Website is up and Madrona Fiber Arts

nov 2012 076Hello dear friends, the yarn shopping website is up and running!  I am pleased to be able to show fabulous pictures of the colors and yarns I’ve been working with all year available for purchase through Pay Pal.

To check out the new website click on the text  jorstad creek

Available for purchase is the icelandic yarn, finn sheep yarn, finn-alpaca, and merino.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

I am working on a blue-faced leicester (BFL) tweed sock yarn from a British source, dyeing them in beautiful muted colors.  I am also adding new colorways for the merino fingering and sport weight yarns I already offer.  Working with dyes in the outdoors in below-freezing weather is a challenge, but I am determined to persevere.  I must add to my stock because I was asked to provide a vendor booth at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma, Washington February 14 – 17, 2013 at the Hotel Murano.  The fiber fair has no entry fee, so I hope you will attend and stop by my booth to say hello!

I am also pleased to add that I will offer Gotland/Finn Sheep roving for sale.  The Gotland breed, like Icelandic sheep are another hardy short-tailed breed originating from the island of Gotland, Sweden.  It is Sweden’s largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea.  My source is a little closer to home near Auburn, Washington.  The shepherdess has been working with Finn sheep stock to develop animals with an increasing percentage of the Gotland sheep characteristics, with the result producing prize-winning fleece.  The fiber has a long staple, with beautiful wavey locks evocative of the Lincoln breed.  This fiber will produce a medium weight yarn, with versatile characteristics as well as strength from the long staple, for a variety of uses.  I was fortunate to be able to find another small farm to work with to create more northwest-based yarn.

In addition to the Gotland/Finn roving I hope to have two new yarns for sale in the natural grey colors that the Gotland breed is known for.  These yarns are made from about 50% Gotland/Finn lambswool mixed with adult fleece, to produce a strong and soft result.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that these will be back from the mill in time for Madrona.

Just off the needles from my dear friend, fellow knitter (and fabulous designer) Kaia Petersen is Evelyn A. Clarke’s “Brimnes Shawl” made from the icelandic yarns I offer.  This pattern is available from www.ravelry.com as a download-able pattern, or as part of her new e-book of icelandic shawl patterns.  We will roll-out kits for the large and small size of this pattern in the natural colorway and a few limited dyed colorways exclusively at Madrona.  If there are any left I will post them on the website for sale after February.   I look forward to seeing you soon in Tacoma.  Kerry Graber

Mogul-jumping sheep!

Icelandic sheep in Grand Mound, WA waiting to be shorn.

Hello readers!  This is my first time producing a blog. It feels like riding a bike for the first time without training wheels, a little exhilarating and a whole lot scarey. Please have patience while I adjust to the idea of publishing my words for the viewing public!A few words about “my” sheep. I do not own a flock myself, but I feel like an owner because of the investment I make in taking the wonderful wool from local flocks and turn it into drool-worthy yarn.

My first source as a yarn company is from icelandic sheep grown in Grand Mound, Washington. If you’ve never heard of Grand Mound you are  not alone I am sure. It is a small rural community south of Olympia, and its pastures and rolling hills are literally covered in places with small mounds.  There are various theories about this geologic feature, one tale is that large prehistoric gophers built underground homes and then abandoned them (no kidding!). The resulting mounds that look like green moguls  make for uneven ground for grazing animals.  To see a picture of a field of these mounds click on this link:  http://www.perigeezero.org/treatise/Enigmas/geologic/mima_mounds/index.html

The icelandic sheep that make up the source for my current stock of yarn are looked after by a shepherd that is devoted to their welfare. They live on a ridge overlooking a lush valley, and share company with highland cattle, pigs, and chickens.  They are healthy, happy, and big producers of fiber.  Some of the lambs born in the spring have nearly as large a fleece by the fall as an adult sheep!  The fleece from this flock range from cream to grey to butter colored.  A good number of them have brown “spots” or “ruffs” around the neck, so that these sheep can produce a wide variety of natural colors.   Read more, and see pictures of icelandic sheep here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_sheep

Icelandic sheep are known as a “primitive” breed of sheep.  This means they are genetically closely related to the first domesticated sheep, and still have some of the early traits that make them hardy and sometimes independent minded.  They have a double coat, meaning they have a courser layer of hair with a downy undercoat.  The lambswool has less hair than adults, yielding a very soft downy wool.

Books about sheep and wool talk about the two-coated sheep as if the fleece is only good for the coarsest use, such as rugs or outer wear.  I do not agree!  Good nutrition and care make these healthy sheep capable of yielding a fleece that can be just as soft as any medium weight sheep’s wool.  I have also found a mill that will de-hair a double-coated fleece, leaving the downy undercoat to be used for a variety of yarn and projects.  For me this means icelandic fleece is very veratile.

Another pleasant surprise is the lively “hand” and amazing texture of this wool.  The fibers have life and character, providing features in a yarn that produce crisp, textured stitches, and possess a springiness not found in ultra soft fibers such as merino.  Bringing out the best in this wool calls for minimal processing and careful dyeing so that the fibers are not over worked.

Icelandic wool is easy to dye and takes non-toxic chemical dyes readily.  I particularly enjoy dyeing the grey wool because the colors take on rich hues and a wonderful intensity.  At the same time the natural greys from the fleece are so beautiful it is difficult to bring myself to dye them!  My experiments so far have resulted in some incredible reds, intense blues, deeply complex orange and bronze, and my favorite, greens.  My next post will contain pictures of these dye samples so you don’t have to take my word for it.

Again, welcome to my blog and I look forward to posting more photos of my work!

Coming attractions – tomorrow read about icelandic sheep!

I just told my friends on facebook about my new blog, and even though the content isn’t all uploaded I hope my friends will check back and follow my efforts!

Hello world!

Welcome to the blog for jorstad creek!  For background information about the company click on the “about” button to the left of this post.

Great Steppe Fiber Project

A scoping project to establish a fiber company in Mongolia based on the principles of Fair Trade

Jorstad Creek

A yarn and fiber company.

whit::knits

(and crochets, and stitches, and is otherwise generally crafty)

The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts

Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)

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