Sunday, June 10, 2012

Merino fleece from Nebo Rock Textiles
Falling Off the Fiber Wagon

     The first two Saturdays in June are normally the two big spinners' picnics in Northern California. I went to both this year (I think I missed both last year), and came home with some unexpected purchases.
     The first of the spinners' picnics was the 12th Spinning at the Winery, organized by the Treadles to Threads guild in the Martinez/Concord/Walnut Creek area. The picnic is held at the Retzlaff Winery in Livermore, under the trees in their picnic area. Lots of shade, soft green grass under foot, an overwhelming potluck lunch, and lots of shopping are the hallmarks of this very popular picnic. This year was no exception: nearly 200 spinners came to spin, eat, talk, and shop. I was doing pretty well--I found a darling little Turkish spindle to add to my collection of drop spindles that I don't use--and then I walked by Nebo Rock Textile's booth full of beautiful merino fleeces. No, I really don't need another merino fleece: I already have 4 1/2 pounds of black merino pindraft that was a Nebo Rock fleece several years ago, and another 4 pounds of silver Nebo Rock merino that is still waiting for me to comb or card it. On the other hand, I don't have any white merino, and there was a beautiful 4 1/2-pound white merino, just waiting for me to buy it. I resisted mightily for several hours, but finally succumbed to the lure of beautiful white locks and pulled out my checkbook. Once the fleece was mine, I walked it across the picnic area to Morro Fleece Works' booth, just stopping long enough to put my contact information and the instructions "Take to pin-draft." on the back of the sales card, before handing it to Shari. This fleece is off to be professionally washed, carded, and turned into luscious pin-draft, and won't be back in my hands for 4 to 5 months, so I can focus on spinning some of what I already have.
     The second spinners' picnic was yesterday at Westside Farm, on the bank of the Russian River west of Windsor. This one, put on by Sonoma County Fiber Trails, is smaller but frequently features smaller woolgrowers than are normally found at the larger fiber festivals. Again, it was well-attended, with an abundant potluck buffet of salads and desserts, and the shopping was prime. I spent most of the day focusing on turning some dyed Romeldale top into a fine single, but took a break to check out was was available. Sue Gustafson of Four Oaks Farm was there with some nice blue-faced Leicester (BFL) fleeces at an excellent price. How could I resist? After all, a BFL is a little sheep that produces a little (2 1/2 pound) fleece, and I had just finished spinning a fleece, so I have room for another fleece to take its place. I'll process the BFL myself: I want to separate out the locks for washing and dyeing different colors, then I'll comb and color blend the locks for a beautiful yarn.
BFL Fleece from Four Oaks Farm
     I've been very good about not buying fleeces: the last time I purchased a fleece was in 2010. I do have an awful lot stashed, but I'm making progress on turning it into yarn so I think I can withstand falling off the fiber wagon once or twice.