A lot has been going on in the mill which is why not a lot has been going on here. So now I'll catch you up...
First, merino on the spinner. I decided to make this a personal challenge and see if I could get to a 3-ply fingering weight. This is more challenging because each single yarn must be spun thinner and with the right twist, too tight the yarn will feel less luscious and too loose the yarn will break. True to form merino, a very fine wool, added its own challenge to the mix. Getting the lead from the bobbin to attach to the roving proved a challenge. As you can see by the pictures, the floor by the spinner got more full of discarded wool as the day went on. Remember I am very much learning as I go and this was no exception. So after several times of the yarn breaking once I would get the bobbin going, my handspinner brain finally clicked...aaah, you aren't putting enough twist in the yarn so it is breaking. Why it sometimes takes so long to figure this out, I'm not sure? And I certainly hope that as I progress at this my brain will go thru a checklist of possibilities. I'm sure it will as it already does a million times more than when I first started spinning. At any rate, once I figured it out we were rolling and I managed to do what I had hoped but have yet been able to do...just let the spinner run! 800 yards of 6 single strand yarns smooth as butter. I did have 2 breaks, the machine stops spinning when it senses that, no big deal on this day. I was able to reattach the yarns without a big kerfluffle. Wahoo!!! They plyed up like a dream and I am thrilled with the outcome. They are soft and beautiful with plenty of life left in them.
In addition our new yarn tags came in this week. A picture of them is posted. Love!!!
And finally today on the farm we moved the ram lambs. They are down the road at the beautiful old original homestead that our street is named after. They are next to the new chickens that also came home to the farm this week. ISA (breed) chickens that are laying very large eggs like champions. The hens here at the house are mid-molting (shedding all their feathers and taking a break from laying to regenerate) so it is nice to still be getting some eggs from the new ladies. The plus side is that fresh from the chicken eggs are good for about 6 months, so we tend to backstock for the winter as best we can. Farm fresh eggs are the best!!!
I'll be putting yarn up on the website for sale this Saturday, but for you all, it will likely be up Friday night and Saturday morning before I announce the shop update, so get it while you can!
Thanks for reading!
We've returned from my brother's wedding in Virginia. It was a wonderful time being with family and what great weather we had! And I got some good knitting time in during our travels!
Prior to leaving, I finished up another batch of romney/alpaca/silk yarn in a very light gray. I sent some of it out to be dyed by Kristin of Blue Savannah and while I was away Kathy of Despondent Dyes (she has her dye studio in the back of the mill) dyed up some of it. I've included pics. This batch gave me more of a headache on the spinner. I think it new I had a deadline! I had a fair amount of cockling which basically is when the yarn is spun into what looks like slubs. In reality that part of the yarn can be pulled out by hand and it appears as normal yarn again, but by hand doesn't quite work in this situation. The romney wool was a pretty long staple length which meant I had a bit of a learning curve. So I ended up getting lots of learning in about how much control this fiber did or didn't want on the spinner. In addition I also had yarn fly off the side of the skeinwinder, get caught up on the conewinder, wind up in the pin-drafter, etc.... It was one of those weeks and while I kept telling myself "you are learning a lot of valuable lessons," what I was feeling was like, if I had superhuman strength I would have picked up each machine and thrown it out into the street. Lol!!! Instead I would stomp my feet, take a few deep breaths and realized it was definitely time for a vacation!
Given all of the week's frustrations I was more than ready to be back at the mill! I've been prepping the next batch of yarn which is a beautiful stark white merino grown out in Eastern Oregon. It's been carded, pin-drafted and is sitting on the spinner waiting to become yarn tomorrow. I'll get some pics of it up this weekend. Fingers crossed I have less of a headache!
All on the farm is well in the meantime. The ram lambs moved into their temporary pasture as they were starting to sniff out the alpaca ladies a little too much the last couple weeks. We will likely sterilize one of the boys, but have been waiting to see which one was going to have better horns, fiber and personality for the job. I think we've decided on our darker boy, but we'll give it a couple more weeks. He definitely is starting to look less like a lamb and more like a ram as his horns come in bigger and thicker and his nose is starting to block out a bit. Hopefully they will move into their permanent pasture next week. It's a very nice space although I will have a little separation anxiety as it is down the road about half a mile. Hahaha!
My posts should become more frequent again now that I am back on a schedule and focused on vending at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle which is only 3 weeks away. Aaaahhh! If you are in the area, check out the website, there are some pretty impressive teachers and vendors alike. I hope I'm not too far out of my element. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty intimidated by this event.
Thanks for reading and fiber happy!
BFL/Shetland hand-dyed in the wool yarn is up on the website. Get it quick! Very limited quantities available.
I've been feverishly working the last couple days on up-ing my yarn game and you all get to get first dibs. I'll be putting the newest yarn up in the online shop on our website tomorrow (Friday) night. Saturday will be a day of posting all the spinning fiber stock that is leftover after OFFF. I'll announce shop updates Saturday so shop early!
I had a great day on the spinner today and had to run back into the shop this evening to see how the first batch of yarn is turning out. No patterns or programs; today's yarn weight, draft, twists per inch (tpi) and rpm speed on the spinner were all determined by me. Phew! It took about 10 yards of spinning for me to lock down what I wanted, but my first glance at is has me very happy (picture of it on the spinner below).
I also started the next batch of Romney/Alpaca/Silk. It is fresh out of the picker (the machine that opens the fiber locks and blends) and is ready to be carded up tomorrow. I have included a sneak peak of it in all its fluffy glory this evening (above).
For anyone close by, we do still have spots in our Long Draw Spinning class that is this Saturday. I was a short forward spinner prior to taking the class myself and I fell in love with this style of spinning. More loft to my yarn and I am able to spin at least twice as fast. All the details and registration are on our website.
Look forward to seeing you in the shop either online or in person!!!
I'm back! I swear I didn't forget about the blog. I got a little crazy prepping for Oregon Flock & Fiber last week and was gone all weekend at the event.
Lots of fun happened at the mill leading up to the festival, including success at the first yarn blend I dreamed up. My first 3-ply also and I am in love!!! And I'm not the only one. I took the skeins to OFFF and they were scooped up by a woman who said they were the first thing she had seen that day that she couldn't walk away from. Aaaaw! She made me so happy!
More is in the works this week, in fact October is "make yarn" month at the mill as I now start to prep for Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. This is a big event for us in early November as we will be putting our yarn out there to the world at a big intimidating event. I'll be sure to keep you updated with pics and will put a few skeins up on the website with you all having first dibs - I'll let you know here on the blog first.
The festival was amazing! A fantastic turn out and the most perfect weather made for a truly fun event. Our booth turned out just as I had hped and we sold a lot of fiber and other goodies as well. I met some amazing people including vendors, shepherds and visitors alike. I didn't arrive back home on the farm until 8pm last night and my head was buzzing. The intention is to take the next few days off. The reality is, I have so many yarn ideas, I just want to back to work! My house does really need to be cleaned though. Hmmm...I'm sure I'll figure out something.
Thanks for following the Ewethful adventures. I'll be back soon!...
I feel like last week was a marathon of making and meeting. We have had so many visitors to the shop the last couple weeks, it has been very exciting. Last weekend we were a part of The Traveling Ewe fiber day tour. We were the last stop before their return to Portland. It was a whirlwind of activity as I gave tours of the Mill and Kathy showed a bit of her dying technique. Then there was a flurry of shopping and they were gone in a flash. So fun to have them. If you haven't heard about these tours, check out their website. So much fiber fun and totally stress free!
Last week I also had the pleasure of showing off the Mill and talking about what I do and the great community I live in with Lara Dunning. Lara has a travel blog that focuses on small towns in the PNW. Follow the link to check out her page for great ideas of places to travel on your next trip. Small Town Washington
This week I had all sorts of visitors to the store. Two were Instagram followers/friends. The first was Jessica who is from Australia and started following Ewethful on Instagram. She is in the states with her husband and children on holiday and detoured over to the Mill for a quick visit. It truly made my day to meet her and see her reaction to the shop. Next Instagram friend came in Saturday. She is wildhair_homestead on IG and her business is tanning sheep pelts. We've been following each other for several months. It was so great to meet her! Talk a little shop and find out she has family right here in Halsey. She has a very interesting life and is a fun person to follow. Check her out!
We also had lots of marketing fun this week too with Friday bringing a young couple named Danielle and Walker of BarnYard Saints Art. We are now carrying their "Skein Scarves" in the shop! These are super fun and hip hand-dyed and spun fiber jewelry. It was a two fold visit as they also came by to do a videotour of the mill with me. I'll be sure to let you all know when the video is done! A super cool couple, we had a great time talking fiber! Check them out via the link provided.
Finally Saturday brought Shannon Welsh of PNW Fibershed. She came to both the farm and mill to film a video for their "Producer Stories" series. PNW Fibershed was founded as an affiliate of Fibershed and seeks to support and develop regionally grown natural fibers. I had a great time with Shannon and she even left the shop with some of my handspun from my first boy Tweedle! I'll of course let you know when this video is out as well.
Hope your week starts out wonderful and if you are around tomorrow, Monday September 18th, we are having our monthly fiber group at the mill from 3-6pm. Grab your current crafting project and head our way for some good company and a slice of pecan apple cheescake!
My gears have shifted at the Mill as Ewethful is vending at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival which is next weekend, September 22nd & 23rd with classes starting on Friday Sept 21st. This is one of my favorite festivals: lots of animals from rabbits to sheep, goats and llamas, amazing classes of fiber crafts I've never even heard of, tons of wonderful vendors, good food and all in a spot that feels agriculture based with lots of character and good vibes. And if the weather is good all the fiber-ists sit outside in circles enjoying the festival and good company. Follow the link to find out more about OFFF. http://flockandfiberfestival.com/
Now back to preparations! This is Ewethful's first year vending at this event - I've gone to classes in past years - and we have a double booth which means I need to have a lot of fiber and other good products to fill the space. I've been slowly building the stash for this, but the next week will be the final push. I'll be breaking a lot of wool top to make some beautiful colorful batts and roving in addition to lots of breed specific naturals and even some washed fleeces. Pictured above is what happens when it gets real in the mill. Fiber of all sorts and yes, even a bra has been tossed - on my behalf it was a warm day and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Hahaha!
Hope to see you all there! I'll be outside and always enjoy the company! If you can't make it, lots of our product is up in our website shop in limited amounts. Follow the link below to shop our site.
It was a big way to start the week today! I had three goals for the day at the mill:
1. Wash some alpaca fiber.
2. Get some qiviut ready for dehairing tomorrow.
3. Ply, steam and skein the 1000 yards of BFL singles I had spun up.
Oh, and not stay at work into the wee hours of the night! I still had to cook dinner and do some housework afterall.
1 and 2 were easy enough. 3 was where the learning curve begins. Plying is a piece of cake (or so I thought). I did manage to get 4 skeins of BFL plyed up. The steamer took some time to learn. It is set up so that the yarn is pulled thru it and wound onto cones. I watched numerous videos on how to load the steamer up and get the first cone started. In the end, I did get the first cone started, but the steamer was puddling water instead of steaming yarn, so I went to plan B. Skein straight from the bobbins, wash/soak, spin them out and let them dry - old school style. The skeinerwinder machine was easy enough to figure out, although my skeins were VERY tightly wound on it. As most of us know, that much tension on yarn is never a good thing. A combination of that and what appears to be a bit of overplying - my first BFL yarn is a little kinky. And instead of a 2-ply fingering we are at a 2-ply sport. But still, an amazing day of accomplishments and learning. It can't be perfect at first try right?! I did also manage to skein and wash up some Shetland yarn I completed last week and it faired much better.
Mitch has taught me to focus on the positives and learn from the negatives. So tomorrow will be another day. A little less tpi (twist per inch) on the yarn and playing with the skeinwinder to see if I can get it to slow down a bit. I'll leave fixing the steamer to my dear husband! What would I do without him???
Time to put the animals to bed and hit it myself. As of late I go to bed thinking about yarn and wake up ready to make more...
P.S. no housework got done. Whoops!
As I sit typing this first post at 10:35pm the coyotes have started singing outside. They are far enough I don't have to worry about our animals tonight, but its taken a long time for their howling not to keep me up at night.
Mitch and I moved to the farm 3 years ago from Portland, OR. We came here so that he could join the family grass seed farm and allow his parents a little breathing room. We live on the Century Farm, in the grand old farm house. So much has changed about our lives, and all for the better since our move. There is quiet here, stars, critters, grass fields, community... oh and lots of work!
I hope to not only share with you my fiber journey with the mill and fiber farm, but also a bit about the farm that currently allows us to eat (the grass seed farm that is) and our adventures out in the country. I lived most of my life in the city but the moment we arrived in Halsey, I felt home. Please bear with me with this blogging thing and I hope you enjoy our journey!...
I am Kim Biegler, the owner and operator of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill, along with my husband Mitch - my steadfast supporter, enabler, grass seed farmer, maintenance guy and all around love of my life! Visit the Mill's website for more about us and well, to shop for fiber of course! ewethfulfiberfarm.com