July 10, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , at 3:14 am by Jenn

Today was a fiber filled day on many levels.  My sister and I headed down to Crazy For Ewe to take advantage of the sales and shop for our Secret Pal 14 spoilees.  We met Ellen the shop owner, chatted a bit and made off with lots and lots of yarn fibery goodness.  I won’t post pictures of the items I purchased for my spoilee because that might spoil the fun for her (in case she’s super sleuthy and has me figured out).  But here is a picture of what I purchased for myself.


On the left are 3 skeins of Noro Taiyo – a cotton, silk, nylon blend that I plan to use to make Yarnplay’s Poppy sweater.  I will use black for the body with the sleeves, top and vertical stripes in the colorway shown above.  The single skein on the right was a super lucky find and almost brought me to tears!  A couple of weeks ago Heather, Zac and I went downtown to the Folklife Festival and I lost my knitting bag.  The bag contained the second skein of yarn in this colorway, the skein I had just started to knit my SECOND sock with!  I was heartbroken.  Not only was I actually going to finish the sock, but the knitting bag was a gift from my cousin Carol (sorry Carol).  I put a lost ad out on Craigslist and filled out a lost form with the Smithsonian, but no luck – no one turned in my bag.  I also had two sets of needles in that bag one not so loved, but my favorite sock needles – my Blue Sky Alpaca – $28.00 a set needles were gone.  I’m sure someone found the bag looked inside, found no money and tossed the bag in the trash.  Somewhere out there is a homeless person with a half knit sock, expensive needles and Carol’s bag.  I hope they know how to knit!

So overall it was a great afternoon.  Ellen’s shop is fabulous.  She is wonderful and knowledgeable.  The customers were warm and friendly and stopping by to knit for a while.  We’ll definitely be joining them one of these days very soon.   I actually have signed up for a class at the LaPlata store to make the Undulating Waves Scarf –  I’m making the Heather version.  I think the class will be great.  I love knitting scarves and have been wanting to try knitting with beads so this is perfect!

Just when I thought the day wouldn’t get any better, there was a knock on the door around 6pm…UPS.


At last it was here…remember back to my post from Maryland Sheep and Wool?  The fleece we purchased and sent off to Zeilinger’s had arrived.  Heather couldn’t wait to get the box opened and if you look really close you can see the look of a fiber crazed woman in her eyes!  Seriously.

So what was in the box that weighed 11 pounds?

Right on top was what I’ve been waiting for – the combed top that we had processed from the merino fleece that we purchased at the festival.  I can’t believe we didn’t take pictures of the “before”, but here is the “after”.


Repeat after me….Ooooo…….Ahhhhh…..ssssoffft.  It’s the most beautiful milk chocolate brown color, approximately 3 POUNDS of it.  The fleece we turned in was 8 pounds!  I’m amazed at how much grease merino contains.  The noil weighed about a pound so that’s almost 50%.  The bag there in the center is the noil, which we really aren’t quite sure what to do with…kind of reminds me of dryer lint.

Now I really need to get to work so that I can buy that wheel!

At the bottom of the bag was almost 5 pounds of newly washed fleece that Heather obtained from her friend Gregory who owns a farm and invited the Baltimore Spinner’s group up for the day in the spring to participate in sheep shearing.


That’s one heck of a lot of wool.  Stay tuned for some yarn pictures.  Heather is participating in Tour de Fleece so I’m sure she’ll be spinning up some of both of these TONIGHT!

So there it is, a fun fiber filled day!  I’m off to knit and hit the sack early.  It’s a DaVita day for me tomorrow!


February 25, 2009

I’ve Been Fleeced!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , at 10:14 pm by Jenn

Ok, I stole that line from an AFN commercial…but it’s fitting for what I’m feeling today.  I spent 4 hours today picking through sheep poop, twigs, and all kinds of unidentifiable stuff to clean some of my fleece today.  You remember, the 4 plus pounds that I bought last week.  Yeah that stuff.  I decided today that I’d get a start on cleaning it. 

I removed the screen from my office window, washed it, placed it over my bathtub (the screen is the perfect size!), borrowed Max’s dog comb and then grabbed a handful of fleece.  I tossed the fleece against the screen and all kinds of gunk fell through….some of the bigger chunks of course did not, but screen tipping worked well to solve that problem. 

I’m not sure if I was doing this right at all, but it seemed to be working.  I’m sure I damaged the fibers….not that they were the greatest fibers to begin with, but anyway, I wasn’t to careful with the combing process.  I was too concerned with getting all the flecks of black out of my nice cream beige wool.  There were a few nice long fibers that I took extra care with, combing them gently, but right behind that nice beautiful curl was a matted mess so all that care was probably for nothing.  At the end of 4 hours, my back was killing me.  I needed a double dose of Zyrtec, plus some Sudafed, a shower and a therapist. 

After all that work, I ended up with only 3. something ounces of clean fiber.  I swear it should have been closer to a pound.  Really!  I wish I had weighed the fiber before I started…next time I will.  I’m curious just how much is lost to the poo and other stuff that gets stuck in this fleece.

Later in the day I rewashed the fleece, just for good measure and it is now drying near my office window.  My neighbor has carders and hopefully she’ll let me borrow them to card this stuff up for dyeing.  If not, I do plan to order my own, I’m shopping around now.  Hoping that Ebay comes through for me…they usually do.  If they don’t arrive before I leave Baku, I’ll at least have something to look forward to at our new post.  Dyeing my wool. 

Now, I know you are wondering…how have I been fleeced?  That sounds like a pretty productive day.  Well, I did take pictures of each step, but apparently my battery was too close to dead so NO PICTURES!  I’VE BEEN FLEECED.  Of course it’s no big deal because I’m definitely going to have to do this all again.  I mean I do have 4+ pounds of fleece yet to clean!  It would have just been nice to have my first go at it on record!

February 24, 2009

Not Cleaning Fleece…yet

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 10:41 pm by Jenn

I still have this 4 plus pounds of fleece that needs to be cleaned.  I have started to do it a few times, but each time I open the bag and try to select a piece to start with the task just becomes too daunting. 

I hope to clean at least some tomorrow.  I plan to borrow Max’s comb since wool combs are 100 manat!  That’s right, an antique chisalka (wool comb in Russian) one that I’ll have to fix before I actually use, 100 manat!  I can get a brand spankin’ new one on ebay for $19.99, but that would take 3 weeks to get here and I want to get this stuff cleaned and stored before then, so Max’s comb it is.  Sorry buddy, I promise I’ll boil it before I brush you this weekend.

Since I haven’t been cleaning fleece, I’ve  been reading about cleaning fleece.  Reading everything I can find on getting the job done.  The Yarn Harlot, never disappoints.  Read about her adventures with fleece here

My fleece is already washed it just needs to be picked through.  Who knew that sheep could be so filthy?  GROSS!  I will most definitely be wearing gloves for this process, and just to make myself feel better I’ll be washing it again after I pick through it just to give it a nice lemon fresh wool smell. 

I wish I knew what kind of wool it was, not that it makes much difference.  I think I’ve decided I’m going to make myself a felted carpet.  That is my first instinct….Bakuvian wool, carpet….hmm.  Yeah, carpet….unless of course the wool totally thrills me and I find myself just having to knit this poo filled wool up into something that I put against my skin….doubtful given that I’ll have picked through enough poo by then that I won’t even want to put the rug I make on my floor!  LOL.  Isn’t fleece fun.  I haven’t even started yet and I’m already grossed out!  HA!

I have another paper due on March 2 so I’m sure that fleece will be clean by then!  : )  By the way, I got an A on that first paper.  YAY for me.

February 19, 2009

Have You Any Wool?

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:52 pm by Jenn

The last two days have been pretty much devoted to the search of wool and spinning materials here in Baku.  Cande and I set out yesterday on an adventure to find the 8 km Bazaar that was just outside the city of Baku.  Cande drove and I attempted to navigate, though in a town where the street names change like the weather or the streets just simply aren’t marked that’s a near impossible task. 

After what seemed like hours we finally arrived at our destination.  It actually was hours, but the funny thing is that we passed the bazaar, stopped and asked directions just one block away and then spent the next several hours on a wild wool chase around the 8 km district.  We finally by a stroke of luck (and the need for gas) arrived at the bazaar and were able to locate a shop that sold fleece.  Here are a few pictures for all you wool lovers….eat your heart out!

dsc01182   dsc01181

This woman spoke no Russian, only Azeri, but somehow between Cande, me, and the Spin It book that I thankfully brought with me we were able to communicate that we each wanted 2 kilograms of washed wool.  There was washed wool, and unwashed wool, and each kind had a couple of different price ranges.  We chose the 6 manat wash wool because it was cleaner than the 4 manat washed wool  (in the bag to the right of the woman with the blue stripes) and the fibers were longer.  I’m not sure what kind of wool this is, the only thing I know is that it is 100% Azerbaijan sheep wool. 

This shop was actually a shop where the woman makes mattresses or stuffed duvets.  You tell her if you want it for one person or two people, you pick the fabric, she stuffs the fabric with wool, sews it up right there and off you go.  She seemed kind of disappointed that we wanted to take the wool with us.

So our mission for the day was accomplished.  Here’s a picture of me with our big score for the day.  Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face then yarn fibery goodness!  Also notice the sidewalk, grass and green trees…we are definitely not in Baku.


So that was yesterday’s fun.  Today we set out to find the carders that we need to comb the wool to make it nice and pretty and ready for spinning.  That task proved to me a little more difficult although my housekeeper and several other locals insisted that we would be able to find the wheels and carders in the Old City. 

Our first stop was to Samir’s carpet shop.  Today was the first time I met Samir.  His shop is right next to the Maiden Tower.  If you are standing on the Boulevard looking at the Maiden Tower and look to the left, there you’ll find Samir.  Doctor by education, carpet guy by passion.  LOVE HIM!  He really was the most fascinating man to speak to.  He is proof that you should do what you love.  He said that the money isn’t important to him.  What’s important to him is that he pass down the stories of his culture…the stories of carpet making so that others may appreciate the art of his native Azerbaijan.  He must have pulled out 20 carpets for us to see.  Some silk, some sheep wool, some goat wool, some chemical dyed, most natural dyed and ALL beautiful.  We had чай (tea, pronounced ch-eye).  We had a lesson about the various symbols, natural items used to make the colors, all sorts of things.  Samir even had an antique carder and spinning wheel in his shop.  The wool carder wasn’t a hand carder it was more of a stationery carder…similar to this (why didn’t I take a picture?)


The spinning wheel (which I also didn’t take a picture of was about 80 years old and was priced at around 300 manat.  A little too rich for my blood, but I’ll keep looking.

Here are a couple of pictures from inside the carpet shop. 

dsc01211  dsc01210

End result of the day was that we didn’t find the carder or the spinning wheel but we did find a woman who makes carpets around the corner from the Lebanese restaurant in Fountain square.  Really nice lady once she realized we were serious about learning about carpet making, yarn, etc.  Language again was a barrier, but hand signals, pointing and cell phones (to call for translation) worked pretty well.  Cande may start taking lessons from her, I probably will be gone by the time the woman has time in her schedule.

So there you have it .  Two fun filled days of fibery fun.  I just knew with all of these sheep there had to be some fleece around here somewhere and by George we found it….8 km Bazaar.  Now what am I going to do with it?

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