Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A visit to Finney Creek Farm and BSG 2007

I just returned from my yearly pilgrimage to Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon. I drove up with Eileen on Thursday and returned on Sunday, so it was a quick trip. Pulling the little trailer with my little Nissan truck made uphill driving slow (dropping to 35mph), plus there was quite a bit of highway construction delay, so both Thursday and Sunday were pretty much limited to driving. And more driving. There are quite a few uphills between Reno and Eugene.

We camped at Laura's Finney Creek Farm 29 miles west of Eugene. She has sheep, llamas, turkeys, chickens, a dog, a cat, and a full-time job. Busy woman! Four of us Nevadans camped in the front yard and her visiting cousin camped in the livingroom. Friday morning was coastal-Oregon-misty and I was able to get some great shots of the farm. My favorite is of an overly vocal rooster.

Black Sheep Gathering is held yearly at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene. It has become a premier western sheep and wool festival. There are sheep, goat and bunny competitions, fiber arts competitions, fleece judging and sale, workshops, demos, and lots and lots of vender booths. And, of course, impromptu spinning circles to join between shopping forays.

I am pleased to report that my painted Kiwi and matching chair generated many oohs and ahhs. The Market consisted of three large rooms full of venders selling everything from fibers, books and patterns to wheels, spindles, dyes, and tools. The most common item this year was probably handpaint blueface roving. Handspindles were also plentiful, with a wide choice from plain to fancy with exotic woods and inlaid stones. Another trend is the explosion of newfangled fibers such as ingeo, soysilk, bamboo, etc. I'm not a fan of silk (except how it takes color) and most of these new fibers are advertised to mimic the spinning properties of silk. Instead I found myself gravitating to exotics such as cashmere, bison, yak and camel down. Friday was mostly about shopping and I came home with quite a nice little collection of treasures to keep me happy for the next year.

I took only one half-day workshop - Orenburg Handspinning with Galina Khmeleva. It was a lot of fun and I bought a set of the hand-carved Russian support spindles to try this at home. She gets 500 yards on a single small handspindle! It will definitely take practice. Imagine a whisper-fine lace shawl spun from champagne colored camel down. Definitely worth the effort!

Saturday evening was the BSG lamb barbeque and potluck, then back to camp to chat, laugh, and compare our purchases. And make a few purchases from each other. I bought some of Becky's Tunis roving. Although tunis are meat sheep, the fiber is strong, smooth and springy (a bit like Dorset?), so I want to try making socks with it.

Now I am home. The trailer is unpacked and safely stowed in the driveway. This weekend I will get out my newly acquired booty and happily plot its eventual metamorphosis into hats, shawls, socks and other fuzzy garments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Spinning Chair

Last weekend I set out to find a folding chair the right height for spinning. I found a folding wooden chair, adopted it and took it home. It had a dark oil stain. Once it was sitting there next to my Kiwi it looked sorta plain. Wood items that come into my house are always in danger of going under the burning tool. And every wheel needs its own matching chair, don't you think?

Here's the wheel:
Chair before:Chair after much sanding, woodburning and painting:
The undecorated areas will be covered by a small fluffy sheep pelt I use to add cushioning.

I have an unfinished tensioned lazy-kate on order, so the sandpaper and paint are awaiting it's arrival.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


First, I am happy to announce the arrival of the first lavender bloom in my garden for this year. Here it is.

While warm weather has worked its magic on the garden, I have started and finished a knitting project in what is (for me) record time. For the Guild's recent natural dye workshop I could only find a couple of small, lumpy skeins to dye. These were leftovers from my very earliest spinning that I just couldn't bear to throw away. I split the larger one so I had three little skeins at not even an ounce each. In just 2 evenings I have knitted this hat, making up the pattern as I went along. It still needs to be washed and blocked. I think (I really do) that the lumpyness of the yarn gives it a lovely texture. It is a bit brighter in person (the flash washes the colors out a bit). In a totally unscientific manner, I only vaguely remember which of the dye pots and modifiers I used to get these colors. I think the purple was brazilwood modified by ammonia, and the orange was madder plus something else. The dull beigey-pink went in and out of several pots in search of something other than dull beigey-pink. Ah well - looks OK when used with the other two.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pembrokeshire Pathways Complete

Despite all the seemingly endless little cable twists, I have completed the Pembrokeshire Pathways socks. The pictures don't really do them justice.


Done (click on image to see stitch detail):

I'm still checking each day for the first lavender blossoms. None yet, but the salvia is overcoming its frost damage with a minor showing.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Back to the Garden

After a week of work, work, work, it was great to get outside and do a little gardening. The lavender blooms are about ready to pop open. I check every day, hoping to celebrate the first sign of purple. Despite having pulled out most of the rock soapwort last year, it has reappeared and is blooming away cheerfully. More importantly, the potentilla that Linda gave me has once again overcome my abuse and rebounded back to life.
On Saturday I visited Dry Creek Nursery in search of more Lena's broom. They were all out for now, so after reserving 3 from the next shipment, I browsed around and adopted 3 "Blue Cushion" lavenders (one can never have too many lavender) and 3 lemon thyme. I bought them small - small plants mean small holes to dig with my newly back-to-business elbow. And they are awfully cute, too, like a little kitten or puppy, but with no housebreaking required.

In a fit of ambition I even turned my mind toward beginning The Wall. First step is to dig a foundation ditch to lay the first rank of stones. Since my yard slopes, hosing down the area to soften the dirt doesn't really work. So I evicted a nest of ants from under the soaker hose in the back yard and spread the hose along the future wall site. At that point my ambition wore out. I'll soak the area a bunch this week and start the digging next weekend.
Meanwhile I'll keep checking for the first lavender blooms.