Sunday, August 28, 2011

Traveling in Southwestern Colorado

This weekend is my road trip to Southwestern Colorado.  Even though we got a huge rainstorm in Bayfield, CO I was still able to visit the Wensleydale sheep ranch in the afternoon.  I want to thank Jim and Linda for taking time out of the very busy schedule to show me their sheep and angora goats including the babies.  They own and operate DeGoatnsheep Ranch in Bayfield, CO and are one of the rare Wensleydale sheep ranches in the West.  The animals are beautiful and coated to protect their fleece.  I have been told that they are sheared twice a year and are solely fiber animals due to their high purchase price ($1,000/animal).  The sheep originate from the UK and there are a few ranches in the U.S. that carry this breed.  Apparently one can import the sperm of the animal into the U.S. and breed it with a similar type of sheep until you can get your herd to be 90% or more pure.  Importation of animals is not allowed - go figure!  This herd is predominately white but they do have 2 dark sheep (rams I do believe).  And yes I did pick up some roving and have an idea of the fleece I want next spring.

Towards the end of my visit their billy goat made his presence known and he has the most beautiful horns.  He was quite friendly but I was a little shocked when he stood up on the fence to be seen by us as I had been at the ranch for over an hour at that point without knowing he was even there.  He is in the top picture above - those horns are very long.

Today it is off to Norwood, CO (past Telluride) to visit the Shetland sheep ranch in the area.  My son has graciously decided to travel with me today as it will be a 3+ hour road trip each way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New shop postings

I have finally started to list the creations made this summer in the Etsy shop.  I have also been playing around with photo collages as a means of expressing my journey from raw fiber/roving to yarn creations.  Love the collages but still need to work on taking better photos.  As it the summer weather is starting to cool off (below 90) I took the yarn out on the patio for photo ops.  Many came out well and gave the yarn a bit of atmosphere.

I actually bought blocking wires this month and finally blocked the scarf I made last spring.  The blocking came out very well and you can see the knupps quite well in the scarf design.  As I took photos and measurements of the finished item it is now for sale in the shop and not just hanging out in my finished bin inventory.  Wondering if photo collages would be useful in the Etsy shop or just individual photos of the process - I might try it out on a couple of the hand spun yarns.

I am still knitting away on my lace cardigan although I think there is a flaw in the instructions.  It's turning out nicely and will use up the beautiful dyed yarn I purchased in California years ago.  I still have the cotton on a spindle while the wheel is dedicated to plying some remnant singles hanging out in the stash.  I am hoping to blend some wool roving with my mohair locks at the same time this month.  I generally spin the fibers separately and then ply them together so this will be an adventure to see if I can get the 2 fibers to blend together at one time.  I am loving the center pull ball technique of plying but really want to try the Navajo 3 ply method on a yarn soon.  Perhaps the Romney locks will make a nice Navajo plied yarn or there is the red wool top fiber I can use for this experiment.  I will keep you posted on my decision in the weeks to come.

In a couple of weeks I will be doing ranch visits in Southern Colorado.  I have set up a time to visit a Wensleydale sheep ranch which I believe is the only one in the state.  They don't have any fleeces left but I can choose one for next spring when I visit.  I also will be visiting a Shetland sheep ranch in Telluride and I did see some of them at the Estes Park Wool market.  No fleeces left either but they have offered to let me choose one for next spring.  Throughout my process of spinning wool fleeces this summer these are two breeds that I really like.  The Wensleydale is a long wool but not as coarse as the Lincoln and everyone has heard of Shetland wool from its use in sweaters.  My first complex knitting project was a Shetland wool cardigan which I still wear and my first sold product was my knitted Shetland beret. 

This week is dedicated to going through the stash of hand spun yarn and listing them on the site.  Many are small yardages which means they won't make a complete item (not even gloves) but could be used to accent a project.  If they are priced right (low) I should be able to find some buyers interested in working with luxury yarns and moving them out of the stash.  The bins are getting full with hand spun yarn and they need to find new homes as I know I won't get around to making objects out of them.  I have separated them out from the other yarns and have started to sort them.  Some are singles needing to be plied which is the goal of today and they all need to be measured and have photos.  It is good to have goals and tasks to keep me focused.

I checked in with my LYS and they have sold a few of the alpaca/bamboo roving and are interested in my new items from the mill once they come in.  Very exciting to know that I can at least turn a profit on the roving end of the business.  I am waiting to hear about the items sold at the Renaissance Festival and to see what I can re list onto the Etsy site.  The soon to open yarn store may be interested in my single hanks of yarn too.  After much thought on my part I realized that I am not ready to do wholesale yarn orders.  I love playing with fibers and exploring the different fibers that exist to spin so for me to dedicate time to spinning 4 to 6 hanks of a particular breed is just not practical.  Part of the reason I am not able to spin that quantity is that I get bored easily (kinda like knitting) so once I have spun a hank of a particular breed I am on the lookout for spinning fibers of a different animal or plant. My knitting is the same way once I have mastered a pattern it is very hard to repeat it even in a different color scheme.  It still all about knowing oneself and not letting the stress level get too high.  Off to do some spinning!