Saturday, November 21, 2009

At the end of September, my husband and I took a trip to Northern New Mexico to attend the 2009 Taos Wool Festival and to explore the area. We spent two nights in Chimayo, the weaving center of the area, and did some hiking in Ghost Ranch (Georgia O'Keefe's home). We hiked up Box Canyon and along the way saw some old Indian sweat lodges.

We also visited the Espanola Valley Arts Center and drove up to see Tierra Wool Works. From Chimayo, we journeyed north to Taos for the wool festival. We arrived early so that I could take a two-day workshop on dyeing with native plants at the dye studio of Luisa Gelenter, owner of LaLana Wools, a beautiful little shop in Taos. Here's a view from the LaLana dye studio -- it was a glorious day.
Here, Luisa (in green) lectures some of the students. We had 14 in attendance.
Measuring out a pound of dried marigolds.
Three of our many dyepots.
This is Mary-Alice, Luisa's assistant, lecturing on indigo, ready to immerse some of our yellow snakeweek skeins from day 1 into the indigo pot to create green.
Pulling the green skeins out of the indigo pot.
Our green skeins fresh out of the indigo dye bath.
Luisa let us forage on her property for Chamisa (a bush with yellow flowers) and for leaves from her peach trees. Below, we have pulled the peach leaves out of the dye pot and the yarn is ready to go in.
Peach leave pot with yarns simmering. Amazing color!
Here are some of the skeins hanging to dry: mullein, kota (Navajo tea), black walnut, snakeweed.
Skeins dyed with walnut hulls drying on racks.
Chamisa skeins drying.
Kota (Navajo tea) produced a beautiful rusty orange.
Indian paintbrush -- a beautiful champagne color.
Black walnut, chamisa, snakeweed, indigo.

Absolutely one of the best workshops I've taken: the teachers were wonderful and all of the students worked so well together. Hope this is offered next year -- I'd love to do this again.

Saturday morning, we headed out early for the festival which is held at Kit Carson Park and we lucked out with beautiful weather. I had three destinations and I wanted to be there right when the festival opened up. The park was already full of early birds, but I managed to get everything I wanted before the crowds arrived.
First stop, Myrtle Dow's booth. I had heard she was going to have a booth this year for the first time in a while. Myrtle is a champion breeder of sheep from the Rocky Mountain areas. I bought a beautiful white Teeswater fleece -- this is a curly long wool.
Second stop was Kai Ranch Mohair (Lisa Shell) from Texas. I bought from Lisa in 2008 and, of course, wished I had gotten more from her. Her mohair is beautiful, is unbelievably nice quality, and she has an amazing color sense. I just had to stock up on Kai mohair curls and rovings. Just look at these gorgeous colors.
Like a fiber candy store. So hard to choose. I want some of each.
My third destination was the Rocky Mountain sheep breeders booth. Friends, Dawn and Mike DeFreese, from Casper, Wyoming, always bring the most beautiful fleeces. This year I bought two CVM's (California Variegated Mutant) fleeces, a white and a moorit. Just lovely.
Colorfully dyed wool all around.
The local spinning guild was there spinning.
I loved the colorful skeins of handspun mohair in this booth.
Here are a couple little kid mohair goats. Too cute!
I love the Taos Wool Festival because I see vendors there that I don't see at some of the other shows. I'm hoping to go again next year.

Since my last show on November 1st, I have immersed myself in spinning all of those rovings and fibers that I have been eyeing over the past few months while I was getting ready for shows and had little time for spinning.

On Thursday, the Winter 2009 issue of Spin Off arrived. As I flipped through it, one of the articles jumped out, hooked me and reeled me in -- Jacey Boggs' article on coiled spinning, which I read from beginning to end. After reading the article two more times, checking out the pictures, I just had to try. So today, I rummaged around in my stash of rovings and found some of my handpainted merino rovings. With Jacey's article by my side, I spun a thick and thin singles which I then plied with some silk/kid mohair laceweight from Habu Textiles. Here's my first attempt, which I think looks pretty good. And this is absolute FUN!!! Especially for a control freak fingering weight yarn spinner like me.
This is my second skein.
Yes, this is fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just a short post today to say that, after a month's hiatus, my Etsy store is back on line with lots of beautiful fibers and some of my gorgeous handspun yarns.
I'll be adding more fibers in the days to come -- some superwash blends, merino/yak, handpainted sock yarns, and some of my handknits and handwovens, which would make wonderful holiday gifts. My Etsy shop can be found at:

Also, a reminder that our spinning group will be meeting on Friday, November 20th, at Common Threads in Encinitas, from around 10:00 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. Anyone with a spinning wheel, drop spindle or even your knitting is welcome to join us.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Well, and whew!! the last fiber show of the year for Margie and me came and went yesterday -- the Torrance Fiber Fest -- hosted by the Southern California Handweavers' Assn. What a great job they do. This is an amazing one-day show with marvelous vendors. Despite dire reports on the economy, the show was literally a mob scene. It was wonderful to see so many fiber enthusiasts in the Southern California area, many who traveled distances to come to this show. We were happy to see all of the new vendors, too, as well as the regulars. Unfortunately, this is a once-a-year event, and if you missed it, you'll have to wait until next November. But, don't despair, many of the vendors have websites and can also be found on

Margie and I arrived at 6:50 a.m. and had our booth set up an hour early so she had time for a leisurely cup of tea before the rush. Once the doors opened, we were practically nonstop busy, with a lull during the fashion show. Do we ever love this show.

Both of us had many skeins of our hand-dyed and handspun yarn. Here's a rack of Margie's beautifully spun mohair with curls.
Here's some of my fingering weight handspun skeins -- lots of merino with baby camel, cashmere, silk, and other luscious fibers.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of a new item I have been making up for shows this year -- my "Pastiche", which I use to spin up "fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants" chunky novelty yarns. Every skein is a one of a kind beauty. This is a concoction of beautiful fibers like merino, cashmere, alpaca, angora, kid mohair, mohair curls and cut up commercial novelty yarns like eyelash with some glitzy angelina tossed in. It's hard to photograph the bags of Pastiche and do them justice, but here are a few. I seem to sell out every time I bring these colorful bags.

And, of course, I had the big rack of handpainted rovings at the show. Most of the hanks on this side of the rack are superwash blueface leicester wool.
And I had regular blueface leicester as well as handpainted mixed (brown/white) BFL on this side.

So, now . . . . catch my breath, take a little rest, have a few glasses of wine, do some spinning and knitting for Christmas presents, and then in a few days, I hope to get my Etsy shop back up and running. I'm also looking forward to spinning again with my friends down at the Common Threads spinning group in Encinitas and getting back to the Wednesday night knit group.