Hello everyone! Yes, I am in good spirits after a lovely trip to WI for the Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend. We arrived in Jefferson on cool and breezy Thursday night to set up camp. I needed to make an early start the next morning for the class I was attending. It was a class on Natural Dyeing where we dyed skeins of yarn, then saddening those dyes with iron and finally over-dyeing with indigo. I've taken a natural dyeing class before through Community Education, and done some natural dyeing on my own, but there is always more to learn and I definitely picked up some new knowledge this past weekend. We used cochineal (bugs), madder (roots), logwood (tree), osage orange (tree) and pomegranate (plant) as our dyes. Each class member dyed 3 skeins in each of the colors, then we kept one skein "as is", re-dyed another in the same pot, but with added iron which "saddens" the color by graying and darkening it. Then we took our last skein and over-dyed the original color with indigo. The results I think are quite stunning in shade and variety. The pomegranate (bottom three skeins) was a bit boring on it's own, but over-dyed with indigo it makes a lovely sage green. This class really showed me the infinite possibilities available using only alum, cream of tartar, and iron as your mordants. True, you can get even a wider array using copper, chrome and tin mordants, but these are dangerous to use for the dyer as well as the environment. I'm really excited to get started on some more dyeing now that I'm home and already have some black walnuts lined up with which to begin.
The other great part about the Festival, besides all their Wonder of Wool classes, is the Marketplace of all things woolly or wool animal related There was yarn and fiber in every imaginable shade, tools to create with fiber as well as tools for removing fiber, books, dyes, soaps, cheeses, meats, baskets, wool pillows, wool blankets and comforters and the most beautiful hooked wool rugs. Really the rug hooking work was stunning and I was sorely tempted to give it a go, but resisted as I do not need another hobby. With all the goodies available you'd think I'd come home with an armload of stuff, but I managed to only purchase a few things. Soap was actually on my list to purchase thus I was happy when I found Maple Hill Farm's sheep milk soaps. They only use essential oils which is a must for my husband who is very sensitive to scents and fragrances. I chose unscented, lavender and peppermint to take home. While I love handmade soap I hate paying for shipping soap as it's heavy and therefore expensive so buying it in person is my only option. I'm hoping these three last until the next market I visit. Since I was so excited to start dyeing I was very excited to find these 2 undyed skeins from Sheepish Creations. The first is a BFL/Nylon tweed sock yarn which I'm planning to dye with indigo and the second is an incredibly soft (like dipping your hand in a vat of melted butter soft) single ply of a merino/silk blend which will be dyed with black walnuts for a rich brown. At the end of my visit to the Marketplace I finally braved the beauty of the Fiber Optic booth and chose a Paintbox Gradient in the Copper to Verdigris colorway to take home. It consists of 15 mini skeins of 30 yards each and will most likely become a shawl.
With all that was going on while at the Festival and then while visiting Madison I got very little knitting done. Oddly, I went for a project that I had not been planning on knitting the Dudester Scarf for my friend Anna's friend. It's a super easy 4 line pattern, but I kept managing to still make mistakes and did quite a bit of tinking back. It's knit in Kollage Yarns Scrumptious which is 70% angora and 30% silk. Kinda an odd choice for a man's scarf, but he's Filipino like my husband who is super sensitive to wool, so I thought a super soft yarn might be a good choice for him too. We'll see what he thinks come Christmastime. The scarf is a project on my Year of Projects list so there's a bit of headway there. No finished objects to share with you, but I'm hoping to get something done by next week. I won't even try to predict what it will be as I seem to change my mind all too often. If you want to see the other YOP participants you can check them out here. That about wraps it up for me. Have a great week everyone!