For those that follow me on Instagram or Facebook, know I was helping Gerry shear her sheep this past weekend. I am working on a blog post about how exciting that was, but in the meantime, I also wanted to share a post I wrote for another site I work on and an initiative Gerry and I have been doing called All Things Wool in which we are trying to promote the value of wool.
When looking for a fleece at a wool show, it is important to read the judging card to get all the important information that will help in your decision. Most of the time, you are just looking at a fleece in its bag, rolled up with the nicest fleece showing, but what's actually inside? This is where the judging card comes in. Usually before the fleeces are on display, they have been opened up one at a time, examined thoroughly and all the comments are recorded on the card. This is a great source of information for both the producer, so they can see what to work on or what's great, and the buyer can see if this fleece will need more TLC then they are prepared for or if the fleece is even more beautiful then first thought. Let's delve into what a judging card is and what each section encompasses.
One reason Gerry and I work so well together because she is a wool producer and I am an artisan. Between the two of us we made our own judging card which works better for both producers and artisans and it is what we use at all the wool shows we co-ordinate. We allotted certain points depending on importance and combined criteria that was similar in nature. Our card is more streamlined (compared to other artisan style cards) and speeds up the judging process.
Ok, let's begin.
Soundness. This is the most important matter on the entire card. This refers to the strength of the fleece. You will often see me pulling out a few locks from different areas of a fleece and putting them up to my ear and pulling them apart, I am listening for tenderness.
Clean Yield: You are looking at a dirty fleece, if a fleece has a high clean yield, it means after washing you will still be left with the majority of the fleece. A low clean yield means you have a very dirty fleece where much of the wool will have to be wasted or you will have to put a lot more work into the process.
Presentation: We combined a few criteria from the Olds judging card to make this section. This is an informative criteria for both producers and artisans. This category lets you know as a buyer what condition the entire fleece is in. Pay close attention to deductions like skin flakes, second cuts, manure and stains as these issues cannot be washed out.
Lustre & Handle: If wool has lustre, it means it has shine. Long wools have amazing lustre whereas fine wools not so much and down wools – not at all. A judge must be fair to the specific breed characteristics. Handle is all about how the wool feels. Is it silky & soft or dry and lack life?
Staple Length & Evenness: Fine and medium wools are at least 2” in length and usually 3” – 5”. Long wools normally start around 6” and can be up to 12” long! This category will let you know if the fleece has the same staple length throughout and if the length is adequate for its breed.
Crimp Style: Fine wools have a very dense crimp, that’s what gives it, its elasticity. Long wools have a wide wavelength present and medium and down breeds sometimes don’t have a clearly defined crimp. Areas around the upper body will have a finer crimp style then the britch.
In all criteria there are deductions or problematic areas. This is good information for the wool producer because they can see which areas they need to work on to improve their fleeces. Deductions are also important for handspinners and fibre workers because it will help you determine how much work you will have to put into the fleece when processing it. As always, if you have any questions you can always ask Gerry or I. We love to talk about wool! If you are a producer and have never entered fleeces into a wool show you should give it a try, you may win ribbons and money! Wool is highly sought after by handspinners, felters and the like. Head on over to the fleece competitions page on our All Things Wool website and find all the information you need. Hope to see you at one or more of the wonderful fibre festivals this year!
I crocheted this hat using merino I dyed to get a pebbled look but I needed to take better pics. Merino is the softest of all the wool breeds so this yarn isn't itchy at all. Hat measures 18.5" around and 6" from crown to brim. I was babysitting my niece & nephews this past weekend so took that time to do better justice for this cute hat. This is Kale, he originally said he didn't want to be my model but luckily changed his mind. It was his idea to pretend to read a book to make the pictures look more natural haha.
I made a few of these hats and just have this one left so I decided to knock the price down by 40%. You can find it in my Etsy Shop.
Well, after a whirlwind trip to Toronto I am back and filled with information from the Etsy Captains' Summit put on by Etsy Canada.
We started it off by waking up at 2 am so we could be at the airport for our very early flight. As a very nervous flyer, I thought this might help because I would be too tired to stress about the flight. Well I was wrong. It was a very long day as we were up for over 24 hours because we went to the Sony Centre to see Puscifer play their hearts out and man, was it ever worth it. Excellent, excellent show, and likely one of the best I have been to. Maynard James Keenan is truly an amazing artist and he and his band entertained us for a full 3 hours. This venue is more of a centre for performing arts and that is just the caliber that we saw. The opening "act" comprised of a luchador wrestling match with 5 wrestlers. Now, even though this was more of a play, they stunts these people did were pretty spectacular and the whole thing was pretty funny.
The stage was set up with Maynard and Carina (both do vocals) in the middle of the wrestling ring with the bassist and lead guitarist one one side and the keyboardist on the other. The drummer was right front and centre. All the members of this band have a very solid history in music and many either come from Tool, Ministry or A Perfect Circle. Flawless performance. I only have the above photo to show for it because the band was very adamant that there was to be no photos or recordings of any kind. If you even brought out your phone to text you got a warning then ejected from the theater. Not only were there signs posted about this everywhere, the event staff were also telling people as they came through the doors and the band played a little movie (it was well done and pretty funny) before their set to remind people once again. I appreciated this because there is nothing worse then trying to enjoy a show and having all the people around you lighting up the place with their phones held up and shining in your eyes. I obeyed the rules and got to enjoy the show :)
We walked back to the hotel in the rain but it was ok. (I actually like the rain) I wondered if it would be safe to walk downtown close to midnight and sure enough it was fine! Big cities don't sleep and there were lots of people out and about carrying on with their own business. I found this kinda cool because in my city, I don't feel safe walking around downtown at midnight, but Regina isn't the 3rd largest city in North America.
We had a busy 2 days with a full agenda with breaks for group work and snacks. We even had Etsy Admin from Berlin, London and the USA attend. I listened to very informative and interesting presentations about design, team building, PR, the art of negotiation, fellowships, partnerships, and more! Canon Canada is one of our sponsors this year and they put us in groups and we got to try out some pretty cool cameras while learning about how to take better pictures.
We got to go inside Etsy's office and have some fun finding goodies and taking fun pictures. This is what is painted on the wall right when you walk in, and that's what this summit was all about. We even enjoyed an awesome meal and wine after the first 8 hour day.
You can check out some pictures from our summit on Instagram using #EtsyCaptainsSummit. Here are some taken during the summit.
We ended the last day with cupcakes of course! It was even a part of the agenda.
St Lawrence Market and The Distillery District
On the weekend, we walked to the St Lawrence market and I was amazed at all the merchants had to offer. Meat and cheese galore. Lots of selection and it all looked SO good. It has been running since 1803! I had the BEST hot chocolate I've ever had here.
The Distillery District was really neat, it was like travelling back in time. They used to make Whiskey here from 1857 - 1927 and it was abandoned until 2002 when Mill St Brewery moved in. The streets weren't even paved and they brought in a bunch of bricks from torn down warehouses in Chicago to paved the roads. Mill St Brewery is situated in one of the old Tank Houses. The whole area is filled with unique shops and good restaurants.
We stopped at several coffee shops as we walked along and Aroma was one of my favourites. This is where I had my second best hot chocolate ever. The people in Toronto really take their barista skills seriously! At Aroma, you got a HUGE mug (bowl) of coffee and a chocolate with every order. It also gave me time to write in my travel journal.
It was a great trip with lots of good food/drink, friends and sights. If you would like to hear more about the summit and our plans for Etsy Sk you can tune in tonight (April 14th) to a live Google Hangout on Air that Erin, Elaine and I will be doing. You can find the link here.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I have been spinning a lot of skeins lately. I am sending all these beauties to Ram Wools next week. If you are in or around Winnipeg you can stop in and browse their wonderful yarn store and see and feel my skeins without having to worry about shipping - Yay! I am very excited to have my skeins for sale in such an awesome yarn shop.
I haven't forgotten about my shop! I listed 2 new skeins there this week. These are my favourites out of the bunch. Polwarth /Silk and Corriedale.
I have decided to start keeping track of my spinning this year. I found a little notebook and I have been recording all the info about my skeins. I know I can do this on Ravelry, but sometimes I can forget to post yarn info and I was tired of having pieces of paper around my office with yardages. This way everything is in one place. I can also tabulate how many pounds and yards I spin each month. So far (up until the end of March), I have spun:
122 oz which is 7.63 lbs of fibre & 5973 yards which is 3.39 miles!
And I've got more coming so keep watching