Archive for the ‘Wool’ Category

Keep on Yurtin!
February 14, 2011

It has been so quiet on the yurt efforts I was getting a little sad but then, just a little while ago, I got the best blog comment of all from Jennifer of Fiber Dreams. Some of the wool was done and I could come pick it up! I ran right up to NH that weekend and dragged Mary and Laurel along to get the wool. 17 pounds is now clean and made with a blend of mostly Dorset with about 4 oz of Icelandic per pound! It’s so beautiful – just like a big wooly cloud!

Now while that might look like a lot of batts this is JUST the beginning, there are hundreds of more pounds to go but this should allow me to make roughly 170 feet of 2.5 inch diameter cord – not a bad start!

August 12, 2010

I’m sure you have all been wondering, where’s the yurt?! Well, we’re making progress. The biggest issue we have is that we’re working with two different kinds of wool and we’re blending them to try to make the most felty combination. In order to do that we need to do some trials!

Those are each bags of one kind of wool, either Dorset or Icelandic. As you can see they’re much cleaner than they were a few weeks ago! That’s because Jennifer over at Fiber Dreams in Temple, NH gave them all a good washing. The Icelandic turned out to have quite a bit of lustre to it, it’s very pretty! I really was shocked at how white they all came out.

We took that washed wool and laid out some Icelandic and some Dorset on the conveyor belt going into the picker. The picker then got out some more of the vegetative matter and fluffed it all up a lot. The funniest part about the picker is that it throws the wool into a room behind it that just looks like it has clouds blowing through it!

That is wool, post-picker, just laying on the floor after it flew through the air. We then sprayed it with water and conditioner so that it was ready for the carder, a huge machine with tons of rollers in it.

The image above is of the backside of the picker, that’s where the wool flies through into the room. I’m not sure if you can tell but there are some gnarly teeth on that roller!

Once the wool was well conditioned we laid it out on the conveyor belt into the carder, which is a slow machine that rolls the wool around in it 16 times and gets out more debris. Once it goes through this process it’s as good as it’s going to get for my purposes. This machine spits out batts onto a roller at the end.

This is the backside of the carder, you can see towards the bottom the thin mesh of wool, that’s how it comes out of the machine and laid onto the batt.

The big white ball at the bottom is the batt itself! It’s ready for felting and, though it looks huge, that’s only ONE pound of wool…and I have hundreds. It took Jennifer and I about 90 minutes to measure, pick and card 2 pounds so for this project patience is a virtue! I’m having a bunch of people to NH this weekend and we’re going to play around with which version is feltier. Once we know we’ll have the rest of the wool done with that ratio of Dorset to Icelandic and get going on the yurt!

These cuties were standing by watching me leave, bahhing up a storm! So cute I had to take a pic, they are so fluffy in their coats!

The Wool is Clean…sort of
June 9, 2010

Great progress was made on the yurt this Memorial Day! I took out all three HUGE bags of Dorset from the barn, set up a ramshackle skirting table and voila — we got to work. We listened to some good tunes and while my mom and dad tried to stay away and not help me at all they could resist. It was a team effort to get it all done before the rain rolled in!

That’s mom — and that’s one HUGE sheared sheep! It was the most wool I’d ever seen all connected together at once, that guy must have been a little fatty. Some of the wool was very clean and some of it was gnarly and had tons of hay in it. I tried my hardest to get the hay out but sometimes it was just too bad. I’m new to skirting so I wasn’t sure how much to remove but I think I got all the really bad stuff.

Look at that big pile of cleanish wool! We used the table to skirt, letting detritus fall below and then tossed the clean ones onto a tarp in the driveway. Needless to say, I got a little sunburned. It went quickly but not super fast.

Look how happy I am! That’s over 150 pounds of Dorset wool that’s going to soon be blended with our Icelandic! More to come, this is just the beginning!

New Little Friend
May 21, 2010

May has flown by in a hurry and I’ve had my hands full of crochet hooks! I also celebrated my 26th birthday this week and while I have lots to share with everyone — the number one thing is that my parents got me a little French vintage sheep toy that is too cute!

Look at that cutie! I haven’t decided on a name yet but I do love him to death already.

Massachusetts Sheepshearing Festival
April 28, 2010

This past weekend, back in Boston obviously, was the Massachusetts Sheepshearing Festival out in Waltham at Gore Place. Similar to the recent Woolapalooza event there were sheepshearing demonstrations of both the electic and old-school variety. There were also sheep — everywhere!

Look how cute that little guy is after he got his haircut! It’s interesting because some people I’ve met in the yurt process don’t know that sheepshearing in fact doesn’t hurt the sheep — they are just getting their hair shorn off and given the timing of the shearings it’s pretty in keeping with them needing to cool off in the summer time.

The gray ones are pre-shearing and the white ones are post-shearing and, look, they’re all okay!

As some of you will notice this is the same sheep shearer as was at Woolapalooza — he is awesome. He works so fast but is very delicate with the sheep and very calm, they don’t resist whatsoever, I think they kind of like it.

There were also Alpacas, baby goats, little lambs, etc. It was a very animal-centric day!

And look at all that beautiful roving! It was all I could do to not steal it…though with those colors I’m sure I would have been caught. We also saw a neat sheepherding demonstration but I think the puppies were tired by the time we got to them! Overall the whole day was great, it was gorgeous out here in Boston and it was great to spend a day with my mom and dad again! My dad even bought me, for my upcoming birthday, a “piggie bank” that is actually a “sheepie bank” — it’s so cute!

March 28, 2010

Yesterday, Cady (yurtern), my friend Leah and I went to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to attend their annual Woolapalooza — an educational day all about wool, how it gets from animal to sweater, and more. We met some cute sheep, some new lambs, and saw live shearing and skirting too!

This guy was an awesome shearer with those old school scissors — no buzzer here!

Pre-haircut and post-haircut from left to right.

I love lambing season — they are the cutest and so soft and little. These guys had a heatlamp to keep them warm on an unreasonably cold day!

As these guys weren’t the stars of the show they took a time out to nap — synchronized napping is clearly their sport 🙂

Cady and Leah bundled up for the day!

These goats were also in sync as they watched the shearing from afar. I bet they were happy they weren’t getting their haircut while 100s of people watched! All in all it was an awesome Saturday — there were little shops in the horse stalls that I got a beautiful scarf at and we got to scope out some angora bunnies too along with other little rodents in the Drumhill Farm Underground habitat. Last but not least they were serving locally sourced chili, amazing cookies and cocoa — the families attending were all very excited!

National Crochet Month
March 2, 2010

I feel good about my commitment to National Crochet Month as I’ll be spending most of my free time crocheting away in the land of mini-yurts but more importantly I didn’t know that it was National Crochet Month until today sadly — thanks be to Molly Made for my crochet-ucation!

The Crochet Guild of America, which I need to join asap, is having a Crochet Along all month this month so I’m excited to a) join and b) use my mini yurt project as my project of choice and hopefully revel in the inspiration and support of other crocheters all through the month! Perhaps I’ll host a Crochet Along party — anyone in Boston interested?

Heaven is a Cold Day at the Farm
February 8, 2010

Yesterday my mom and I ventured up to Marlow, NH to Mack Hill Farm as I wrote about last week. We were wholey underprepared for the awesomeness that is Lisa’s farm but wow were we happily surprised. After getting lost trying to find the farm we pulled into Lisa and Frank’s driveway to see a pile of pigs — literally a pile.

I have used the phrase pig pile a lot in my 25 years but to see a steaming pile of the biggest pigs I’d ever been near was something else — welcome to Mack Hill Farm indeed! We had seen about 4 other species of animals before we stopped the car, beautiful turkeys, roosters, dogs, and sheep too of course.

When we tallied it up Lisa is singlehandedly caring for about 130 animals. Her Icelandic Sheepdogs had seven puppies just the other day! She has two horses, Prince (above) and Pearl, 50ish chickens, two cows, 30 sheep, turkeys, pigs — everything you can imagine. The best part is that Lisa is so good to her animals, taking the time to talk with each of them everyday and connect with them. They flocked (no pun intended) to her no matter where we went. That socialization was so wonderful — when the pig would walk right up and shove his snout in my back or the turkey would try to preen the flap on my boots or George, the sweetest of all the sheep, just wanted a hug. This is a farm and yet the temperment of the animals is one that allows them to help Lisa as much as possible.

Look how cute they are! I had never seen pigs this color before, Lisa has named them all largely out of the Harry Potter books, which is awesome. They are so sweet, will come right up and nuzzle you — a little scary as they’re HUGE but so so wonderful that they’re not afraid!

Now the part that you’re all anxiously awaiting I’m sure. The sheep! Lisa has about 30 Icelandic Sheep, which I know I mentioned are known to be the Triple Threat of sheep. Their fleeces are the feltiest and are so soft. In addition they’re low in lanolin so the loss is less on their fleeces. They were gorgeous, everything I’d hoped they’d be.

They were so friendly that I just fell in love. Lisa scattered a tiny bit of grain on the ground and there they came, hanging out with us for as long as we’d let them. We learned about their relationship with Maggie the big dog, who was the boss of the sheep from the sheep perspective and so on. We learned about how George goes off on “dates” with area sheep (read between the lines here folks) because he’s just that good.

Some are beautiful and reddish, with names like Miguel and Selina. Some are dark greyish black like George and others are creamy and beautiful. It’s so funny, clearly some of the sheep are the princesses of the group having kept their coats cleaner than the rest, regardless they were wonderful to be around. They didn’t seem to mind us and we knew these were the sheep for our yurt!

We went inside for tea and snacks, totally unecessary but so so welcome, and talked wool. Lisa has about 180 pounds we think. The next shearing is going to be in April and we’ve committed to take that too. Lisa’s husband Frank is even going to skirt it for us, which is awesome as that’s been the bottleneck thus far in the process as we learn what we’re doing. So now I can sleep at night again, we have ALL the wool for the yurt I think — I’m going to check my math but the idea of locally sourcing all of the wool has become a reality and in the process I’ve made an amazing new friend.

Peabody Essex Museum
February 5, 2010

At the Peabody Essex Museum yesterday we saw some amazing woolly pieces I had to share. We drove up there around lunch time to see the Iris Apfel exhibit before it closed this weekend — which was a great decision, her clothing and style is inspirational! The museum had organized the exhibit into five theme rooms one of which had to do with outfits for winter weather. It wasn’t my favorite of the five but it did have the wonderful coat below.

How wonderful is that big woolly coat? Honestly, it looked like roving that was lightly felted and sewn into a jacket…I imagine there was more to it but I have no idea. So beautiful! We also went to another exhibit that was up, Trash Menagerie, which was all artwork made out of trash/recycled materials and low and behold I was able to see one of my favorite sculptors, Michelle Lougee’s work up close! She appears to also be making very similar amoebic mini-yurt-esque wall art pieces but out of knit or crochet plastic bags, both black and white — they’re amazing!

What a great day! Now up to NH to work on the yurt!

Mack Hill Farm
February 1, 2010

The Yurt Alert has done it again — helping me make woolly connections left and right! Last week I began emailing with Lisa over at Mack Hill Farm in Marlow, NH. Turns out she has wonderfully fluffy, amazing Icelandic Sheepies whose wool she is willing to share for the yurt project! I studied up on the breed and they will be totally felty for the project! I’m so excited to meet them this weekend.

How good looking are they!?! If you want to learn more about the breed I advise checking out Lisa’s website or the Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America page. They have milk, meat, soft wool, and they look nice too! More to come after I meet with these little guys!