It's all becoming clearer what the strange sightings at Sock Summit mean....
The weather has been so cool and damp this summer I thought summer would never get here! (sorry everyone not living on the west coast of the US, I don't envy that heat blast you've been suffering!). But finally, we have had some warm days, and warm days are fleece washing days!
So I got out some fleece that needed to be washed and gave it a good soak with the Unicorn power scour. I love power scour for washing fleece, it really gets things clean with a minimum of effort.
The fleece in question is a Cheviot that I got from Beth Smith at The Spinning Loft. It has a nice 3+ inch staple length and a bouncy crimp. Some bits of this fleece were pretty clean and some had a lot of VM (vegetable matter - all that straw and hay and other stuff). You can see in the picture below, the unwashed lock on the upperleft represents the worst condition found, and the washed lock below it shows how it cleans up (there wasn't a lot in this condition, but there was scattered VM in a fair amount of the fleece). The unwashed lock on the upper right is the best condition found and the snow white lock below it is how it washed up.
Because I had VM in some of this fleece, I decided to comb it. (Also, because I love combing). I began by lashing on the fiber. I always like to start with the cut end on the tines, I don't know why.
After 2 passes you can see that the VM and tangled bits are coming out quite nicely. For clean locks without VM, two passes was sufficient. For the heavily VM'd bits I did four passes.
After 4 passes in a heavily VM'd bit of fiber, it comes out soft and cloud-like and virtually VM free. There are still a few bits of VM in there, but nothing I can't easily handle whilst spinning.
Combing is not only great for getting out the VM, but it's also great for getting rid of any second cuts or other tangly bits. Second cuts are short little bits of fiber that happen when the shearer makes a second pass with the shears over an area already shorn (hence second cut). It's the mark of an inexperienced or sloppy shearer if there are a lot of second cuts in a fleece. This fleece had almost no second cuts. In fact this picture shows the only second cuts I was able to find in the fleece.
And here is the end result. Perfect, delectable, snow white fiber! What a satisfying process. And what is planned for this lovely cheviot fleece? Why, it's going to my students in my spinning class at Sock Summit! Lucky ducks. ;-)
I went to the post office today to pick up a smashing new item... A Jordana Paige bag! I've heard the legendary stories of the Jordana Paige items, but this is the first one I've owned. How did Jordana know that green is my favorite color!? Now I can see what all the chatter is about, this bag is perfectly designed with the knitter in mind. There's room for plenty of stuff both knitting and non-knitting. It's conveniently divided into two compartments, one that fits my ipad perfectly and has nice little pockets for pens and stylus as well as a good place to tuck my phone. And the other side is made for knitting! two little yarn pockets will hold a ball of yarn and there are these neat little snap loops on the sides. I'm not sure what they're technically there for, but I'm using them as yarn guides so I can just leave the yarn in my bag and knit without tangling. Awesome! There's also a nice detachable zip pouch that would be perfect for notions and a pocket to tuck my reading glasses into. So well thought out. I love it!
And since we're talking about the awesome of organizing our knitting, this is the other great organizing item I got recently. This is a yarn keeper my friend Celeste makes. I love this because you can have two different colors in there and the yarn comes out of both ends so you can keep things untangled. Plus, you can loop the ribbons over your wrists and you have a perfect on-the-go pouch for knitting your colorwork socks. You know you want to.... I'm hoping Celeste will have some of these for sale at Sock Summit.
I've had a non-stop parade of houseguests in recent days. The latest was my dad. It was great having him come to visit and he made me the most amazing hiking trail in my front yard. One of the challenges of our yard is that there was no way to get yard debris out of the back to the front so we could dispose of it. That means I had lots of little debris piles springing up all over the place as I try to tame the wild beast that is my jungle back yard. Now all I have to do is wheel it out in the wheelbarrow. Happyland!
Amongst all that fun, I've been preparing for Sock Summit. Only a week left to go! I'm teaching 3 different classes - spinning a painted sock, colorwork socks and a toe-up heel class. I'm looking forward to all three of these classes and I can't wait to meet people in person that I've mostly or only known through the internet. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a rockin' good time.
And speaking of rockin' good times... are you on Google+ yet? I just joined the newest social networking site run by Google and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+. It takes the things I like best about each of those and leaves out the parts that annoy me. I can't wait for more people to come on over. I'll still be active on FB and Twitter though. If you're looking for an invitation to Google+ send me a message on FB or twitter and I'll send you an invite... My other favorite social networking site is Pinterest. That is the land of eye-candy and inspiration. If you're on Google+ or Pinterest, stop by and say "hi"!
I'll leave off with another sock from the Illuminations sock club. This one is called Belle Epoque. It's inspired by pre-war Paris, at the height of the artistic age. It features stylized flowers and leaves in a woodcut type pattern. Enjoy!
The past few weeks has been a whirlwind of activity here chez beebonnet (that's bee-bon-nay)! First up was the annual gathering of the black sheep here in Eugene. This is the festival that first brought me to Eugene and made me fall so hard in love with this town that now I live here. So it has a very special spot amongst the cockles of my heart.
This year I was in charge of the info booth with my partner in crime, April. Whew! it was fun but TIRING! I got a little bit addicted to the announcer microphone (and caffeine). I didn't buy much this year because I was busy every moment, but I did get a chance to visit the Hansen booth and buy some more bobbins for my mini spinner, along with a quill attachment. Yay!
I did run around and take a few select photos, including this fiber that, I swear, was dyed by magical elves in the Chameleon Colorworks booth. I'm a little bit smitten with this fiber, and if you're taking my spinning class at sock summit, you might end up a little bit smitten too... just saying...
After Black Sheep Gathering, my friend Kathy stayed for several days and we drove all over the north western quadrant of Oregon and even made a brief foray into Washington. We visited the coast where we had to stop for crab burgers of course. We spent the night at the Spirit Mountain Casino, which has lovely hotel rooms where we each lost $5, and had a nice crab dinner (did I mention that we like crab?), then the next day it was on to the Columbia Gorge, lots of falls and the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet store in Washougal, WA. I had never been to the Vista House before, it was built about 1918 I think, and the view from there of the Columbia River gorge is spectacular. I can practically see the Lewis and Clark party sailing down the river on their way to the Pacific! I particularly liked the docent's uniform which was true to period for a tourist at the time the Vista House was built. He looked a little like Teddy Roosevelt and he was so sweet and cheerful in his linen knee breeches. That was loads of fun, too bad it was a little cloudy and rainy. Wouldn't you know the minute Kathy left Oregon, it got sunny and beautiful. Still we had lots of fun and I came home with a Pendleton camp blanket for my home to boot. If you're coming to Portland for Sock Summit, consider a side trip to the Columbia River gorge, you won't be sorry!
Amongst all the fun, summer finally hit here and my little umm... farm (ha ha - if you can call 4 pots on a balcony a farm) has started to produce. Check it out! I have ripening strawberries and even tomatoes on the vine! Yum! can't wait to actually eat some of these. I hope birdies don't discover them first. The best thing about balcony gardening is no pesky slugs! But I do have an infestation of rather gigantic ladybugs... haha
And lest you think I've quit knitting altogether, the answer to that would be no. Remember the qiviut cloud I was working on? It's become a beautiful little cowl. Pattern is being written as we speak. The yarn was such a joy to work with, I actually bought another little skein. I can't wait to knit another exquisite cloud. I've also done quite a bit of secret knitting which will all be revealed in due time.