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Saturday, July 2, 2011


Good news everyone!

The website is now live. You can find my new blog posts over at The Elusive Thread.

Please update your feed aggregators and come see the new site! I will warn you, I am still messing around with the aesthetics, but all the new content will be on

Thank you! And please be assured, this blog will continue to serve as an archive (at least until I figure out how to port everything over to my domain.)

Thank you for joining me on this big step!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Build A Website

Hi there. You may be reaching this page via The reason for this is because I am currently in the throes of building my main website on my own domain name. In the meantime, I didn't want anyone to get lost, and everything you will eventually find on my own domain, you can find here.

The main page is my blog. I talk about all the fun of owning a business, and of playing with sheep fleeces for a living.

On the right hand sidebar, you can find links to places I find interesting, including my own Etsy Shop.

I want you to feel at home, so please come in, stay a while, and check out all I've got to offer.

Once the main domain is set up, I will have the redirect taken down, and everything will migrate to  But until then, I hope blogspot can help us connect!

ETA: Migration appears to be complete. Just testing to see if it all works! As of 6/26, we are Live! Welcome to the Elusive Thread!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Down Time

I just finished knitting up my Trousseau Shawl by Carol Feller from Twist Collective Spring 2011. It is glorious.

This is the first project that I knit specifically for me to keep. I started it on April 4th (right after the Spring Twist Collective was published) and finished it on Wednesday (June 15).

So now what do I knit? I have a sweater for my father, knit out of alpaca yarn. But nothing else started. And I am finding trouble getting the mojo going again.

So do you ever have that issue? Where you finish one big project and it takes you a few days to get back in the groove? How do you get going again? I feel like I lose a lot of knitting time because of these little breaks between projects. And it doesn't matter if there is something already started, or if I have tons of things I want to knit. I just don't.

How can I get the mojo back? What do you do?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's Alive!!!!!

I have been very productive over the weekend, but since most of that simply involved washing wool to process for the shop, I thought I'd share another exciting thing with you. Now, I live in an apartment, so space is at an issue. I would like to say, my garden has successfully taken over the balcony. :D

Arugula and Pole Beans
Arugula on the left, and the right big leaves are those of some pole beans. I have beans people! I'm so happy things are growing happily out there!

Tomato plants, Romas
And this is my pride and joy. I bought three tomato plants and they all appear to be thriving. Do you see? There are blooms! That means that later in the summer, there will be TOMATOES!!!! I am ecstatic.

Later this season, I am going to have the BESTEST SALADS EVER!!!!!!

**I must rave about a special organic plant food I bought for my baby tomatoes. It's called Tomato-Tone and it's organic. Last year I tried to grow tomatoes, but they were Fred Meyer starts, so they really weren't the best to begin with.... And later in the season, I noticed they were dealing with a potassium deficiency. So this year I pre-emptively added some plant food. This stuff is amazing. My tomato plants are actually making it hard to walk on my balcony to water everything else. Tomatoes are THRIVING people, on a east facing balcony, in the middle of the city.  I really hope I get Roma-sized tomatoes this year. 

I'm going out to bask in the glory of my garden. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sneak Peek!

Here's a sneak peek of what's going up tomorrow! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sheep Study: Targhee Spinning

It's been an interesting trip to spin the Targhee fleece. I know I washed this one first, but it took a little bit of finessing to get it right for spinning.

Combed Preparation:

With a staple length of just over 3 inches, I knew I was tempting fate by trying to comb the Targhee locks in order to spin a worsted prep. The good news: this batch of fiber combed surprisingly easily, with very few neps or bumps.

I went to my Ashford Kiwi wheel and chose to use the fast flyer to test it. I started with the 11:1 ratio. Here is where I ran into my first problem. I would get the fiber to take up on the leader and start spinning, but then the fiber itself would fall apart. It wasn't getting enough twist. So I took the brake band to its loosest tension, and tried it on the 14:1 ratio. Still a no go. It just wasn't working.

I tried to spin worsted, but my dears, this fiber simply calls for a woolen prep. It needs the fibers to be a little wonky in order to spin properly. I couldn't bear to show you the mess this created. No pictures of attempted worsted prep.

Carded Preparation:

I used my Ashford 72 TPI hand cards for the prep on this. I didn't want to risk tearing the fiber by using my drum carder (although for processing lots of fiber, drum carding is the way to go...)

Each little rolag carded beautifully. I will admit that there was a bit of VM in the fiber, so I would pick out the big pieces as I carded. It took about 3 passes to get a sufficiently smooth prep.

Look at the little clouds! You can still see the crimp all willy-nilly in there. I was hoping for a springy yarn because of this.

Sample 1:

I started again on my 14:1 fast flyer. The brake band was still almost off. And let me tell you, the fiber loved it. It spun so easily with a short backward draw.

It was easy to pick out the remaining bits of veggie matter as I went, and the fiber was a joy to spin. As I spun, I held a little more tightly on the fiber, to stretch out the crimps, in order to get a springier yarn. Once the crimp relaxed into the yarn, they would offer a bit more spring.

Sample 1 Specs:
-Spun on Ashford Kiwi
-Woolen Spun
-Short backward draw
-Singles spun 14:1
-Navajo Plied 11:1
-16-24 WPI
-lace-fingering weight
-approx. 15 yds

The yarn was finished with a warm bath in Soak wash, then thwacked to finish (a technical term).  Once dry, the yarn was springy, and would make a good sweater (lots of elasticity, so it would bounce back). There were spots where the yarn itself was overspun, but all in all, it was a good first sample.

Sample 2:
 This time I started the wheel on its 11:1 ratio, with every intention of seeing if ratios would affect the amount of air introduced into the yarn. The fiber still drafted easily, and was easy to manage. Almost to interference was required to spin a nice fluffy yarn.
Sample 2 Specs:
-Spun on Ashford Kiwi
-Woolen style, short backward draw
-Singles spun 11:1
-Navajo plied 7.5:1
-14-22 WPI
-Closer to fingering weight
-Approx. 24 yards

After its bath and requisite thwacking, this yarn dried into a beautiful skein. It seems a little whiter compared to the first sample, which I think has more to do with the space between the fibers than any actual color differences.

This skein is actually more bouncy than the other (another result of air introduction, I think...) and softer, I think it would make a great hat. Or a really cool shawl.

This fiber wanted to be spun woolen, to take advantage of its springy nature and short staple length. I think the best sample was the fingering weight sample. Laceweight seemed to squash most of the air out of it. It would most likely be good as a three ply worsted weight even.  When spinning, I need to remember that, due to the crimps per inch, I should stretch out the crimps in order to take advantage of the spring factor of the fiber.

This fiber wants to be springy, lofty, and bouncy. So prep and spinning should follow suit. The yarn itself will not shine the way that Cotswold does, with a distinct shine, but it will have a sheen, much like the white on an opal. 


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Reason for Everything

While I am washing the pounds of Black Welsh Mountain ewe lamb for my next Sheep Study segment, I started thinking about why I am so interested in these rare breeds, or even studying sheep at all. It's not that this is an extremely popular area of study, being that there are only 3 comprehensive books about sheep breeds and their fleeces for handspinning. It's also not because there is any money in it. I don't expect to be able to live on the proceeds from my Etsy shop to cover the cost of studying these breeds.

What it really boils down to is that I love sheep. I do. I love all the wonderful things they allow us to do. If the zombie apocalypse struck, I would have to make sure I had a protected flock of sheep in order to help me survive. Meat, milk, and wool, all in one package. And I love the diversity.

Perhaps I should explain. Many, many years ago, I fancied myself a biologist. I was prepared to get my undergraduate degree in Biology, with a concentration in genetics. I wanted to work on the Human Genome Project. I wanted to study how genes and biodiversity affect everything we do. Unfortunately, two years into my degree, the scientific community announced that they had "completed" the Human Genome Project. I had to look for another degree.

I fell into Linguistics, almost by accident. I was "good" at learning languages. But I spent a good portion of my time studying how the language was put together, not how to actually speak it. I relied on my schooling to keep me entertained while I mused about why a certain section of a word would mean a certain thing. I ended up graduating with a BA in Linguistics, with a concentration in Morphology and Syntax.  Linguistics has a manner of trying to document a language as a way to preserve it. We catalog all those words and morphemes in order to remember them, even as language evolves and deletes words from the lexicon.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that preserving languages and genetics would feed into my love of preserving Sheep as well. I recognize that the human civilization has done a lot of damage to niche populations of all manner of creatures. And most of the time, I am at a loss as to what I, as an individual, can do.  But I look at sheep, and think "I can save them".  Being a knitter, I can buy yarns made from the wool of all manner of breeds. Being a spinner, I can buy fleeces, and study how these different breeds behave, and what uses their wools have in the real world. Being a business owner, I can bring these sheep breeds to my customers. I can raise awareness as to why these breeds are so important, and why we want to spin and weave and knit with them.

It's only taken me 6 years to find a calling as engaging as this. I am not that old. But I certainly recognize that time is of the essence. This is why I do the things that I do. Why I invest money and time into something that has no real monetary gain for me or my household. I do it because it's important. I do it because it feels right. I do it because there is a cute little sheep that stares at me in the back of my mind, reminding me that if we crafters don't take the steps necessary to preserve them, then who will?

Was this post helpful or inspiring? Leave a comment and tell me what you think. Or, visit my shop and browse to see what breeds I am currently offering. It all starts with us.

All Photos in this post were found as part of the Creative Commons via