25 October, 2010

Country Market Demo

All four of us that did the handspinning demonstration at the farmers' market thought it was an enjoyable day out in the country and wished we could do it again. 

One of the participants was the natural dyer that I got to see dye with cosmos blossoms and walnuts last week.  She was spinning some wool that was dyed yellow with cosmos.  She says the cosmos blossoms were enclosed in a net in the dyebath to keep pieces from getting in the fiber.  Some pieces got in anyway and she had to pick them out.  She also said some of the walnuts she used were immature, so from that I take that their wizened surface must have been from the boiling and not deterioration from age.  She plans to steep the walnuts repeatedly, that is, daily to deepen the dyebath's intensity.

We had a traditional Saxony wheel, two upright folding castle wheels, and drop spindles on show along with fiber, skeins, hand cards, and a niddy noddy.  I had a selection of open skeins draped across the top corners of a cork board sign.  The sign was handlettered with "fresh spun yarn" and our guild name.  I put the board on the seat of my folding chair propped up against the back, which put the skeins in easy touching distance for people who came over to watch us spin.  They mostly went for the ruby red merino, over the naturally coloured Gulf Coast Native, Targhee, or Corriedale cross.  I also had my ball of spun Icelandic thel and some Blue Face Leicester wool top.  I talked about which skeins came from Virginia-raised sheep and what different properties in the wool were represented by each sample.  

I made the analogy between wool and human hair: curly hair tends to be dull, whereas straight hair tends to be shiny.  One person wondered if the curliness or straightness of a sheep's wool changes over time, but no, the structure goes for that sheep and for sheep of that breed.  Another person wondered if the relative dullness or lustrous appearance was determined by diet and if shine could be increased by supplementing a sheep's diet.  Certainly good feed makes for good wool, but again, the structure is the structure.

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