A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Friday, September 08, 2006

R is for Roving

Spinning is all about the fibers, which is why this letter in the alphabet couldn't have arrived at a better time! My main purpose in going back to Utah for the Great Basin Fiber Fair was to take Elizabeth Dailey's Advanced Spindling class.... and it was well worth it.

I had already spent Saturday spinning up some merino top I had brought with me, using my original "toy wheel spindle". I was determined to spin up the "Pinedale" colorway... the total amount was only one ounce, and I wanted to complete it before going on to anything else. Ironically, one of the things Elizabeth pointed out to all of us is how much slipperier top (where all the fibers are going the same direction) is to spin than Roving, or carded wool (where the fibers are going different directions, but cling more to each other).

Elizabeth gave us this sampler pack to teach us about the different fiber qualities and how to approach spinning them; we tried different weights and styles of spindles for each with her guidance. The variegated blue shiny stuff in the middle is top, as is the red mixture above it. The fuzzy greys are good examples of Roving.

I had already visited with Elizabeth and Bart (aka, Greensleeves Spindles)Saturday, purchasing the spinning equipment I had so looked forward to selecting in person. Most of you don't know this about me, in fact even DH didn't, but I have a bit of a fetish for hardwoods, and fiber-related items made from them, making me a natural spindle consumer. I loved the tulipwood, and selected a one-yard niddy noddy and a large-whorled, long-shafted spindle from this wood, as well as a nostepinne (which is the all-pink version of tulipwood, dubbed "bubblegum"), used to wind center-pull balls.

I just realized typing that sentence that I could easily slip into erotic poetry about these lovely wood items, but this is a G-rated blog.... and Connie, another member of our class, really has the edge on all of us when it comes to collecting spindles. She was carrying them around Elizabeth's booth like flower bouquets and wouldn't own up to how many she actually has....

Tulipwood niddy noddy and nostepinne and Flagship Lizzy Kate in walnut.

The other item I wanted from Greensleeves Spindles was Elizabeth's own invention to address the task of trying to ply two or more single yarns together - the Lizzy Kate. This device allows the spindles to stand, with their respective threads through the top, to be plied tangle-free together onto a new (hence the need for larger) spindle. I knew I would be receiving a student spindle (very high quality all the same) from Elizabeth along with our other course materials the next day, so the only other spindle I purchased was an aromatic cedar spindle from Gabe Jaramillo, which I used to try out some very nice white Lincoln cross Roving, from family sheep farmers in southern Utah.

This is the sum total of purchases: three spindles from l to r: Mjolinar from Greensleeves, Basic from Greensleeves, and aromatic cedar from Jaramillo, standing in my Lizzy, surrounded by packets of camel down, white Lincoln, Spinderella's thrums, and gift mohair/wool Roving (brighter blue). The lone ball of yarn ready to go is some lovely Merino Oro teal laceweight, purchased at the Wool Cabin for Mim's Hidcote Garden shawl.

I took my new Greensleeves spindle and began to spin a very lovely mohair/wool Roving that Margene had given me the night before, while visiting.... Karen located a bargain on camel down, so I also snatched up three ounces for $3.00, to try after I had been enlightened as to how best to approach this exotic fiber at the class.

Meanwhile, Margene and Susan were busy all day Satuday, dyeing pounds of Roving, along with their classmates... here are photos of the snakes in the grass drying in the hot sun.

Here, Susan is painting on the colors for her fiery Roving.

On Sunday, our knowledge grew by leaps and bounds, under the tutelage of

Elizabeth, our most illustrious teacher, describing the virtues of some of the spindles laid out before her on the table.

Susan spins up some lofty yarn.

Margene, concentrating on her Roving.

We tried out Coopworth, Shetland, Romney, Corriedale, South Alps, Polworth, cashmere, pure silk, silk blend, merino top, alpaca, and even quivit!

I know you are wondering if any knitting got done throughout this spinning odyssey; here is my third Trekking sock (Mim's Simple Trekking sock pattern, although I shortened the leg a bit), which I finished while staying at Margene's and photographed at the stream running through Sundance on our outing Monday. The match to it was also cast on and several inches accomplished.

I also received this lovely laceweight from Margene while we had a fun time poring over her stash (it's not as big as you thought, but just right for her). She named this yarn Merlot, but it especially reminds me of the trees on her mountains whose leaves are beginning to change colors.

It quickly started becoming this.... Susan's Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl (see her September 1st post, if you just can't stand it and have to buy the pattern right away), which I have re-named the "Echoes of Hugs" shawl in honor of these two dear friends that I would not have met without my blog!

Which brings me to the 375th post contest ... I had miscounted because of a sneaky draft post that had hidden in my list, so this is actually post #374. I will be running a contest through the month of September in honor of the upcoming and promised magic number (well, it is impressive to me!), so come back by for details.

Finally, in other news I want to let you all know that my birthday is coming right up - in fact it is October 11th, which qualifies me for entry into Bev's October Birthday Swap. If you know anyone else who wants to join us, send them on over.


Blogger Vicki Knitorious said...

Great post & pictures! I've seen a couple of those "snakes in the grass" photos and they make me smile. I'm glad you had such a great time -- those blog friends are somethin' else.

5:48 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'd be going crazy over the spindles too! Love them.

Sounds like you learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I love you, Birdsong; look how thin you made me look in that second photo. magic.
And the shawl looks fabulous. You know, I was with Margene when she dyed that laceweight so it's extra special that you're using it for my shawl pattern.

8:43 AM  
Blogger margene said...

And I stole all of susan's Kool Aid to dye it with so it has even more connection between the three of us;-)
You wrote up such a wonderful post about our run time together and the connection we all have with yarn, fiber, friendships and all. Hugs to you, grrlfriend!!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Funny - I looked up Nostepinne last week out of curiosity. Not in Random House Unabridge, not in Oxford English Dictionary. Online I found it attributed to the Swedes. I had a gorgeous one, but gave it to my niece, a newbie knitter who is getting handspun for her October birthday. And I who have an October birthday - the "real" Columbus Day - sent for a form from Bev. Thanks for the heads up.

7:56 PM  
Blogger stitchnsnitch said...

Margene and Susan were in my garage and kitchen when Margene stole all of Susan's Kool Aid to make Merlot. It was too much fun! It's knitting up beautifully. ;)

7:14 AM  
Blogger Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

You've become quite the spindler! I have several Greensleeves spindles and they are my favorites - beautiful to feel and look at and just the right weight and compact shape. I look forward to using one of them to spin yarn for the upcoming Twisted Sisters sock challenge!

9:11 PM  

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