Over the last several months I've been part of a team learning to spin raw wool for a sheep-to-shawl competition. Summary - 5 team members, 3 hours to shear a sheep, spin its wool and weave it into a shawl. We were to compete at Maryland Sheep & Wool, but there were tremendous circumstances (really, forces of fate!) against us so we withdrew. We haven't disbanded though, and we will be giving demonstrations and I'm sure practicing in the coming months. I'm really glad I had a chance to get to know the members of my team, and I want to thank Anne at Star Gazing Farm, in Maryland. Anne participated as our shearer, and agreed to provide the sheep, Gruff. Check out her website - http://www.stargazingfarm.org/ It's a rescue farm, so if you're an animal lover you'll understand the work Anne does.
Recent product - this handspun. I don't have enough for a large project. Perhaps it will be good for a hat.
So Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was the first weekend in May, and though our team didn't compete at the festival, it was inspiring. I wanted to try drop spindle again to see if I can actually gain some proficiency. So I bought two Golding spindles and I have been enjoying them tremendously. Over the last two weeks I have spent hours practicing and I have gotten much better. Yes, it still drops, but it's getting easier!!
I really like spinning merino wool, but at the sheep and wool festival there are more unusual fibers available so I like to try those. Bamboo is getting very popular, and straight bamboo and blends were available at the festival. I bought some 100 percent bamboo to try with the drop spindle. The colorway is Rainforest. I didn't realize it would be so tricky to spin - very fine, slippery. It doesn't have scales like on wool to make the fibers naturally grab each other.
Another one of my purchases was a nostepinne. It's a simple tool (a thick, tapered dowel, really) to wrap a center-pull ball of yarn. There is a good description and instructions at http://www.hatchtown.com/nostdir.html
After the festival, at Nature's Yarns I bought the book Fiber Gathering by Joanne Seiff. There was a good section on Andean plying, which motivated me to learn that skill. I recommend the book - it's got fun descriptions of the fiber festivals all around the US, focusing on the unique flavor of each. Makes me want to jump in an old VW microbus and go to each show! The book also has projects, and great pictures.
All in all, it's been a very rich fiber immersion week since Maryland Sheep & Wool!