Not a year end review.

Am late for the annual round up that bloggers seem to do at year’s end…quite frankly I have very little interest in doing a year end round up because 2014 started off with much promise then in April went straight into the shitter when Chris lost his job. We however, have survive. Chris started his new job on Jan 5th so we are moving on & taking with us new things we learned about ourselves, each other & the strength of our relationship when faced with a challenge.

Moving right along…The one tradition I do in January is to toss the stash, check for moths, purge and organize the Girl Cave into a workable space. There is really nothing more frustrating than having an idea and not being able to find what you need because the room is a hot mess…

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Yep, I should probably be embarrassed to post that photo, but I’m not. I  embrace my flaws & screw-ups and especially my bad crafting, it all becomes a learning experience. No one is perfect and maybe, just maybe if people showed more of their fuck-ups instead of their perfectly “curated” (unless you are a Museum Curator, DON”T USE THAT WORD!!!) Pinterest life, the world would be way less medicated.

Anyhoo….The gist is Girl Cave is getting organized.

Lists of sewing projects are being drawn up. Merchant & Mills‘ Factory Dress & Trapeze Dress will probably make up a fair amount of my wardrobe once this is all over. Sonya Phillip’s patterns flesh out the rest.

Yarn is being checked for moths then being sorted into “Keep” & “How Drunk Was I When I Bought That?!”…don’t judge me…we all have crap in our houses we question the reason for it being there.

Ravelry stash page is being updated & yarn is being associated with actual projects! I know, this is freaking revolutionary for me!

The BIG PROJECT for this year is a weaving project I have been trying to figure out since I first heard about it back in 2011. I want to try to recreate a shawl/wrap thingy based on the diamond twill weave pattern from the tunic. There is a crew who are recreating the tunic using mostly traditional methods. My plan is to spin two of the fleeces I have taking up space in the Girl Cave & using them to weave the shawl. This will be the first time I have used hand spun for both warp & weft…this will be a great learning experience regardless if I succeed or fail most sensationally!

 

Five long years…

The second week of November is one of my favourite weeks of the year. The insanity of getting kids back to school, 3 birthdays in 6 weeks, Thanksgiving & Halloween are behind us, we’ve had a brief moment to relax & finally settled into a solid routine…and The Royal Winter Fair opens! As the advert says, “for one week, the country comes to the city” & I couldn’t be happier!

The Royal is one of my happy places. As a kid, my parents would take us each year, we would wander around looking at all the animals & displays. I have a vague memory of asking my Dad to trade in our herd of Hereford for some Jersey cows (I thought they were super pretty with those big brown eyes) and to get a few goats…he refused to discuss the possibility of goats, I am of the opinion he has some sort of childhood goat trauma of which we do not speak. At the end of the trip, my sister & I would be treated to a candy apple (can’t remember if my brother got one or not, have vague recollection he didn’t care for them & chose something else) then we would head home.

Now that I have kids, I make a point of taking them every year and they seem to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid, especially as there was a mechanical bull this year…wpid-20131110_122113.jpg

Abi stayed on for 45 seconds before flying off

The kids have finally realized the simple joy that is a peameal sandwich with mustard.

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Liam has taken up my earlier position of asking for livestock. Where I harassed my Dad for cows & goats, Liam wants rabbits! Specifically Flemmish Giants! Can’t say I disagree with him….there was a black Flemmish for sale & I was sorely tempted…

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Abi, on the other hand, is all about the cows & sheep…

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She was quite beside herself when we found the set of triplet lambs!

I was super thrilled to see 9 Sheep to Shawl teams competing this year!

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Building memories, eating tasty food and snapping photos of livestock is not my only reason for going…This is…

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That right there are fleece that have been entered in the Fleece Competition and are auctioned off on the last day of the Fair with the proceeds of the sales going to the 4H club.

It has been 5 long years since I have attended the fleece auction, so I was well due. Chris & the kids left me to my devices & headed home…

Sitting beside Our Denny, with bid cards in hand, things were about to get ugly…good thing the kids left after this photo was taken…

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Our Denny, being of the good sort, appreciates the time & effort that goes into raising a sheep & she came with a plan…a plan that ended with my buying a fleece for $30/lb and another for almost $20/lb… both of these fleece were Shetlands weighing in at no more than 2-3lbs each which is about a sweater quantity. One cannot buy a sweater quantity of pure Shetland Yarn for under $90! Think about that. I remember in the early 1980s when Shepherds were getting fractions of a cent per pound of fleece. We lost a lot of our sheep farms at that time, so if my buying a $90 fleece helps in some small way to support the Shepherds, then I’m totally cool with Our Denny running up the bids on my fleece. Besides the trash talk & stink eye we exchanged each time she did it was hilarious! When I told my Dad about Our Denny bidding up my fleece his response was “Good for her!”

I sent one of my fleece off to Wellington Fibers for processing & the other which is a mixed colour came home with me so I could have another go at processing a fleece myself.

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Busting out the Wheel…

In a spate of fiscal responsability, stash management and a bout of creative whatever-you-want-to-call-it, earlier this week I unearthed Viktorya (that was done on purpose and is not a misspelling), located all her bobbins and located the misplaced flyer because; Dudes, I was going to spin!

Viktorya has sat idle for almost two years thus causing my hard learned spinning skills to go fallow, meanwhile my fiber stash was seeing semi-regular deposits thanks to two different year long batt of the month club memberships I had received as gifts. NOTE TO PARTNERS OF SPINNERS: Batt/fiber of the months clubs are wonderful gifts for your beloved. They will get colour/fiber blends they would not normally have chosen which will expand their creative horizons providing they are open to the experience. There were also a few additions I made here and there when something caught my eye, needless to say I have quite the fiber stash that’s just bursting with creative potential, some days there is a little too much potential which makes the decision making a bit difficult!

So this is where I found myself the other night, I was not feeling the knit love but wanted to keep my hands busy (bad things happen when I’m idle…walls have been know to go missing in my house during such moments), while looking through a box of stuff for something completly different I found this:

Two 100g braids of Sweet Georgia BFL+Silk in the Summer Dusk colourway…luscious ain’t it? My Dad will be pleased that Sweet Georgia is a Canadian Company and that I bought it at my local yarn store. He’s all about the buying Canadian, local and supporting the small business owner/artists.

I divided the first brain in half, fluffed it ever so slightly, poured a cup of tea and got to work…

BFL + Silk is a great fiber for acolyte spinners, it’s a bit slippy, a bit grippy, quite forgiving and all around dead sexy! Highly recommend it!

I spun up the first half of my braid onto one of the bobbins ten called it a night, unfortunaly due to the work schedule I havene’t been able to get back to it and it’s KILLING ME! Just look at that yarn!

I’m aiming for my final product to be a 2-ply Worsted weight yarn with enough yardage to knit Sweetgum or one of the shawls in my Ravelry queue.

Return of the Fleece…

I got THE CALL last thursday from Wellington Fibers…my fleece were ready and waiting. Did I want to come and get them or have them shipped?

Seeing as I’m of the vehicularly challenged persuasion I opted for having them shipped and have been anxiously awaiting their arrival.

They were so worth the wait!

4.40 Lbs of dark brown Lincoln. It’s just too soft for words and makes me a bit sad that my first Lincoln fleeces were so poorly processed by the mill I had sent them to. This was back when I had first started spinning (will not name names as it is a moot point now…) and had yet to learn of the joy that is having one’s fiber processed by Wellington. Suffice it to say I’m beyond pleased with the final product I get back from Wellington and recommend them to anyone who will listen.

3.07LBS of Romney and oh sweet jeebus! It’s fleece like this that make me want to break all the laws and raise sheep in my back yard! This is a beautiful thing that if I have grocked the lay of the land should spin up into a gorgeous natural heathery yarn (the other fleece shoudl do this as well)…If I get the yarn right I see some serious cables of the Viking persuasion or something in a Gansey might work too!

The Fleece Auction is Serious Business!

It’s a super high stakes world, not for the feint of heart.

I arrived early so I could procur a roast Bison sandwich with BBQ sauce and fried onions.

I love these sandwiches, so simple yet so very tasty!

Next I picked up my auction catalogue as soon as it was announced they were available. The fleeces were still on display in the Upper Annex, I figured a bit of recon was in order, there were a few that caught my eye.

As there was still a little under two hours to kill before the auction started I went to visit the sheep which is where I met Pepper.

He’s a super friendly, well handled Lincoln who’s gorgeous fleece I’ll be going to pick up in March…and I might get another one while I’m there. Personally this is how I like to buy my fleece, I get to meet the shepherd, see and on some cases touch the animal and also see where the animal lives which can tell you an awful lot about about the quality of a fleece well before you buy one. I kept bring people over to meet Pepper, if I could keep two sheep in my backyard I would want one of Pepper’s offspring.

Soon enough it was Go Time.

Denny, RachelH,  Stephanie and I made up the Rowdy Section, I think the Auctioneer loves us.  There were 35 fleece in total that were auctioned off, the cheapest was $1.75 a pound and the most spendy was a $16 a pound Icelandic. I was out bid on two of the 4 fleece that had caught my eye but did well on the two I did win, a 6lbs black Lincoln and a 5lbs Romney. Wellington Fibers were at the auction and took my fleece back to the mill with them, I expect I will have them back some time around May/June.

It was great to see that many fleece up for auction and also to see more buyers out there.

Life List

Most people have one, they tend to be lists of places they want to visit or things they want to do.

Mine is all about the fleeces I want to spin and it’s in no particular order:

Shetland

Lincoln White

Lincoln Gray

Corriedale

Romney

Rambouilet

Suffolk

Cotswold

Southdown

Icelandic

Polwarth

Leister

(crossed off ones are fleece I have and may or may not have spun up yet)

That’s just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

At the fleece auction this Sunday I’m going to be on the hunt for an Icelandic or a silvery gray Lincoln fleece.

Spinners dream team

It’s no secret I want to retire to a self sustaining off grid small holding where I will among other things raise some sheep who’s fleece I will spin, weave and knit. I’m having one of those days where the fantasy is one sold house and a biodiesel pickup (and a drivers licence) away from reality. So to content myself I’m thinking of what kind of flock would I like? Do I go purebred? Or get all Mad Scientist and get a mixed breed?

What would make up your dream team and why?

Crunch time!

I seriously need to make a decision on what I’m going to spin during the Tour.

The only decision I have made is that whatever I choose will be from the stash and that is where I have stalled out. Do I challenge myself to finish spinning the 4 partially spun projects I have on assorted spindles and one that was being wheel spun? Do I start something new? It’s a toughy and it’s not helping that I have the voice of one of my Great Nan’s echoing “Finish what you start” in my head…can’t really argue with the ancestors so I do believe I’ll listen to her and get on with clearing out some of my orphaned projects.

Tour De Fleece Prep

Are you ready? Have you set your challenge? July 3rd is the last date you can register and the Tour kicks off on the 5th!

I’ve narrowed my challenge down to either spindeling 400gms of mohair/wool blend for a shawl or spinning up on the wheel the long neglected Shetland I started to spin up two years ago to practice my Navajo plying and to taler use for some natural plant dyeing and eventually a shawl. Tough call.