An Elizabeth State Of Mind

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote a little book back in the 1970’s called Knitters Almanac.

I bought it while I was in college and at some point in my life decided to knit my way through the book using my handspun.

So I’ve made the Fiddle Faddle, the Baby Shawl, some of the hats, and even the April Mystery Blanket.

So what’s left you ask?

The Longies and the Sweaters.

All the sweaters….


Dorset-With And Without Horns

P7070003  Sunshine at last!

I am combining these two as the Poll Dorset was developed from the Horn Dorset. The fleeces should be very similar so I’ll have fun keeping my samples straight.

To quote the Oklahoma Livestock Breeds site

“Both horned and polled Dorsets are an all white sheep of medium size having good body length and muscle conformation to produce a desirable carcass. The fleece is very white, strong, close and free from dark fiber. Dorset fleeces average five to nine pounds (2.25-4 kg) in the ewes with a yield of between 50% and 70%.  The staple length ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6-10 cm) with a numeric count of 46’s-58’s.  The fiber diameter will range from 33.0 to 27.0 microns.”

The origins of the Dorset breed is fuzzy at best.  However the poll Dorset is a widely popular breed for those raising meat.  It’s down-like fleece would think this breed originated in the Downs of England, and while there is a Dorset Down breed, these breeds (both the horn and polled) are separate.

Horn Dorset are quite scarce as it just plain easier to manage polled sheep.  The polled gene popped up spontaneously in the gene pool of the Horned Dorsets within the United States and proliferated thanks to the help of North Carolina State College, Raleigh, NC .

Santa Cruz-A Rare Fiber Among Rare Breeds

Santa Cruz was quite the adventure. First of all I have to thank Jennifer Heverly from Spirit Trail Fibers for sharing with me some Santa Cruz fiber. Seriously, I never thought I would get my hands on some.

However I lost these samples in the depths of a bag somewhere. This has delayed me. Then I misplaced the bag of the rest of the fleece….sigh, excuses, excuses.

However, this past weekend I got some more from Deb Robson during a rare breeds class at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival. So I’ll share my samples spun here.


The locks are tiny and the staple length is short. Very short. I do believe that this is the shortest wool I have ever worked with. We are talking a 1″ staple length for the locks I got from Jennifer and 2″ from Deb. I’ve spun shorter fibers, but not wool.

I felt best about combing the fiber, however spinning worsted is not the best way to show the properties of this wool. Perhaps because it gave me the cleanest yarn. Combing 1-2″ locks is no picnic.


Carding was easier but you can see the vegetable matter. Neither of these fleeces were kept with handspinners in mind. One reason is that handspinners have not gotten their hands on it yet.


If more spinners out there would seek out these fibers I believe they would find them more forgiving than cormo with a 50% elasticity for carded fiber. But right now the fiber I have is best combed than carded due to the vegetable matter.

Now to just find that bag if Santa Cruz I misplaced….

Last weekend was Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. I too Deb Robson’s Rare Breeds class on Friday, watched fleece judging and bought fleeces on Saturday and then bought more fleeces on Sunday! Fleece was certainly the theme for this year.

I also spent time with Sara and Hans of The Woolgatherers trying to be helpful. I taught one person the park and draft method of spindle spinning and helped her choose a spindle. Most of the time though it was hot and I worked to keep myself hydrated.

Best of all I’m spinning again on this:

Yes that’s a Hansen Minispinner in cherry wood. Yes I sold a wheel to buy this one. No I did not sell one of my Reeves wheels.

I’ve decided that Shiloh needs to learn to retrieve. Not just retrieve dumbbells but shuttles. So I’ve started training him to do that. A little at a time

Tour De Fleece 2012

Bond, oh fine wool you have graced my wheel for way too long.


You have hung around with the other
“four pounds” of roving, however you have been displaced by some already spun Shetland that needs to be dyed.


Now I have some pretty purple pygora waiting for the wheel so I will continue to ply you until you are gone.


And when I’m not spinning you, I have a spindle set aside for my 3 Bags Full sample.


Santa Cruz-A Rare Breed Among Rare Breeds

Santa Cruz Sheep

Originally uploaded by tall2night

I first encountered the Santa Cruz through the pages of Spin Off Magazine. Deb Robson wrote an article about these sheep who had been fending for themselves on the small islands off the coast of California. It is uncertain where these sheep originally came from. There is certainly merino blood in them. Possibly Rambouillet and Spanish Churro in there as well.

In 1978 The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchased the islands and in 1980 because of the restoration needed, started removing and eliminating the sheep from them. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC) convinced TNC of the importance of these sheep and some were spared. These ended up and have slowly trickled into the hands of concerned shepherds. Best estimate I can find, there is about 200 breeding age sheep scattered around the US and on the island, not all were eliminated.

Recently I have seen Santa Cruz fiber for sale so who knows what the future will hold for this island breed.

Perendale-Long, Lovely, Locks

It’s been too long.

I’ve had the yarn spun for this for a coons age, but I never could get to the point of taking pictures.  Well, I just went and did it and while it’s not the greatest photography in the world, it could be worse.  I purchased this wool from The Spinning Loft.  Seriously, if you want wool, call Beth…she’s got the goods!  She doesn’t have all the the wool up on the website so don’t hesitate to call and ask her “What do you have that I don’t?”

Perendale Locks

This fleece is a lovely light brown/gray color.  Almost a cafe au lait, just a tiny bit darker.  These locks were about 5.5″-6″ long

Combed Perendale

Here is the combed top.  I used my double row viking combs to produce this.

Combed Perendale Yarn

Here is the spindle spun product from the combing.  If I had gone back and re-spun the yarn, I would have given it more plying twist.

Carded Perendale

It combed easily giving me a rather disorganized and loose rolag.

Carded Perendale Yarn

The yarn was very similar thanks to the length of the fiber, the effort of carding was lost and it produced more of a worsted yarn.  And this one is better plied.

Based on what I have experienced with this fiber, I would be tempted to use it in something like a coat or other outerwear.  It is also appropriate for tapestry, where the luster of the wool is an advantage.  I will probably comb the rest of the fiber, but am uncertain what I will actually do with it project wise.

Life has been, um interesting to say the least.  It’s been a spring of tornado activity, much of it serious.  Much damage through the south and in the nations mid-section.  At this moment I am watching the situation developing in Central Indiana on (5/25/11) with trepidation.  My idea of storm chasing is to watch it on the computer as other people track the storms and if I am local to it, to look at the resulting damage.

I have a severe weather plan, I have crates in my basement to house my dogs in as safely as I can.  We put that plan into action three times last year.  Luckily, no tornadoes, but you never know about the next.

I’m still puttering around here.  It looks like I might be teaching a rigid heddle weaving class…I’ll let you know the details as it becomes available.  Other than that not a whole lot has been going on other than going to Clicker Expo in March.

Clicker Expo

I have no really good pictures from Expo, but that is Emma Parsons.  She rocks!  Masi and I attended her lab and had a good time.  That is saying a lot because Masi is still reactive to other dogs.  I’m very proud of my silly Aussie!

I’ve done a bit of weaving.

Sampling Is A Good Thing

Yes, Olga was warped.  This is the sample of a rag rug I wove on her.  I’m now tying knots, lots of knots…

Ready For The Washer

I had just finished twisting the fringe, it’s now washed and once I trim ends it will be ready for it’s intended recipients.

Also I have been spinning.

Sock Yarn?

Sock yarn anyone?  Yeah, it’s a bit thick for sock yarn…

Stringtopia?…um yeah…What about it?

Pictures?  Um yeah, there might be some.

So I guess I’ll have to post again soon to show you what happened didn’t happen in Ohio.

SOAR: The Importance Of Learning

I got home yesterday from SOAR.


Over a week ago I arrived excited with the anticipation of what was to be my second SOAR.  A SOAR without the crazy expectations I put on myself  last year.

Please excuse the lack of photos this year.  I have some, some iPhone, and some from my camera.  I’ll still be working on the videos so I’ll be adding to the set some stills I’ll be pulling off the Flip.

My workshop was Goat Fibers with Robin Russo who with her husband Pat own The Spinning Studio in Vermont.  Rarely do I take the time to spin so many similar types of fiber in various ways.  We spun cashmere, mohair and pygora.  Oh glorious pygora!  I even managed to make some kid mohair embroidery thread while I was at it.  Robins class was full of wonderful people.  Ingrid from Sweden, Carl from Southern Illinois, a lovely lady from Grinnell, Iowa who’s name escapes me right now just to mention a few.  The pygora made me sing as well as some fine cashmere imported by WildFibers magazine.  I don’t know if there is still some available, but its lovely to spin!

Too soon, the workshop was over and I found myself shopPing!  Well, first thing I hit was The Center For Traditional Textiles of Cusco where I found gifts for others and myself.  I’m in love with the bags I bought! Then to Morgaine of Carolina Homespun for several different things including AbbyBatts!  Snagged a few special things elsewhere.  I didn’t stand in the huge line for Rovings, but I did pop in there a couple times and both some gorgeous Polworth locks that had been dyed in intense colors.  The ladies at Abstract Fiber where a delight to meet and discuss our dogs and dog training with (and I still owe one of them a clicker!!!!).  Said hello to Toni Neal of The Fold and a number of other vendors who where also there that I do business with.  Also met up with some friends and overall enjoyed my day.

I never did manage to take pictures of the gallery, oh well.  My humble little pieces were well displayed.

Geocaching Interlude

I also did some geocaching.  Here is a picture taken near one of the caches in Delavan when a young seagull decided to perch on a sign and hang on for dear life in the high winds we had, but what I really captured was the sky in it’s late October glory.

Friday arrived with the Retreat sessions.  Now what was I thinking?  Margaret Stove and fine spinning in the morning then off to Jacey Boggs with Thick and Thin spinning and coils in the afternoon.  Luckily I was able to keep a straight head between the skills!

Margaret Stove is a very gracious and generous lady.
SOAR 2010

Here she is with her test knitter with one of the shawls from her new book Wrapped In Lace.
SOAR 2010

And here is Ingrid looking at one of the lovely shawls shown her second book, Creating Original Hand Knitted Lace.  This shawl has been used as an everyday shawl for two of her grandchildren and the spinning and dye has held up well.
SOAR 2010

Here is a closer look at the edge.

Jacey Boggs is fun, loads and loads of fun!
SOAR 2010

She shared techniques for making those iconic coiled yarn.  While my coils were not great, they were identifiable as coils.

Saturday brought the new Open Studio.  The mentors that joined us included Margaret Stove, Jacey Boggs, Stephanie Gaustad and Judith MacKenzie.  Everyone had something to share.  Margaret and her test knitter (who’s name escapes me!) showed the shawl, Judith brought some “Wolf” yarn, the yarn she makes and sells “to keep the wolf from the door”, Stephanie brought her knitted Nudibranch scarf and shared the pattern with all of us and Jacey brought her thick and thin yarn in both wool and cotton.  The cotton one made Stephanie’s eyes bug out!  Judith wins the “woman with the most stash” award.  She has me beat by, um, several tons!  But then again, fiber is her business.

My final retreat session was with Demetrio Bautista Lazo about dying with cochineal!
SOAR 2010

Sometimes the effects were subtle.

SOAR 2010

Others were screaming red!

I had worked with it before, but I learned some major hints about using it from someone who dyes a LOT with it.  Looks like I’ll be buying some lime juice from the local grocery soon!

We wrapped up SOAR with a silly contest to make a hat in an hour.
SOAR 2010
Hilarity soon took over.
SOAR 2010

SOAR 2010
But team Strip It And Stuff It Up Your Orifice made it before the 1 hour mark and made a great show, despite not winning the people’s choice award.

There are so many people I got to see.  People I know from Ravelry, mentors I know and respect, people like Margaret Stove, Deb Menz and Sara Lamb who I have admired for close to twenty years.  Phredde and Dan who kept the swill flowing.  Denny who seems to make fun wherever she is. People I met for the first time here and people who I’ve corresponded with for years and now finally get to meet, people who I know well and live locally.  SOAR is more than just learning new techniques, its meeting people, learning about who they are, sharing a cordial filled chocolate with them, watching them knit like the wind.  Sharing and caring.

The learning is much much more than what is written down on the page, or a sample in your hand it is the friendships that form, the feel of a shawl, the roving passed around.

Will I be back at SOAR next year?  I sure hope so.  I’m going to try my hardest to get to New Hampshire.