Sunday, May 07, 2006

Maryland Sheep & Wool (Bonus: Adventures in Dyeing)

I had a great time at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday! I shopped, tried out wheels, and met Pam and Jen! I'm relying on Pam's blog for photos of the day, since her husband Kris was busy filling his camera's memory card with photos of yarn and sheep (and I was too lazy to take my camera--needed room for fiber!).

I tried out five wheels, searching for a good wheel portable enough to take on the subway to spinning guild meetings. Here are the results, in order of preference:

1. Ashford Joy DT: I loved this wheel, even though I did not expect to. The treadling was very smooth, and I was able to spin right away on it, with minimal adjustments. It's lightweight and compact, especially with the addition of a padded carrying case. I couldn't find any downsides to this wheel, and it was all I could do to leave it at the festival.

2. Lendrum DT: This was also a great wheel, and it sold me on a Woolee Winder for my Schacht. I can see why so many people love the Lendrum--it's smooth and comfortable. The only drawback is portability. For my purposes, it's just too big. I really only tried it to see if I liked the Woolee Winder, but I would definitely try it if I was looking for a wheel to keep at home or transport in a car.

3. Journey Wheel: The Journey Wheel is a very interesting concept: a wheel that works very much like a vertical charka with treadles. It folds up into its own wooden box, and a padded carrying bag is available. I liked the wheel, but something did not fit me. In addition, it's fairly expensive at $800, and the box weighs quite a bit.

4. Wee Robin: I've never spun on one of the full-size Robin wheels, but they are beautiful, and their owners seem to love them. I really wanted to love the Wee Robin, for its great design and beauty and in spite of its $900 starting price. I tried it, and it felt a bit unbalanced. I don't know if it is a problem with the floor model, which is quite possible with dozens of people spinning on it daily, or if my treadling motion doesn't work well with a wheel this small and lightweight. It is not the wheel for me, though.

5. Majacraft Little Gem: I did not get along with this wheel. If you'd asked me which of the five I expected to like most, this would be it. The tiny wheel wanted to reverse on me with no warning, and the tension had either no uptake or ripped the yarn out of my hands. After about ten minutes of fighting, I gave up.

I've decided to wait until my birthday, later this month, to buy the Joy. I think this will satisfy my wheel lust for a bit. I've really wanted to be able to spin in front of others to get feedback.

On to the purchases! I was disappointed with The Fold. Apparently no one told them of the huge cult following Socks That Rock has right now. They sold out of all their skeins in less than two hours. Sock yarn is apparently very hot right now. I bought these two skeins from Ellen's Half Pint Farm--enormous at 500 yards per skein--and they were among the last dozen or so skeins she had.

I'll be knitting booties and hats for twin girls due later this summer, then socks for myself. I think I'll have enough to get two pairs of ankle socks in addition to the baby gifts. How's that for value?

I also found some nice handpainted superwash merino roving from The Yarn Barn. Each is 4 ounces, enough for a pair of socks each. I love the colors!

I also bought quite a bit of natural-colored roving: 2 pounds of Blue-faced Leicester from Haltwhistle Fibres, 1.5 pounds of Finn from Misty Mountain Farms, and 4 ounces of gorgeous Polwarth from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. The Polwarth was a definite splurge (and was quite overpriced), but it's very special. It will become a hat or pair of mittens for me, I think.

I had been toying with the idea of buying some professional dyes, having seen so many beautiful results from other bloggers, so I bought three jars of Jacquard dyes. I dyed some of my handspun today, which will become the Roxy Lady bag. Here is the process at work:

And the finished product--in a different color, of course:

I plan to buy some other colors soon and dye some of the beautiful roving I acquired this weekend!


Trillian42 said...

I had a total blast meeting you!

Pictures will be up soon, I promise. Still recovering from the fiber hangover today. =)

LaBean said...

Haha I love you Val. It never occurred to me to use plastic hangers to hang my dyed wool. Duh. I'd been hanging it on the rungs of the air dryer above the tub and it takes much longer than if I could spread it over some hangers.

Again I'm sorry the STR crapped out on you. So, what are the two other skeins there? You really scored with the roving. But I didn't know roving came superwash. I thought the yarns were spun and THEN processed. Learn something every day!

*sigh* Wheels. I think I'll take those spindle classes at BG to get more use of the Spindle. I was thinking of getting some stuff from the Joy of Handspinning site, what do you think?

Jen said...

It was great to meet you!

I love the Ellen's Half Pint Farm skeins you got. I nabbed a couple of small skeins of sock yarn, and already know that next year, I need to go check them out earlier in the day, before they're quite so picked over.

Have fun with all your roving!

weaselrina said...

The Ellen's Half Pint Farm skein's are beautiful - particularly the one on top.

I'm def. going next year!