I've been a knitter since I was expecting my first child. My SPU friend Marti taught me. Over the years I have knitted mostly for my kids, but I also have knitted a few sweaters for me, and many more socks. Socks and baby sweaters knit up fast, and can keep my attention. I have always loved textile arts, but find less time for the tedious, slower projects and soon they are out of sight and out of mind. Knitting somehow has always fit into my busy suburban life.
With our plans to move to the midwest when our house sells, I have been researching all the things I will need to know to have a spinner's flock and other livestock/poultry for raising more of our own food. I have read lots of books on the subject of grass fed livestock, raising sheep, pastured poultry, raising Angora goats, value-added products, marketing farm products, etc. One of the first things I did when considering these things, was make a list of all the products I thought our family could market managably. I got on at least seven yahoo groups that discuss animal husbandry for the specific animals that interested me, as well as three on the subject of fiber arts, and spinning wool. I know I would love to knit with my own sheep/mohair, but I also have rugs in mind. Not weaving rugs, but hooking them...with yarn. I had seen some, and they really appealed to me, and intrigued me as a unique product that my children would enjoy dying and packaging into kits with our own wool.
So I have gotten the spinning bug after realizing that if I am going to market wool to others, I had better know what I have, and how it spins. I also wanted to have a better idea of what breed to raise for this. I took a spinning class with two friends in November and determined to buy a wheel of my own. I attended the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat last month and asked lots of people about their wheels, to help me make a better decision before buying one. My grandfather had left me a wonderful cash gift that I had determined to spend on something special, and this was to be it. After trying out different wheels, and learning about all their attributes, I settled on a single treadle, castle style, double drive wheel. Now that may not mean anything to you, but that narrowed down my choices. Quite a milestone. Heidi at the Artful Ewe in Pt. Gamble, my local (sort of) wool/spinning store told me that she had a used wheel that fit my description, a Shacht Matchless. So after a bit of a personal crisis, I finally got over to her store two weekends ago to try it out. She offered to let me bring it home, supplied me with wool, and off I went! Oh, what fun I had, creating my first full bobbin of homespun yarn! So Saturday I went back, paid for my wheel, and Heidi graciously poured herself out to help me ply, wash and whack my first skein of yarn. Now it is ready to knit, or rug hook with. So, it may take me a while, working backward toward my goal of being a shephardess, but in the meantime I am learning some of the skills I will need for my new life. The biggest bonus? Into the shop walked the former owner of my wheel, a wonderful Titus 2 older woman that I know. What a surprise for both of us. Thank you Susan!