I had sent some of my older fleeces away earlier this year to the Dakota Fibre Mill for processing. As I'm sure is the same with many of you, I have more fleeces than I can process on my own. This was my first time sending fleeces away and my friend Nicole has had fibre processed at this mill in the past (she even took them down for me!) I sent of my very first fleece which was from a Corriedale sheep named Viv. I bought this one from Val Fiddler of Woolly Wool of the West when we took our Wool Judging course together in 2012. I also used this fleece in many of my classes as a great example of Corriedale. I didn't want it to continue to sit in my basement and now I can spin it up! It. Is. So. Wonderful! Val's fleeces are always exceptional and this one was no surprise. I also had a giant Rambouillet that I bought at the Drake Sheep Show & Sale several years ago. It was from a Manitoba Producer named Graham Rannie who I've not met on a bunch of occasions art different wool shows. He also won Grand Champion with his Rambouillet at the All Canada Classic in 2015. I knew a fleece of this size would be too much for me on my own and it is so fine, I was a bit scared I would wreck it so off that one went. The 3rd fleece I had processed is a Romney X.. and to be quite honest, I can't remember where I got that one but wow is it squishy. Overall I am so incredibly happy with the quality of the fibre and the care that went into making the roving. I paid $145 for the 3 fleeces which came out to 5 bags full. I will start spinning and weighting as I go. These will be sweaters FOR ME! They are so nice and light now without the lanolin, sweat, VM, etc. So light in fact that I dumped the entire Romney fleece out into the snow without even realizing - oops hah
I often get asked which mills will process single fleeces and besides the Dakota Fibre Mill you can now also process your fleeces at Long Way Homestead in Manitoba! Anna will be the next person I send my wool to (and I do have more of course).
really am happy that I could have each fleece kept separate. Especially for others like me who have special fleeces that they want to use for a specific project. I can't wait to show you how it all comes out!
Thick n' Thermal
I knit this hat a few years ago for my sister. I usually knit her a new hat every year. This one I made with bulky yarn using Paton's Classic Roving in one of my favourite colours. I wrote up the pattern and had some test knitters check it out. Last week my friend Nicole knit one in Cog Yarns Bulky 2 ply which I intend to do as well so I sent the pattern off to my Tech Editor Mandyz and it has now been released on Ravelry
Not only is this toque stylish, the stitch pattern combined with bulky wool makes this hat super thick and virtually
impenetrable. Wool is a great insulator in itself, but the design of this hat will trap warm air between the layers and keep you toasty all season. The brim can be knit longer and folded over for even more warmth in sub zero temperatures.
o Small: 18” (45.7 cm) circumfrence
o Medium: 22” (55.9 cm) circumfrence
o Large: 25” (63.5 cm) circumfrence
Using size 10 US (6.0mm) needles; 15 stitches and 20 rows in stockinette = 4” (10cm)
- Bulky yarn (samples knit in yarns below)
Cog Yarns Bulky 2-Ply (purple/white hat size medium)
80% SW Merino/20% Nylon (1, 1, 2 skeins)
“Sweet Dreams” 185 yards (170 m) 200 g
Patons Classic Roving (yellow hat size small)
100% Wool (1.5, 2, 2 balls)
“Yellow” 120 yards (109 m) 100 g
o k – knit
o k2tog – knit 2 stitches together as if they were one
o k2sltog – knit the sl2tog stitches as if they were one
o p – purl
o sl – slip stitch
o sl2tog – slip 2 stitches knitwise as if they were one
Wool Judging Course 2018
This year I taught both levels 1 & 2 of Wool Judging at the Manitoba Fibre Fest. It was an intensive 3 days of looking at the good and bad in many different breeds and fleeces.
At the end of level 2 there was a written exam as well as a practical judging portion. Every student did exceptional!
Above are examples of some of the very beautiful fleeces which were excellent examples of their breeds.
This fleece on the other hand is a VERY BAD example. It weighs 26 lbs!! This fleece came from a medium breed with the locks well over a foot long. It is a bit hard to see in the pictures but it also show canary stain which is unscorable. This fleece shows bad animal health, bad animal care and it should NOT be supported in any way. Locks WAY too long for breed type is not a luxury. It is animal abuse. This case was different from Shrek in the fact that this sheep did not escape and hide in the mountains, it was living on a farm not getting sheared. Yearly shearing is important for the sheep's health. The sheep that carried this 26 lbs of extra wool would have been very uncomfortable. It's skin would not be able to breath and bacteria grew rampant. Please keep this in mind when you see overgrown fleeces/lock online or in the field.
Most of our 2 classes were here for the certificate award ceremony. Many thanks to Gerry (3rd from left) who coordinated the course as well as sourcing all the fleeces and providing an insight that was immeasurable to class participants. Much thanks also to Wool Growers who provided learning materials, funding and backed the courses and provided the certificates.
If you are ever interested in wool judging keep an eye out for upcoming courses with the Manitoba Fibre Fest.
Tour de Fleece 2018
I tried to to a lot of spinning for the Tour this year. While I didn't really have a strict goal I had fun. I spun 5 bobbins that still need to be plied and 5 skeins. I was also working on my 2 support spindles which are handmade by local makers. I will focus more on those as soon as I finish my fibre with them.
I also received my NEW wheel!!!! This one replaces the wheel that was stolen in my car earlier this year. I wanted to keep with the same wheel as I loved it and I still have parts for it. This time though I got the walnut stain <3!! I bought it from Jo's Yarn Garden in Stony Plain, Alberta. Joanne was such a pleasure to deal with!! I am smitten with my new Kromski Sonata.
I miss my old spinning wheel bag which was made by Blue Mountain Handcrafts... but when I laid eyes on this Tom Bihn Quarter Packing Cube, I knew it would make the perfect replacement. I will devote a blog post soon to this bag. It really is perfect.
I feel so good to be able to finally replace some of the items lost in Feb. I have been so grateful for friends and my fibre community for lending and supplying me with all the tools I have needed to keep going.
But...... wait there's more!
Look. At. What. I. Won!! This beauty is my newest treasure handmade by an amazing woman named Jenny Noland. She is an AMAZING fibre worker in our community, a friend and a whiz at everything she does. Jenny is truly a Master Crafter, from spinning, knitting, weaving, lampwork, wood turning and more. I am so lucky to know such a talented woman. So, Jenny has been working with her lathe and making spindles. You should check her instagram feed to see all she creates. I was the luckiest of all to win one of her new spindles!! I was looking for a beautiful fibre to start spinning and found some baby camel in my stash. More to come on this!
Blue Hills Fibre Fest 2018
Blue Hills Fibre Fest was on June 9th - which was also World Wide Knit In Public Day. Jeremy and I spent the day in Carberry with the always amazing Manitoba Fibre Community. If you haven't visited a fibre fest before, you MUST add this one to your list. It may be smaller on scale but it is overflowing with amazing vendors, classes, fleeces and pie! This was my booth all set up and ready to go. Aside from our regular items we also had Straw into Gold kits and Cog Yarns hand dyed skeins for purchase. I am always overwhelmed at the generous support from the people in Manitoba. You all made my day so bright and one I can say I honestly enjoyed. Looking forward to next year already
I was very happy to judge the wool show this year. There were 16 fleeces in all and wow (!) most scored pretty high. Manitoba wool is exceptional.
Here are the first place winners as well as some of my favourites. My phone was a bit greasy so sorry about the shiny pictures hah!
I had a few new skeins to bring with me. Watch for an update in my Etsy shop very soon, were I will be listing the skeins I have. You can also find some at The Naked Sheep Yarn & Fibre Emporium.
If you are ever in Winnipeg then you MUST go to Baked Expectations. The cakes are so unbelievable, you will need to decide on a few to go as well. Jeremy had the Tia Maria torte. Next time I might get the Red Velvet cake and likely another cheesecake or chocolate cream pie. Also, take it from me - the hot chocolate is one of the best!
I did well. I could have bought soooo much more. The quality of vendors was outstanding and such a great variety. A new knitting wedge bag from Dragon Fibre Bags, project bag, sock yarn and t-shirt from Long Way Homestead, Sock yarn from The Sheep-ish Spinner, darning mushroom from Natural Knot Woods, french spindle from Homespun Tools and a cork wedge pouch, cedar/grapefruit handmade soap and merino hand dyed fibre from Last Dance Ranch.
Oh I love it all!!
Fleece to Finish Workshop
Are you interested in learning more about wool fleeces and how to choose a fleece at an auction or wool show?
In this workshop you will learn how to choose a fleece with an end project in mind. We will go over the judging card to see what the judge is looking for in a fleece and what the different wool classes entail. Methods of storing and washing will be discussed as well as different ways to process fleeces. This is a hands on class and will involve a few example fleeces to gain greater insight. Bring a fleece if you have questions! Please bring an apron to protect your clothes.
Cost to register: $35/person
Payable in advance by paypal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Golden Willow Alpaca Farm. Thank you to Sharon for providing the perfect backdrop ♥
Time: 1 - 4pm
Class size will be up to 15 people
Join in on the Facebook Event Page
May 5 - 7 was the Regina Weavers & Spinners Guild Fibre Shindig. It was full of fibre enthusiasts, vendors and a great line up of workshops. I was lucky enough to teach my Fleece to Finish class to a group of fellow members. Some participants had sheep of their own while others wanted to learn more about processing fleeces and what to look for when buying wool at an auction. We went over both judging cars and 3 breeds together and then students judged their own fleeces. It was a great afternoon that just flew by. Thanks to everyone who came out, I love talking about wool and was happy to share my knowledge.
Here are a few more pics taken by Sparkling Medusa Creative Services
I am pleased to announce that I am adding another wonderful product to my business. I am now a proud dealer for Unicorn Products. They are the makers of Power Scour, a professional grade wool wash. This is what I use to wash all my fleeces. Superior washing at lower temperatures (even hard water), helps with reducing mats and tangles and eliminates odors. This product really makes the process of washing raw fibre SO much easier. It is biodegradable and earth friendly. Currently, I am the only supplier in Saskatchewan and will be bringing this to the Manitoba Fibre Festival as well. I will have these products in stock soon.
For the last 2 months, I have been taking a weaving class put on by a fellow Regina Weavers & Spinners Guild member. I have woven before on my Kessinich Jack loom - but only plain weave. My other handwoven scarves I have done on my rigid heddle loom, but I wanted to learn more in depth about drafts, warping a loom, and designing projects. Our instructor is an amazing weaver and she has woven some wonderful pieces. I was excited for the experience.
There were 8 of us in the class and we met at our instructors home for the first 4 classes. When you walk into her living room, she has a beautiful loom set up and we all gravitated towards it. She had her loom warped and was midway through a shawl. Our first class was an intro - parts of the loom, terms etc.
Our second class was about yarn and how to design a project. We were shown how to pair yarns to achieve the result we were looking for and which yarns make good warps etc. We were also asked what kind of project we wanted to to. I had no idea. At this point I was thinking tea towels.
Our instructor showed us how she organizes her stash by colour. This is the easiest way for her to plan a project. She also lumps fibre types together, but keeps in mind the materials when choosing the right fibres for her design.
The most in depth class was on colour. We did this on a weekend so we had decent light. I found this class very hard. There is a lot involved with colour and I felt overwhelmed. We learned about a ruby beholder which helps you pick out colour values. We were able to look through inspiration pictures, magazines, stashes of embroidery thread and books on colour to seek out what we were looking for.
She showed us how she wraps yarn or embroidery thread around a card to help visualize her project. I found this picture because I liked the colours. This was WAY too many colour choices and our instructor helped me narrow things down a bit. When I was picking these threads and wrapping them, I was feeling a bit defeated. I still had no concrete idea what I was going to make - at this point I was thinking a scarf maybe, hand towels?
Next was our lesson on drafting. I enjoyed this night. I think it's really cool how a draft is made and how there is so much info in one little table. It was fun because it felt like we were solving a puzzle. I was thinking about using a herringbone twill pattern - maybe I should weave a shawl!
So many projects were swirling around in my mind. I knew for sure I wanted to include handspun. I spun this Corriedale into yarn and went through my stash to find something suitable for weft.
My bud Marjorie came over and she helped me make my warp. I miscalculated somewhere because I was only half down my warp when I ran out of yarn. I then found this purpleish, blue wool in my stash that went pretty good so by letting the yarn speak for itself, this project was going to be a scarf. A very long scarf with 4 yards of warp haha.
I chose some grey alpaca as my weft to soften up the scarf a bit.
I borrowed a table loom from the guild library and we set up to wind our warps on Saturday. It took all day, but I got my loom warped and threaded to weave a herringbone scarf the next day.
And then, I changed my mind again. Maybe the grey wasn't the best choice... it would dull the nice colours in my warp. When I went home that day I checked my stash again to see what would be more suitable.
After weaving a small bit, and trying out the yellow and grey, it was obvious, which route would show the pattern best. I went with the golden yellow.
Things were going too well. My threading was perfect, not a mistake in the pattern. I was weaving along loving every minute of it until I realized that the reed on the beater was shearing my handspun :( We were shown how to fix a broken thread and on I continued. Until it happened again. My beautiful scarf was destined to become a mouse pad.
I didn't want to keep going on, replacing threads every few inches so, I cut off my warp. I have the rest of it saved for a different loom - one with a bigger dent. It was still pretty devastating though, after all the work of making the yarn, winding the warp, threading the heddles, sleying the reed and tying everything up.
I am not a technical person when it comes to anything. I would rather just jump right in a create. This class was good for me because I learned the ins and outs of weaving, stuff I knew little about and now know more. I was happy to learn different ways of doing things like warping and how every problem has a solution. I enjoyed seeing what other people dreamt up for projects and their colour choices. It was a great experience and I am grateful to our instructor who took on 8 beginner weavers and had us working together making cloth. I will try again, and use the time honored skills I have learned to create something beautiful.
The Journey of Wool
My friend Michele shared this video on Facebook today and I loved it so much I thought I would show you as well. It shows the journey wool takes from fleece to finish made by The Woolmark Company. They did a lovely job.