the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Back home from BSG

Fiber fairs are always fun - they take a bit of work (from the vendor side of things) but once the set up is done, the FUN begins! I thought that you might enjoy this pictoral review (there's alot of them) of last weekend's events at Black Sheep Gathering:

There was some sock knitting on the way there - I had 5 wonderful hours to just sit and knit - grins -
I finished up my 'Wild Thing' sock in the Chevron pattern, and got started on the sock knit with Midnight Hour colorway - I'm just loving this one.

It's amazing to know that 3 entire buildings go from this:

to this (and there will soon be more photos of our booth posted on our website):

Nancy Finn (of Chasing Rainbows fame) graciously stopped by to help us. Set up took about 6 hours from start to finish. Thank you Nancy - especially for your patience for how long it took to finally have dinner that night (grins)

Throughout the 3 buildings,and also outside, there was fiber/yarn/books/wheels and in a fourth building the animals baa and bleat. Here's a few pictures of some other vendor booths and their clever displays.

A delightful time was had every evening, after the show. Friends from all over gathered by the RV's, sharing drinks and food. It was a weekend-long-potluck! Spinning and laughing until the wee hours of the morning.

I was able to snag a photo of Cheryl (our main spinner for the Sock Hop Yarn) . She's the one behind the sunglasses! We were toasting the fun of finally meeting in person! (imagine that !) Her wheel was flying all weekend long, (as was mine) creating some new Sock Hop Yarn to sell.

It seems that it was a weekend of many gifts - one of the lovelies that I received was this set of over-sized hand blown knitting needles, from our friends Sheila and Michael Ernst. Thank you - I just love them!!
We sell their glass knitting needles and buttons, and they also have their own website. They make some amazing orafice hooks, buttons, and lots of other gorgeous glass items. Hop on over and check them out!
Beki (pictured spinning by the RV on a drop spindle) gifted me with some sweet hand made sock knitting needle protectors - sorry, no photo yet - thank you so much Beki! They saved the day on the ride home.

At the end of the weekend, most of the booths looked like this (almost empty!!)

We took the booth down in 104 degree heat (phew) - it took a bit longer than usual, since we had to stop for water breaks - we arrived home around 12:30 am, and flopped our happy weary bones into bed. The dye pots are already cookin' up some new batches of fiber, here at Crown Mountain Farms, and the wheel is spinnin' along with Sock Hop yarn.
Thank you to all our wonderful customers and friends - we had a blast!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gettin' this show on the Road

We're preparing for a road trip - and I've also included a sneak preview of a new Sock Hop colorway !

Well, yet another weekend was spent dyeing fiber like mad. We're heading out this week to a fabulous fiber show in Eugene Oregon: Black Sheep Gathering .
This is one great show, my friends. (yes, I'll take my camera along and get some photos I hope)
Not only do we get to see many of our friends from the south west coast, but there are lots of animals, classes, tons of vendors, and some fun "hanging out" time in the evenings. If you've never been to this fiber fair, you might want to check it out.

Between batches of dyeing, I spun some on a brand new colorway for Sock Hop: Midnight Hour. I couldn't resist plying a bit of it (you know that I need a road-trip project) Here's the results: (sorry about the blurry photo, I haven't quite figured out the macro on this digital camera yet.)
We are spinning and spinning as much as we can, and working on getting a big batch of yarn ready to sell on the website. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you're needing a "yarn fix", hop on over and check out this new line of sock yarns! It is Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks - and I love it. It knits up on size 3 needles, and is available in two different kinds one yarn; one is a blend of mohair/merino and the other is superwash. You'll only need one skein to knit an average pair of socks.
edit: if all the new Chasing Rainbows Sock Yarns do not show on your screen, please be sure to hit your "refresh" button.

We head out in a couple of days - and there's still much to do to prepare. Obviously, there's not much "sittin' around" going' on at Crown Mountain Farms !(grins)
Adios for about a week.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sock Hop - Wild Thing

After my successful spinning last week, I just couldn't help myself... I had to knit.
There was some "leftover" yarn from skeining off the Wild Thing colorway into 6 hanks of yummy-ness, and it just hopped right into my sock yarn bag! There wasn't enough for two more full skeins, but just enough to make a short sock. All's I can say is that it certainly lives up to it's name.

To all who are patiently waiting for the yarn to be back in stock... thank you ! As of Monday, we will have sent out all the backorders from the first go around - and we are spinning as fast as we can to generate stock. We'll be opening it up on our website in a few weeks. In the meantime, if you're interested to know what the 24 colorways look like, you can go here. (and for all you spinners, don't hesitate to spin your own. It spins like a dream!)

Have you ever wondered where all the fiber-dyeing folks find their inspiration? Well, here's a small tale for you. I have a great affection for the displaced people of Tibet. Their beautiful faces, their kind hearts touch me deeply. About two years ago, I dyed up this colorway in our corriedale pencil roving, and named it "Tibetan Dreams" in honor of this nation of people.

My daughter, Erin, had once attended a great summer camp, that taught leadership skills to highschool students. One of the instructors was a buddhist monk named Yusan (who was about 30 yrs old). I will never forget the absolute delight in my daughter's eyes when she came home and told me stories of watching him break dance ! "Imagine, a monk break dancing !!", she said. We had such a good chuckle about the possibilities of how monks truly might live (grins)
Then, a few months ago, I found this greeting card and sent it off to her, all the while remembering our friend, Yusan.

And the new colorway called "Wild Thing" was born. (It is partly Tibetan Dreams colors and there are a few new variations thrown in)
Can you tell that I'm having some fun with this whole dyeing fiber thing?? Yup.

Okay, and I admit, once I got started on the knitting thing again, I couldn't stop. Here's the newest completed project. I bought 8 balls of "Glam" by Cyrstal Palace, and 2 balls of Cotton Classic made by Tahki. The pattern is from my friend Lauren who owns So Much Yarn in Seattle. She will send you the pattern free, with the purchase of the yarn. Please hop on over and say hi to her from me. She's working on setting up her web-sales page, and it should be 'live' very very soon. In the meantime, feel free to give her a call.
The shrug is one that totally compliments us older women - (read that hides the love handles). It is one of the best fitting, most comfortable garments I have ever made. Thank you Lauren!
As you can see from the background, I wasn't joking in my earlier posts about the wild nature of our hillside right now. The first photo is one of me about to crack up - sometimes it's hard to post a photo of yourself that is zooming all over the world.. Perhaps one day it'll stop drizzling, and we can get out to mow (ha ha... like I'd stop dyeing fiber in order to mow... go figure)

Last, but by far not least - if you haven't been to Cara's blog lately, it's time. She's organized a huge Spin Out fundraiser for Heifer International. This is a great business that gives animals to families, so that they can make a living for years and years. Go ahead, make a donation.. you will be doing a good thing. (We donated towards a goat - of course) AND, there are fabulous prizes that you can win. thanks for listening to this plug.. :-)
P.S> be sure to send Cara an email about your donation, so that she can add you to the prize drawing.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Unexpected Treasures

It was a day of small treasures.

Our hillside, which has grown wild around the house, is filled with wildflowers - normally we have clipped the long grass around our gardens by this time of year, yet due to a busy fiber season, it grows and grows. At this moment, there are actually more flowers than grass. this is good.

california poppies in orange, - yellow - red, wild daisies, bachelor buttons, dandelions, and a few as yet unknown species. It is beautiful.

My garden, despite it's lack of attention is growing. thank you.

Sock Hop Yarn "Wild Thing" has been spun thin enough (by me) to sell - 1300 yards out of a pound. Life is good. (note to all, our other spinner consistently spins this thin.. I'm improving! :-)

All 45 skeins of superwash merino that I dyed this weekend in Sock Hop colorways came out perfectly - no "oopps" in the batches this time !

And a glorious sunset to complete the day.

What more could a fiberwizard ask ?
absolutely nothing.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Auction Day

Life on the Farm, at times, involves difficult choices.

Last December (due to the antics of one male goat we named Houdini), we had an amazing number of baby goats born. Now, the lore amongst the farmers is that animals do not mate in the summer, as they are wise enough to know that birth in mid-winter is rugged. Or, so the stories go ....

We have a relatively small farm, about 5 acres. Suitable for a handful of goats and some sheep. Until Houdini made his mark, we had the perfect number.

Many hours of long talks, pensive times. We sold several animals to neighboring farms. Yet now, as the summer comes close, we had to decide. Out of kindness to these beings, we knew they must leave us. Some will go to new homes, some will be butchered.

Today was the day. Auction Day.

32 goats and 2 sheep have left our home.

I told myself that I wasn't going to cry - I took some final photos of these wonderful friends - I moved fences, while K encouraged them into the trailer. Dear neighbor friends came to help. and the tears streamed down my cheeks, unashamed.

My thoughts dift back to the 2 degree temperatures of last December, when a first time Mama goat had twins, and one was left in the middle of the field. We gathered up that small being, I held her under my coat and we rubbed her back to life with towels and blankets. This job was repeated a few times that month, as we had so many first time mama goats. We hung tarps on the barn, gave extra grain and tried to keep them warm. It was a successful month, and almost all lived through that startling birth time.

January came in with torrential rains here. One frantic morning, the river was flooding. The guards at the dam up river were opening the gates, and the river rose 12 feet within the twinkling of an eye. We quickly rellocated our animals from the pasture by the river where they had many acres, back to our farm on the hill.

Last February, one of our original flock, Una, had twins. She was a dear mama goat. Early in the morning, when she gave birth, we knew there was trouble. One of the twins didn't make it, and the other was struggling. We coaxed Una into the small shelter, trimmed back the long fiber around her teet and encouraged the baby to nurse. The little one survived and flourished.

This morning came, and it was time. We have kept only 3 of our goats. The originals of the flock who left today have been with us for six years. They have names - they have character, and we will miss them.

We promise ourselves that we can begin again, should we ever be able to aquire more acerage.

In three week's time, we will send off 10 of the shetland sheep, keeping only our original flock of 1 ram and 4 ewes. Today they all stood and watched as their friends left.

Fare-thee-well dear ones.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

What a Weekend!

We have returned, and are reorganizing from a fabulous long weekend at the Northwest Regional Spinners Conference. These folks are what one might call "serious" spinners! We arrived each day at 8:30am and normally left around 10 :30 pm - believe it or not, there were people who got there before us and stayed longer than we did.
We had the good fortune to see many "old" (and that's a relative term) friends, and to make many new ones. I saw so many of my blogging friends it was amazing! How totally cool to put faces to all the blog names (grins)
(Warning to all , this is a photo-heavy post - but then again, how can one not show pictures of a fabulous fiber-fest?)

The nicest part of this fiber fair is that it is laid back, easy-going, lots of fun kind of fair. We were able to take our time setting up, (and pause to visit while working of course). Knitting tips and tricks were shared with joy, many lessons occurred throughout the weekend, as people took a spin on the turkish drop spindles. everyone was smiling. life is good.

Remember the wonderful cabled hat I made for the fiber exchange? Well, the recipient loved it, and yes, she wears hats. (phew!)
I received back the most amazing knit gift.... my fiber-exchange pal was Alana (pictured here hugging our yarn)- I had donated 8 ounces of black Alpaca roving to the exchange.... lookey what I got - a gorgeous mobius with a bit of flash..!!!!!
Aren't I just the most fortunate wizard ever? !!! Thank you again, dear Alana - what a lovely gift.

I took a great little class on toe-up Turkish Socks... (and what, might you ask is that?) Well, turkish socks are the kind that lay flat when you fold them (no, not on your feet silly). The foot looks rather like a boat (a vee on both ends) and they fit incredibly well. (despite the fact that my toes and heels aren't pointy.) I did it - I made a toe-up sock! Here's the the proof of the beginning:
The class was very laid back (har har) here is a photo of a couple other classmates. I think that no matter how long I knit and spin, I will take classes - there is always more to know.
We all had fun, and actually mastered a rather complex cast-on. (it makes regular cast-ons seem like child's play) The heel is done after the fact, and thus can be easily replaced if it wears out. I'm truly amazed by this little sock.(and I hope to have more photos soon)

Meanwhile, dear K was running our fiber booth. He did a fabulous job. I am always grateful that I have a partner that knows how to "speak fiber". I get to play, and he works... how sweet is that!

Many wonderful customers from previous years stopped by to say a quick hi and a few brought their own 'show 'n tell'. This pretty shawl was the first spinning that Pat S. (from Kent) ever did. She made it from some of our pencil roving. Isn't it grand ? ! Many congrats and sounds of loud clapping going on here.

We are weary, but content. We sold out of lots of stuff, and are now dyeing fiber like crazy to prepare for BSG in two weeks.

Spinning continues on the sock hop yarn... and for all you patient wonderful folks who are waiting...... it's coming, we promise! If you are a spinner and would like to make your own, we now are offering the hand dyed fiber in the Sock Hop colorways. Go ahead, try it, you know you'd love it :-)

Meanwhile, back at the farm.......................... the grass is about hip-high now. there are "raised beds" hiding in this photo - so it is rumored.... I suspect that I might have to beg some tomatoes from my dear friend Lisa this year ( yah think?!)