Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More wool!

In my book, a fresh fleece is a wonderful thing.  The caveat here is that this is a CLEAN fleece, one from a spinner's flock, not just any old fleece.  I have a lot to say about "any old fleeces", and if you've been spinning more than a short while, you probably do, too.  A gifted fleece full of vege matter and stickers, or worse yet moths or eggs, falls smack into the category of Sometimes Free Costs Too Much.  Unless you are postively desperate, it is not worth all the time it takes to make this wool useable (if this is even possible).When I was a beginning spinner, people were happy to give me their old fleeces...some wonderful, some with debris, some with moths, and some with grease so old it was beyond redemption.  Alas, I learned the hard way. It always brings to mind the old computer programming term: garbage in, garbage out.

Yesterday the mail brought two bags of this beautiful wool...it is Wensleydale wool, and chock full of curls.Img_0083  I apologize that part of this is in shadow, I'm still learning about using a camera.  What I wanted you to see is what the wool looks like when it comes from the shepherd; the fleece is usually wrapped in a specific way and tied, often times done for display for judging.  You don't see the dirty tips (if there are any), just the yummy underside, all pretty and inviting.

What happens next?  Well, I recently discovered that some fleeces purchased in the late summer were harboring little creatures...moth eggs and larvae...luckily I had twist-tied these bags closed when I received them.  Well, shame on me for not taking precaution, reputable grower or not...so all fleeces from this day forward will do their time in my freezer before entering the general population.  Forty eight hours in, twenty four hours out, twenty four hours back in, just for good measure.  There are probably as many theories on this as there are fleeces, but this is mine, and I'm sticking to it. If you're not already thinking in these terms...you can do this with yarns that you think may be suspect...just pop them in a plastic bag and freeze them.  This is especially something to consider when someone gifts you yarn that has been stuffed in a closet somewhere for eons...better to be safe than sorry.

From the freezer, these girls will be washed, dyed, and spun into what I call "Twisted in Taos", one of our lines of Homegrown Handspun.  Speaking of dyeing...when I was out in the yard this morning, trying to take a good picture of the fleece, I found this Chamisa bush in its last days of fall...Img_0086 blossoms still intact but the color mostly gone.  For those of you who aren't familiar, Chamisa (also known as Rabbit Brush) is a very common dyestuff for shades of yellow, and often times the yellow that is overdyed with indigo for shades of green.  It has (again, IMHO) a ghastly smell when being boiled but sure does make a nice color. 

I no longer dye with natural dyes, but I enjoy having this one bush in my yard...it is one of the hallmarks of impending fall that I enjoy. 

To all of you, wherever you are, I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!  --Martie

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Drive Through

Since returning from my trip, I feel like I've had little of interest to share with you.  I have been in vacation recovery...getting back in some sort of routine and making some plans for the next few months.  I finished both pairs of mosaic mitts and enough of the Malabrigo sweater to discover that yet AGAIN, I am off gauge and will need to pull it out and start over.  Sometimes I get so frustrated, I actually wonder if I should just knit shapeless things, or sweaters only for donations, so I don't have to worry who it fits.  In fact, because of my frustration over this, I picked up some handspun yarn and have knit two very plain triangle shawls while I cooled off.  I used the Prairie Shawl pattern from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book.  I highly recommend if you want to just knit and not have to think so much.  These shawls will be sent to Dulaan Project for next year's distribution in Mongolia.

I have one last bit of my trip to share with you.   I have debated sharing this with you, but it is so heavy on my mind, I am hoping that doing so will help me get over it.  While driving across the desert of California, we pulled off in Barstow for gasoline and a coffee at the Starbucks nearest the freeway.  Cimg0606 As we got out of our truck, this VERY personable fellow came up to say hello.  In fact, not only did he say hello, he nudged my hand hardCimg0605.  I petted him and asked him who he belonged to.  He had no collar.

I asked the staff of Starbucks if they knew who he belonged to, and they told me he had been living there for some time.  Apparently several people had tried to load him into their cars to take him home, but he resisted.  Instead, they bought him fast food hamburgers to help him get by.  The staff at the fast food places in this little mall named him Drive Through.

As we walked back outside, another truck drove in.  He immediately approached, but the man who got out of it just ignored him.  Then he settled into this pose, watching the driveway.  I realized then that whoever had dumped him probably had driven a pickup truck, and he was still there, waiting for that same person to come back to get him.  With a heart of gold, this wonderful dog loved that person enough to believe it was all a mistake. 

I know there are sad animal stories anywhere you live...they certainly abound here in northern New Mexico.  This holiday season, Taos Sunflower is sponsoring a tree at the 2006 Annual Festival of Trees and Wreaths here in town.  100% of the money our tree is auctioned for will be donated to New Mexico Canine Safeguard and Rescue, a no-kill shelter here in town.  I hope that wherever he is now, Drive Through is enjoying some love and comfort...and I hope whoever dumped him isn't. ---Martie