Tuesday, September 16, 2008

California Wool and Fiber Festival, Part 2

Lordy, I have been doing battle with the old digital camera. I took a whole mess of pictures, and EVERY SINGLE ONE turned out blurry. Yuk. Anyway, I got another batch, things are starting to look up, and I can tell you about the second half of my weekend. Nevermind that it's almost the weekend again already.

So if Saturday was the scouting part of the trip, Sunday was the watch-like-a-hawk part, with the usual fair fun thrown in. I managed to drag myself out of bed at an early enough hour so that I could see some of the sheepdog trials. Man, are those some smart dogs! Conversely, the sheep are pretty stupid.

Sheepdog Trials

It was worth getting up early to be able to see these guys. After the sheepdogs and some lunch, I spent the hour before my class wandering around the CWFF building, looking at fiber, and keeping a sharp eye on the fleece wall. As I said last time, of the six or so fleeces I'd written down on Saturday, only one was gone by the time I got there on Sunday. By now I'd had enough time to consider the top two I wanted to buy, and I was basically waiting for class to find out if I'd picked good ones. I ended up buying a new drop spindle (Cascade Rainier), a WPI tool in maple wood to match my ladybug, and some pin-drafted roving in natural cream and dark brown from Merry Meadows Farms. I swear, I do have photographs of my purchases, but none of them came out well and there hasn't been enough sunlight to do a re-shoot. Just imagine the most lovely squishy spinning fiber ever, a gorge

Our class was really awesome! Kristine managed to pack a TON of information into three hours, and it was very well tailored to the students. We talked about our experience with spinning, fiber types, and fleeces, and got to fondle some very beautiful fleeces Kristine brought to share with us. After discussing some of the things to look for in a good fleece (I have come away with the intention of watching a fleece judging sometime during next year's show season), we went out to the vendor area to look at the fleeces for sale. We stopped at the booths with fleeces and made our way to the judged fleeces. With our new knowledge, we poured over the varying sizes, colors, textures, smells*, and placings of the fleeces in their categories. I was pleased to find that my initial assessment of one of the colored fleeces was sound: it was a beautiful color, but didn't have that lovely "ping" noise when you snapped the lock. We also oohed and aahed over the champion fleeces:

Grand Champion Fleece

Junior Grand Champion Fleece

The Junior Grand Champion (bottom photo) was one of those crazy Navajo Churro fleeces. It's a dual coated sheep, and this one had the most beautiful cream color in both the down and guard coat.

Three of us picked out fleeces, and after some inspection from our instructress, we made our purchases. I settled on this:
CWFF Merino/Corriedale Fleece

It's a naturally colored merino/corriedale fleece from Nebo Rock farms, and it won first place in its division. I am in love. The locks range from light to dark gray, with lighter tan to medium brown tips. A few locks have small stripes of black in them. When we got back to the classroom area, we spent the rest of class washing a small portion of our new fleeces, and while the bags of fleece stewed away, we got practice carding and flicking out locks of fleece for spinning. At the end of class, we took home our cleaned locks in ziplock bags. After a very long trip home from the fair (with a stop for dinner in the middle), I set up a little corner in our kitchen to dry the wet locks with an old towel draped over our wooden clothes drying rack (sorry for the blurry photo!):

Drying Fleece

And here's the color of some of the locks after drying completely:

Washed Fleece

The variation in the color of the locks:

Washed Locks

Check out the black stripe on the lock in the upper-left hand corner. Finally, the staple length of one lock:

Lock Length

I've been pretty much thinking about this fleece during every free moment this week, and tomorrow I might finally have time to wash some more of it. I know it's a bad idea to let the fleece hang out being all greasy in the bag for too long a time, so I'm a bit anxious to get on with the washing. Unfortunately our weekend plans are looking more busy than not for the next few weeks or so... so I might have to sneak a few batches in on weeknights after work. I went out to buy some Dawn, rubber gloves, some plastic basins, and mesh lingerie bags to hold the locks.

The ultimate plan is to make myself a sweater from this fleece. It's four and a half pounds, and while some of that weight will be lost with washing, I could have quite a bit left over, even after making a sweater.

In other areas, I FINALLY bound off my Honeybee stole. Right now, as we speak, it is in sitting in the bathroom sink with some Soak wool wash (making what the significant other calls "delicious yarn soup"). It's gonna be big. Even unblocked, it's as tall as I am. Whew.

I also got the first shipment in the Verb for Keeping Warm Fiber club! No pictures yet (I really want to do this beautiful package justice), but it's fabulous. More loveliness to come!

*Hint: some ram fleeces smell like... well... the way you might expect an occasionally disgruntled male sheep to smell.


Anonymous said...

good color
it will make a very nice sweater

karrie said...

Congrats - that fleece looks gorgeous. I'm jealous!

Tracey said...

hello new fleece owner! many congratulations on your purchase. i can't wait to see it become a sweater. :)

the Lady said...

Wow, you have lovely hands!

Nice fleece! I really wanted to see the sheep dogs and the fleece judging, but there's always next year! It'll be cool to follow your fleece adventures. Did Kristine say anything about drying the fleece? I don't have access to a washer where I can just use the spin cycle, so I wondered what the consensus on that was.