I had an outstanding day yesterday, starting out over Yuba Pass and dropping into the lovely Sierra Valley. After a month of planning and encouraging, the Foothill Fibers Guild and the Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers 'met in the middle' yesterday, at Anna Harvey's ranch for an afternoon of spinning.
We have Sharon to thank for the organizing principle behind the day, and she has also done an excellent job reporting over on her blog, so be sure and take a look. Here she is, happy as a clam!
When I arrived at the ranch, Sharon and Mim were the only other participants there yet, and they were getting a tour of the huge new barn that Anna and her husband built this past winter. Long-time readers will remember that my blogless buddy Linda and I showed up at Harvey Ranch just after a big snowstorm a year ago last spring, hoping to attend shearing and found that the shearer had wimped out, worried about driving in snow.
All of the wood was logged and milled right onsite, a tradition of the past though not uncommon here in my part of the Sierras... Anna's husband is a logger and runs his own portable mill, and the ranch is 5,000 acres, covering both valley grassland and conifer habitat on the eastern slope. They have 200 sheep and several acres of blueberries.
Oh... and the view from Anna's workshop upstairs is inspirational! That laundry basket is sitting atop a scale, as the room is yet-unfinished and has been serving as the skirting room for all of those fleece, but will eventually house a floor loom so that she can weave and take in the view.
The quality of Anna's spinning flock has been winning her lots of awards, including some sort of grand championship award at Lambtown last year and second place spinning flock at Black Sheep Gathering last month. She is planning to attend the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby in September, and won awards there last year as well.
Take a look at the sheen of these locks of silvery-grey and you will see why. Her flock is primarily Coopworth and she has also been developing a Ramboullet group.
While we were upstairs looking at all of the fleece, Sharon found a wonderful Ramboullet fleece and started talking about getting it processed and blended with a lesser percentage of some alpaca she has... she tried to talk Mim into it, and when Mim declined, I said 'yes'! Truth is, I am running short of fiber... I have less than a pound!
Here's our new purchase, rolled out and ready for skirting... Anna's table is a nice, big size for this purpose, allowing the entire fleece to be laid out at once rather than bunched up, and the torn off waste bits and debris to drop through the mesh onto the floor, where they can be quickly swept up.
Sharon has skirted a lot of her own Shetland fleeces over the years, but Anna had lots of tips to share to make the process easier and more efficient... she unrolls the fleece with the tips down, allowing her to grab sections and shake out the bits of hay and other debris easily. She also showed us which parts to discard and why... sometimes it is that they are already too felted from rubbing, such as the underarm and neck sections, sometimes too dirty (I bet you can guess). The two of them made quick work of the skirting process, while Amy and I looked on.
We each ended up with just over three pounds of fleece, and Sharon is sending it off for processing, so it might be a while... but I do think that this will become the basis of the major spinning to shawl process I have been dreaming of... I won't need to worry about running out!
I did sit and spin and got quite a bit done... I also tried out Amy's double-treadle Ashford Kiwi, and liked it a lot... she pointed out that if I get an Ashford portable as my traveling choice, I would be able to use the Lazy Kate and bobbins I already have (nothing like enabling friends, right?!)
The time passed too quickly.... how come that always happens when we are having fun? I needed a 'friend fix', having been pondering over the weekend how almost all of my friends are virtual, and was this really much different than children with imaginary friends. It was wonderful to spend 'real time' with people who share my passion. Amy, Sharon and I will be sharing a shift demonstrating spinning at the Nevada County Fair on August 10th, so if you are heading that way, come by and see us. Amy also convinced me to come and help out at their booth at the Nevada State Fair (free admission if you are carrying a spinning wheel was a good lure!). In the meantime, the virtual world is full of good friends, and later this week I will have a Seraphim update, as yesterday's adventures led to further clarification about how she will be finished.