Montana & Idaho
When Jeremy and I drove to Portland Oregon in 2011 we passed a small town in Idaho called Wallace (my maiden name). It was a Sunday and everything was closed. We have always wanted to come back to this town and thought the May long weekend was a good time to do just that. This is a heavy picture post. Click on the pictures to see a larger version.
This was a neat little place, I didn't get very many pictures for some reason. They are the birthplace of Montana and you can read more about Fort Benton here.
Wallace is the silver capital of the world and situated up in mountains. It was a booming town in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Its almost as if you stepped back in time in this town and they have preserved the past. The buildings are truly amazing and its the perfect sized town. Everything is in walking distance. Its kinda neat too because the downtown area is right in the middle. Surrounding it on a higher level (literally) is the residential areas. There are several staircases throughout town that you take to get up into the houses. Each staircase is over 100 feet high and most are over 80 steps. There are lots of neat shops and good places to eat. We needed another day to see more, so we will have to go back again.
Garnet Ghost Town
We ventured back to Montana and wanted to check out another well preserved town but this time it was abandoned. The town is open year round but unfortunately some of the buildings were still locked until the following weekend. This town was another mining town but for gold and garnets. It became a ghost town in the early 1900's. You can read more about it here. It's pretty cool.
We drove by this church and had to stop. Its up on a hill and is surrounded by a cemetery.
Great Falls, Montana
Our trip started and ended in Great Falls. Its a nice place and our hotel was right on the Missouri River.
Highway's and Interstates
And to prove that is did do some knitting on the road (we drove right across the 2nd largest state!) My handspun Hitchhiker which is on my list of crafty goals this year.
It was a nice getaway and the weather was perfect. Can't wait to go on many more excursions this summer.
My Wonderful Day at Janet's Farm
I spent all day yesterday enjoying the fresh air and hanging around wonderful animals. I was invited by my friend Janet, who wanted some help skirting her fleeces. I did get lost on my way there because I missed the first crucial part of her email "Take the #1 to Qu'Appelle". Instead I read "Fort Qu'Appelle..... go through town, take the first grid road on #35." Well when I got lost it was obvious because I had gone though Fort Qu'Appelle not Qu'Appelle. I had no problem finding her farm after I actually read the first sentence of her email. Duh.
Janet has 11 Corriedale sheep and skirting was fun. The quality of her fleeces is really very nice and it didn't take us too long to get through them all. Her sheep seem to like to keep clean for the most part. We set a few aside so that she could send some off to a few fibre festivals in Alberta, Sask and Manitoba. Just look at the beautiful crimp and luster we found!
She has a wonderful Great Pyrenees dog that loved to give hugs and hang around all the wool. The cat was also interested and rubbed himself all over the bags of wool. Who can blame them?
The Llamas were very protective of their sheep and the Mom kept spitting at the dog. It was really funny how she would work up a big gob and just let loose.
Several of her sheep are lambing and she checked on them every few hours. I was hopeful I would see a new baby lamb but Janet texted me after I had left with some good news; She had her first lamb! Isn't it tiny?
We spent the rest of the afternoon spinning together. Janet has an Ashford Traditional wheel and would love to teach her children about raising sheep, processing fleeces and spinning their wool. It was such a relaxing day. Those who know me, know I am a huge animal lover and I would love to live on a hobby farm. Jeremy and I had looked at a couple when we were buying our first house. Maybe some day. What kind of animals would you have on a farm of your own? Thanks for such a wonderful day Janet!
Maker: Texas Jeans
Weight: 24 g / 3/4 oz
Length: 10" Shaft 1 7/8" Whorl
Style: Tibetan Support Spindle
Woods: Osage Orange with Maple Shaft
My sample this week is an Alpaca blend by Spotted Circus.
I first learned about these spindles when I went out for coffee with friends. Deb had one in her bag and I spun it in my hand just to get a feel for it and I was absolutely amazed because it was the smoothest spinning supported spindle I had tried. I asked who the spindle maker was and she told me Texas Jeans. I hadn't heard of them and I wasn't really schooled in supported spindles because at the time I only had one. Even now, after acquiring a lot more supported spindles and trying many out the Texas Jeans spindles are still the smoothest spinning.
The whorl is rim weighted which ensures a long spin time coupled with the small whorl size which adds spin speed makes these spindles wonderful to use. Since the weight is so light, this spindle seems to be running on batteries. After my initial spin tests I had another spin that continued well after 40 seconds (without fibre).
The golden whorl shimmers as it spins and the top has a nice smooth point on it which limits friction and this spindle works well with either wood or glass/pottery bowls.
The detailing on the base of the shaft right near the whorl draws the eye to the heart of the spindle. Attaching the start of your fibre is easy because of this, whether you tie on your fibre or leader or push your spun fibre down the shaft.
Once dressed with yarn, you don't lose this detailing because it is also continued onto the tip under the whorl.
This spindle is perfectly balanced and you barely see it moving aside from the depths in the grain. You could just spin these spindles between your fingers without using fibre and still have fun, they twirl so nicely.
Attention to detail and care went into making this spindle. No part of it looks like it was rushed and each piece sits flush with no signs of glue or anything like that. These spindles have very nice curves.
I received this spindle from my friend Michele. She had told me that she had a beautiful tibetan spindle to offer that she loved but the length wasn't quite as long as she preferred. She told me she had a hard time making the decision to destash but knew it would get more love if she passed it on. When I found out the spindle she was talking about was a Texas Jeans I couldn't resist. It spun as smooth as Deb's spindle that I had tried earlier and after looking at the Spindle Candy group on Ravelry and his Etsy shop I could see that these spindles were popular and wanted to own one myself.
If you are looking to try supported spindling and you want a quality, affordable tibetan then I highly recommend Texas Jeans spindles. He also makes Russian style spindles as well as lap bowls and top whorls. He also uses contrasting woods/colours in his work and they are just wonderful spindles to have in your collection.
Length of spin: 29.9 seconds (average of three tests)
Fibre storage ability: Good
Overall Rating: 9.5/10