Where I’ve Been

Breed Yarns Sampler

Hello, neglected little blog! I had started the year with such high hopes of blogging regularly.

Sigh…

All is not lost, however. While I have been very quiet on the internet, I have been quite busy in the world! I feel like I owe you stories of the fantastic classes I’ve taken this year. I’ve met some of my fiber heroes (Judith MacKenzie, Deb Robson…), and taken all kinds of fun classes that have dramatically expanded my fiberverse.

At this point, I feel like there is simply too much to summarize. I’m hoping to blog more frequently so this sort of data backlog doesn’t happen again, but I make no promises. More than anything, I am reconnecting with my fiber mojo this year. That’s worth a bit of radio silence, I think.

I’m sure as I go forward, there will be a time and place to remember these stories.

We can talk later.

Fleece Friday!

Isn’t it floofy?!  Pardon my squee, but I love washing fleece.  There’s something magical about watching all the grunge disappear and seeing the reveal of gorgeous, squooshable wool. The lock above is a Cormo/Merino cross yearling fleece.  It was the first fleece I washed this year.

 

 

It doesn’t look as nice when you start.  Kinda dirty, and greasy, and it smells like, well, sheep.  I’ve come to love that smell, as it means new fluff is on the way!

Washing from raw gives me a chance to get to know my wool.  Sometimes, I pre-sort the locks.  This one is Norsk Pelssau, which I had never played with before.

Here you can see two rows each of 3 different samples from the same breed (and some Cormo/Merino drying in the back).  Handwashing is a great way to get to know the characteristics of a new breed.

Gammelnorsk Sau
Icelandic
That’s today’s project, a particularly grungy BFL.  I love how, even when it’s filthy, it has the most gorgeous curly purly bits!  The part in the lower right corner of that pic almost looks like boucle to me.  And then, once it’s all washed and dried, hopefully I’ll end up with something like this:
How can you say no to that?!  Freshly washed fleece is one of those fiber arts joys you just have to experience.
While I have quite a few sources for fleece now (most of which I guard fiercely; there’s only so much wool a sheep can grow between shearings!), I’ve recently enjoyed purchasing smaller quantities of new-to-me breeds from The Spinning Loft.  The Norsk Pelssau, Gammelnorsk Sau, and Icelandic pictured above all came from there, along with this lovely Scottish Blackface:
No affiliation, I’m just happy to recommend The Spinning Loft because everything I got was wonderful quality.  They have a great selection of breeds to choose from, and the smaller quantities might be less intimidating for some than the idea of a full fleece.  Go!  Try!

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2014

 early morning welcome

 

We go early.  Really early.  The girls fall back to sleep in the car.  We eat breakfast there, sometimes in the car, sometimes egg sandwiches from the Lions Club.  We head for the same spot, first thing: Fleeces.

We queue up and wait, as patiently as we can, for 9 o’clock.  Then we try to read and feel and listen and pick quickly, without getting mowed down or buried in bags of fleece.  It would be a decent way to go, but not today.  We have so many other things to see!

And so begins our annual trek to Maryland Sheep and Wool, one of the fibery things I look forward to all year.  The first day is for fleeces, exploring and finding friends.  Some years, stalking a few special purchases and getting tasty snacks is all we do.  It’s a huge festival, and by the time we’ve walked all the barns and seen all the sights, we’re all pretty tired.  This year, the girls had such a fun time on Saturday, they wanted to go back on Sunday.  Since we’re only about half an hour away, that was a pretty easy decision.

Breakfast time!
Day Two was more of a leisurely affair.  More time to stroll and see, and far fewer people, especially in the early hours.  Crowds are hard for me.  The girls, however, help a great deal to neutralize that.  They’re happy to start up a conversation and give free hugs to pretty much everyone.  Makes for a much happier experience, even for their extremely-introverted (okay, antisocial) mother.
Sheep can be friends, too
We had more time on Sunday to take pics, watch judging, and see the talented sheepdogs do their work.
Now we have a year’s worth of goodies to enjoy, and so many good memories!  It’s hard to pick from all the wonderfully talented vendors at the event.  I already have a fair bit of stash, but I couldn’t help but pick up more gorgeous fiber to spin, some new spindles, and a yarn bowl that is, IMO, the perfect way to commemorate the event.
Also, fleeces.  Oh, the fleeces.  So very, very many fleeces…  Here’s my favorite pic of the fleeces my oldest helped me pick this year:
She’s a wonderful helper, and often sees things I wouldn’t necessarily think to look for, like that glorious Gotland cross.  She also helped me find a new-to-me breed, Montadale:
Crimp is love.
We picked out two Montadale fleeces, and we’re test prepping a batch right now.  If all goes according to plan (because I’m told that actually happens sometimes, right?), they’ll be used for a group event on Ravelry.  I’ll post more when I have progress pics to share.
For now, it’s time to find homes for all the new loveliness.  Thank goodness for the glorious studio space at our new home!  No more bins of fleece all over the bedroom.  😉

The Unblocking Season

One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again. 
~Marshall Vandruff 

Sneak Peek – The New Studio

Another teaser post about the new business!  This time, it’s a peek inside the realm of Yarnia, aka the new studio!

For those who’ve been with me since the start of BabesterArts, the significance of a dedicated shop space is obvious.  For those who may have just found The Yarnicorn, let me share a bit of my history:

Welcome to my old “studio”
Yep!  Everything for my original shop had to be tucked into the hall closet when not in use.  Thankfully, my family members are patient people and they were willing to put up with the fiber overspill that took over the kitchen table, living room, bedroom, etc. more often than I’d like to admit. It’s tricky to know what you have, and get to it, when everything is stashed in such a small space!

I’m a pretty meticulous person by nature, and I was able to make it work, but it was far from ideal.  When we moved at the end of last year, finding a new home with space for the new shop was very important.  And find it we did!  The entire second floor of my home is dedicated to The Yarnicorn (though the “couch” is actually a daybed that folds out to a king bed, so fiber friends can visit).

The mat at the bottom of the stairs
Going up!
There’s so much space, and such amazing LIGHT!  It’s wonderful!  I love that I can have dedicated space for my carder and cardables, room to hand paint top or felt scarves, plenty of storage for both my fiber & fabric, and my ready-to-sell inventory and shipping supplies all easy to access.  It’s such an incredible blessing, and after years of feeling cramped it’s GLORIOUS to be able to spread my wings!
We’ve only lived in our new home for 2 months, and obviously setting up the family space took priority.  The new space still needs some unpacking, reorganizing and a bit of decorating, but it’s functional now.  Which is to say that, for the first time in my career as a fiber artist, I have a functional fixed space in which to work!  MAGIC!!!
So work I will!  There’s a nice stash of locks to wash and dye, 9 bags of roving fresh from the mill, and an amazing amount of new inventory on its way from my tried-and-true suppliers and a few new accounts! Plus, May is coming, which means Maryland Sheep and Wool (aka Fleece Fest)
And there will be yarn.  Oh, yes!  SO much yarn!  I can’t wait to show you the projects I’ve been working on as a part of my Fibery Goodness Journey to the Golden Fleece. So much magic has been happening in my fiber world!
I wanted to share a glimpse of The Yarnicorn’s home to help tide you over until the new shop is formally launched.  This is part of what I mean when I say there are all kinds of exciting things happening here, and I can’t wait to share more!