally happy in doing so, but it paid the bills blah, blah, blah. I kind of felt like this was a turning point in my career and my outlook in general. I ended up there because I took a risk and left a perfectly good job at a company I had worked for several years to go to another company to work for someone I knew. I chose the seemingly wrong fork in the road and the new job was a dead end. Within five months I was left stranded and was looking for a new job.  So I took this contract to basically pay the bills.

    But as it turned out, I met a really great coworker there who loved to knit. I had been looking to take spinning lessons for a long time with no luck finding any. I had Googled it and tried to find a guild near me but the Interwebs were no help. I mentioned this to my new friend and she said, “hey, there is a great yarn store down the road and I know they teach spinning there”. We went there on our lunch break and within a few weeks I had taken several classes and purchased a spinning wheel. I left that contract a few months later to work for an online education company that provides alternative learning to students across the country (a mission I fully support). Someone I worked with previously at that “good” job I left recommended me for the position and I’ve been there since.

    So getting back to the cashmere... I just so happened to go back to that yarn store where I took my first spinning lessons on the same day I got my first Module for the course. This wasn’t intentional (at least not on a conscious level), but it brought me back full circle to where I started my journey. They had some packages of cashmere fleece there and I eagerly grabbed a bag because it was so irresistible and I had never spun cashmere before.

    Another funny thing happened that day. On my way home I decided to stop by Craftystitches, a design studio that teaches sewing and knitting based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning. I had wanted to go check it out for a while and I spontaneously decided to pop in that day. I got to chatting with the owner we ended up planning for me to do some spinning demos and teach the kids. I’ve always loved the idea of teaching and supporting education through the arts for children so this was right up my alley. So I went from being a student to a teacher and passing on handspinning to the next generation all in one round trip. And that’s the story behind this yarn. It starts with a Frozen Charlotte and along the way are feathers, seashells, crocheted flowers, lace, a key, and a tiny compass to remind me of where and why I began and where I’m headed.

    My Finished Module 1 Yarn

    Materials: Wool, cashmere, cotton, fabric, trim, Angelina, feathers, metal, porcelain, seashells

  • Welcome To The New Website!

    Sometimes cutting the cord is a scary thing to do. I decided to switch to a new website platform and hosting. As I'm writing this, the old site is still popping up as the DNS records are being updated across the interwebs. Cross my fingers that it will all work out in the next day or so.

    I 'm so excited to unveil my new website. There are a couple reasons why I made the switch. I had been using a hosted Wordpress site for a few years but it was just too clunky and hard to manage. I now have a site with Virb which allows me to integrate my Etsy store seamlessly. Now I don't have to manually copy and paste my listings anymore. It's soooooo much easier and intuitive to use their tools. No headaches, no fuss. Plus I think the template looks a lot nicer that the old one. Here's a sneak peak at what it will (eventually) look like:

  • Think Spring

    Think Spring Hand Dyed Wool Roving

    Think Spring - Hand Dyed Wool Roving

    We've had so much snow and miserable cold weather lately that I just had to dye up some hot spicy colors. I think the experiment went pretty well.

  • Uniquities 4th Fiber Farmer’s Market Haul

    I had a blast at the fiber market yesterday. I bought all sorts of goodies including this gorgeous super fine baby alpaca from Rivanna River Farm . This fleece is from Goldie the alpaca. I also ordered a peg loom from them and I'm looking forward to doing some rug weaving very soon.

     Goldie Alpaca Fleece from Rivanna River Alpacas

    Goldie Alpaca Fleece from Rivanna River Alpacas 

     

  • The 6th Annual Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival

    Last weekend I went to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville, Virginia. I picked up some beautiful llama fleece, washed cormo fleece and some dyed merino top. I plan on making some batts and handspun yarn pretty soon. Here are some pictures I took of the wonderful variety of fiber producing animals at the event including a camel, goats, llamas, alpaca, and sheep.

  • Loudoun County Farm Color Tour - Willow Hawk Farm

    I went to the Loudoun County Farm Color Tour in September and stopped by Willow Hawk Farm where I purchased some gorgeous wool roving. Here is a picture of the happy sheep grazing at the farm. Willow Hawk has a variety of sheep breeds including Merino and Corriedale crosses.

     

     

  • WIP - Custom Handspun Yarn Project

    I've been working on a few custom yarn projects lately that have been a load of fun. This one is using mainly locally sourced wool, alpaca, and mohair. The project is for a men's hat. I can't wait to see what he comes up with! More details to follow...

    Custom Order Handspun Yarn WIP Custom Order Handspun Yarn WIP

  • Yummy Yarn from Linton Direct (UK)

    Oooh, my yarn just arrived today. Not sure exactly what I'm going to do with it but I planned on plying the metallic and the crazy hairy style with some of my art yarn. We'll see!

     Linton Direct Yarn

    Linton Direct Yarn 

     Linton Direct Yarn

    Linton Direct Yarn 

     

  • Tour de Fleece 2013 Recap on SpinArtiste

    Arlene of SpinArtiste did a nice recap of this year's Tour de Fleece - Team Nevermore. You can see my comments and finished yarns in the post. It's fun to see everyone's results and read about their experiences.

    Tour De Fleece 2013 - 222 Handspun Yarn

    My 222 Handspun - Tour De Fleece 2013 Yarns 

  • Happy New Year!

    I'm wrapping up 2013 on a high note. I've been so busy with the holidays and travel lately and I really need to update my Etsy inventory. Hopefully I do that soon. But in the meantime, I'm really excited to announce that two stores are now carrying my yarn and fiber: Madison Wool, in Madison, CT and Knit One Quilt Too in Barrington, RI.

    I had a chance to stop by both on my RI trip this past week and they are both fabulous. Madison Wool has the largest selection of handspun yarn that I have seen in one place. They really cater to fiber lovers. Here is some of the yarn and fiber I dropped off:

    Knit One Quilt Too has a large selection of top quality commercial yarns (all of my favorite brands) and designer fabrics if you are a cross-crafter like me (I just made that term up, LOL). They are in a gorgeous brand new building and have a warm inviting atmosphere with tons of natural light and workspace. I just wish I was closer to both!

    Knit One Quilt Too yarn

    Thanks to all my customers and fellow fiberistas for making 2013 a great year. All the best for the new year,

    Elysa