Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Are you sure it's the end of the weekend?

It's been a very busy week this past week. Between late nights at work and then a whirlwind trip down to Oregon to visit my mother, go to a Fiber Festival, and get tires since I was down in the land of no sales tax... It's been busy.

I had meant to post last week, and then it was just too busy. But now it is Tuesday, which is the end of my weekend.

Like I said, I did go down to Oregon. There were reasons for going, and reasons for staying. But I opted to go. I had to miss the fiber festival last year due to illness in my ride share driver (I think it was, it's been a while. ;) This year there was more drama which I'm not going to go into. But I thought about it long and hard and decided that I was going to go. I haven't seen my mother in months, and I really like this fiber festival. It's bigger than the one I get to go to up here and so there are tons of things to look at and touch (and wish for and lust after.)

This year I was actually very good. I had a budget, and only went about $6 over. Okay, $9.25, if you include the ATM fees. :) I took handspun down to Abstract Fibers and Susan was thrilled with the yarn that I had spun for her. There was a customer on Sunday who was pretty thrilled with it too, until she found out the price of the skein. You could have knocked me over with a feather at the quoted amount. Heck, you can still just about knock me over with a feather at that quote.

I picked up 2 braids of fiber from her sale bin. I got a purple and a more colorful fiber (whose name I can't remember off the top of my head, but it contains purple too.) They are mohair, merino, and silk. I think they will be gorgeous spun together.

I bought a couple of braids from Scarlet at Huckleberry Knits, but those are the only braids I bought. Those are greens and browns. I also ventured to the fleece sale on Sunday morning. I was looking very specifically for a naturally dark colored sheep fleece. Black was my preference, but dark grey would work too. As I looked and felt and looked some more, I realized that I really did not want a big fleece. I didn't want a 6 pound fleece or a 10 pound, or even a 4 pound. I really started to understand that I've bought big fleeces in the past and they end up becoming problems because they are SO big. I also really didn't want to spend a HUGE amount on a fleece, no matter how worth it the fleece might be (like the super dark brown Romney fleece that was a blue ribbon winner and was well worth it.) I kept looking and found a lovely little charcoal Icelandic cross lamb fleece. I bought that one because it was SO SOFT and so worth it. (note to self, next time, ask if you can see the WHOLE FLEECE.) It is still worth the price I paid, which was not much at all. But it is FAR FAR dirtier than I had realized. There is so much hay and other vegetation in the fleece, that it is going to take some work to make it clean enough to go to the mill. Not only that, but Icelandic fleeces are double-coated. They have thick, strong guard hairs in each lock and those are very hairy. Even soft ones like in this fleece. So it's a good idea to dehair the fleece if at all possible, if you want super soft fiber. And I'm finding that the fleece was only minimally skirted. (That's taking out the bad bits after the fleece comes off the sheep.) There are second cuts all over (those are created when you go over the same spot with the clippers a second time, and make a trim. That trim is the second cut and it's not good for spinning.) All that aside, the fleece is still beautiful. It's lighter than charcoal, but a bit darker than a silver. It's between silver and gunmetal. It is super soft and while some sections have tips that break off, most of it is really good. It is just going to take work to go through the whole thing and get rid of the bad bits. Once it is done, it will go to the mill to be washed, carded, and combed into roving so that I can spin it. I am planning on having at least some of it (depending on how much there is) blended with bamboo. I'm thinking bright teal bamboo so that you get a bright blue/green pop of color in the dark silver background.

I also bought a truly itty bitty Jacob lamb fleece. This thing is super soft (especially for Jacob, which isn't generally considered a truly soft breed.) It is 85% black, and 15% white, with sunburned to brown tips. It is not weak in any spots, and it is super super clean. It's also less than a pound, so it didn't take much work to open it up and make sure that it is all nice and pretty. I found enough second cuts to cover my thumbnail, but that was it. That one is ready to go to the mill. It's so small that it is going to need to be blended with something to bulk it up enough for the mill machines to handle. I'm thinking seriously of having it blended with angora bunny fiber, or maybe angora and silk. The angora would give it a soft halo and it would make lovely mittens and hats.

The last fleece I got was actually the one I was looking for. It's a 2 pound, pure black, super soft, Shetland lamb fleece. It was perfect. And if I had started going that direction instead of the other direction at the sale, I would have stopped right there and never bought the other two. I don't regret the other two at all (except right now when my back aches from skirting some more of the Icelandic, but that's just momentary.) But the Shetland is the one that I was looking for, really.

You want to know a funny? Every single year that I have gone down to this Fiber Festival I have ended up buying a Jacob fleece... and every single year, it ends up being from the same couple, totally by accident. I never think about it until after I've looked around. But they have the best Jacob fleeces I've seen in years. And Jacob is one of my very favorite fibers, so I keep getting one. :)

I dropped off the Shetland with a fiber processor, and brought the others home. I hadn't fully decided what to do with the Jacob at that point, whether I was going to separate out the black and white, or let them mix. It's so small that I'm going to let them mix. But I don't want to take it to the mill until the Icelandic is ready to go too. So it's bundled up to wait. But I need to find a better place for it. I might buy a space bag after my next payday and stuff it in there.

After that, I came back home. The laundry is now going, I have butternut squash soup cooking for a potluck at work tomorrow, and I'm about to put my dinner in the oven. All in all, it was a nice weekend.

(I need SOMEONE to blather at about my fleeces. Most of my friends who spin either don't deal with fleeces or don't want to talk to me about fleeces, so I'm posting it all here, because it's MY blog and I can. So there.) :P

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