Wednesday, May 5, 2010

maryland sheep and wool

I was in Maryland last weekend to see family and friends. We had a great party on Friday evening in L's beautiful garden. It was so good to see everyone and the beach is only 6 weeks away. I also went out this weekend so that I could attend the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Sat, May 1. Very cool. Lots of vendors, lots of fun stuff. The little lamb was in the vendor's area on a leash. The bag is done by felting wool roving into silk fabric to give the silk enough stability to create a bag. It was a very fun bag and I don't think too difficult to make. There were hundreds of vendors and people seemed to be purchasing stuff. I went with L and she bought a couple project kits. I bought a 10 point felting needle, some raw wool curls, more on those later, some dyed roving, a lizard shawl pin, some handmade buttons (a very good deal), a couple pairs of socks for gifts, and a mermaid button. The buttons were a great deal, all handmade, different colors, shapes, and sizes, and we each bought a grab bag of 24. I even have one with a sheep on it. I have been wanting a bigger felting needle since I only have the individual needles, and it takes a long time to get enough pokes into the roving over a larger area to actually get any felting done. They had lots of dyed silk for felting, but I wanted some plain that I could dye myself so I will have to get it mailorder. One of the women told me about and I checked it out last night and their prices are very good, so I will probably get some there. Most of the roving that I bought was dyed, but I did get some white to dye myself. I actually didn't purchase any wool yarn, partly because the choices were overwhelming, but primarily because I am thinking next year's weaving project is going to be basket weave with cotton warp and weft and I really don't need anymore yarn that doesn't have a purpose in my head. I already have too much.
Saturday was a very hot day, about 93 degrees, but the crowd was friendly and since we had gotten there pretty early, about 8:30am, we didn't have to park a long ways off. Lunch was a delicious lamb gyro and sweet lemonade. When we left at 2pm, there were cars parked a mile and a half from the entrance. And by that time, I was really glad that we didn't have to walk a mile away to get to the car.
P and D hosted a great spaghetti dinner on Sat night and after a nap at L's and dinner with a couple gin and tonics, I was ready to go back to the festival on Sunday, but C and D had finals on Monday and had to be back at school, so next year...
Okay, about the raw wool curls... what I know about raw wool is about nothing, so I bought a plastic bag of this very fun looking stuff, small matted curly locks of wool in white/cream and brown/gray/black colors. We had seen a Christmas stocking with a wool sheep felted on the front using these curly locks of wool and I thought it might be fun to make some ornaments or something. When I bought it, the woman said that it was raw wool and it had to be cleaned before I could use it. Not a problem, how hard can that be? Well, I finally took the bag out last night, and said to H, that this was my sheep smell, because on Sat, there had been a little odor to the wool, but that was on Sat and a serious understatement. By Tuesday and after a couple 90+degree days, the smell was enough to knock your socks off. It smelled like I had brought home the whole sheep barn in a bag. I spent last evening reading about how to clean raw wool, what impuities are actually in it, poop, burrs, grass, etc... (I found all of them, dirty work) and how to do all this without felting it during the washing process. It took many sinks of the hottest water I could get from the tap, not hot enough, by the way, only about 125 degrees (the articles said 140 - 160 degrees) and don't ever let it cool below 110 degrees or the lanolin will get sticky and not wash out. And it takes a whole bottle of dish detergent to do one pound of wool. It took a couple hours, but I think it is cleaner, or maybe it only smells a bit better. There is still a bit of an odor, not unpleasant, but a little sheepy... and the water wanted to bead up in even the last rinse, so I don't really think that I have all the lanolin out either, but it is better than it was and I am not going to try and card and spin it, so it should be ok?
This is going to be my grapevine wreath for the back deck. I want to make a big wreath and then decorate it with mosaic birds of different colors. I will use small pieces of broken stained glass and seal the birds to keep the weather out. I think they should look great when the sun catches the glass. My friend K pruned her grapevines and bundled it and brought it to work for me. H wants to know why we have all the sticks and I caught him tonight just as he was taking out the trash and scheming about how he was going to get my grapevine to the road too. By the weekend, I'll at least have a wreath. The birds will take a few more days. I have to get grout and a piece of 1/4" plywood for my bird shapes.
This is going to be the colors of my new quilt top. I want to make a quilt like the raffle quilt that I talked about last week, very bright, and appliqued with batiks. I cut these 1" strips so that I can make the 1" borders on each of the pieced blocks. I have a quilting workshop in June to make star blocks and I think I'll wait until then to do the pieced blocks, but I am starting work on the appliqued blocks tonight. I have several traditional patterns picked out and copied onto freezer paper so I can start cutting out applique blocks this week. I am working at Applewood on Friday for the Master Gardeners, so I probably won't get a lot done this weekend, since hopefully if the weather cooperates, I want to plant at least part of the vegetable and annual gardens too, but I am so excited to be able to start another applique quilt.

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