Newport Spin-in Feb 4, 2012

How lucky to have a sister in Newport–a comfortable place to stay, great company, good food.

The spin in was very well attended.  At times every chair was occupied by a spinner, and moving around was like navigating a maze!  It was great to meet fiber folks from the coast and the venue was very nice.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, 60 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.

Cathi now has two of the three scarves.  She’ll give one to Penny, the friend who originally had the loom and allowed it to migrate to my place.

Cathi's house

The scarves

Marilyn’s experiment:  three scarves at once on the floor loom.  There were three different warps, one set twice as wide as the others.  The weft yarns for the wide scarf were going to be bulky, highly textured natural colored wools.  The Rainbow scarf had a multi-colored warp and would be woven all in white singles yarn except for occasional color bands.  The Purple scarf would use outrageous fuchsia and lavender colors.  The weave pattern would, of course, be the same for all three scarves.

The pattern was a simple 4-pick “plain and twill” that created a raised texture on the facing side and an interesting seedy twill on the reverse.  I was pleased with the result, really liked the softness and texture of the natural colored scarf.  My edges could be MUCH better.


Lambs in 2012?

On the weekend of January 27-28, we borrowed a sheep grooming stand from Brenda and Bill Leppo so we could take a good look at each of our sheep.  We have never used one before–very handy, you get the sheep onto a metal stand and place their head in a little head stall so that it is secure, then crank the winch to raise the stand to a working height.  It was easy to give shots, check and trim feet, and trim around the backside in preparation for lambing.  All have very good condition, though Ruth would have to be described as fat!

Everything went well, except that none of the ewes, even the older, experienced mothers, had any kind of udder development.   Either we will have no lambs this year at all, or they will arrive quite late, March or April.

If there are no lambs, there will still be many lovely fleeces.  We have four market lambs in the group, so there is plenty of meat for us.

We wondered about Ringo the ram when we let him in with the ewes last fall.  He was definitely interested, but didn’t seem to know what to do.  This always happens when we get a new ram as a lamb, but we have never had a single instance where adult ewes were not bred.  We will know if Ringo figured it out in a month or two!

As part of the borrowing process, we got to see Brenda and Bill’s farm and studio, and they came the next day to see ours.  One always learns from these exchanges and it’s fun to get to know fellow sheep producers better.


Manzanita weekend with the girls — not really, we were in Banks

Each year longtime friends Cathy [from Denver], Sharon, [from North Plains] and Renee [from Beaverton] and Marilyn [from Wetland Wool in Banks] spend MLK weekend together at Renee’s place at the coast in Manzanita. But this year, with John still in Australia, we made a change. They came and stayed with me at Wetland Wool–or as Renee called it, Wooly Wetland.
Besides eating and shopping, we always do some kind of fiber project. One year it was knitting up and then felting hats in the washing machine, one year it was just knitting, one year it was needle felting. This time, it was dyeing.
I had bought 11 skeins of white wool yarn at various sales. One type was a Red Heart product, Peruvian wool singles [not plied]. Another was from Fred Meyer believe it or not, a Martha Stewart product called roving wool–also unplied singles.
We decided to try dyeing the balls of yarn using the injection method.  Sounds scientific, doesn’t it?
We started by soaking the yarn in water with a little vinegar in it. We mixed up Landscapes dyes [my favorite, Australian made and brought back from Sydney] in canning jars and used basters and squirt bottles to inject dye into the balls of yarn. Two minutes in the microwave, two minutes of rest, two more minutes in the microwave. More rest, then a rinse, and they were ready to be hung to dry. Knitted, the yarn will certainly come out looking variegated given all the colors we used.

One photo shows Sharon and Cathy with dyed hands.  They did not wear their rubber gloves.  Maybe it was because we started this project at 10:00 pm…The other photo shows the dyed skeins.  We promised to make something with our yarn and show ‘n’ tell it next year.

January 6-8 spinners retreat

14 spinners gathered at the rustic Silver Falls State Park conference center to spend a glorious weekend spinning and connecting with each other.  Our accommodations included a small meeting hall, just right for 14 spinning wheels and all the stuff that goes with them, and 8 tiny cabins on the hillside near the meeting room.  We were very well fed by the conference center, and of course everyone brought snacks to share.  Although details cannot be shared because of an agreement that “what happens at silver falls, stays at silver falls”, suffice to say we had wonderful prizes, progress on technology, brilliant mechanical repairs, no thirst at any time, romance, gentle snow,  learning, lots of help, and hours of chatter.

I came away with two spun and plied skeins of colorful wool intended for a project making color block vests found in the most recent edition of Spin-Off.  I scored a large bump of beautiful dark Jacob fiber and spun a skein of that at the retreat as well.  Unfortunately, when I fumbled with my I-Pad sync process all my photos and videos of the retreat disappeared.  I know they are there somewhere, but just don’t yet know how to dig them up.

It sure is a great feeling to spend time with people who share your interest enough to devote a weekend to it.


Wool works this week

Here’s the news for the first week of January:

  • Marilyn’s weaving:  the 3-at-a-time scarf project is almost at the halfway point.  The floor loom is set up with three different warps.  The idea is to have fun with color and to see how they turn out, given that the weaving pattern is the same in all three.   Photos soon.
  • Testing out new dyes:  I returned from Australia with 12 jars of “Landscapes” dyes which were purchased at Petlin’s Spinning and Weaving supply store in Sydney.  The color ‘mountain blue’ tempted me to get the dyepot out.  I washed 1/2 pound of fleece from ewe 1005, Clarissa.  This is her first fleece, her lambswool.  The entire fleece weighed 9.5 pounds after picking.  Because it represents 17 months of growth, the fibers are very long!   Added a little sky blue to the dyepot to provide some variation.  The fleece is sitting on the sweater drying thing atop the fridge.  It will be dry in a day or two.  The top of the fridge is a great place to dry wool on a sweater rack.  It’s out of the way and benefits from the air movement around the fridge.
  • Next weekend the spinners of area 6010 of the Northwest Regional Spinner’s Association will be retreating at Silver Falls Conference Center:  our first ever overnight event!  Spinning for 3 days?  Yikes!   I will need to do a lot of carding for that.
  • Where is John in all this?  Sitting at the Cricket match, soaking up Australian summer sun for the next  five days.  There is not much interest in wool during the Sydney summer.  But there is a loom with a beautiful project on it waiting for his return later this month.

Happy New Year

Greetings!  We are excited to introduce the Wetland Wool website as 2012 begins.  To begin with, we’ll post weekly blogs to let you know what is happening at the farm.  We’ll add photos when we can and we will include details that might be helpful to others raising sheep or processing wool.

We’ll also begin posting some of our products as they become available.