Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fiber festival reunion and destash strain

Meeting up with Alice Field of Fox Hill Farm in Lee, Mass., was the highlight of my visit to the Michigan Fiber Festival last weekend.  I purchased my first fleeces from her two decades ago back when she raised lots of Romney--Rosalie, Blanche and a cross named Alecia.  These lovely fleeces have long since been spun up and knit into projects--though an odd or end of leftover yarn may haunt a corner of some storage bucket somewhere. A picture of part of her booth is shown above.

Fox Hill Farm is now better known for truly lovely Cormo fleeces, that have been skillfully covered.  Now, many of you know that I generally don't like covered fleeces--this is because I have seen some lousy ones.  However, Alice Field knows what she's doing.  For one, she makes her own covers from cotton fabric, which breathe and allow the fleece to dry out after a rain. Her covers have modifications that allow for better fleece--more air circulation etc.   Second, she is selective about which breed is covered--that is she covers her Cormo which responds well to covering.  She's found that not all fleece should be covered--for instance a luster wool like Romney will lose its character and loft under a cover.

I enjoy talking to a thinking shepherd.  I'm a little tired of blanket assumptions like "a covered fleece is a spinners fleece."  A spinner's fleece is a fleece from a shepherd who knows what they are doing. I've washed, handpicked, carded and spun dozens of fleeces both covered and not covered. I'm sick of hearing about "VM" (vegetable matter) as a scourge because skillfully raised sheep won't have this problem.  But I can go on with this topic forever.  Let's just say I am picky and don't make assumptions.  When I buy a covered Cormo, it will be from Alice Field.  I will have to put this treat off until next year as I still need to make room in my stash closets.

Another mission at the Michigan Fiber Festival was to have a look at Kessinich looms which are made right in Allegan.  You can see a picture of the booth above.  This is a lovely loom crafted of sturdy wood with lots of thought going into the detail.. Someday, I would like to replace my 36" counterbalance loom with a 36 inch eight harness jack type loom.  But not right away.  I have to get a little better at weaving first!

 Going to a fiber festival and not coming home with something is a strain on one's self-restraint.  I did pretty well, I think.  I purchased a pound of fiber.  One was 11 ounces of raw alpaca in a light shade of brown that I don't happen to have from Meadowsong Alpacas.  I want to make an Andean motif sweater in pure alpaca, so I can justify an extra color plus I have room in my Alpaca storage bin.  Later, I purchased five ounces of alpaca silk blend roving which I might use for socks.    I also stopped a Susan's for an extra large bobbin for my Lendrum--I love Susan's because she has EVERYTHING.  I also found some size 0 knitting needles I was looking for.

The Michigan Fiber Festival was a lot of fun.  My husband and I made a weekend of it, and stayed near Granville and then explored down along the Lake Michigan coast on our way home.  I think I'll go back next year--especially if I haven't already picked up a Fox Hill Farm fleece.

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  1. I want every thing in the top picture it is all wonderful. I will agree that vm in a raw fleece is not something to worry about. I have ordered rovings sight unseen where there is more vm than wool. That is when you complain. Does Fox Hill Farm have a website? I would love to try some of her product.

  2. Unfortunately, Alice Field does not have a website listed on her business card!