TNNA Goodies

I’m back from my little break and I have so much news for you. It’s likely going to take a few blog posts.

This summer has been moving fast and it seems every weekend has been full of excitement. First June weekend was sheep adventures, second was TNNA, and the third was playing with my dear niece and her adorable family.

I’ve shared quite a bit about the sheep adventures, though there will be more to tell on that front. For the moment though let’s roll the clock back to the second weekend and talk about the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio. For those of you that are new to my blog, or have never heard of TNNA, it is The National Needlearts Association and is a trade organization for folks that sell all sorts of fiber, yarn, needle crafting tools and supplies. It also includes needlearts teachers, designers and bloggers. You can learn more about TNNA at their website.

I had a little shorter visit at TNNA this time than I usually do, but it was still super productive. I flew out of Denver late Saturday morning. Had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable flights ever because of my seat mates. The woman at the window was traveling with her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and he cuddled with me for most of the flight. Might not have been ideal for folks that don’t love dogs or critters, but it was perfect for me. The woman on the aisle was also a dog lover, so we had a great time.

Saturday evening was the Business & Creative Services dinner. Lots of interesting conversations with colleagues and show vendors. There was a great goodie bag. I made sure to go to each of the vendors during the rest of the show to thank them for their sponsorship.

Sunday morning I had an inspiring class with Zontee Hou called “Become a Video Whiz”. Just Wow! I feel like my brain was so full after that class that I needed to sit somewhere quietly for a couple of hours and think. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option that day, fortunately Zontee always provides detailed slides and hand-outs that let me re-live the class now I am home.

I needed to spend my Sunday after the class on the showroom floor to meet with a number of yarn companies and to talk tools with some of the other companies (like the lively folks at Clover).

It’s always exciting to see what products Clover has, both the old and new. I’ve got a few to experiment with over the next couple of months, so be sure to check back for those reviews.

It was also a blast to see my friend Eloise. She and I have known each other for ages, long before she began working with Clover. We had a good chuckle when she started working with them and I told her they were one of my very favorite crafting tool companies. We were laughing at this show because she lives in Denver, yet the last 2 times we have seen each other have been at shows that we had to fly to. Life just gets too busy and crazy at times.

I also found some other booths I needed to check out. Like the “Knitting Abacus”, “Glowving” from Kreinik and “Brittany Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks”.

It’s not a real TNNA show without a stop by Daven’s “Love & Leche” booth for beautifully scented lotion bars for keeping my hands from drying out up here on the mountain.

One of the most wonderful things about being at TNNA is the yarn. A rainbow of colors and so many beautiful soft fibers. I can get very lost seeing all the yarn. That joke about being overwhelmed by yarn fumes? It could really happen at TNNA. There are so many new yarns to see.

The pile of yarn above is what I came home with, there will also be some more coming to my house soon. I’ve been sketching and making design notes on each of these in preparation for creating gorgeous new crochet designs. Some of these yarns are brand new to me, so I will also be posting reviews of those yarns as I get to work with them.

Sunday evening I got together with a bunch of my designer friends and we went out to dinner at Bare Burger. I loved this restaurant. Local sourced and organic food, cooks and wait staff that actually know what Gluten Free really means plus fun, quirky décor like the awesome decoupaged bear heads hanging all over the restaurant walls.

One stop that was at the top of my list for TNNA was the Unicorn Wash booth. I met Melanie, the owner, at my first TNNA show. You might recall I mentioned her when talking about my marvelous book about sheep? It was her drawing that I won it from. I wanted to make sure to check in with her and discuss her products because I have another big piece of news. I am now a part owner with my neighbor Margie of a sheep flock.

I bet most of you aren’t that surprised, after all the sheep adventures of the last couple of years. It’s been my dream for a long time and Margie gave me the push I needed to do it. Life is going to be even more interesting and busy now, but I figure it will off-set the gap that is opening in my life as my sons are becoming ever more independent. I know one thing after only one week of working with the sheep regularly, I’m going to be getting in great shape.

Hang onto your hooks and needles my dear readers, it’s going to be a wild time on the mountain.

 

 

Taking a Little Break

Hey there dear readers. This summer is speeding up on me big time. I just got back yesterday evening from the TNNA Summer Trade Show, that was the view out the plane window during one of my flights. Tomorrow my niece and her family are coming out to spend a long weekend with us.

I’m busily kid-proofing my house, since my niece is the amazing mom to 3 adorable little people 6 years old and younger. That’s me above with the newest one during our Spring Break trip. They are good kids, but it has been quite awhile since I had to think about what is down low that little hands should probably be kept away from. Currently I am really grateful that I haven’t removed all the childlocks that are on a number of our cabinets.

In a few short weeks I’ll be getting ready for my trip in July going to the CGOA Chain Link Conference in Chicago. For those of you thinking about going I really hope you join us, it’s going to be a blast. There are also going to be some big family trips for us this summer. The Graves clan is getting together for a week on the shores of Lake Huron. Then later in the summer Himself and I are planning to take the boys to Mesa Verde for a few days.

I’ll be sharing lots of fun news from TNNA with you soon, but I’m taking a little break from the blog and YouTube while I enjoy some special family time. I’ll be back with a new blog post late next week.  Be sure to check back, as I’ll be telling you the story behind the wild decoupaged bear pictured above.

I hope you are all having an awesome summer, for those in the northern hemisphere. For those of you in the southern hemisphere that are going into the winter season I hope you are staying warm.

Learning More about Sheep

I’m headed off to the TNNA Summer Trade Show this coming weekend. In between all the fun of packing and preparing for the meetings I’ll be having at the show, I’ve been reading a book that I won at my first ever TNNA show. That was the Winter 2012 show in Phoenix, Arizona.

This is “The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook” written by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius. It is shock full of information especially from the standpoint of how various breeds of fiber animals fiber behaves in yarn and spinning. The first 30 pages are full of basic information on fiber and fiber animals.

Part 1 is all about Sheep and is divided by geographical region that the sheep are known for with breed specific sub-sections. Each breed specific section is really informative about the origin of the breed and the type of fiber that comes from that breed. There are photographic samples of the fiber; in both raw and cleaned form, a short length of hand spun, woven and knitted swatches, and sometimes multiple samples of carding and combing the fiber.

Following the specific sheep sections is Part 2, which deals with the other fiber creatures. It’s divided by critter sections: Goats, Goat crosses, Camelids (includes Alpaca & Llamas), Other Critters (Bison, Musk Ox, Rabbits, and Yak to name a few).

After my fun adventure with Margie’s herd last week I had wanted to learn more about the breed she is raising. She has CVM sheep, which is the abbreviation for California Variegated Mutant. A name for a geek to love. The CVM sheep are considered a Critical Conservation Breed. This means that there are not a lot of them around, keeping the breed going is important to maintain diversity in domestic sheep stocks. This is one of the reasons that Margie chose this breed of sheep for her herd.

Margie had told me a little about the breed, but I wanted to find out what their origin was. I knew I had tucked this book away on my reference shelf and am really glad I dug it out. I will be doing quite a bit of reading in this book the next couple of months. There is terrific information in there about sheep breeds, spinning and felting of fibers.

If you are interested in learning more about the fibers that go into your yarn or you like to spin your own yarn, this is a great book to have on your reference shelf.

Visiting a new Mill.

The mutant To-Do list got pushed around a lot this week. I had plans, I had good plans, but then I got distracted by sheep things.

Margie’s Herd – June 2016

You may recall that my next door neighbor, Margie, has a small herd of CVM sheep. Yesterday morning she called me to let me know her sheep were being sheared. Unfortunately I was sleeping in because I had stayed up late the night before working on a project. As soon as I got her message though I headed on over to help her skirt the fleeces in preparation for sending them to a mill to be processed.

Neither of us had ever really skirted a fleece before, we had both see it done many times and had an idea of what to do, so we jumped right in. All the rejected fleece bits we gathered up for me to take home. I’ll be cleaning and carding them to use for the interiors of some of my needle felting creations. Some of the better bits may be used for color work on my needle felting creations since Margie’s sheep are a wonderful mixture of colors; blacks, browns, beiges, grays and creams,

Margie didn’t have a mill lined up for her fleeces, so she spent the afternoon researching online. Later that evening she called me and told me she had found a new mill in Estes Park that could process her fleeces. She had set up an appointment to take her fleeces there as well as getting a tour of the mill. She asked if I wanted to go along. Of course I said, “Yes!”

I had a number of things on my list to do this morning, but who can pass up a tour of a new fiber mill? I made sure to wind a hank of yarn into a ball to take with me to crochet on during the drive.

Margie picked me up at 8 a.m. and we had a fun time talking about sheep, fiber and yarn on the 45 minute drive to the mill.

It is a gorgeous drive to Estes Park from our neighborhood. Margie stopped for me to get a photo of the clouds on the mountain tops over Peaceful Valley.

We saw some Elk with velvet on their antlers only a few miles before the turn off to the mill.  I took this photo thru the truck window and the sunlight was working against me a bit.

Finally we were at the Willow Creek Fiber Mill and were greeted by Daniel and Kat. Daniel helped us unload the bags of fleece and brought them into the mill building.

This is the area where it all begins. You can see there were already a number of fleeces on the drying shelves. In the far left corner is the big washing machine that the fleeces are cleaned in. The hook hanging in front of the window is where the fleeces were weighted. Margie’s fleeces had a total weight of 35 pounds. A lot of that will be lost once all the processing is finished. A big part of the weight is the “grease” in the wool.

Daniel pulled out one of Margie’s fleeces to see how we had done on our skirting work and to give us some pointers for next year. He told us we had actually done a pretty good job and showed us some of the stuff to watch out for next time. Margie and I had been talking about next year that we should skirt the fleeces as the shearers finished them. That way the messy stuff doesn’t get bundled into the good part of the fleece.

We talked about putting covers on Margie’s herd this coming year to keep the fleeces cleaner. Daniel said they had used covers on their herd in the past, but were considering leaving them off this year. We were all laughing that after processing Margie’s fleeces that they might be running to put covers on their herd.

I was curious about the other machines for processing the fiber. Behind Margie is the room where the cleaned fleeces are picked, carded, drafted and spun. On the Willow Creek website they had photos of each of the machines. I understood what “picking” and “carding” were about, but didn’t recognize the term “pin drafting”. Daniel showed me some fiber that had been thru the pin-drafter and the combs in the machine that get all the fibers lined up in preparation for being spun. I was so fascinated that I forgot to take any photos of this part of our tour.

They asked us if we would like to meet their herd. There were 9 sheep total, 3 were lambs. They had sold their other lambs. I was having lots of fun with petting the lambs and some of the older sheep thru the fence. Their sheep were very friendly. They have 5 children so the sheep get lots of time interacting with humans. I told Margie I’d be happy to come over and help socialize her herd.

This little lady was just too adorable. I got some nibbles on my fingers from her.

Then it was time to head back home and get back to my mutant To-Do List. Margie wanted to make one more stop at the stables in our neighborhood so I could meet her newest horse. I was having a bit of operator error with my camera, so this was the best photo I got of him. His name is Woody and he is a Gypsy Vanner.  Such a handsome and sweet fellow. He was enjoying noshing on some fresh grass from Margie’s hand.