One of the best parts of spinning wool is getting to experiment with all the different breeds. There are so many! These days it’s easy to get your hands on a wide variety of breeds, plus there are many great resources of information about them. I thought this fall would be a great time to introduce some new breeds into my line of hand-dyed combed top.
If you’ve been to my booth in the last year, you have seen the basket of little wool balls next to the counter. These 1 ounce balls are great for all sorts of projects, beginner spinners, and felters alike. Initially this was a Corriedale-cross, but I didn’t have much information to give when customers asked about it. This led me to switching to Cheviot, a wool with similar texture and quality.
Another breed that has been replaced (at least for now) is the Falkland wool. While it is a very popular fiber for spinners, but I thought it was time to try something new. I had the opportunity to purchase a bump of organic Polwarth, a breed similar to Falkland and one of its contributing founders. It is incredibly soft — a characteristic that is high on the priority list for many of you. Also, I added Targhee, the first domestically grown combed top I have had the chance to purchase. I find this wool to be incredibly spongy, so it will have great elasticity and bounce. Both will be available in September at A Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, OH.
Interested in learning more about these new breeds? Read a bit about their history and distinguishing characteristics. The following information has been taken from the supplier’s website.
Cheviot Wool top is a beautiful natural white color. The micron count is between 27-33 and average staple length is approximately 4 to 5 inches. The wool top is open without being slippery making it an excellent wool for beginner spinners. Cheviot is a main British wool breed. They originated in the Cheviot Hills on the border of England and Scotland. They were referred to as the Border Cheviot and are the foundation stock for the Brecknock and the North Country Cheviots. This hardy breed can withstand harsh environments and are known for being great mothers.
Targhee is a domestically grown wool that is processed in the United States. The Targhee breed was developed at the Experimental Sheep Station in Dubois, Idaho in the mid 1900’s. The foundation stock were ewes of Rambouillet, Corriedale, and Lincoln bloodlines bred back to Rambouillet rams. Approximately 23/23.5 microns.
100% Certified Organic Polwarth Wool comes from the Falkland Islands. The wool was selected from two family farms on the islands and measures an incredible 22 microns. The fleeces were processed in the UK. Sheep that are raised organically are not subject to mulesing, and they are not dipped for pesticides. In addition, the number of sheep allowed to graze in any give pasture area is limited to the natural carrying capacity of the land. And as with most wool that comes from the Falklands, it is very white. Noted for its elasticity, durability it is still considered a delicate fiber with bounce and drape.
The Polwarth sheep was developed in Australia by breeding Merino rams to Lincoln/Merino ewes so the foundation stock is 75% Merino/25% Lincoln. The Polwarth sheep were developed to make a dual purpose sheep with a finer wool that would contribute a more significant portion of the ranchers income. They are a hearty breed of sheep that can be found in climates that are considered too wet or cold for Merino sheep. The Polwarth breed has both polled and horned sheep. The most common is the polled. They are a large sheep with a high yielding fleece (between 8 – 13 lb fleeces).
To say that businesses are always changing is obvious, and mine is no different. Since I started selling online in 2008, I have tried lots of different things, added new products, expanded, subtracted, failed, gained. All of it. Right now things are going well. I have a solid circuit of shows for the year, and I have my goods in several shops in the area. But the one place that has always fallen down is the online shop. I know there are so many people who have turned their online business into a hugely successful enterprise, but that isn’t and has never been me! Some time ago I switched from Etsy to Storenvy. Now I am eliminating the online portion all together. I feel that there are so many other popular dyers out there that it’s pointless for me to try to compete. People expect you to have an online store because it’s 2015 and who doesn’t sell online?! But when it comes down to it, they have no intention of buying anything from me. They just want to know that it’s there in case they want something sometime in the far distant future. I’m done playing around with it. I’m done feeling frustrated. I’m done putting in the work and getting nothing from it. I’m done giving people options just so they can ignore me. I have so many other things to do that this doesn’t even matter anymore.
If you want to buy my products, you can get them from the following places or find me at any of the 10-12 fiber, craft, and trunk shows I do each year.
Hand-dyed combed top
The Artful Yarn
Chagrin Falls, OH
Hand-dyed silk scarves
Savvy Chic Boutique
Hand-dyed fiber, yarn, & silks
The Shop on Liberty Street
For several years my business card has said “lessons”, which of course prompts people to ask, “You teach knitting? I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit!” And I mumble something vague in return and then nothing ever happens after that. I have never really pursued the lessons/classes aspect of knitting and spinning for a few reasons. The main reason was money and then after that things just escalate. How much to charge? Do I force them to come to my chaos house or do I waste my gas driving to them? Do we meet in some neutral middle place like a Panera? What about follow up classes? What if I can’t teach them? What if I’m actually just a bad teacher? From there I spiral into self-doubt. And inactivity.
With the new Shop in operation, I have decided to give classes a genuine effort. It provides a central space to hold them, so location is no longer a sticking point. And for some reason having that issue resolved makes me more confident to move forward with the rest of it!
We’re starting this month with Beginner Spindle Spinning Thursdays at 2 pm. Dates are July 9, 16, and 23. They will resume again in August. These afternoon classes will be $15. We will be using a Turkish spindle which you will have the option to purchase at the end of class.
Starting on August 12 I will teach Knitting Basics on Wednesdays at 10 am. We will cover casting on, binding off, knitting, and purling (time permitting). This first intro class is $15 and includes needles and yarn. Follow up instruction will be $10 per lesson. You can drop in or email me to reserve a spot (firstname.lastname@example.org).