Monday, October 31, 2011

F in the B

 Fiber in the Boro was a great success last Saturday. What a gorgeous day it was, too, with tons of color everywhere. Brain child of Jan Quarles of Daily Fibers and friends Darlene Dralus, and Meredith Kermicle of Knaughty Knitter in Murfreesboro worked their buns off to bring everybody a great show and it paid off. I heard nothing but positive remarks all around. The arena was well lit (how rare is that?) and warm (also rare), full of quality local and national vendors, outfitted with clean facilities. Food was delicious and very reasonable. All in all, a great time was had by all.

My corespinning class was too short. We all wanted to stay another hour, but it wasn't to be. Nevertheless, everyone had a happy time spinning beautiful fibers. We tailspun some of Kim and Jane Caulfield's cotswold locks (top photo) from Far Out Farms(that's Jane smiling in the second photo). Lisa Olsen of Alpaca Atlantic in Manchester provided us with some really luscious barely blended fiber, carded from several animals. So we had camel/cream, camel/charcoal/cream, and charcoal/silver/cream and every blend was labeled with the names of the animals from whom the fibers came. Carol Larsen of Rivers Edge Fiber Arts from Michigan (that's Carol at the Sidekick wheel in the 4th photo) provided the class with gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous purple blend of merino, tencel, banana and milk fiber plus 7 colors of dyed bamboo for our handblending. She also provided me with spindles to teach an inpromptu overflow class in beginning drop spindling! Thanks to everyone for their generous support.

 I heard we had an "agility llama" at the fair. This photo is of the only llama that came as far as I could tell, so hopefully this is the one and only "agility llama". Since I was teaching most of the day I didn't get around to the vendors as much as I would like. I spent some time in the Daily Fibers booth (photo #3) while she set up for her sold out wet felting class. She had one vivid and luscious array of fiber, my handdyed silk scarves, and handwoven scarves, handspun and fabulous photo note cards by Christina Consiglio of Blue Leaf Arts (who also took all these photos here). Darlene did a fantastic job of holding down the fort between the arena and the classroom and although she dropped her mini walkie talkie about a hundred times, it still worked by the end of the day.

Tons of people came and everything is in place for a repeat performance next year, so if you missed out last Saturday, remember us next October!

Saturday, October 01, 2011


 This one is for all you dog lovers out there. Ten years ago I was on the board of our uber-local animal rescue organization Sewanee Animal Rescue League. At that time we kept all the dogs in an alpaca barn that was maintained by volunteer labor, my own included. So many great dogs came to us then and almost every one of them got homes. There was a litter of 8 tiny fuzzy puppies that were nearly bald from mange. Pat and Anne dipped them for several weeks and nursed them back to health. One of my fellow volunteers fell in love with and adopted one of those pups while he was a student here at Sewanee and named him Merlin. Now Merlin is 10 and has been by Smith's side all this time through thick and thin and I have to say has heard a lot of awesome live music in his time as well. (Yay, kinda guy). Smith asked me recently if I would spin some of the "Merlfleece", a fiber in abundant supply, since Merlin grew into a 70 lb collie/shepherd/? mix with a full and luxurious coat. Of course I agreed and here's the yarn. The marled yarn is one ply Merlin, one ply gorgeous drum carded alpaca from Lisa Olsen, who separates her fleeces and processes them by hand. The dark skein is 100% that same alpaca. The yarn on the bobbin is 100% Merlin. Dog hair and alpaca can at times be nearly undistinguishable and both have the same drape and hand.

Smith followed my instructions and combed out all of Merlin's undercoat, keeping all the fibers neatly arranged. Then he gave Merlin his usual summer doo (a buzz cut) and saved that fiber as well. As I suspected, the shorn fibers were too slippery and coarse to be spun, but the undercoat was divine, very downy and extremely soft and warm. The few guard hairs that made their way into the mix will soon fall out with wear. The yarn is so soft and really gorgeous. And it smells very clean indeed.

I have to laugh at this because so many spinners just won't put dog hair through their fingers. I've even known spinners who really don't like animals all that much and certainly wouldn't touch a dirty one straight from the barnyard (you know who you are). But why put down the dog? They are domestic animals, much cleaner than their barnyard cousins as a rule (mine certainly is). Have you ever smelled a goat? Yet that's where we get cashmere. Camel? Peeeeyoo. How about silk? It's the saliva of a worm...come on! Handled properly and combed from the proper breed (or mix) of dog, doghair is a luxurious and super warm addition to the spinning stable. The smell? I took the skein to my spinning group last week and nobody guessed what it was until they had exhausted all other options. So Merlin, you have now been immortalized in a skein of handsome yarn. Attaboy!