Saturday, May 12, 2018


If you are a Knitter or a Spinner or Weaver, you will know what those 4 letters in my post title mean. The rest of you should know that they stand for "Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival".  If you ever get a chance, as I did this year, you should go!  I heard that there were 40,000 crafters that attended this event, and there were plenty of booths filled with all kinds of yarn, prepped fibers and full fleeces to keep them all busy.  I did not do any of the classes, but I did attend a lecture on the "History of the Warp Weighted Loom in the Shetland Islands".

We drove up on Friday and spent the night in Colombia, just 20 minutes from the Howard county fairground, in Friendsville, MD.  We drove the next morning to the fair ground, and I dropped my daughter off close to the entrance so that she could make it to her booth at the far end of the fairground, then I proceeded to park with the help of a local boy scout troop.  In my car there were 2 great wheels that needed to be delivered to 2 separate people.  I had their phone numbers already in my phone, and within a few minutes had made contact with one of them that was just a few rows over from where I had parked.  We quickly loaded her wheel into her car, and she went on to the entrance while I waited for person #2.  30 minutes later, I was moving the last great wheel to her car, and loading up 2 flax wheels into my car!  One of these was a flax wheel that had belonged to the Joan Cummer collection, and then to the ATHM until it closed late last year.

This is the first picture that I saw of the wheel, and since it was for sale, I gladly purchased it.  As our plans for MDSW developed, it was decided that the wheel swap would happen there.

Here it a shot of the flyer with the darker brown single
my first few minutes of spinning when I got the wheel home
and set up.

This is the second time that my Daughter was invited to work this booth, and I again tagged along for the ride.  :)  Unlike last year, when I purchased nothing,  I quickly purchased 3 braids of spinning fiber  50% Merino, 25% Bamboo, 25% Silk, from "Hobbledehoy",  one of my favorite high end fiber dyers.  (which happens to be the booth my daughter helps to man)  I had intended to replace one braid that I had spun and "accidentally" sold last fall, but I couldn't decide between the three closest braids and had to get all of them.  (I don't know why the picture is reversed!)

Leaving those beautiful braids with my daughter, I went directly to the fleece room.  I was looking for a light brown Shetland fleece to add to my stash for making blankets.  Sadly I didn't find one that I could afford, but I spent the next hour going around and looking at the fleeces and adding to my knowledge of the breeds I had not yet seen in person.  There was some super soft Merino, but when I saw the price per pound, ( $47) I slowly backed away, way too high for my pocketbook. (almost a $200 fleece)  I also looked at the Finn fleeces, hoping to find a small one, since it is on my bucket list of fleeces to try, but with no luck as the prices there were again high for me.  I left the fleece room, with the plan to come back the next day when a lot of the nicer fleeces would be gone and some great deals can be found.

I toured the sheep barns by myself and then when my daughter was free for lunch, we ate together and then toured the huge yarn and prepped fiber barns, and then the tented booths.  The only other thing I picked up was 2 ounces of a Yak/Silk blend that I had been wanting to get for several years, and never did.  When I got tired I sat down and knitted, there were lots of places where knitters gathered in pic-nic style with chairs and blankets, it was relaxing.

On Sunday, I went straight back to the fleece room, this time, I looked at each and every fleece.  I almost picked up a Finn Cross, but decided that I didn't want a cross, unless I knew what it was crossed with.  There were far fewer fleeces than the day before, so it didn't take long to go through them all.  Towards the end of my hunt I happened across a Finn fleece that had not been coated, and I believe it is the filthiest fleece I have seen to date, however, it was only $6 a pound!

I was impressed with the length of the locks and the softness of the fibers, and I am not afraid of dirt!

Lots and lots of dirt!

Which washes right out to leave a beautifully soft white fleece.  I was sold, and quickly made my purchase.

I dropped the fleece off behind my daughters booth and went to the lecture, on "the history of Warp Weighted looms in the Shetland Islands"  which I found fascinating!

Once the lecture was completed, I met my daughter again for lunch and a quick tour of some more of the booths.  When she went back to work, I made sure that I had seen all of the sheep that were on the fair grounds, and then went back to her booth and bought 3 more braids!  I decided that it was time to take a trip back to the car with my purchases so that they would not be in the way while we packed up the booth.  On my way to the car I decided to get another 2 ounces of the Yak/ Silk blend, just because 2 ounces is not enough to do any real project.

5pm rolled around and we quickly broke the booth down and loaded it into the van.  Then it was hugs all around, until next time.  We spent the night with friends who live in the area, and early Monday morning we were happily on our way home.  I have decided that it was the best trip ever!  Who knows maybe we will get to go next year too!

Until next time, Happy Spinning, Tina

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Unexpected Boost

I am spinning yarn form my Jacobs fleeces every chance I get right now, and over the last couple of weeks I have managed to get 5 bobbins filled.

 I have 2 bobbins filled to the brim with dark brown almost black singles  from sheep #13, 2 bobbins almost filled to the brim with  grey singles, compliments of Olga #21, and 1 bobbin filled with white singles from #10 heart.

I needed to card some white for my next bobbin, so I was thinking that the next Jacobs fleece I would choose, would have to have a lot of white.
Before I got around to it,  I came across a post on Ravelry that was talking about how pencil roving was the step just before spinning yarn in the textile mills.

I suddenly remembered that years ago, no eons ago, I got a box of white pencil roving that I have never used.   I had tried knitting with it, but the sweater that I knit was too big, and I never got around to redoing it.

The wool is medium soft, which should work well with the Jacobs fleeces that I have.  This afternoon, after I finished the second black bobbin, I put in a new bobbin and pulled down the box that had the pencil roving inside. ( I also put on a new episode of "Father Brown"  which I am binge watching right now.)  Keeping in mind the singles I have been spinning for the blankets, I set to work on the pencil roving.

This pencil roving is a creamier white than the Jacobs fleeces have, but I think that I will be able to use every last bit of it in my blankets!

Yay for me!  I will be emptying a box that I have had for at least 10 years and making more skeins of yarn for the blankets, it is a win win.

Until next time, keep spinning, Tina

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Jacobs fleeces

It  has been a long road from buying 50 something Jacobs fleeces and where I am now.  Last Fall, I processed several fleeces and quickly made batts to use as weft for rugs.  The rugs were not as successful as I had hoped, so as I was washing the rest of the fleeces this winter, I began to think about what I could do with all of this wool I had on hand.

Here are some of the very last fleeces that I washed.  One thing that I had not counted on was that a clean fleece is about twice the size of a dirty fleece.  So very soon, I was being over whelmed by Jacobs fleece.  I tried vacuum packing the fleeces to save space, but I felt like the fleeces were suffocating under all that plastic.

I did a bit more research and found some heavy duty paper lawn bags, and that was a success!  I was able to get 3 full sized fleeces in each bag, and 5 lamb fleeces will also fit in a single bag.  Each bag is labeled according to the fleeces inside.  I did take the trouble to put like fleeces together, it is going to make a huge difference in the next steps.

 LouAnn was kind enough to loan me, once again her motorized drum carder.  I will first re-card the batts that are left over from the roving rugs,  and use those to spin the first bobbins.

Here is what is left from Olga #21

Here is what is left of fleece #3, #13, and some from Big boy.

 I am now busy spinning singles to weave into blankets, here is Olga #21, I think I will get almost 2 bobbins full from the batts that I had from Olga.

 The fleece from Heart #10 will also give me a couple of bobbins full of white for my blankets.  I am going to spin 12 bobbins full of a variety of natural colors that are in the Jacobs fleeces,  so that I have a lot of colors to work with on my first blanket.

I know that as I finish spinning the yarn and begin to weave the first couple of blankets, I will be able to have better idea of what this wool can do, or rather what I can do with it!

Until next time, Happy spinning, Tina

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rugs at Last!

I finally got enough of the Jacobs fleeces prepared and ready to weave last week.  The fleeces I used in this batch of rugs were from "Big Boy, #3, #13 and Olga 21".  I wove 2 large rugs and 2 medium rugs, trying to mix the colors with wild abandon. (Not my forte!)

"#13, #3 and Big Boy"  Large rug in the neighborhood of 30x48 inches.  This size takes about 1 1/2 lbs of prepared fleece to make.

It seems that I don't have a picture on hand of the other large rug, that featured this same fleece trio, but in very different proportions, with the addition of Olga 21.

This rug is made from "Olga 21 and Big Boy", it is a smaller rug in the neighborhood of 2ft by 3ft.  These smaller rugs take around 12 ounces to make.

We are back to good old "#13 and Big Boy" for this another small rug.  I have enough left over from the 4 fleeces to do at least one more of the small rugs.

These three rugs were hot off of the loom when I took their pictures on Monday, and I had not as yet decided on a hem treatment, so you can see that the white fabric is still on the ends of the rugs keeping everything in place.

 I was finishing up my chosen hem treatment on the final rug early this morning before I had to run to Knoxville to help set up our booth at the Jacobs Building, for the Foothills Guild Fall Craft Show in Knoxville, TN.

The booth is all set up and ready for the holiday crafts shoppers.  I don't have to work the booth until Sunday, when I will work the whole day and be part of the breakdown crew.  That is the last of our 2 shows, and a few of us  have been chatting off and on about what we are going to work on now that the show production is past for this year.  I know that I have more projects in mind than I can ever hope to develop this year, and I know that it is the same for the others as well.  I am sure that this is not an uncommon problem!

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Friday, October 13, 2017

Latest fleeces

You may tire of seeing these fleeces appear on the blog, but to me it will be a record of the fleeces that I will be using in the rugs this next year.  I will be able to pick out from the pictures of the raw fleeces,  what the clean fleeces that are now stuffed in bags look like!

Up this week are:

#10 heart

There is a lot of white in this fleece, it is a big fleece with a medium texture, so perfect for my rugs.

After that is "Other Ram"

I know, what a name, all I have to go on right now is what is written on the bags.  I hope to have more information as I go along.

This fleece is huge, it took 6 big laundry bags to get it all in.  It is also a medium coarse fleece, again perfect for the rugs.

At the moment I am concentrating on finishing weaving the hand towel warp that is already on the loom and washing fleeces.  Once the hand towels are woven, I will turn my full attention to the fleece rugs.

I think I have enough warp on the loom to do another big rug, then I plan to do several smaller ones.  All in time for the Foothills Guild Fall show in Knoxville in about 5 weeks.  I am not feeling a ton of pressure, but I am working steadily towards my goal.  I hope to finish everything well before the show, I hate waiting until the last moment.

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Friday, September 29, 2017

Side Note

For several years, I have been in love with the thin gauzy tea towels that you can get at many of the department stores.  I am not ashamed to admit it!  Recently however, I finished a few sample towels using the never ending supply of 12/3 white cotton that I have in the Studio.  It was a small sampling only 3 towels, one in plain weave and 2 in a twill, just to see how they look finished.  Marie and I have a deal, I will twist her shawl fringes and she will hem my towels.

 She does a beautiful job, and when I had taken the towels to her, I mentioned that I knew that the plain weave towel was going too be short to sell and that I was going to be keeping that one, and I did.  I put it in the draw 2 weeks ago, and even though I tell everyone to which I give a towel to use it, I was hesitant to use it.  It was so pristine, so beautiful in the drawer.   I finally pulled it out of the drawer on Friday and I started to use it.

I am in love with the fabric that I have created!  It is more absorbent than those this towel I have been using, and I don't have to use more than one as I dry my dishes

I will be making several of these plain weave towels for the Foothills Guild Show in November, and I can assure you that I will be making several for myself as well.

Use your handwoven towels, you will love them!!!!!!!

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Monday, September 25, 2017

Big Boy

This is "Big Boy's" fleece, it is now on the drying racks and should be dry in a day or two.  I can no longer put the sweater drying racks out on the porch, the cats just love sheep fleece!

I am busy making batts, with the goal of getting 3 rugs woven by weekend after next.  Once I have enough batts prepared for 2 rugs (24 ish), I will start weaving rugs and continue with batt making at the same time.  I will get done what I can get done.

I have all but a few items woven, tagged and inventoried and in the containers that will be coming with me to the Museum of Appalachia's "Homecoming".  It should be perfect weather, with the temps cooling off nicely, and a good variety of items in the "Tuesday Weavers" booth.  The booth will be in the Peter"s cabin behind me as I demo spinning wool on a great wheel for the public.  This year it will be a more interactive demo than in years past, I have found that everyone loves to turn the wheel while I make yarn.

Maybe you can come join us, October 6-8 at the Museum of Appalachia, in Norris TN?  Come join us for good music, lots of crafts and some really good blackberry cobbler!  I you do come, look for me at the Peters cabin, I will be on the big front porch,  see you there!

Until then, Happy Weaving, Tina