Friday, July 31, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece, 2015 - part 4

Today is the last post for this year's Tour de Fleece. part one, two, three are here.

Friday, July 24th - Day 19
10 minutes. Some park-and-draft and some on the fly.

Saturday, July 25th - Day 20
About 45 minutes with my wheel this morning.

Sunday, July 26th - Day 21
A couple of hours with my wheel today.

I'm feeling pretty good about my spindling skills and my regular spinning has improved a lot over the years. I have a few small amounts of over-spun yarn, but nothing like a few years ago.

While I didn't finish my prepared roving, I didn't really expect to. I did finish almost  half and it is fairly consistent. That's something to be proud of.

The remaining raw Gunnar has been added to his collection that's in the queue to be washed. 

The remaining prepared Timberline TM will be finished, plied and knit into this scarf

Before the tour:

9.75 ounces Timberline Tibetan Mastiff roving
0.75 oz of Raw Gunnar Cloud

After the Tour:

All together:

4 1/2 ounces prepared Tibetan Mastiff spun on my wheel - to the left and on the bobbin.
1/4 ounce Raw Tibetan Mastiff spindled - to the right of the bobbin

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece, 2015 - part 3

More Tour de Fleece.

Friday, July 17th - Day 13
20 minutes at lunch today. :-)

Saturday, July 18th - Day 14
About an hour last night and a few hours today gets me to 3 oz spun so far in this bobbin.

Sunday, July 19th - Day 15
Bobbin #1 is finished! 3.25 oz of Gold Tibetan Mastiff.

I broke the yarn a few times when winding into cakes. But the different sized cakes will give me some options when it comes to plying. 

And a pretty good start on Bobbin #2.

Monday, July 20th - Day 16
Feeling indifferent about my drop spindle today. I definitely prefer to spin on my wheel, but my wheel can't come to the day job with me. :-(

~10 minutes. Did a small amount of spinning on the fly rather than my usual park-and-draft. Definitely need more practice there. 

Tuesday, July 21st - Rest Day
Even though today was supposed to be a rest day, I opted to spin. There is no telling what the rest of this crazy week might bring. 

My reward was to break the yarn twice in short succession. I'm temporarily holding it together with a rubber band and will start a new yarn tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22nd - Day 17
Moving beyond yesterday's flub with 10 more minutes at lunch. 

Thursday, July 23rd - Challenge Day, Day 18
It wasn't that long ago that just using my drop spindle was my challenge. But since I've been using a drop spindle most weekdays for the last two months, I thought I'd try spinning on the fly in earnest. No park-and-draft today was the goal. 

With my super-light, super-well-balanced, Ledbetter spindle, I was reasonably successful at spinning on the fly for 10 minutes. 

This spindle will spin on its own for a long time. If I were working with pencil roving instread of a raw clump of fiber there is no doubt that I could do this reasonably well. :-)

Isn't it amazing what good tools and a little practice can go for one's confidence? ;-)

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece, 2015 - part 2

More of this year's Tour de Fleece.  See part one here.

Friday, July 10th - Day 7
~15 minutes for spinning today at noon-ish plus ~30 min in the park waiting for Hubba to arrive for dinner.

Saturday, July 11th - Day 8
Saturdays are great for spinning, because I can sit down for five or ten minutes in between working on things around the house.  By the end of the day I had spun close to two hours.

Sunday, July 12th - Day 9
Sundays are great for the same reason as Saturdays.  :-)

Monday, July 13th - Rest Day

Tuesday, July 14th - Day 10
Only about 10 minutes. I broke the yarn today. :-(

Wednesday, July 15th - Day 11
I keep thinking I don't see much progress  10-15 minutes at a time. But seeing the daily photos next to each other, I do see progress. :-)

Thursday, July 16th - Day 12
10 minutes at lunch again. It sure is going slow.

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece, 2015 - part 1

For the first few years that I participated in the Tour de Fleece, I was travelling a lot for work.  I managed to spin at the office, in my hotel room, at a friend's house, in the gate area at the airport, on the airplane and while waiting for the airport shuttle, but usually I was just trying to spin every day and mostly not being successful.

Last year, I was between jobs and had my most productive run.  Since I was home for most of the tour, my wheel had lots of attention.

This year, I commute to a Day Job most days.  I started spindling over the noon-ish hour right after Memorial Day, so my goal for this tour will be to spin for at least 10 minutes every day.  It would be great if I am able to complete everything I have prepared, but really that is not a firm goal.

The Team of Wonder is on hiatus this year, so I found Team Chiengora... and with a few Tibetan Mastiffs, I have more than enough chiengora to keep me busy.  ;-)

For my drop spindle I have a cloud of undercoat that was collected from Gunnar either at or in preparation for his conformation shows over the last year or so.  I've already spun a little of this as a demonstration.  The spindle and spun fiber weigh 0.75 oz.  The cloud behind it also weighs 0.75 oz.

At home I have a large amount of gold undercoat collected by Gunnar and Miles' breeder that I have turned into roving and plan to spin on my wheel.  ~9.75 oz of washed Timberline TM carded and pulled into roving.

This should be enough to keep me busy for the next three weeks, but I have plenty of more if needed.  ;-)

Saturday, July 4th - Day 1
My goal with this fiber is to end up with a 3-ply, lace weight yarn that is suitable for this scarf, so I do have some flexibility.

I need to remember to spin this tighter than normal since I plan to ply rather than leave as a single. 

After spinning cotton the day before, it took a bit to get into the groove, but I had a productive first day.

Sunday, July 5th - Day 2
A little more than 1 oz spun do far.

Monday, July 6th - Day 3
15 minutes over lunch today and my first day with the drop spindle for this Tour.  My goal here is a consistent single-ply.

This is really nice to spin.  It's single sourced from Gunnar, and I'm spinning more slowly than on my wheel but also getting a more rustic yarn.

I also spun for about 30 minutes on my wheel before retiring for the evening.

Tuesday, July 7th - Day 4
Another 15 minutes at lunch with my spindle.

Wednesday, July 8th - Day 5
A really full day today. No time for spinning at lunch and didn't feel that I had time for spinning this evening. So I made myself sit down for 5 minutes.  At 4 minutes I felt myself relax and ended up spinning for a total of 15 minutes.

Thursday, July 9th - Day 6
Again, not a lot of time for spinning today, but I do find it relaxing, even if I am really tired.

My week ends up with 1 1/8 ounces spun on my wheel and 1/8 ounces spindled on my drop spindle.  Pretty good week as far as the Tour de Fleece, er Fur goes.

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Good Night Keyla

Keyla was my teacher.  She was the first to give us a cria and the one I learned how to give shots on.  She's the one that first made my heart stop because she was sprawled out, sleeping in the sun.

Keyla was also a mentor to the younger girls in our herd.  She gave us four cria and had several before that.  She coached the younger girls on caring for their own cria and was often a baby sitter.  Keyla loved being a momma and gave her everything to her babies.  Her cria were always the biggest and strongest.

Keyla with newborn Willow in 2012

I woke up a few times overnight to check on her.  This morning, she refused to eat or drink.  So I sat with her for a couple of hours, holding her head and rubbing her neck.

Her herd mates all checked on her while I was there and stayed with her when I wasn't.  Gunnar and Wonton stayed close.  Gunnar also managed the crowd, putting himself between Keyla and her herd mates when he felt that too many were hanging around.  When she finally passed, Gunnar did one last check on both Keyla and me.

Yes, I know death is a part of life.  It's not my favorite part of raising animals, but it is part of it.  The trick, I suppose, is knowing when to accept the inevitable and focus on making the transition comfortable and peaceful.

Keyla was a teacher to the end.

I will miss you, Qaint Keyla.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: AOA National Fleece Conference

The new Alpaca Owner's Association (AOA) held it's First (hopefully annual) National Fleece Conference in Denver last weekend.

Since it was so close, there was little question as to whether I would attend.  Even without the schedule or session topics published, I was one of (if not the) first to register.  As fiber-producing animals, a viable commercial fleece market is essential to the alpaca industry and what I hoped would be covered to some degree.

My hopes were more than met.

The work that some of my alpaca brethren are doing is amazing.  The commercial demand for US Alpaca is there, both nationally and internationally.  We, as growers, are here.  The conduit between is immature, but appears to be working.

One of the Student Textile Design finalists using alpaca.

My goals for entering the alpaca industry has always had a commercial component.  Doing it after-hours has taken longer than I had hoped and of course the economic crash didn't help things.  But I left the conference feeling excited and energized.

I made a few contacts with people who are doing the kinds of things I've been looking for and I reconnected with other people I knew before we moved to our own farm.  So I still have a few emails to send and several documents and websites to read.

Over 500 fleeces entered in the fleece show, of which this is a very small selection.

I offered to give sessions about preparing for Shearing Day next time and Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) for another future event.  Which I've already started to draft.  ;-)

The Fashion Student Design winner and Designer's Choice using alpaca textiles.

If you are a designer, artist, manufacture, producer, grower, or even just fancier of alpaca, I urge you to attend next year's event.  It is well worth the time and expense.

To quote Wini Labrecque, one of the fleece judges; "This is a great step forward to be able to improve pricing and marketing abilities for fleece.  We all need to step out of the past and embrace this forward movement."

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!