Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Funny You Should Ask...

Did I get a chance, at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, to fill that great big shoulder bag? Why yes, Beate, as a matter of fact, indeed I did. :) Thank you for asking!

In anticipation, since the New Year, I've been tamping down my acquisitive urges, keeping yarn and fiber buying to a minimum, looking forward to shopping joyously at the Shangri-La that is Maryland Sheep and Wool. I decided to concentrate on spinning supplies, though the offerings and selection of finished yarn are inarguably superb. For now, I am infatuated with handspinning, and spinning fiber and tools are much harder to come by than beautiful yarn at the local yarn stores within easy reach.

At the same time, I didn't want to go overboard buying at the festival. I've already built a respectable stockpile of fiber, and I'd rather not inflate my backlog to hopeless proportions. My goal was to find fiber for one sweater, a wraps-per-inch tool, perhaps another spindle, and maybe a few other odds and ends. A secondary theme was to continue sampling types of wool that I haven't tried yet.

So there was a sweater's- worth of this Rambouillet wool, from Mangham Manor in Charlottes- ville, Virginia, the owner of the colorful stall pictured in Sunday's post. Their rack looked even more bounteous before I relieved them of the batts you see here. Rambouillet sheep are a French strain of Merino, so this wool should make a very soft sweater. These lovely colors are destined for blending using the Frumious Bandersnatch (my drum carder), to make a subtle heathered yarn.

There was also this hand-dyed roving of wool and silk from Cloverleaf Farms in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Their address there is on Huff N Puff Lane -- isn't that wonderful? The roving is in a colorway called Oz, quite a bit greener and more brilliant than it looks in the picture. (One of these days, I really must learn more about how to adjust my camera to balance the colors.) I've never tried spinning anything with silk in it yet, so this should be fun. It ought to have a bit of drape from the silk, so I'm thinking it may need to be spun at a fingering weight to make a scarf or shawl.

I found the wraps-per- inch tool I was looking for at Woodchuck Products, a crowded booth where I had to stand in line for an hour! I've seen a couple of very utilitarian models that are readily available, but I was hoping for a pretty one. This one, made of cocobolo wood, fits the bill nicely.

For any non-spinners out there, this tool is used to measure the thickness of the yarn you've spun. You wrap the yarn around and around in one of the notched areas near the top and the number of wraps that will fit in the measured notch helps tell you the weight, whether it be sport-weight or bulky or anything in between.

In keeping with my theme of trying new fibers, I bought this little taste of Icelandic wool, from the Three Farms Icelandics booth. Because of the severe climate where they live, Icelandic sheep have a thick double coat, with long outer hairs and a soft undercoat. In processing an Icelandic fleece, spinners may choose to separate the two types of wool or mix them together. This particular package comes from Aboundingful Farm in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, and contains roving that mixes both coats, like the famous Lopi yarn.

I've been toying lately with the thought of another spindle. I taught myself to spin initially on a handspindle, but soon developed a ferocious desire for a spinning wheel. Once I made the acquaintance of Rastro, my spinning wheel, I had little patience for my spindle.

However, as I've become more skillful with the wheel, I understand drafting and twist so much better that I think I could enjoy the spindle more as well. I've also learned about having spindles of different weights for different purposes. And you sure can't beat the portability. This beauty is a lightweight 1.5 ounce spindle made of zebrawood, from Millpoint Emporium, in Amsterdam, New York.

What might I want to try spinning with my delicate new handspindle? Well perhaps this lovely little one-ounce sample of pure superfine cashmere from Hillcreek Fiber Studio in Columbia, Missouri. It seems too fragile to spin on the wheel. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what I will do with it. I really just wanted to see what it's like. I may spin a little on its own and save the rest to blend with a bit of alpaca. Or I may just keep it around to fondle. This downy fluff is incredibly soft.

There were a couple of other items, but I think I'll leave it at that for now. As I write this, at a time when I would best be in bed, outside the window a late-awake bird is singing his heart out. He's perhaps a mockingbird, as he's working his way through a whole repertoire of musical numbers. Though it's been dark for hours, he's chirping away cheerily, for all the world as if he were in a meadow on a bright sunny day. Odd, but nice.

1 comment:

Bess said...

I too just bought spinning toys - a new golding spindle and roving roving roving. I am inspired by your handspun hand knit sweater and am determined to make one for myself this summer. At least, to spin the yarn for it.

Started yesterday on my 08 MS&W mohair blend