Click to Enlarge: Kromski from Poland, Ashford Traditional from New Zealand (one finished by my dad and one tole painted with sheep, Louet Wheel and Drop Spindle from Holland and a Country Craftsman from the U.S. (demonstrating at the Monroe House)
The Sheep-to-Shawl team of the Hangtown Fibers Guild competes at events. Six ladies spin the weft yarn, to be woven on a warped loom. They generally have about 4 hours to complete the shawl, including the twisted fringe. Here are three winning shawls from the HFG team!
We take several fleeces to the El Dorado County Fair each year. It's fun to win some ribbons and recognition. Winning sheep get rewarded with grain for their success. Here is Wensley's first place fleece with a six-inch lock pulled out for good measure.
Here is Southie getting ready for bikini season. It's like a discotheque when they hit the pasture freshly shorn. Every one is checking each other out trying to figure out who they know and who's new on the scene.
My dad is the most awesome craftsman I know! He took the measurements of a borrowed Inkle Loom and created two beautiful replicas for the girls' b-day presents, that are more sound and versatile than the original. Hopefully he'll get around to drafting the plans for sale on this site in the future.
An inkle loom is used to make straps, belts, leads, decorative trim, etc. The girls will use their looms to demonstrate weaving in Coloma. Here is one of the looms warped with cotton thread from Daiso, to make multiple pairs of shoe laces. We ordered heat-shrink plastic on-line for the ends.
A colorful tam (hat) I knitted from sock yarn. I used the leftover yarn to weave a table runner (below).
I made this sheep sweater from alpaca yarn I bought at Stiches West.
A variegated shawl I knitted from a pattern I picked up in Tahoe.
Click to Enlarge: The first three skeins on the left were mostly dyed with Kool-Aid. The last two were from a multi-colored top (roving) I bought in Alaska. The yellow and purple fiber were dyed with synthetic dyes and they are the first skeins of yarn made by my daughters - artsy! The last picture shows man-made colors next to natural ones made by a black/white Jacob and various alpaca browns & black.
Calling all math wiz's, here is a job for you. Warping a loom requires patience, time and perseverance. The weaving part is easier than the warping. My Gilmore loom below is warped for dish towels that I will eventually get to do. The loom was built the year I was born & we're both going strong since '69.
Washing a fleece is called scouring. I use a top load washing machine for most whole fleeces, or wash by hand in the sink for small batches, or to maintain individual locks. For fun and demo, we heated water over an open fire on the beach for a hip old fashioned way to scour.
Sheep have been growing their wool all year long and are shorn once a year in the spring. It's a win/win because they are ready to get rid of the thick wool that kept them warm all winter and we are have no problem using their hand-me-downs.
Using the sock yarn leftover from the tam, I spun some brown sheep wool and wove them in various patterns on a white cotton warp. I used a borrowed Leclerc table loom to weave the runner as it was my first project. I wanted to make a runner to sit on top of a bookcase that displays the multiple Japanese Temari balls I made after taking classes with Robin at Kelsey's Needle Krafts in Placerville.
The table runner I wove, and Temari ball collection I sewed, sit on top of a bookseller shelf in our bedroom (along with a Rien kabouter). We bought the incredible woven tapestry during a visit to my favorite city in the world, Bruges, Belgium. It is a weaving of a French painting that depicts Spring and Summer on a sheep farm. We hope to get the Autumn/Winter tapestry on a future visit. Bruges excels in tapestry, lace, diamonds and beer - it doesn't get better than that in our opinion!
Carding or combing the scoured wool gets the individual fibers lined up and ready for spinning. I primarily use a Schact drum carder to create batts for spinning. There's no limit on types or colors you can blend together on a drum carder - see Build-A-Batt for more info.
A niddy noddy is a nifty tool to wind finished yarn off of the bobbin. Winding in an infinity type movement results in a large circle of yarn that can be twisted into a hank. Hanks can then be placed onto swifts to be wound on a ball winder - my fiber room should be called a tool shed instead.
Spinning a prepared batt, roving or lock creates a single-ply yarn on one bobbin. You can put two single-ply bobbins onto a Lazy Kate (stupid name?) and spin the threads together in the opposite direction. This creates a nice balanced two-ply yarn.