Just got back from the California Wool & Fiber Festival! which is at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds. Had a great time there–it’s a relatively small festival, it all fits into a single fair building, but what’s there is extremely high-quality and very interesting. I spent a good three or four hours shuttling around, picking up and fondling things, etc.
And I came home with a fleece! I was poking through the various wool fleeces, debating with myself whether I’d actually use them, and then I came across the kid mohair section. I’ve wanted a nice silver/gray/black kid fleece for awhile, and there one was! Beautiful variegated steel gray, very very soft, and a rosette on top–reserve grand champion! I snapped it up for $42, or about $14/lb. For a high quality colored kid mohair, that’s a pretty good price.
Then, of course, I took it home and scoured it. I’m breathless. It’s cleaned up from a beautiful fleece into a simply gorgeous one–all the brown tones are gone (a heckuvalot of mud came out in the washing) and it’s a shiny variegated steel gray. No brown overtones, as is common in gray fleeces. I’m very, very happy–can’t wait to wash up the rest of it! But that will have to wait until tomorrow as the oven is already full of drying wool. (I have a gas oven with pilot light, which is the perfect way to dry wool.)
Rob and I have discussed pinon nut hunting and may try for it two weeks from now. Neither of us is sure they’ll still be in season, but it’s worth a try.
And, after playing for awhile, I have FINALLY found the right fiber blend for my shawl. It’s a two-ply with two different plies:
Medium gray, lustrous ply:
4 g black satin angora
3 g white bombyx silk
2 g gray ultrafine merino (15 micron)
White-gray, fuzzy ply:
4.5 g black English angora (which is actually a very pale gray)
2 g white bombyx silk
1 g white ultrafine merino
It spins up to a misty gray, lustrous, fuzzy ragg yarn (one medium gray ply and one oystershell gray ply gives a bit of a barberpole effect). There’s a double halo to it, one of coarser guard hairs from the black satin angora, and one of the softer English angora. It knits up into a soft gray lace that appears to have lots of highlights–an optical illusion from the light/dark “barberpole” in the yarn. I like it a lot, enough to make a shawl from it.
I have a vision of this shawl as a square shawl, titled “Mist”. (I’d make it a Faroese shawl except that I know I couldn’t possibly handle that much purling. I really prefer to knit in the round.) I’ll probably make it another sampler-style shawl, I just have to pick the right set of patterns. Or maybe I’ll do a traditional Shetland shawl…though those usually look pretty boring to me.
I’m also finding wheel spinning “feels” very quick compared to spindle spinning. One of these days I’ll try timing myself on both and see if the wheel really *is* faster. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it were. But for the moment, I’m just enjoying the wheel.