Archives for posts with tag: roving

Once upon a time, there were three women, elliphantom, hapagirl (go check out her amazing new sock pattern!), and yours truly, who went to visit a llama farm named Yellow Wood Llamas.

They made fast friends with an incredibly friendly llama named Michele.

And brought home some of her wool–fine and silky soft, caramel-brown with bits of white.

The wool became singles:

And then the singles were plied together into a nice two-ply:

And the wool was skeined and washed:

and it became ever so beautiful.


(~4 oz./176 yards/11 wpi)

There was also a 1.4 oz silky black batt from a llama named Kona.

It looked really creepy, actually, like a matted head of hair, so it got spun up really quickly to avoid the feeling of a decapitated head lying on the couch. It was a little harder to draft smoothly, so it was a little lumpy-bumpy, and ended up as a shiny Navajo 3-ply (only about 42 yards):



And the two yarns sat waiting patiently for a handsome, charming pattern to come along and sweep them away to finished object-land, where they could live happily ever after.

The End.

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From my copy of Dairy Goat Journal, I’ve learned so much about wattles in the past couple of days. I basically knew what they were before, but not so many details…

  • “Wattles on dairy goats are hair-covered appendages of flesh hanging from the throat area of a goat” (OK, this much I knew already)
  • Goats can have either one or two wattles, and like the appendix, they serve no purpose. They can grow in many places–cheeks, shoulders, and even dangling from the ears, like earrings.
  • Registered Nubian does show better without wattles, so they are typically cut off or rubber-banded at birth to remove them
  • They can appear in any breed of dairy goat, including Alpines, La Manchas, Nigerians, Oberhasli, Nubians, Saanens, Sables, and Toggenburgs
  • Wattles on a dairy goat are apparently an indicator for good milk production potential! According to the Journal of Dairy Science, “…heterozygous polled goats or those with wattles are more prolific than horned animals or without wattles.”
  • Goats can sometimes develop wattle cysts, but these are benign and non-contagious

Now you know, too, and knowing’s half the battle.

I was also tickled to see an article in DGJ about a visit to Capriole Goat Farm, located near Bloomington and a regular with tasty cheeses at the Bloomington farmer’s market.

Anyway, on to less wattley topics. Here’s the final installment of my posts about the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival: what I ended up buying. I pretty much limited myself to the two stalls I’d been looking forward to since seeing them at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN: Briar Rose Fibers for yarn, and Handspun by Stefania for roving. There were a lot of really tempting things to look at, though–Wisconsin is home to many fiber-related companies, including Babe’s Fiber Garden (home of cheap PVC spinning wheels), Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills (home of squishy, wooly yarn), and Kimmet Croft Fibers, home of the Fairy Hare yarn officially sanctioned for use in the reproduction Bohus sweaters in Poems of Color. (It’s also home to Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen’s Schoolhouse Press, but they weren’t at the festival, sadly.)

So one unplanned purchase was about 1/2 ounce of purple wool, a little sample from a local fiber CSA called Four Crows Farm, just to see how it spins up:

Egged on/enabled/encouraged by Mary, I got 600 yards of Briar Rose Celebration, a DK-weight merino-bamboo blend. Yes, it does look pretty much exactly like the yarn I used for my Shetland Triangle. But they’re good colors. Rose, peach, gold. I’m not sure what to make with this yet, though.

A 478-yard mega-hank of Briar Rose Sonoma, a bulky weight wool. My skein is beautiful deep reds, rusts, and browns with a little shot of olive:


I’m thinking I’ll make a quick-knit striped pullover with this and the leftover brown yarn from my Leaf Lace Pullover.

And a few balls of roving from Handspun by Stefania. I was all excited when I walked in because I had been really looking forward to their booth, and they were right by the door of the first barn. But then I ended up kind of peeved because I took a photo, intending to blog about how awesome their roving is and how pretty all the naturally dyed colors are together, but when the flash went off, Stefania’s husband’s head whipped around, he told me sternly that they had “had too many problems in the past” with people taking photos of their booth, said I needed to ask before taking photos in the festival, and made me delete the photo I had taken from my camera. I can’t imagine what kind of issues they’ve had in the past with this–I would imagine that photos and positive word of mouth in the blogosphere would only have done them good. Instead they get me being cranky about it all (but they still made the sale) and nobody on the internet gets to see the vast and lovely variety of roving, kits, and handspun yarn at their stall.

Anyway, weirdness about photos aside, I’ve really liked spinning their roving in the past (previous skeins here and here) and here’s what I ended up with this time:


The sunlight kind of washed out the colors of the greens for the most part, but there’s one plain spring green ball (8 oz.) that was in the end-of-lot 20% discount bin, and the ball in the bottom photo that’s a slightly more olive-toned green shot through with gold silk (7.7 oz. Corriedale and silk dyed in osage and indigo).  Bouncy, soft, and very lustrous, though I don’t know how much of the shine is the silk. My plan is to make a two-ply of these two fibers and make an actual handspun sweater out of this. Wish me luck.

The blue ball of roving is 4 oz. of Coopworth dyed in indigo to what I thought was a medium blue, but seems quite a lot darker now that it’s at home and on the bobbin. I was thinking I would make some kind of winter accessories with this handspun–mittens, hat, or scarf. It’s soft, lustrous, and has a nice long staple of about 6 inches–easy to spin, though a little pre-drafting helps.

I was born on April 18, 1980, the 74th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. This was also the date Paul Revere rode, the date Billy the Kid escaped from a jail in New Mexico, and the date Albert Einstein died.

Despite the fact that I’m far, far from home and major Pacific Rim fault lines, my first present of the day for my 28th birthday was a commemorative earthquake at 5:30 AM! A 5.2 earthquake centered about 100-odd miles southwest of here, in Illinois. I was asleep and registered it only as a huge, loud, scary noise that woke me up. Rahul said the ground was shaking, but I didn’t think there had been shaking, just a noise–I thought it was a tornado, to be honest, and eventually got up to look out the window for funnel clouds or toppled trees. I couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour or so, so I’m super tired now. Ugh.

I had other things to write about before the earthquake came and got in the way!

First: I finished the third variation, took pictures, and published the pattern for my The Water Is Wide scarf! Go take a look–it’s now available for sale through Ravelry! I also put up the non-outtake photos of the main scarf–a mini-tour of scenic spots on the IU Bloomington campus. I hemmed and hawed over the price for a bit on this one, since I think people might find it steep for a scarf pattern, but in the end, I think this is fair considering there are 3 (or 4) different reversible scarf patterns included in the price, and it’s more than just a stitch dictionary pattern applied to a rectangle.

Second: I didn’t enjoy spinning that second bag of buffalo down roving that much, so I would like to give the rest of it away to one lucky reader. I suspect you might enjoy spinning it more if you had some hand cards or a drum carder and could better prep the fiber, or blend it with some wool. I have about 35g left, a bit over half an ounce. If you’d like it, please comment on this post to let me know you’d like to enter in the fiber drawing. I will use a random number generator to pick a winner out of the comments a week from today, Friday, April 25 2008.

So we went to Tales of Hoffmann at the IU Opera Friday night, and sadly, it was not a resounding success. I looked up halfway through the first act, and Rahul and our friend Trevor were both fast asleep, not having been captivated by the singing, flying glow-in-the-dark wine and beer bottles, the song about a crippled dwarf, the manufacturer of magical eyes (yet another Blade Runner-ish element in this opera), or the tale of doomed man-robot love. Trevor left after the second act, and Rahul complained bitterly that I was making him stay for the entire opera. On the plus side, I enjoyed it, and I got to wear my Swallowtail Shawl, which I knit sometime last year and haven’t ever gotten a chance to wear since then. It’s Handmaiden Sea Silk in “Forest,” one skein, and is fastened with a beautiful Perl Grey shawl pin from Robynn. Afterwards, we went to a couple of local bars (Bear’s Place and the Root Cellar at FARM) to meet up with friends.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met up with Kalani, Nicole, Leigh, and Norma at the Sample Gates, and we drove about an hour northwest, for a field trip to The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN. It was so much fun!

We saw a sign for Live Nude Bait on the way. (also gold panning and cigarettes!)

The weather was somewhat cold (around 40 degrees) and rainy, but thankfully a lot of the fair was indoors, and all of it was at least under a roof of some kind.

We saw some sheep being sheared!

One of the more experienced shearers was teaching a woman how to shear sheep, grabbing a sheep and flipping it over onto its back in one deft motion, like a judo master.

sheep rush

He righted it again and when it was his student’s turn, the sheep did not want to be turned over. It dug in its heels and resisted.

resisting sheep

Mostly, though, once the sheep were upended, they lay there quietly as the electric clippers buzzed.

Inside the fair, there were piles and piles of raw fleeces and rovings all over, and skeins of hand-dyed yarns dangling from hooks or piled in bins.

We saw fluffy angora bunnies:

We made friends with alpacas and llamas:

Doesn’t this one look like it’s on the red carpet at an awards show?

I’m actually sort of afraid to take pictures of llamas, particularly flash photos. They always stare at me intensely and put back their ears, and I’m afraid they’re going to spit at any minute.

We saw this antique New England braiding machine (from the 1800s, but I forget exactly when–1816, maybe?) whirring around. On a related topic, apparently there’s going to be a conference for owners of antique sock knitting machines, this June, in Nashville, IN. I see people using these around town every so often, at fiber arts events or in the yarn shop. They seem like fun.

We saw Kalani’s Shibuiknits patterns for sale at one booth, and thought she should surreptitiously autograph them and put them back on the rack. Here’s the famous designer herself, posing with her patterns!

I saw this sort of creepy-looking needle-felted creature–not sure if it’s a bear or a dog. The sign says: “Hello, My name is Secret. I’m named Secret because I have a secret. It is up to you to figure out what it is. You may have to pick me up to find out. Good luck!”

When you pick it up, the secret is that there is a smaller needle-felted creature embedded in Secret’s ass.

We ran into Elli, from our knitting group, and Wendie, who lives up in Indy. I was looking at a sign on a table and a woman there said “Excuse me, are you Huan-Hua?” Startled, I said yes, and she introduced herself as Holly, one of my test knitters for the Botany Baby Sweater! I saw Suzanne, who runs one of the yarn shops in town, and Diane, another spinner and knitter from Bloomington, and met an indie dyer I’d seen posting on Ravelry.

Here’s a group picture we took outside:

From left to right: Nicole, me, Kalani, Leigh, Norma, and Elli. Leigh is clutching a large ball of roving. She bought two balls of roving. The funny thing about that is that she doesn’t spin. (Yet.)

Here’s an equally important group purchase picture–the trunk of Nicole’s car, packed full of our purchases for the day.

Here’s what I ended up buying:

A skein of golden-orange Creatively Dyed Yarn, fingering weight. You can get her yarns at the Loopy Ewe, too. The label says it’s color number Gras #102, 100% superwash merino wool, approximately 500 yards. It’s a four-ply, low-twist yarn and will probably become lace of some kind. However, I’m not sure if it’s correctly labeled–it really doesn’t look like superwash merino to me, as it has a bit of a halo and shine that suggests alpaca or mohair. It also gave Leigh instant pricklies when she held it against her neck, suggesting it’s probably one of those fibers, not just wool. Or it might be a longwool sheep–I think she said it was “Wensleydale merino”–Wensleydale and Merino are two different breeds of sheep, as far as I know, but if it’s pure Wensleydale or a blend, that would explain the shine (it’s a luster longwool breed) and texture.

I got 4 oz. each of some naturally dyed rovings from Handspun by Stefania. I got stuck in this stall for probably half an hour, full of indecision–should I get indigo-dyed Jacob? Cochineal-dyed handspun? A handspun mitten kit containing fluffy white Great Pyrenees dog fur? I thought their prices were really good for handspun–$35 for a handspun mitten kit.

I finally settled on Corriedale dyed in lac (the bug that gave lacquer and shellac their names)–the base wool is a mixture of gray, black, and white, which is what gives the roving that range of dark to light purples:

and also a Corriedale-silk blend dyed in cochineal, madder, and Osage:

But my prize find was 2 oz. of buffalo down for $5 an ounce! I saw it elsewhere at the fair for $18 an ounce, and even that was apparently a bargain, since they’re selling it online for about $25$40 an ounce. I haven’t seen a lot of guard hairs in it, though there is a pretty good amount of wood and burrs. It’s from Jehovah Jireh Farm. I was also tempted by some gorgeous, autumnal-colored roving, a sample of which you can see on the right in the first picture, $12 for 8 oz. of a 50-50 wool-alpaca blend, if I remember right. But I stupidly repacked my bag before leaving and left my checkbook at home, and only had $25 in cash, so I was prevented from buying from a lot of the vendors, including this one–the buffalo plus alpaca-wool would have decimated my cash supplies, so I stuck to just the buffalo in the end.


Thing is, I hadn’t touched my wheel in months, so I felt really guilty about buying new roving and I was determined to turn at least some of my fiber into yarn before the day was out. And I did it! I must be the world’s slowest spinner–it took me about 2 hours to spin one ounce of buffalo fiber. It wasn’t the easiest fiber to spin, because it pulls apart into fluff really easily when you try to draft it, so before I got the hang of it, I was breaking it about every 30 seconds. It’s still awfully uneven, but I’m hoping it will improve once it’s plied.

But here are the fruits of my labor:

A very high-twist single in order to keep the fiber together, as fine as I could get it without breaking the fiber as I spun (not that fine, really, probably a little lighter than fingering weight), to be plied and made into who knows what at the end. I hope it fluffs up at the end, when it’s plied and set–I have a tendency to overspin and produce kind of ropy yarn. I’ll probably have some tiny amount of yarn at the end, 25 yards or something, but hey. It will be handspun buffalo down yarn!

I also went home with a major yarn crush on Briar Rose Fibers, but was so overwhelmed with the beautiful selection that I ended up not buying anything. Thankfully, they also sell their yarns online and go to a lot of different fiber fairs around the Midwest, so it wasn’t my last chance–I can think of an actual project to make and buy an appropriate yarn and amount based on that, instead of wildly snatching up everything from their entire booth like I had wanted to.

I also fell in love with Sea Silk in Peridot, a color I’d seen pictures of online and suspected I would like. I did. A lot. I’m not sure sea green and silver are great colors for me, but who cares? SO PRETTY. Again, though, it’s available online, so I can wait.

Before I forget, too, I took some experimental videos with my digital camera at the event. Flickr just started offering free video hosting, so here are the videos! I don’t think I can embed them, since I’m using free hosting on WordPress, so you’ll have to click through. Sheep shearing, and sheep waiting to be sheared. Turn up the sound–the main reason I took these was to capture the hilarious bleats and yells from the sheep waiting to be sheared.

I went to the Bloomington Spinners and Weavers Guild’s annual Fiber Arts Show and Sale tonight and escaped with one little purchase–a fat, soft ball of 4 oz of Cotswold/angora/bamboo roving from Breezy Manor, allegedly with a bit of blue angelina glitz in it, but I don’t see any on the outside of the bump. It mostly looks like a mixture of nice, natural, light and dark grays. The same stall had immensely appealing stacks of clear plastic takeout containers full of various colors, dyed and undyed, of angora and mohair fiber, but those seemed too pricey, $5 for 1/2 oz–and also, I still haven’t knit up the little ball of Navajo-plied angora I spun up from their stuff earlier this year.

As usual, I was sorely tempted by Robin‘s hand-dyed yarns and rovings, but since she sells them in my LYS I know I can always get them later. In particular, she had some beautiful, shiny skeins of a DK or worsted-weight plied silk/bamboo blend, and shimmering rayon laceweights in wonderful colors–one skein had fiery autumnal oranges and reds, one had a very subtle and beautiful mixture of soft old rose and oyster gray shades. Oh, and some skeins of handspun, hand-dyed cornflower blue silk/angora that looked absolutely delicious, with a semi-solid look to them reminiscent of Louet Kidlin.

There were many wonderful woven shawls and dishcloths with moire or herringbone patterns, but $18 for a dishcloth seemed excessive. (Not in terms of the labor involved, obviously, but just more than I wanted to pay for the item.) They were cheaper last year… should have picked them up then!

If I knew any children who needed mittens, I would have snatched up the adorable and very reasonably priced handspun, handknit mittens from a booth by the door. They had a Fair Isle pattern worked in pure white, fluffy, handspun Samoyed fur!

And Martina Celerin was there with her amazing three-dimensional weavings. There’s a gallery at that link, but the online pictures don’t really convey how amazing they are when you see them in person.

There’s another craft fair tomorrow I’ll probably go to as well, the Tri Kappa Arts and Crafts Sale.

If any of my fellow Bloomingtonians go to the show, I want to hear what you bought, and what your favorites were!