On a trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival last fall, I purchased a beautiful skein of mulberry silk, along with some wool locks which were dyed with natural plant material.
Over the Winter, I've spent a bit of time at my trusty drum carder blending these rich colors and textures with our own super soft alpaca fiber, making one-of-a-kind art batts.
Yesterday, I added the locks and silk to some of our white mohair.
I think the results are quite nice. Lots of shimmer, a fluffy halo of mohair and a bit of spring from the locks.
The surprising part is that I see a lot of white in this art batt. Predominatly white. But that's not how it spins up.
There is tons of color in it. Mostly purple with all the shine of silk and luster of mohair.
If you're a hand spinner, you'll love all the textures in the batts.
If you're not a spinner (yet!), you'll have to beg your spinning friends to spin you up a skein so you can have your own one-of-a-kind yarn. I know for a fact that spinners can be bribed. Usually with more fiber!
That'll Do Farm is hitting the road this Saturday, July 7th. Join us at River Colors Studio in Lakewood, Ohio for the Homespun Market Gathering, noon to 4 p.m.
River Colors is a great, independent local yarn store. Shop Owner Erika is a true believer in going local and has invited several Ohio farm yarn producers and dyers to spend the afternoon showcasing how fabulous Ohio-made products can be.
In addition to our yarn in its natural colors,
we're bringing a bit of dyed yarn
and art batts.
We're also bringing roving
and the drum carder to show you how plain colored roving can be blended on the carder
and made into batts that are a beautiful blend of colors just begging to be spun up.
And we're not just bringing natural colors. We have some stunning dyed roving that can be made into an array of batts in outstanding color combinations.
And here's the best part. YOU get to be the designer. Pick out some roving, in its natural or colored form, bring it over to the drum carder and we'll show you how to blend it for your own custom-made art batt.
Take it home, spin it up and let the serious bragging begin. Not only will you have spun and knit your garmet, but you can tell your throng of admirers that you custom blended the fibers for a one-of-a-kind designer yarn.
What did I tell you -- really serious bragging rights!
If you're in the area, I hope you can stop in at River Colors on Saturday. We'd love to meet you and talk Ohio yarn.
Stop the presses. Pour yourself a glass of champagne. Pour ME a glass of champagne.
Today is a wonderful day. Yes, the sun is shining. Yes its fairly warm for late February. And yes, Spring is only 21 days away.
But that's not enough for press stopage and champagne pouring. The real news of the day is that I have finished my chicken rug!
The chicken rug that I started at the Ohio Rug Camp, way back in April of 2011.
Now "finished" is a relative term when applied to hooking rugs. I have finished hooking my rug, but I haven't trimmed the edges and put on the binding tape yet. Then I would be FINISHED, finished. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm finished!
This is a Joanne Gerwig design, from Woodcrest Rug Designs. I'm also hooking her Sheep in Sunflowers rug, but its not anywhere near as completed as this one and I have vowed to show no pictures of it until its done. It's a game I'm playing with myself. I think the no-picture thing will really show me -- and force me to work on it more. We'll soon see if I've fooled myself with that ploy.
Today's rare February sunshine is certainly putting me in the mood for Spring's arrival. I was working at the drum carder, looking out a sun-filled window, and dreaming of planting and working the soil.
It must have inspired me to card spring colors because everything I worked on today was bright, bright, bright!
I'm usually a fan of autumn colors but no sir, not today. Today was a grab you by the throat and shout to the world that Spring is coming kind of day. Just look at the bright, bright orange. Mixed with yellow and purple. What has come over me! Never in my right, autumn-toned mind would I mix yellow, purple and orange. And yet it works. It works quite well.
And then purple. Mixed with red, hot pink and Sparkles. Oh yeah, this is definitely a Spring Fever day. I don't think it has ever before occured to me before to put red, purple and hot pink together. Not to mention sparkles. But I like it. It's a happy art batt.
And so is this coral and sea foam green. I'm telling you, Spring is messing with me big time. I have never uttered the words sea foam green in my entire life and yet, there it is. Pretty as a picture.
I'm telling you, I really am an earth tone kinda gal. And yet, even when I tried to make an earth tone-ish kind of art batt, look at what happened:
Vibrant, shiny golds, corals, oranges, greens and browns. It looks like a fiber sherbet party.
And I love it. I want to pull the spinning wheel out right now and spin a skein full of sherbet.
But I think I'm going to take myself outside and drink in a great big dose of sunshine.
It's not everyday I finish a rug . . . or card sherbet art batts.
The fiber raising business is an exercise in hurry up and wait.
We spend the spring waiting for crias to be born.
It can be a long wait, because as we all know, Mother Nature has her own schedule. She doesn't care about our plans. She and she alone will decide when a cria will make its way into this world.
In the fall, we spend our days waiting for our yarn to arrive back from the mill. Now Mother Nature doesn't have a thing to say about this type of waiting. But none-the-less, we wait.
Mills have a busy season and, as you can imagine, late Spring through early Fall has them up to their eyeballs in fiber, spinning everything the animals spent the Winter growing.
Fiber we sent to the mill way back in early June has begun to arrive back at the farm.
Most of the yarn that has come back so far is in its natural color -- greys, black and a chestnut-y brown.
But then we got a surprise. Check out the skein, second from the right.
It's an ever-so-slightly dyed dark blue/deep, deep purple color. The mill called before dyeing it and thought the mix of our dark Suri alpaca and nylon/Merino wool would take dye beautifully, and boy-oh-boy were they every right. This sock yarn is a dream to handle and the color takes on different tones in different light.
This yarn might make a sock knitter out of me yet!
Some of our dyed roving is starting to return as well.
Check out my favorite color combination, one that we call Cherry Cola.
The dark black baby Suri alpaca mixed with a deep red makes this a fabulous combination.
But Cherry Cola is not to be out done.
Sassy Ms. Grape Creamsicle wants to enter the running for most fabulous combination.
She is developing a loyal fan base and starting to rise in the polls. We might have a race here for best-est looking roving. But if that's the case, the Art Batts want in on the action.
As the new products continue to arrive from the mills, we will update our Yarn, Roving and Art Batt page. Check back often. You never know. Your new sweater-in-the-making could be waiting there for you.
Meet my new best friend.
It's my Strauch drum carder, and I love him. You've met him earlier in the year. He was just a good friend then, but as of yesterday, he's my BFF.
He made this:
My first Art Batt. The base fiber is alpaca, with turquoise and magenta Merino top, a bit of white alpaca and sparkly gold Angelina.
I liked it so much I couldn't stop.
Do you remember the children's book "The Digging-est Dog"? It's about a hound that discovered how to dig and doesn't stop.
I loved that book as a child, read it to my kids about a million times, quote from it frequently, and now, I have become the Digging-est Dog, only with a drum carder. I guess that makes me the Carding-est Dog.
After the turquoise/magenta combo, I moved on to fall colors.
Same brown alpaca base, this time mixed with olive and burnt orange Merino top, white alpaca and the same sparkly gold Angelina, not to mention a bit of red fluff thrown in.
Somebody help me, I can't stop! If I really was the Diggin-est Dog, I'd have holes throughout all 17 acres of the farm.
Today, I think I'm moving on to a black base color, just to spice things up a bit. But black with what? Decision, decisions -- what's a fiber-holic to do!
I'm going to spin up some of this beautiful fiber to see how it looks as yarn.
I think my new best friend is going to be a really bad influence on me.
It was a wonderful event and I met tons of great fiber-y people. Anybody who still holds onto the old stereotype that knitters are a bunch of fuddy-duddy old ladies is just wrong, wrong, and wrong. These shoppers were young in both age and spirit. Not to mention fun. I haven't laughed this much in ages. If you're ever feeling down in the dumps, hang out with fiber people. They will cheer you right up!
Like Stephanie of LunabudKnits. She makes gorgeous art batts and is responsible for putting me on the path of my newest fiber addiction -- making my own art batts.
What the heck is an art batt you ask. To me, it is kryptonite and knocks me to my knees. But in reality, an art batt is a mix of fibers, blended together on a drum carder,
that is then spun into beautiful, unusual, one-of-a-kind yarn.
Stephanie sells her own batts, and also all the "ingredients" you would need to create your own art batt.
We already have the base fiber, which in our case is alpaca.
I am most sincerely color challenged, but Stephanie patiently showed me how to mix other colors, and a touch of the bling.
Those of you who know me know I am about as "bling-less" as them come. So I needed Stephanie's help. She picked out this fall palette that I will mix with dark brown, a bit of gold shimmery fiber, and a hint of white silk.
I'm so excited to get started I can hardly stand it.
If you don't hear from me for the next few months, I'm at the farm, art batting my little heart out.
I've got it bad. Reallll bad.