Sunday, June 30, 2013

Table Rock Llamas Fiber Studio and the Black Forest Fire

I need to post about the Black Forest Fire, because some will be curious and I would like to share.

Table Rock Llamas Fiber Studio was spared due to our superhero firefighters. I visited them yesterday to get in touch about my upcoming crochet classes (see side bar), to congratulate Kris and Val, and to see it first hand.

It was BUSY with people and we're all amazed at how little smell of smoke there was. Especially considering the singe marks on the side of the back building where they hold workshops.

Here are photos I took:
The front of the store with the parking lot full.

The west side of the back building. The grass is burned right up to the parking lot, there are singe marks at the base of the structure, but no damage.

This is the east side and you can see that the back of the property, behind the back building is almost completely burned. They've begun thinning out a few of the trees that are going to topple if not dealt with, but most will stay until new growth comes in. That prevents erosion and helps shelter the new plants.

The fire started June 11th, not quite 1 year after the Waldo Canyon Fire. For those of us who had direct experience with the Waldo Canyon Fire last year it was the beginning of the Post Traumatic Stress roller coaster all over again. We all hung on, trying to keep up with the news but not too much. Over 500 homes lost and 2 lives with 100% containment on June 27th.

One of the good things to see was that the city, county, and state took the time to learn from the fire last year and they JUMPED on it this year. The fact that more homes were lost is not a reflection of their competency. That number would be more than double if they hadn't learned from last year. One of the other complications is that Black Forest is a rural area with livestock as well as people to evacuate and houses tucked way back on dirt roads where they're hard to get at.

But Table Rock Llamas Fiber Studio is still there and acting not only as a business, but as a refuge for those who need a place to gather and support one another. Isn't that what yarn shops are really for?

Estes Park Wool Market: Part 2

When there's a part 1 there has to be at least a part 2. So here is the part 2 of our Estes Park Wool Market trip.

In addition to the 2 ounces of buffalo/silk (pictured in part 1) I got 4 of these half ounce containers of cashmere (2 ounces total).

A new Russian Spindle now filling up with a half ounce of Paco Vicuña from Switzer-Land Farm.

A new plying spindle now loaded with the buffalo/silk and 60/2 silk thread ready for plying. I having a little trouble getting used to it since it's bigger and heavier.

It doesn't seem like much, but all that is a bit expensive. However, knowing that the small quantities of fiber I got will go REALLY far on a Russian spindle. I'll get about 250-400 yards (plying it with silk) out of half an ounce. I got the spindles and Cashmere from Galina Khmeleva at Skaska Designs. She is the one who taught me how to use a Russian Spindle.

I'd like to take a moment and talk a little about Russian spindles.

1. Try it before you buy it. You don't have to know how to use one, just set it spinning in a support cup and let it twirl in the cup of your finger. It should NOT wobble and it should go and go and go. If not, try another one. I don't recommend buying sight unseen on line because of this unless you can convince them to let you try it and send it back if it doesn't work.

2. If you end up with one that wobbles, you can use it as a plying spindle. That's what I have done with the first one I bought before I knew better. It works great for that although it's a little small when you double up what you've spun with the silk. However, if purchasing a plying spindle, put it through the same test that you do for the spinning spindles and get the best one you can find.

3. You do not have to ply with silk. However it is a great idea for several reasons. First, it's cheaper than plying with the same fiber. When you are paying $18-$50 per ounce you want to get as much out of your money as possible. Second, it adds strength and durability to your yarn. The softer, expensive fibers will wear out fast and the silk helps that not to happen as quickly. Third, silk adds a wonderful sheen to your yarn as well as softening the natural colors. Of course you can use dyed silk and I'm presently working on that idea.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Strawberries: Tunisian Crochet

A question about how to do a stitch combination was asked through the Buffalo Wool Co. on Facebook. It had 4 photos and the instructions were in in foreign language. So I thought I might help her out by figuring out how it was done and post instructions here.

This is the link that one of the commentors eventually provided for the original designer's page. This link is to the original instructions and the original source (that we know of). I like to give credit where it's due.

Tunisian Crochet Strawberries:

Supplies I used: 
• Lily Sugar N' Cream Red and Mod Green
• J  Tunisian Crochet Hook

Stitches Used:
• Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS)
• Tunisian Knit Stitch (TKS)
• Tunisian Double Crochet Shell Stitch (TdcShell): Work 5 double crochet loops (dclp) in same stitch OR [Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch TKS style, yo and pull loop through, yo and pull loop through 2 loops on hook] 5 times in same stitch. This makes one TdcShell.

Pattern Information:
• The instructions are for forward rows only. All of the return rows are worked as normal.
• Changing the color is done at the end of the return rows in the last yo, pull through loop.
• The pattern is worked in a multiple of 4 stitchs + 3 and 4 row repeats.

Pattern Instructions: 
Loosely ch 27 using red.
Foundation Row: TSS 27.
Row 1: [TSS 3, TdcShell 1] 6 times, TSS 3. (There should be 51 loops on your hook.)
Change to green in last stitch on return.
Row 2: [TSS 3, TKS 5, yo and pull through 5 loops, ch 1] 6 times, TSS 3. (There should be 27 loops on your hook.)
Change to to red in last stitch on return.
Row 3: TSS 5, [TdcShell 1, TSS 3] 5 times, TSS 2. (There should be 47 loops on your hook.)
Change to green in last stitch on return.
Row 4: TSS 5, [TKS 5, yo and pull through 5 loops, ch 1, TSS 3] 5 times, TSS 2. (There should be 27 loops on your hook.)
Change to red in last stitch on return.

Continue repeating Rows 1-4 until you have your desired length.

****If you want plumper berries, use a Tunisian Treble Crochet Shell stitch in place of the Tunisian Double Crochet Shell stitch.****

Tunisian Treble Crochet Shell stitch (TtrShell): Work 5 treble crochet loops (trlp) in same stitch OR [Yarn over, insert hook into next stitch TKS style, yo and pull loop through, yo and pull loop through 2 loops on hook twice] 5 times in same stitch. This makes one TtrShell.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Estes Park Wool Market: Part 1

A friend reminded me that I need to get better at my blogging again. (Thanks Mary)

I was able to go to the Estes Park Wool Market a couple weekends ago (June 8-9) and thought I'd share a bit with you. For those not familiar with it, Estes Park is the town that is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. RMNP is a pretty incredible place and gets a lot of out of visitors both from Colorado and out of state. So Estes Park is a tourist town with a lot of hotels and a lovely little  "downtown" to walk through and enjoy.

The city of Estes Park is the one that organizes the wool market and they hold it at the county fairgrounds there. It's mostly a livestock fair with a not-to-shabby vendor area. Needless to say, a lot of people go just for the vendors.

When I go I usually have particular things in mind that I want. If I didn't do that, I would be there all day and come away deeply in debt. This year I was focused on things that had to do with using my Russian Spindle and making gossamer weight yarns.

My very first stop was to visit Galina of Skaska Designs to pick up a couple more spindles and see what she had for fiber. She was really busy when I got there, but I managed to come away with the spindles and some cashmere.

I stopped at Buffalo Wool Co. to get some bison/silk.

After perusing the other vendors looking for silk (not much there at all this year) and chatting with a friend who was a vendor, we headed out to look at the animals in their barns.

 This rather ordinary looking goat produces cashmere.

 This one produces Mohair.

And these are Paco-Vicuñas. I did purchase some Paco-Vicuña to try out. 

Needless to say, I spend a lot of money on some beautiful fibers. The kind that are $25-$40 an ounce. Fortunately they go really far on a Russian spindle.