Sheep Fest is coming

Just a quick reminder that Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend. We’ll be at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds on Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 10-4.

I’ve got lots to do to get ready for the show. I’m trying out some new display options in my booth to see if they’ll work well for the big show I’m doing in November. They still need some assembly before set-up on Friday.

There’s merchandise to tag and marketing photos to post in social media outlets.

I’ve got to repack my show bins from the outdoor show contents to the indoor show contents.

I’m bringing a couple of spinning wheels to sell (if I can get them into the car) so I’ve got some signs to make. [If you are interested in a Merlin Tree Hitchhiker or a Canadian tilt-tension production wheel, give me a shout.]

And while I’m doing all of that I’ll be weaving, knitting and dreaming about seeing sheep and alpacas. Yarn, yarn and more yarn. Maybe I’ll be tempted and buy some.

I’m in the pavilion (the big main building.) Hope to see you there!

Scaling up

I’ve been accepted to a show in November, Craft Vermont, and I need to significantly increase my scarf inventory before then. One way to do that is to wind warps for multiple scarves in one run instead of one at a time. I’ve done this many times before when I weave dishtowels but up until now have preferred to do my scarves one at a time.

This has made sense when I have a limited supply of the warp yarn, or I’m going to use a funky accent yarn. But when I am planning to use the same variegated yarn for the warp and vary the color of the weft yarn, it makes sense to add some efficiency to the process. On the up side, I only have to sley the reed and thread the heddles once. Likewise, tying on to the front and back rods. On the downside, I’m winding a longer warp (10 yards vs 3) for 3 scarves, and managing the length through the process of dressing the loom.

I also needed to know what length to weave. When I set up to weave a single scarf, I typically weave the full length of the warp (minus the waste) and whatever I’m allowing for fringe. I don’t have to measure as I go because I keep going until I can’t. But with a 3-scarf warp I had some figuring to do. I knew how long the scarves were once I got them off the loom, but I hadn’t been measuring the weaving under tension and there’s always a loss of length (the take-up) between on loom and off.

I spent a few hours last weekend with my weaving notebook (notes on all the past projects) and my warp requirements planning spreadsheet and tried to figure it all out. I’ll spare you all the gory details (email me if you really want to know more), but I finally had something I thought would work.

This week I wound a test warp, 10 yards, for three scarves.

warp chain along with two of the three weft yarns

I can whip out a 1-scarf warp pretty quickly, so I hadn’t thought real hard about how much longer it was going to take to wind this one. Once it was finally ready for the loom the threading went as quickly as ever.

Then there was the winding on of the warp onto the warp beam. There were some issues. The first was a rookie mistake. I hadn’t used the loom since I unfolded it after the rug workshop so it wasn’t quite set up correctly. The rod that’s supposed to go up and over the back beam was instead snugged right up against the warp beam. As I was tying on I kept thinking that it didn’t look right, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After tying on most of the warp bundles I realized the problem. I painstakingly untied about 9 double knots, moved the rod into place and started the knotting process over again. (If it had been the loom below, I could have removed the back beam, slid it under the threads and replaced it, but my Baby Wolf doesn’t have that capability.)

Here’s what it is supposed to look like (this is not a scarf!)

Warp threads properly going over the back beam

Then it was time for the winding on. I warp from the front, so in this step I’m turning a crank and winding all of the warp threads through the reed and heddles from the front of the loom to the back and onto the beam that is covered with cardboard in the picture above. The cardboard (some use sticks or heavy paper) keeps the threads from sinking into the layers of threads that I’ve wound on and thus I maintain an even tension across the width of the warp.

As I wound on, I knew I needed to keep the tension even, but I was using a mishmash of cardboard rolls, some of which were more squished flat than others, and it turns out I didn’t get it as tight as I should have. This was revealed to me only as I was weaving. I’d weave a couple of inches and go to advance the warp and there would be a lot more slack to take up than usual.  I’ve since cut a new 10-yard length of fresh corrugated to use and armed with that and this experience I’m hoping the next run will go much better.

I’m not doing anything here that I haven’t done many times before, but just making the one change, warp length, added some complexities to work out. I do think that in the long run it took less time overall to make the three scarves than if I had made them singly, and as with any process I expect to become even more efficient with practice.

One warp, Painted Desert, three wefts: Greyed Teal, Taupe and Mineral Green

These haven’t been finished yet, they lack washing and pressing. If they look OK after that, they’ll go into inventory.

And finally, a reminder that the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds on Saturday 10/1 and Sunday 10/2. Yarn, fiber, finished goods (I’m a vendor). Equipment, both for fiber processing and for animals. Sheep, alpacas, rabbits, and more. Loads of fun even if you aren’t a fiber person. Check out the website for a schedule of events including sheep herding demonstrations.

A quick note

It was a beautiful autumn weekend here in Vermont for the Sheep and Wool Festival. The rain stayed away, the sun shone brightly, the leaves were turning.

It was so nice to see new faces in my booth this year.  Many colorful pairs of wool socks left to brighten and warm feet and some of you have new scarves as well.

Now that I’m back home I’m busy catching up. A new scarf is going on the loom, yarn is being wound for the sock machine and I’m making notes about next year’s show.

So if you missed the show this year, take a moment to mark your calendars.  The Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival returns to the Tunbridge Fairgrounds on October 1 & 2, 2016. Hope to see you there!


It’s been a busy week here in the studio.

I made some socks:

New socks

I finished weaving a scarf:

Birds eye twill scarf detail
Birds eye twill scarf detail

and started the next one:

Huck lace scarf in progress
Huck lace scarf in progress

And I finished a sweater:

Sweater for a customer
Sweater for a customer

A fellow weaver asked me if I was freaked out at the fact that Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is in six weeks.  “Not at all” was my reply. Then I thought about what she said and realized “heck yes!”.  I’m nowhere near ready for it.

This is my first year having my own booth (as opposed to sharing.) So in addition to making socks and scarves to sell, I need to design my booth layout. I’ve wanted a bar-height director’s chair, which I purchased this weekend. I’m pondering hanging displays for the scarves, what tables I want to use and thinking about different promotional materials to advertise my services.

Soon I’ll set up the tent in the yard and do a dry run.

If you are at all nearby please plan to visit the festival. It’s October 3-4 at the Tunbridge, VT Fairgrounds. I’ll be in the vendor pavilion.

I’m now on Instagram! Not sure I know what I’m doing yet, but I expect I’ll figure it out eventually.

Now back to some business planning…

It’s time for the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is October 4 & 5, 2014 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds in Tunbridge Vermont.  Fest hours are 10-5 on Saturday, 10-4 on Sunday.

I’m sharing a booth with my friends at Gage Hill Crafts and you can find us in the main vendor pavilion.  Look for Gage Hill Crafts on your map to find us.  I’ll have fuzzy, warm socks and pretty scarves.  Come say hello!

New this year, scarves woven with some of Ellen’s Half Pint Farm hand-dyed baby alpaca/silk.  Really yummy!

Baby Alpaca, silk and tencel scarf
Baby Alpaca, silk and tencel scarf

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival is nigh

Time to pack up socks and scarves and head over to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  It promises to be a beautiful fall weekend and I’m looking forward to fiber immersion.  Even if you aren’t a fiber person it is a great event for the whole family.  Lots of animals, demonstrations and tasty regional food.  Hope to see you there!

Visit my booth at Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival

The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is September 29 and 30 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds in Tunbridge, Vermont.  I’ll be sharing a booth with my good friends Sarah and Rick from Terrapin Gardens Farm.

Shawl woven in Tencel in the M&W pattern

I’ve been busy knitting and weaving this summer and I’m excited to be doing my first show.  If you are coming to the festival please stop by and say hello.