Road Trip to Serenity Farm

Durning the last several months, as I have been exploring wool, learning more about it, playing with it more, I have been more focused on Michigan grown wool. Ravlery and Etsy have helped me discover many Michigan wool and yarn producers. Because of this journey, or adventure ….I met Cary from Serenity Farms in Alma. 

This gracious lady invited me for a visit. No way I would turn that down! So recently, ROAD TRIP!!!! We had a wonderful day. She introduced me to her flock of Corriedale sheep…..and as an added bonus there were a bunch of new babies too. 

Before I tell you more about my trip, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures. Well, I was so focused, trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could from Cary and the visit….I totally forgot about pictures. Daaaaaaaa!

I was so tickled to find a nearly neighbor who grew Corriedale. I had discovered I really like the fiber they produce. It is fine, bouncey, crimpy, soft and likes to be spun fine for lace projects. It’s medium staple length makes it nice for the support spindle. I first fell in love with Corriedale through the spindle maker, Malcolmb Feilding. He sent a generous sample of New Zealand Corriedale, with a spindle, from Austrailia. It was love at first touch. Well, then I tried some of Cary’s fiber. It is every bit as luscious and beautiful as the sample from Australia. Easy choice! Sorry Malcomb….I will continue to covet and accumulate your spindles, but for Corriedale, it’s Serenity Farms.

Back to the trip. Cary introduced me to her flock and the babies. Not having a farm background, I don’t think I’d ever met sheep before, at least not on their turf. I have stolen a picture from a post Cary made on Ravlery (sorry Cary, I couldn’t resist). 

Aren’t they something. I do not know exactly why, but these lambs with their sweaters on CRACK ME UP! Doesn’t it look like they have little boucle sweaters on. I smile every time I see them. It just tickles me to no end…every single time. I just can’t get over the fact they look like they have sweaters on. I find it such a hoot!

Anyway, Cary showed me fleece after fleece. WOW! She taught me about good parts, bad  parts, how to test strength, and how to look at it raw and invision the possibilities. This is where I wish I has pictures to share but I don’t so instead, here are some pictures of some washed and spun samples from Cary’s sheep. WARNING – pictures don’t do them justice!

Kastle is a beautiful heathered dark gray.

Hanna is a bright white that likes to be skinny.

Kodak is a wonderful brownish heather.

After the barn and the skirting lesson she took me over to their round house, where she stores some of her fleeces. 

(DISCLAIMER – I’m not positive this is Cary’s round house, but it sure looks like it! the picture is from Alma). It is a super neat building. 

Many little baggies in tow + a couple big sacks we went to the house and I gave Cary a quickie support spindle lesson. I hope she will continue with it till it sticks, because I think she would find it most pleasurable and relaxing and portable!

Washes Samples – Round 1

It was a terrific day! I came home with a generous amount of fiber, a tiny bit smarter, a lot more confident about my fiber choices and happy to make a new fiber friend. Thank you so very much, Cary, for the wonderful day, your generosity and hospitality! 

Please visit Cary’s blog  HERE and the Serenity Farms site HERE. Cary can also be found on Ravlery as grannysheep. If you are hesitant about getting fleece or fiber online, you don’t need to be, if you get fiber from Serenity Farms. I know, I know, I sound like an ad, but I’m not. Just thrilled to find such quality fiber so near by and believe in supporting our local shepards that make it all possible! 

MIA…again

I can’t believe it has been more than a month since I recorded my fiber thoughts here. But it has….so, what have I been up to? 

I finished the Rainbow Wrap I made with the Yak and silk fiber from Corgi Hill Farms.

Seems I forgot to take a picture of it completely finished. But it is beautiful. The pattern was perfect to show off the gradient and the yak is super soft and squishy.

 I bought and have starting spinning these beautiful rologs from YarnShine on Etsy here. The shop is currently on vacation, but she should be back soon. The pictures don’t do it justice.

I’ve also been reading about raw wool preparation and practicing with a couple different fiber prep tools, such as combs and carders. 

I cleaned up and organized my yarn and fiber stash. Had to add 3 more large Rubbermaid totes……this project took a full week solid and isn’t done yet.

After much thought, research and deliberation also sold my Kiwi spinning wheel and all it’s fixin’s to a friend. 

 Kiwi.JPGBut, I did that to make room for a Cherry Matchless, by Schacht.

Notice the Niddy Noddy, made for me by the UnraveledEwe on Etsy, here. Isn’t it gorgeous! This purchase is part of my “retirement planning”. The Matchless and I are bonding, slowly but surely. 

So, that’s where the last month+ has gone??? and quickly, too!

Holy Cow???

Holy Cow….I’ve been missing in action. So what have I been up to? Still knitting on the Rainbow Wrap. It’s coming along…seems slow cuz I keep getting distracted.

I am still so thrilled with the yarn I made (I really like the yak) I’ve been spending a lot of my fiber time practicing and experimenting with spinning. I’ve been learning a lot about sheep breeds and how their wool differs. I’ve been researching wool preparation. There is a whole word of fiber out there I’m just starting to know about. 

I learned that buffalo shed their down coats in spring. So, in the spring, harvesting it boils down to walking around the field and picking it up.  Why? Well, because buffalo down is touted to be super soft and warm. I like the color. I haven’t been able to afford it. Buffalo fiber….fiber not yarn, runs $35-45 PER OUNCE! Amazing, huh? As much as I may, during flights of fancy, have thoughts of mortgaging my house to buy yarn, tools, books and fiber, I can not bring myself to pay $40 an ounce for fiber untouched by my own hands. 

 Low and behold, there is a herd of buffalo near me, like within 10 miles. I’ve been trying to find out who the owner is. If I can figure out where the owner is, I may just put on some duck boots and go knock on the door and ask if I can walk around their field. (With their help of containing the beasts, they are really BIG!) OR…I might be able to make a deal with a couple 12 or 14 years olds, paying them a wage to stomp around the feilding looking for the fuz. 

If you want to learn more about buffalo yarn and fiber, try The Buffalo Wool Company.

Spring Fowrard

The whole daylight savings thing is difficult for me…..Correction, it is difficult for me when it falls on a weekend I have to work. As luck will have it, the time change has fallen on my weekend to work for the past several years. Both ends of it too, the forward and back. To ease this alteration in schedule, my work partner splits the difference with me. So this Sunday morning, I needed to come in 30 minutes early and she stayed 30 minutes longer. Sounds simple, right? Good grief! I had a horrible time trying to figure out when I needed to get up to be there at the right time.  I am a reasonably intelligent person. I don’t think I’m senile, yet. But, I was obcessing about this to the point of distraction. 

You see, I don’t do mornings well. Truth is, I prefer not to even speak to another human until after 11 AM. Working primarily afternoons, this works out for me except 5 days a month. The 4 weekend days I start work at 9 AM and one meeting I have to attend monthly, that begins at 7:30 AM. When I have to be up early, I obcess, some times for days, for fear of oversleeping. Throw in the time change and there you have it. I made it though. Even made it early, because I didn’t sleep well obcessing…..glad that’s over for another 6 or 7 months!

 This last week, in between obcessing about getting up for the weekend, I have been knitting on the Rainbow Wrap. I am so very pleased. The pattern is perfect for showing off my spindle spun yak and silk yarn. I really like it a lot. 

It is also going to be long enough to make me happy. This pattern has been a pleasure to knit. The lace portion is so simple, but has a great effect and I really like the seed stitch boarder. I will have to remember the boarder and maybe use it on other pieces. It lays flat, no rolling and frames the lace nicely. 

When I haven’t been knitting, I have been reading about sheep breeds. The point of this is to narrow down the field of wool to those best suited to fine lace weight yarn for support spinning. If you travel Etsy, there is a lot of wool out there waiting to be spun. Most of it is listed by breed name. That is because different wool spins differently and some more suitable for specific uses. In order to know what I was looking at, I had to do the home work. A bit geeky, I know, but I’m afraid I’ve fallen down the spinning rabbit hole.

 

 

Spring?

Spring? It was -16 degrees when I got up this morning. 

So, in an attempt to be forward thinking…..I turned my thoughts to warmer days. Summer fiber festivals. There are a bunch more fiber festivals in Michigan this year. A trend? Better use of the various internet listings? Don’t know but, I have updated the EVENTS page above. The first one is only a couple weeks away!

In the mean time…stay warm

Rainbow Wrap Scarf

Progress on the Rainbow Wrap scarf!

I hadn’t ever seen a snow rainbow, then one morning recently, one appears outside my window! Cool, huh?

The Rainbow Wrap scarf is coming along nicely. I REALLY like it a lot! The pattern is doing everything I hoped, showing off the color changes well. At least I think so.

I think I’m a bit less than half way finished. It’s going pretty fast. Again, a really nice pattern for someone wanting to try lace knitting for the first time. The pattern is easy enough to be portable without needing to take charts and such. The chart can fit on a post it note. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I really like how the center pull ball looks. The gold color in the middle out to the deep red. I’m anxious to get this done and use it. I may be a bit shorter than I usually want my scarfs, but I think I like it enough, that won’t matter.

I’ve been alternating this knit with spinning. For some reason, I entered a spinning challenge on Ravelry. The challenge is to complete a finished yarn that matches a theme. The February theme is “horses” because this is the year of the horse on the Chinese calendar. The challenge is to pick a picture that matches the theme and find fiber that matches it and spin it using your support spindles.  I think they are a pretty good match, at least in person they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The problem I’m having is shoulder strain…..go figure. Hence, alternating spinning and knitting. First it’s knitter’s elbow, now shoulder strain. Good grief, who knew fiber arts are such a physical activity? 

 

Roses in February

In one of the Ralvery groups I follow, I ran across River’s Edge Fiber Arts,  from Grand Ledge, Michigan. Carol Larsen, proprietress. 

What really got my attention is she has fiber and yarn made from roses…..well, actually the stems. I have no idea of the process, but the idea fascinates me. Why not! Plant fibers have been used forever for making yarn, string, rope. They are called bast fibers….think flax, hemp, jute, bamboo, etc. 

Here’s what River’s Edge says about Rose fiber, the perfect GREEN fiber:

“Rose fiber, created from the crushed stems of roses. Finally, I got the answer I had been seeking since I introduced this to the United States in February of 2013. This is a bast fiber. Everything pointed to that, and I received confirmation that it is! As many of you know, Rose fiber is one of a handful of new and emerging fibers with medicinal properties, biodegradable and environmentallly friendly. The fiber length is approximately 3.44 inches, and has one of the softest hands in the cellulosic family I have found to date. When you place an order for rose fiber, whether in our custom spun yarns, house blends or 100%, you will receive an informational card detailing all the wonderful qualities, properties and characteristics this fiber possesses. Order yours today from the best supplier of premium fibers available on the market – River’s Edge Fiber Arts.”

River’s Edge has yarn and fiber. The fiber, called “House Blend” is mixed with Tussah silk and Polworth wool. I COULDN’T RESIST!

 

The color way is called GRAPEVINE.

 

This is one of these times when my photography skills and the medium do not do this fiber justice. It is much more vibrant than this shows. Very soft, too. Silky. I’m excited to start spinning this.  

This want-a-be yarn has my sister-in-law’s name all over it. She and my brother, my brother who has a wine & beer store in  Jackson, Michigan, not the brother of mitten fame, also grow grapes. My sister-in-law is a successful rose grower. Perfect, huh?

Rainbow Wrap Scarf

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

I decided on the Rainbow Wrap, by Alma Beck (modified), for the handspun yak. 

 Rainbow_wrap.JPG

I casted on 64 stitches, including 2 extra for the side edging so it would be the same width as the end edging. Size US 6. It is ending up about 13 inches wide, unblocked. It doesn’t really need a lot of blocking. I’m thinking, about a third of the way through, that maybe I should have gone a bit more narrow, to get more length. I like a long scarf. We’ll see how long it gets. I plan on using every inch of the yarn.  

I’m really liking the way the hand dying is turning out. I’m excited to see how the gradient to the deep red will be, too. I’m pleased with the pattern. A really good pattern for a beginning lace knitter. 

 

Next!

Next up for knitting is something out of this……

About 750 lace weight, support spindle spun, yak and silk from Corgi Hill Farms.

The yak was a novelty I couldn’t resist. It is very soft and lofty. I’m pretty pleased with the yarn. The question is what to make from it. I’m considering another scarf. There is enough of make a triangle shaw, though. I want something that will show off the color changes and something I will actually wear and use. Right now the front runner for this yarn is the Rainbow Wrap, by Alma Beck. 

 

Rainbow Wrap by Alma Beck

I’m going to have to alter the pattern, though. It calls for fingering weight and about three times more than I have. This calls for two strands of many separate colors. The subtle color changes are made by changing to using two different colors for the  rows of transition between the distinct colors, making the colors look like they flow into each other. It makes for a smooth transition and makes it less stripy. With my yarn, no need to change colors or anything, just knit the pattern. 

I was looking for something that was a lacy knit, but not with so much pattern it distracts from the color changes. To me, the color is the star! This may be it. Pretty simple pattern. I’ve been trying to decide how many stitches to cast on for this and what size needles to use. The pattern calls for size US 8, but I think this will be quite a bit too big. Perhaps US 6? 

Any better ideas for use of this gradients yarn? We will see what wins out, the itch to cast on, or the urge to keep up the hunt for the perfect pattern! 

December Scarf in February

I have completely finished the December Scarf!!!! 

If you remember, I made it from my first usable length of support spindle yarn. Merino, soft, squishy goodness. It’s kinda of a fun piece for me. I can see how my spinning improved as I spun more. 

Merino9.JPG

The scarf ended up 11 inches X 82 inches. Much longer than the pattern, but I wanted to use the majority of the yarn I spun. 

The pattern was enjoyable. The pattern easy to follow and had a nice rhythm to it. It would be a good one for a new lace knitter. 

Foot note- my brother really liked the thrummed mittens I sent. He used them right out of the box and declined my suggestion to send them back, if he didn’t like them. He says they have gotten 180 inches of snow so far this year and the ground hog saw his shadow…we all knows what that means!