Chanel Sheep and other woolie tales

Finn cabled hat croppedHello again fellow wool lovers,

This is the first day of spring according to the calendar, but in wool country sheep shearing has been happening since January!  Many of my shepherd friends wait until April, but the Icelandics will felt right on the sheep if they aren’t sheared early.  This brings to mind images of sheep wearing those boiled wool Chanel jackets, but  believe me it isn’t pretty.  Or the image of poor bare ewes shivering in the cold.  Not to worry, these animals are hardy, and the wool grows back amazingly fast.

I was reminded today by a dear knitter friend that gardening will soon compete with knitting time.  For me, the warmer weather means I will be able to set a table out in my backyard and start picking wool fleece to prepare for the spinning mill.  This work starts as soon as the weather gets nice enough, and doesn’t stop until fall when the rains come.  I sometimes extend it by putting up a shelter and an outdoor heater, but even I can not persist too long under those conditions.  The good thing is I get to hang out next to the woods behind my house, listen to the birds and the deer moving about in the trees, and entertain my dogs with that enticing sheep’s wool smell that has them fascinated.

I am happy to report that the Madrona Fiber Arts event in February was a great success for Jorstad Creek yarns.  There were new yarns to showcase, new samples to display, and new patterns from the BK Collective as well as shawl kits for Evelyn A. Clark’s traditional shawl patterns.  I greeted return customers who stopped by to pick up more yarn or show me their knitted projects. The hat featured in the picture is made of the sport weight Finnlanka (100 % Finn) from a customer who created this hat to show off the yarn in cables.  She completed the set with a matching scarf.

Along with the return of the Gotland, Finn, and Icelandic yarns and yarn blends, I featured more colors of Tweed Sock and Tweed DK, made from merino wool.  New additions to the collection include merino wools in DK weight and worsted weight.  I also added a beautiful silk/wool blend I named Iona for an island off the west coast of Scotland.  For color, I indulged myself with new shades of red (see my prior blog about red mojo!), a sapphire blue as deep as the ocean, cool moss green and chartreuse, and combined new and old colors into multi-colored yarns I’ve never made before.

As a dye artist the opportunity to process so much yarn gave me a freedom to try new colors, new combinations, and new techniques.  I was able to try a color in one fiber blend, and then see how it performed in a different blend or over a grey wash.  Tonal colorway experiments were possible for me, so I was able to dive into a color and push the boundaries as far as they would go.  It is hard to describe in words how much fun this is, playing with color.  The closest thing really is knitting with variegated yarn, where each row is a new surprise to see how each row builds with the changing color.

Madrona was followed closely by the Vogue Knitting Live! show in Bellevue.  The market for this event was bigger than last year.  We were located next to the fashion show stage and across from Spokane’s Paradise Fibers.  The location gave me and my daughter Katelyn the chance to see all of the wonderful designs on live models as they walked the runway.  When there were lulls in the activity, we darted across the aisle to get yarn wound by Paradise Fiber’s complimentary ball winding station!  My daughter was inspired to start a scarf with Aranmore, the new merino worsted weight yarn we offer.  I started swatching with an eye toward making Sally Melleville’s design “L’Enveloppe”, a part wrap, part sweater design that can be knit in a variety of yarn weights.  I am trying out my DK weight Lismore in a saffron color in this design.

This Saturday, March 22, I will set up my booth at the “Puget Sound Flea Market and Fieldhouse Full of Awesome Stuff” event.  I was asked by the organizers to join this event, and since it is local and for a good cause I said yes!  Even though this is not a fiber event, I am sure there will be knitter friends that will find their way to booth number 31 to say hello.  I hope you can stop by if you are in the area!  In the mean time hope you are able to both garden and knit.  Please check out their link for information on how to get to the University of Puget Sound: https://www.facebook.com/events/584035618338336/       See you soon.  Kerry

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