Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Push her off the soapbox.....then win a prize

I've been oozing with contemplation and farm-loving thoughts, lately. I know, I know, I said I was going to start calling this a homestead but just because we are a small farm - I see no reason to give into agribusiness and flippantly give my title away. Hell, I've earned the title many winters ago and still go at this crazy venture year to year. This season of harvesty-look-at-yourself-from-the-inside nostalgia has really cemented my ornery nature. It all started a few weeks ago when I was doubting myself, doubting the farm, wondering how we'll pay to feed the sheep, feed the kids, can we freeze our fingertips off this winter during lambing, etc.?

The thing is, people keep talking to me about merino. Merino wool is so soft. Merino roving is so easy to spin (I've since learned that has more to do with what and where you get your merino). On and on I've heard this talk and I keep straddling the border between wanting to make a product people want and still be true to myself and to my herd. The truth is, merino wool is great but not all farmers can raise merino on their fields. Would we really want that? Our climate, pasture, and farming mentality is much more geared toward our Cotswolds. They are very naturally strong and resistant. They are also smart. Their wool is sadly under appreciated and is only reputed to be coarse because breeders and wool raisers refuse to pay to shear twice a year - which makes the wool much softer and better for spinning. I like them better. They love people. The come home. We work together.

In a moment of lacking contemplation, I ordered a passel of un-dyed merino roving for a steal. I dyed it all up and couldn't wait to post it in my shop. I'd done well. Keeping my farm in mind and making people happy at the same time, right? Not so much with the farm thing. That little voice - you know, the one that tells you that this isn't as easy as you're trying to convince yourself it is - kept bothering me. It's the same voice that has been haunting me about all the sock and lace yarn I buy (for way cheaper than I could have my own wool spun into sock or lace yarn), then dye (the only real place I can put my hands on it and try to make it a part of the farm), then sell it (for still cheaper than I could send in my own fleeces to be spun into a lace wgt. yarn). Hmmm, another cuppa and her brain is awake and this doesn't look so fair after all. The voice was really getting to me.

So, I changed my sock yarn supplier. I'm now using one of the only remaining yarn makers in Maine (not counting the many great processors, of course, whom I wish I could employ instead to make my fiber into the yarns and sell them). Of course, I'm not there yet but I'm awake and I'm trying to understand the full implications of what I'm doing with my big ole footprint. Lace is something I'll work on next but then I got to thinking and realized, duh, go back to the farm, farm-witch! That's why we brought home the three merino/corriedale sheepies in the back of the suburban last week. So far, they are doing really great - though the Eunich is proving himself in fence breaking quality. The girls have been invited into the herd and they are getting along with the Cotswolds splendidly.

Now, I can get out of politics for the remainder of the weekend and get back in the spinning chair. Still, while I have all these high and mighty ideas, I am caving on one thing - the socks. I understand, after watching certain careless family members shrink my hand-spun, hand-knit socks (notice the cool way I tap into the bitterness), the preference some hold for superwash sock yarn. Hence, the hunting a supplier of said yarn down in Maine (local) and breaking myself away from the soap box to purchase a certain amount of superwash fiber each year for sock batts. That's what I'm brewing up, right now. If you've walked with me through this burble of nonsense, you should be awarded for your kindness and compassion. So, we've been invited to a Halloween party - where costumes are mandatory even for us big kids. Guess what I'll be? Send me your guess at dyeingwitchATyahooDOTcom and I'll randomly draw a name on Friday to send a 4oz. batch of sock batts to. Go ahead, while you're there, and tell me your favorite colors. I'm not saying I can provide that, but if it is possible, I'd prefer to send you something you'll oooh and ahhh for!