Archive for February, 2011

Three Bags Full

Just because Carrie asked for it, here’s the lowdown on my fiber purchases at the Madrona Fiber Retreat this year.

My most cherished purchased was three bags of raw fleece from Maxine at Island Fibers. These sheep are of mixed heritage (a little rambouillet, suffolk and something else). I was attracted to delicate crimp and long staple length. There is eight pounds of pungent wool between the three bags. Riding around in the car for two days after Madrona, my children kept asking why I left the farm animals loose in the car.

I spent a couple of hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week felting up a big patch of grey/brown fleece. With my children out from school for mid-winter break, I had just a few hours per day to spend immersed in fiber while they swam at our local pool. Finessing my process with the raw fleece has been tops on my to-do list for a while, but I had to wait to put my hands on some more Lopez Island sheep.

The merino base measures about 18″ square, though you wouldn’t know it from the length of the fibers growing every which way. Hanging on the newel post, this blob reminds me of Jim Henson’s Animal. As always, the fibers are incredibly soft once washed and the veggie matter is removed.

Additional fiber purchases included handpainted 50%merino/50%bombyx silk blended roving and pure bombyx silk roving from Blue Moon Fiber Arts,

handpainted 80% merino/20%tussah silk roving from Wolf Creek Wools,

handpainted 80%merino/20% tussah silk roving from Dicentra Designs,

more handpainted 80%merino/20% tussah silk roving from Dicentra Designs,

handpainted tussah silk roving from Dicentra Designs,

handpainted tussah silk roving from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks,

50% merino/50% tencel handpainted roving from BJS Fiber Creations,

and two 8oz balls of Potluck Roving, a blend of wool fiber (around 24 micron) from domestic sheep breeds carded and dyed in Ferndale, WA.

Purchases aside, spending time at Madrona is the highlight of my year. I’m not doing a lot of knitting these days, preferring to immerse myself in a good book most evenings, and spending my days felting at the studio. But give me a chair, a cup of tea and circle of knitting friends I’ve known through births, deaths, divorces, marriages, employment and unemployment and I can’t imagine anything else I’d rather do for a weekend. This year I made the acquaintance of a fascinating woman, a filmmaker not a knitter, who came to Madrona to collect stories of women and their creations. What moves us to create the things we do? What does this practice bring to our lives? I can tell you that it brings me serenity, satisfaction and best of all, the company of a fine group of ladies. Here’s to the Special K knitters, and Mary Harris of the Fiber Gallery who gave us a place to come together. Clink, clink, clink!

Fiber For Sale

Attention all NW fiber fanatics: there is gorgeous fiber to be had this weekend at the annual Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, held at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma.

For the last few years, I’ve loaded up at the marketplace, carrying off more bags than two arms can hold. Among the treasures I’ve bought are hanks of handpainted merino roving, naturally dyed blue-faced leicester, and a very springy targhee roving. There are luxurious blended rovings made with combinations of  merino and bamboo, merino and silk or tencel. Don’t forget silk roving, silk hankies and silk caps, ingeo (corn fiber), casein (milk) fiber and soy silk. Regardless of whether the vendors have an online store, this is a rare opportunity to see and touch fibers in shades more subtle or more vibrant than your computer screen can convey.

In addition to handpainted roving, there are booths full of yarn both independently and commercially produced. There is always a large cohort of spinners relaxing in the rotunda and numerous vendors willing to demonstrate how to perfect your spin on a drop spindle. If you would rather just sit and knit, there is always room for that too. I hope to see you there!


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