Last Saturday I trudged through the snow to the studio to do some much needed tidying up. It’s rare that my studio is empty enough to work on rearranging a few racks and clearing off shelves of unused clutter that somehow accumulates during the busy season. I wanted to tackle these tasks before I once again did a high dive into the creative sea that swells and buoys me along much of the year in the studio.
Shearing time has passed for some of my farmer fiber sources and there are fleeces waiting to be picked up. I also knew the mill order from fleeces shipped back in December was due to arrive soon. Most of the yarn on hand was already dyed and soap making hasn’t commenced, although it is high on my schedule as well. The window of opportunity was open. Bitter cold and blizzard aside, I needed to be at work.
Because the porch to the studio was covered in snow and the dutch door often sticks in wet weather I entered through the back door that opens out to the drive through. It’d be much too civilized to call what we have a driveway. It’s not paved or even gravel lined, it’s the path the vehicles take from the lane to the studio and house. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find extra boxes in the hallway that leads to the studio. The UPS man had made a delivery! All the bells and whistles jangled and blew – I gasped and did a little dance right there in the darkened hallway. My mill order had arrived!
Although I don’t get to keep all of this lovely local yarn to myself (and sometimes I really wish I could) I’m always jubilant when I open the boxes from the mill! I knew I still had to do the clean up in the studio so I tore into the boxes to remove the bags within. Because really – those boxes were in the way and I certainly couldn’t clean and rearrange around them sitting in the middle of the floor. That’s the excuse I used anyway just so I could see what glorious yarns the mill spun with the fleeces I’d cleaned three months ago.
Each bag was opened and I peeked inside then stuck my hand in to feel the softness within. Then – with regret and a promise to return for more fondling and inspection, I taped the bags back closed and placed them on the shelf that lines one wall.
In record speed I tackled my job of clearing clutter and within a few hours I was pulling skeins of yarn from the waiting bags – inspecting and admiring the fibers, the colors and the weights. A few skeins quickly made their way into a sudsy wash.
|Sudsing – three tubs at a time.|
Everything that comes from the mill, regardless of whether it is going to be left natural or dyed, gets washed in a gentle fiber-friendly soap. This process helps the fiber, which is slightly oily from the milling process, to bloom to a natural fullness and softness.
|Each skein gets at least two sudsy soaks…|
|…before being hung to dry, regardless of whether it will be left naked or dyed.|
Once a skein is washed it can take on a whole new look. Like this merino/lambswool/angora, a single ply fingering weight that appeared very proper in its bag but once washed shows such bounce and softness!
|Oklahoma raised merino/lambswool/angora – about as feminine as you can get.|
|Alpaca with tussah silk in lace weight – perfect against the skin.|
|Llama with bamboo lace weight|
Skeins like these llama bamboo lace weight in a pale gray are perfect for dyeing deep shades of blue, green and purple.
|Llama bamboo in sport weight|
And others, are so deep and lush in their natural color that they’re best left naked.
|More llama bamboo sport weight.|
I see these llama bamboo skeins dyed in shades of wine, red, orange and rust.
For the next few weeks my days will be spent standing over soaking yarn, just dyed yarn, and raw fleeces being washed — all three tubs at a time.