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Upcoming Events April 2014

markettanya
markettanya

We are pleased to announce events that we will be attending this month! Beginning this Saturday April 12, we will be at the Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market outside of Town Hall in downtown Winslow from 9am-1pm! This is our regular spot and we will be a part of the market every Saturday all season until December. Come see by and see us for lots of yarn, some new shop samples, and freshly shorn Finnsheep fleeces and roving! And maybe even some 2014 lambing and kindling updates! This Farmers' Market is the home to lots of great local producers, including Laughing Crow Farm, Bainbridge Vineyards, Butler Green Farm, Persephone Farm, and food vendors like the PsycheDeli!

Also Saturday April 12, we will be at the Community Marketplace at the Strung Along Retreat at the Resort at Port Ludlow from 6.30pm-8.30pm. We were able to be a part of the Strung Along Retreat last November and are excited to be here again this spring! This marketplace is free and open to the public and expect to see yarn, locally grown fibers, locally carded roving and batts, handmade project bags, and more!

Winter Dyeing- Dying for Spring

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With no Saturday market to prepare for each week, our dye activity experienced a bit of a (well deserved) lull in the months of December and January. But we made up for our relative inactivity in February and March which saw a frenzy of thrift store sweater-recycling, mordanting and dyeing of left over yarn and dye-stuff.  

Native plants offer just a sliver of the color range available in the spring and summer. But a few young shoots braved late-winter soil to flaunt their soft spiny leaves: namely, Stinging Nettles. We found swaths of them carpeting portions of our new dye garden (before we tilled it) and just couldn't let such an abundance go to waste. Emily and I harvested a few pounds worth, simmered them down into an earthy and green smelling tea and supplemented a bit of iron to dye our wool a lovely sage green.

20140308_155544 Nettle shoots are rather tender so we only simmered them 20-30 minutes (after that they seem to turn into green sludge which is hard to strain out).

20140307_142459Next we immersed wet, pre-mordanted wool in the nettle tea and let it simmer slowly for about an hour. We found that without iron, the nettles dyed an unremarkable brownish yellow with a whisper of green (generally not an attractive combination). However with a glug of iron solution, the tea developed into a rich, if slightly dulled green. Many dye-books document iron's effect on a natural dye as "saddening" a color- often yielding lovely results.

Aside from helping us use up our Nettle spoils, our stove has been busy simmering dye plants we were able to preserve from the summer and fall:

Choreopsis

Marigold

-dried Marigold and Coreopsis flowers

Salal

- frozen and dry Salal berries (the dry berries offer only a cool light-to-medium grey)

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- ammonia soaked lichen: Usnea (featured above) is just one of many which were historically used as dye plants.

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- onion skins courtesy of Laughing Crow Farm's bounty

grapes

- frozen Dunkelfelder grapes (left over from Bainbridge Vineyard's Rose wine)

The option of preserving our summer crop of dye plants makes this fiber and dye business a wonderful asset to Emily as a farmer and shepherd. Emily works 12 hour a days most days a week April through September. But November, December and January feel startlingly calm in comparison. With all of our dry and frozen vegetation, we could (theoretically) be busy all year round! If this summer's dye garden doesn't fail miserably, we will have a dramatically larger and more diverse crop of color to occupy us for the coming year. Not to mention all the local volunteers that send up their shoots around now... Equisetum or Horsetail is just one of the many spring shoots I'm looking forward to cooking up! More about that in the coming month.

ps. the plant drawings above are featured as little tags on each skein of yarn we dye- elucidating the source of the color with which you're working. :)

 

Angora Shearing: Deleted Scenes

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Just came across all these Jems- Thought the bunny lovers out there might appreciate Steam Roller on his Shearing Tower. Surprisingly, given his otherwise outgoing personality, he's much more afraid of jumping than Affability. The Tower has proven immensely useful.

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We decided it was time for their first-ever bath! The bunnies bravely tolerated it and the blow-drying that followed.

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Sorry about the blur, but the bundled bunnies are just too cute to handle!

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Let's hope this spring will bring angora bunnies from this quirky couple!

Angora Shearing

affabilityLast week, the rabbits got their seasonal haircut! Both Affability (the white doe, above) and Steamroller (a chesnut agouti buck, below) are German Angora Rabbits and need haircuts every 90 days.In general there are three types of angora rabbits: the English, French, and German. English and French angoras are generally plucked (combed) to harvest their fiber, but Germans must be sheared.shearingsteamrollerIt takes me about a morning to shear each rabbit. Angoras are very efficient wool producers! These rabbits easily produce over a pound of prime wool each year, quite a feat for a rabbit! In addition, the wool is wonderfully soft and warm; even a laceweight angora cowl will keep you toasty warm! Germans also have a friendly temperament and are easy to handle. They are generally easy to groom and care for and make wonderful fiber companions for those without room for the larger fiber creatures.

angora bagsSo far, I have had the angora blended by Taylored Fibers with our Finnsheep fleeces to create lovely rovings and batts (which will be for sale online soon!)

We also have some straight angora for sale (see above). We may also stockpile a couple of shearing worth of fiber and send it to a mill to be spun into yarn! We plan on mating Steamroller and Affability this spring and hope to have some baby rabbits soon.

Some more info on German Angoras can be found on the IAGARB (International Association of German Angora Rabbit Breeders) website here.