On Monday we packed the bed of the truck full of over 20 pounds and three years worth of wool and alpaca fleece and drove to the Singleton Fiber Mill. Finally. If you've been following this blog for a couple years, you'll know that two winters ago I borrowed the carder from Breezy Willow Farm and began the process of carding our fiber. It turns out I was (and still am in a LOT of ways) a novice. Some things I learned this week that I want to remember:
- how to properly clean wool
- don't pick and card alpaca fiber before it's cleaned
- ...it will most likely end up felting if you wash it again
- fortunately, the mill makes rug yarn so if this happens to that one batch of Abe's non-washed and pre-carded fleece we have a backup plan (Phew!)
- how to skirt a fleece the right way
- never let your fleece sit around too long or it will become infested with moths and their eggs
- those eggs can be killed by washing the wool with borax
- East Freisian mixed with anything makes the wool fantastic
- Babydoll Southdown sheep like Bill Murray were bred for their down to make stuffing for pillows and quilts (...it all makes sense now!)
Anyway, Mary invited me back to the mill to learn how to spin. It turns out once you're a customer she'll give you an hour-long lesson on spinning for free. Eventually she'll teach me how to block my yarn too. Last night I got to the mill and there was a group of women ranging in age from their 20's to 50's and they were all spinning together. And drinking wine. And eating yummy food. It was basically awesome and I'm definitely going back.
It's challenging to find other ladies who want to sit around and do an old fashioned craft (like sewing a quilt or picking wool or spinning or knitting) so last night I felt like I finally discovered a social outlet that I'm going to thrive from taking part in.
I also took to spinning much better than I thought I would. I know this might sound like I'm bragging, but I'm just so proud of myself for doing something that takes coordination because I'm pretty klutzy. I've also been raising these fiber animals for years now with no actual means to make them profitable. People have asked me ever since we got them, "do you spin? do you knit? then what are you gonna do with their wool?" and I responded with "...someday..." every time. But that's all changed now!
Mary loaned me her spinning wheel for $20 which she didn't even make me pay on the spot and I'm addicted to this craft already. It's SO meditative. I've gone through three rolls of roving so far. That said, we hope to open an etsy shop in about six months to sell our homemade yarn, beeswax candles, and more. Very exciting things are on the horizon! It's all coming together!