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Feel Good Scarf

Earlier this summer, a couple of our Fiber CSA members and I decided to form a team and participate in the World’s Longest Scarf project — a fundraiser hatched by Keep the Fleece to benefit Heifer International. 

I’m a newbie knitter but I love the idea of raising money for Heifer and I thought hey! it’s a scarf — just 9 inches wide…how difficult could that be?  Well, after I don’t know how many (wa-a-ay too many) attempts at casting on for a gauge swatch, I finally managed to determine the number of stitches needed for those 9 inches.  The lovely yarn I’d started with was a fuzzy mess of fiber after the abuse I’d put it through.  Reluctantly, I cut it from the skein…I cut it from the skein…OMG, I cut it from the skein!  Do knitters do this all the time and I’m feeling sick about it because it’s my first time?  This spinner does not cut pieces from the skein…I felt very strange, very not good.  I tossed it in the trash basket…too much time had been wasted on this casting on business.  I celebrated the casting on success briefly and then reality set in…I’d now have to cast on again!   A few deep breaths, a few sips of the vino…40 stitches cast on.  And I have to say, there were hardly any lumps or hanging loops this time!  Now, if I can just remember what I did for the next time.

One thing I learned during all this…there are many ways to cast on and every knitter has a favorite “all around useful method.”  I know this because every call I made for help yielded another method of casting on!  I won’t even go into all the “specialty” cast ons I was told about.  I don’t have a favorite.  At this point, getting the right number of stitches onto a needle is a miracle and any way that works is fine with me!  

Our CSA Scarf Team's piece before I packed it up for its trip across country.  The black folder is the "Journal" that goes along for the ride.  And don't you love those cute needles -- they're from Peace Fleece.  I bought them from Nina at Ruit Farm dot com.

Our CSA Scarf Team's piece before I packed it up for its trip across country. The black folder is the "Journal" that goes along for the ride. And don't you love those cute needles -- they're from Peace Fleece. I bought them from Nina at Ruit Farm dot com.

SO…After struggling to get started, knits and purls were a piece of cake and loads of  fun!  I put some rows on, rounded up a couple of very generous sponsors for even more rows and then sent the scarf on its way to visit with the other team members…

I’ve now heard from one of our CSA shareholders that the scarf has arrived in CA and she’s begun knitting on it.  She’ll pass it along to another CSA shareholder — also in CA — and then it’ll come back here.  After it’s been blocked, I’ll send it off to be joined to the many other scarves being sent in by other teams.  The World’s Longest Scarf will be unveiled at the NY State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck on October 17th.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it all put together!  And I hope that it’ll raise lots & lots of $$… and awareness.  Heifer will use this  money to help people all over the world begin fiber flocks of their own and provide them with support until they learn the ropes.

Contributing to this feels good…

Fiber CSA Send Off…YAY!!

In the last week, the studio has been taken over by boxes of fiber arriving from the mill.  I’m not complaining — anything fiber is a good thing!  It’s been fun weighing the roving and packing it into bags for our shareholders.  The yarn shares took far less time to label and pack  but were equally as fun to do.  All I can say is YUM!  I’m so excited to be sending off our first CSA shares and am so very grateful to all who took the plunge in our first year!  Here’s a peek…

Don't want to spoil the surprise but...

yarn and roving for CSA shareholdrers

 

This corner of the studio became the packing area.
This corner of the studio became the packing area.

   

Waiting…

In any “normal” shepherding year, we’re very done waiting by now.  I mean, the waiting for lambs to arrive.  There’s that anticipation — that butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of excitement — associated with lambing…until the flood of lambs begins.  I kind of feel that way now as I wait for the flood of boxes filled with fiber to arrive from the mill.  I know it’ll be wonderful and in my mind, I can see the lustre of the natural colors as I open the boxes.  I know what went into the boxes that went to the mill…it’s all good!  Can’t wait to send off the CSA shares!

Soaking the yarn for awhile assures good color saturation. Of course, this means waiting, too!

Soaking the yarn for awhile assures good color saturation. Of course, this means waiting, too!

Is it obvious that I’m about to jump out of my skin with anticipation — or maybe I’m just impatient?!   I have to DO something…bring out the dyes!  No bubbling dyepots.  I need mind & hands-on work so painting is a good choice.  There’s thought involved but  it’s almost instantly gratifying.  And just about every batch I paint sends me to another color place…fun!

These are the many bottles and jars of dye stock solutions I can play with. From these I can mix new colors, adjust depth of shade or just use the color as is.  The possibilities seem endless!

These are the many bottles and jars of dye stock solutions I can play with. From these I can mix new colors, adjust depth of shade or just use the color as is. The possibilities seem endless!

A little color here and there...pretty skeins!

A little color here and there...pretty skeins!

News of Maryland

Here it is Friday and I’m finally sitting down to write about Maryland.  I haven’t a clue where the week has gone and on top of that, I just realized that two posts I did before I left weren’t published…ugh…guess I must’ve been more panicked than I thought!

Because I spend far too much time obsessing about the weather, I’ll sum up the festival weather report in one word — WET! — and now we can move on to more enjoyable topics.

The ACR booth was well stocked with glorious Coopworth fiber and I really had to work at not buying one of everything.

Deb, Kris & Nina at the ACR booth.

Deb, Kris & Nina at the ACR booth.

What I did come home with was a couple of small bags of dyed roving (Martha M) and a sweet needle felted sheep (Deb M) for my collection.  I really wanted to bring home a few of Kris B‘s handmade sheep cards but never got around to choosing which ones…good thing I know how to find her!   At other booths I found some lovely yarn for a Lynne Vogel pattern that I really like, a skein of small farm (Suffolk/Dorset) sock yarn from Solitude — love what they’re doing for their local wool growers — and some dyes to play with.  At Spinner’s Hill, I found a pair of socks I couldn’t leave behind and at Kiparoo Wool,  a pair of fingerless mitts for Jim.  I know…I could knit these but the fact is that I probably wouldn’t so…now he has a pair. In my wanderings, I ran into old friends and chatted with total stangers while waiting in various lines.  I stuffed myself full of fresh squeezed lemonade, leg of lamb sandwiches and kettle corn and fell into bed on Saturday night after a dinner of a few slices of cheddar cheese, a handful of peanut M&M’s and a half glass of wine…exhausted!

We tried to get some enthusiasm for the World’s Longest Scarf project going at the booth but it was difficult — the weather kept us from being able to set up a comfy spot for people to rest their bones while knitting a row or two.

World's Longest Scarf project @ MDS&W 2009

This young lady is knitting a row on the World's Longest Scarf. This is the first fiber festival she's ever been to. What a great memory for her to take home!

Between showers, we managed to get a few people to knit a bit, tho.  What’s this Longest Scarf thing?  As part of the celebration of the International Year of Natural Fibres, teams around the world will knit sections of the World’s Longest Scarf that will all be joined together at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival Oct. 17-18, 2009.  The goal is to raise $250,000.00 that Heifer Intenational will use to donate fleece-bearing animals of all kinds to needy families all around the world.  Heifer not only donates the animals, but provides the necessary training so that the families can nurture and grow their herds and become self-sufficient.  www.heifer.org  The money will be raised by donation of $1.00 per row knitted/crocheted or  $10.00 per inch woven/felted.

 

Letty showed us what to check for.

Letty showed us what to check for.

At the ACR’s annual meeting on Saturday night, we talked about all the usual stuff but the best part was a Conformation Clinic that Martha arranged with Letty Klein.  We went into the sheep barns where we were able to get some hands on experience. Letty was delightful and so knowledgeable.  I learned some new points and have been looking at my sheep in a whole new way!

More Festival news coming soon…

 

Approaching Panic Mode

Our breed registry, ACR, has a co-operative retail booth at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and we’ve signed up to contribute product.  I’ve been washing assorted fleece for our “Flicking Kits.”

drying natural colored locks

drying natural colored locks

Each kit includes 6 ounces of clean locks of many natural colors, a little dog comb and instructions on how to flick and spin the locks.  This is such an easy way to make a randomly colored yarn and it’s fun, too!  Great for overdyeing, too…

I’m also taking some of our new notecards and a few Hatchtown spindle kits along with the usual roving and yarn.  I can’t wait to see all the goodies the other members are bringing!  This will be the ACR’s first experience in an outside space and the smaller size (10 X10) tent.  Nina and I are loaning the ACR our newly acquired EZ Up and Jim designed a really cool banner for us.

The ACR has a new banner!

The ACR has a new banner!