Thursday, June 12, 2008

I like to buy raw fiber from small family farms. That way, I know they treat their animals well and the animals aren't in a factory farmed situation. The downside to buying raw fleeces from small farms is the additional time/cost in processing it to get it ready for spinning. If I'm trying to make things to sell, even if I price myself at $3/hr, hand-processed, hand-dyed, hand-spun and handknit gloves quickly become prohibitively expensive (even if made on my knitting machine which is faster than handknitting, but still takes a while and lots of elbow grease). Though I definitely feel the extra time and cost of farm-fresh fleeces are worth it to support small family farms, occasionally my brain turns off and my bad little fingers can't resist a bargain and point and click away.

That's my excuse for the past few weeks. Or my other excuse is that I'm trying to be a patriotic all-consuming American and support the economy by spending lots of money instead of saving it. At any rate, I got a bunch of mill ends roving: a merino/cashmere/nylon mix and a merino/seacell mix. I also bought some bombyx silk roving (my silkworms don't produce enough to sell).

Finally, from Town and Country Llamas (which at least is a family farm even if they didn't raise all the animals producing this fiber) I got this:

Silk-seacell batt (seacell is made from seaweed--which is purported to have many health benefits, and lyocell--an environmentally friendly wood pulp fiber)

and this:
Bamboo for blending when I get a drum carder. Or I suppose I could make a hackle and blend it that way.

and this:
I'm spinning these llama-merino-seacell batts into thin singles
then making a fingerweight three-ply yarn which should be fantastic for gloves.

If I want to sell handspun at a decent price while actually making more than a few cents an hour, I should make thicker art yarn, but I really like spinning fine yarns and most of the fiber I buy likes being spun fine, so who am I to argue? For myself, I've also been spinning some alpaca/silk roving I got a while ago at Lambtown from Carolina Homespun.

The photo doesn't do justice to the softness and shine of this yarn, but it is pretty luxurious and along with some cashmere/silk and camel/silk will be knit up into a lace hoodie like the one in Interweave Knits Spring 2008. I may actually follow their pattern. (I can follow patterns, I swear. And I won't change it much. Maybe just a little. So it can be knit circular. And maybe a different stitch pattern along with a slow color change so it feels more mine. But it'll still be the same design; she did a great job designing it, why change it?)

When not spinning, I've been weaving.
Made a set of dishtowels a wedding present. My math calculation was a bit off, so I got two matching towels instead of four, but coupled with some other goodies, that should be fine.

The two photos above show how huck fabric changes when taken off the loom. The tightly tensioned threads relax and the fabric texture comes out. The photos below show some of the other huck patterns I used. The huck structures are from an Handwoven article. I made up the colored overshot borders.

Meanwhile, in our eat more local month, we harvested the potatoes from my backyard (the ones that weren't in the wine barrel that was taken and apparently dumped by my ex-housemate who came back to get the wine barrel to build a garden where he's now living. Despite being a gardener, somehow he failed to recognize they were potato plants and once he realized it, he didn't think that maybe we'd be a little upset that he took them without asking, nor did he think to harvest the potatoes and save them for us or even eat them himself. We had a bunch of fingerlings in that one too. Sadness.)
The paltry potatoes that didn't escape

At any rate, with Aaron tired of potatoes and onions and garlic and zucchini for dinner every night, I decided to make a quiche. With potatoes and onions and garlic and zucchini. (And eggs and cheese. Makes all the the difference you know.) Ran into a few folks at the Co-op so got back too late to make a full on quiche, hence this local almost-quiche. Instead of a delicious yummy crispy mashed potato crust, we simply layered thin sliced potatoes on the bottom of the pan, topped 'em with grated cheddar (yay for Clover being local and affordable...the other local cheddar I located at the Co-op was a little out of my price range to be grated en masse in quiche-like creation. I'll have to check the farmer's market cheese selection Saturday.) and then added our stir-fried zucchini, onion, garlic yum and topped it all with some farmer's market eggs mixed with Straus milk (really the best local dairy if you're in Northern California, sorry Clover).
The result was so yummy we had to eat it before we could take a picture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, we are a family run alpaca farm and have lots of raw fiber for sale if you need some. To contact us, visit our farm website at