Okay, best FIBER day ever.
Halfway to the Green Mountain Spinnery, I realized I had forgotten my camera. Fortunately, when we got there, David (one of the owners) lent me the Spinnery's and then emailed me the pictures later. This would be great if I had been capable of focusing an auto-focus camera not familiar to me. It would also be great if I had photographed something other than machinery, such as, I don't know, PEOPLE. Because while the mill was very cool, the people were even cooler. I was so overcome with fiber I couldn't think straight.
The storage room, full of fiber:
Jenn trying to abscond with a 500-pound bag of wool.
The mill process was more interesting in person than in pictures (esp. blurry ones), but we saw the scouring area, the picker, the carder (which cards once into a big sheet of fiber and then cards that fiber in a perpendicular way, to get a woolen yarn, into pencil roving), a long spinning machine, a steamer, and a big ol' skeiner.
Scouring. The process of washing the fiber is problematic because it wastes a lot of water. The Spinnery filters the water and reuses it several times. As for the leftover "sludge," they are looking into ways to use the by-product, such as by extracting the lanolin to be used in salves. I think David said they're hoping to eventually have the scouring done off-site but I could be wrong about that.
I don't have pictures of the spinning in process, but at the end of our trip we did catch a woman named Patty, simultaneously supervising all those bobbins up there while knitting (crocheting?) up some little Easter eggs. Must suck to work there.
The final word: Warm, friendly people treated us like we were the first ones to ever tour the mill; dropped everything to talk yarn and fiber; and allowed us to fill the small shop area completely with bags of fleece. Then customers, people with car troubles, and even pattern designers* started showing up to climb over the bags. It looked a little like this:
*A woman showed up with the back of a sort-of cabled baby sweater in a natural yarn, which turns out was GMS's organic yarn. The pattern is going into their next book. And the woman was "Melissa," who, it turns out, designed lots of projects in the Green Mountain Spinnery pattern book. How cool is that?
Jenn (knitting only since December '07 and cranking out the FOs) had to breathe into a paper bag after looking at all the patterns and feeling all the yarn in the shop. She fell victim to the Mountain Mohair and is almost done with her hat already:
Now I can't even remember what we settled on for Real Vermonter yarn, but it's going to be either a DK or sport weight 2-ply (wool/alpaca), and I'm having them use the non-petroleum spinning oil on it. It will be ready in May or June.
I'm telling you, if you are anywhere near southern Vermont, make plans to visit the Spinnery, even if you don't have time for a tour. It's worth it just to meet people who are actually interested in the same things you are, who talk the talk (only better than you becaues they're pros), and who don't think it's weird that you like sniffing wool.
Speaking of wool....
I have this idea I mentioned in my last post, and I gave it a try. A few weeks ago, a friend sold me this Romney hoggett fleece, some of which I scoured
and then picked, and then carded into batts:
Well, last week, I dyed the batts:
Then I quartered the dyed sections and ran them through the drum carder in this order, with no clear idea of what would happen:
Jenn took pictures of the progress:
And we got:
Actually, we got four of these 2-ounce batts.
Who wants four ounces' worth?
That's right, they're for sale. I am currently spinning four ounces myself and would be done plying if
those people my family did not suck the life out of me need my attention every waking moment now and then:
Do you love it?
If so, I'm asking $17 for four ounces plus shipping, and the first person to email me gets it. [SOLD] With any luck there will be more in the future, and soon I may be able to make it more efficiently because I GOT A LOAN for the business! Just a little one, but it's a start and will allow me to buy, in addition to lots of yarn, this, which will speed up the picking process by up to 10X.
For my next project, I'm thinking of white Romney blended with black alpaca and then overdyed. Ahhh. And if I can "cheat" a little, I might buy some non-Vermont silk and add that in. Are you swooning?
I don't have the time or energy to post all the Easter morning pictures. There was a hunt with clues that, when turned over, formed a puzzle, which led to a new bike.
Milo stalked the bike:
And last, why we have a hard time getting dinner guests to come back:
Milo, in a deceptively loving mood: