Here’s a quick round-up of my Sheep and Wool week which started on Wednesday with a class!

This is Maggie Casey–here she’s spinning fiber right off of a comb. For years, I’ve ignored the lure of the spinning wheel, but somehow the impending move to Alaska made me change my mind. I signed up for Maggie’s two-day beginning spinning class, and I was hooked. Spinning is fun. Really fun. Also, learning to spin has taught me a lot about yarn, which I’m sure will inform my knitting and crochet work. Making yarn is cool–and I actually have no aspirations to make yarn for any knitting or crochet projects–I just like playing with the fiber. I liked it so much that I asked for this for mother’s day:

My New Spinning Wheel

James, being an avid cyclist, I think was partially convinced to buy it because my new toy contained an actual wheel. (When I first told him I had signed up for a spinning class, he thought I mean the exercising kind!) When I told my dad about the wheel, he said, “Wow, you’ve really gone over the edge.” I have to say I agree, but I went over happily.

I chose the Lendrum wheel after trying Maggie’s. I loved how it spun and she advised me that it was easy to care for and right for the kind of yarn I’d like to make. (On the thinner side, good for crochet).

The first day of the class we learned about carding and about preparing fleeces for spinning, then we learned about “woolen” spinning. Woolen means that while you are spinning, you let the yarn twist between your front hand (which controls the twist) and the back hand which is drafting (drawing the fibers apart. Woolen spinning is bouncy, elastic and soft. Woolen yarn is made with “carded” fiber. It’s Maggie’s favorite kind to spin. It’s good for soft things but because it’s fuzzier, woolen yarn can pill and wear–maybe not a great choice for say, socks or even fancy textured work because the stitches don’t show up as well. I liked spinning woolen too because we got to learn the “long draw” method which is a dramatic way of pulling the fiber back about an arm’s length–it’s a fast way to make lots of yarn, and it’s not as hard on your body as other methods.


The next day, we tried plying yarn. I had tried plying at home with some yarn I spun just to see if I could, in preparation for the class. In the class I found out plying is great for fixing some imperfections in your “singles” (the yarn before it’s plied)–for instance, you can possibly straighten bits of over-twist, something I do a lot as a beginner.

After plying we learned about “worsted” spinning. Worsted yarn is made from combed fiber. Maggie showed us how to use combs, and then she showed us how to comb using our carders. I loved taking a small lock of fiber and coming it, then spinning it–seems like instant gratification–you don’t have to prepare a whole skein’s worth at a time, and you can sort of “design” the yarn as you go by choosing different fibers and colors. Spinning worsted, you don’t let the yarn twist at all between your hands, and you draft the yarn by pulling forward with the front hand (the opposite of what we were doing the day before. This was a little hard for me to do after having spent so much time with the woolen spinning, but I finally got the hang of it. I especially liked spinning “over the fold” where you take a combed lock of wool and fold it over your index finger, spinning it from there. Worsted yarn is much smoother than woolen and therefore is good for cables, socks, things that require durability over softness.

Today I finally washed the yarn I made, and it’s drying in the sun. I’ll get a proper photo once my camera battery has charged.
Blocking Yarn

So, on Saturday at the festival, I spent the morning in the Cloverhill Yarn Booth where I was selling my patterns–what fun! Jolene, the new owner of the Cloverhill Yarn Shop put together a booth of *all* indie yarn dyers and spinners and invited me to sell my patterns. The booth had a great location and drew big crowds. After lunch, James and I bought the wheel, then we all went home–so I didn’t look at the booths at all. Luckily, we came back on Sunday.

Saturday night, we went to the Ravelry Party. I’ll let you read Emily‘s round-up of the party. Also, Martha has a great photoset on Flickr. (Pay special attention to the photo of Barbara after she had set her pattern on fire–only my mom thought to dunk the pattern in a drink–the rest of the folks at the table were too busy looking for their cameras so they could take a picture for their blogs!) Emily and I showed up in time to help out handing drink tickets and raffle tickets to the party-goers. My mom was a “bouncer” keeping people out of the main area until it was time to come in. The party was such fun–it was great to meet so many ravelers in person, finally.

On Sunday morning, we were exhausted, but we went on back. The weather was milder, the crowds were thinner–it was lovely. I looked at all the booths, and had a great time buying bits of fiber. I wasn’t in the market for yarn, but couldn’t resist some Savannah (a organic cotton/wool blend from the Fibre Company that was on sale).

Here’s a slide show of all my photos.
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Maryland Sheep and Wool!
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