07 June, 2009

Spinning at the Winery

Saturday was the annual Spinning Day at Retzlaff Winery in Livermore, CA. I packed carefully the night before: tiny spindle, some fiber, a garter-stitch baby blanket, my ID and a credit card. Last year I took my Sonata, but this year I didn't really feel much like spinning and I figured a spindle would allow me more mobility. AuntieSocial, on the other hand, brought her wheel... and didn't take it out at all. Score one for my precognition.
I like to play Count the Schacts with this picture

I did, however, find a few sad bags of orphaned fleece that desperately needed a home. I mean really! How can a kind-hearted spinner be expected to just leave roving like this:
8 oz. of spring green cormo from Sue Reuser

and this:
8 oz. of burgundy roving from Sue Reuser

out on the street to who-knows-what fate?

I also am going to split a beautiful white ewe fleece from Sue up at the Cormo Sheep Farm with AuntieSocial and another friend. We dropped off the huge 6-pound fleece with Sherri of Morro Bay with a request that she just wash it and keep it in lock formation so that we can try combing. Aija, I can see you grinning through the magic of the internet! And I may be developing a serious love affair with cormo fleeces. I spent a lovely quarter of an hour flipping through Sue's lock book - the book in which she keeps a lock of each sheep's fleece for identification purposes - and came to rest on a beautiful milky chocolate lock that I just couldn't keep my eyes off of. Then I looked at the sheep's name, and of course it was the amazing Henna whose fleece, for any interested parties (::coughcough::), has already been sold this year and will not be at the Monterey Auction. However, there will be a couple of other ones there, and I will be thinking very hard about saving money to make one of them mineminemine.

In addition to the stunning dyed cormo from Sue, I got an education and 2 ounces of Pygora from Hollyhock Hollows Farm. But let me back up.

One would think that the first thing a fiber person would do when encountering an unfamiliar chunk of fiber is to run it under her chin or perhaps on her cheek to feel its softness. One would generally be wrong. The first thing said fiber person does with a new fiber is smell it. This seems crazy, I know, but barnyard animals each have a distinctive smell, and it can often help identify things about the animal that the eye or skin cannot. Therefore, the first thing I did when I encountered a plastic salad dish of Pygora was to smell it, after which I promptly exclaimed, "it doesn't smell like sheep!" And the ever helpful lades at the Pygora booth informed me that no, pygora is actually a goat. I am so s-m-r-t it hurts sometimes.

By the way, the easiest way to aurally distinguish between goats and sheep is that the former says, "maaaa" and the latter says, "baaa." Thus is the Encyclopedia Britannica still useful.

So I learned about the three grades of pygora (A, B, and C), and came home with two ounces of fiber so soft that even ManCandy - who has learned all the appropriate phrases for when I come home loaded with wool (for the record they are: "ooo, what nice colors!," "can I feel it?," and "ooo, squishy/soft/pretty!") - exclaimed at how lovely it was.

It looks a little like a fuzzy pet rock here, but trust me, it's like
heaven to touch, I just want to hold it so much.

There was another acquisition at the winery, but I can't talk about it yet - I'm going to be selfish and keep it to myself for just a bit longer. But trust me, you'll hear about it soon!

In anticipation of the spinning day, I cast on for a Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting. I don't own the book because frankly I find the patterns inside to be unappetizing, but I do like the rustic color block look of the baby blanket, and I also like the appeal of large swathes of garter stitch for brainless knitting. I'm on block four of ten, and much like a circular shawl it keeps getting bigger with every change, so I'll be working on this one for awhile.

So this year was only a leetle more restrained at the Winery than last year; instead of 2 half-fleeces I ended up with 1/3 of a fleece plus a 18 ounces of pin-drafted roving and a bottle of delicious port. Hurrah for wine and knitting!


  1. Hurrah, nice recap!! :) I was seriously wanting to go, but between new fleeces and old fleeces, oy. I know I'd bring one more home and have to live on the porch or something for the room I need to spare :)

    I have some pygora in the stash... bought a B/C fleece and had it dehaired/made into roving by fantasy fibers in oregon. It's just too beautiful for me to touch or think about spinning :)

  2. Hmm, Pygora. I may have to check that out.

    Looks like a good time was had!