Thursday, November 12, 2009

the fiber tour

My friend Sherry came to visit and we did a whirlwind two day trip of fiber arts in Winnipeg. We went to two yarn shops, the Manitoba Craft Museum, the Costume Museum of Canada, an amazing fiber arts show on Winnipeg's urban landscape at the Canadian Mennonite University and a side trip to the Bay (aka Hudson Bay Outfitters, a big department store) to buy Sherry's children Winter Olympics pins and mitts. That's just what was happening in town this week. This is a happening place for fiber arts!

We also went to Rovings, which is a small, breed specific processing mill that focuses exclusively on Polwarth wool imported from Australia. This is a business that has advertised in Spin-Off magazine for years, so I was really curious to see it...and it's just about 15 minutes away from my house! The wool, first of all, is exquisite. This Polwarth is imported from Wendy Dennis. The drought and fires of the past couple of years were rough on the sheep station, they've had to reduce their flocks to survive it all. Rovings has also just returned from SOAR, the Spin-Off annual many of the shelves were bare! However, my friend found some beautiful heathered rose colored roving to spin,and I got a skein of Cranberry colored Polwarth/Leceister blend yarn. We had a long and fascinating chat with Francine, who runs it all!

She does amazing colorways, dyeing her wool in hundreds of colors. The colorway is called "Quarry."

Rovings was also the first customer of the Belfast Mini-Mills, who produce small equipment for wool processing on the level of a cottage industry. The mill processes hundreds of fleeces a year, but isn't industrially sized. Here's what some of the equipment looks like in the (very clean) mill.

The fleeces are shipped raw from Australia and washed in very hot water here in Manitoba. The process isn't too complex but Francine does have it down to a science since she washes so many fleeces per year. In particular, we thought her drying racks were something special. The racks are lined with snow fencing (see the orange netting) and this allows the air to circulate below the fleeces as they dry. There's a ceiling fan right above it all and of course, it helps to have a dry climate, which make drying fleece so much faster than a humid one.

Sherry left bright and early yesterday. I took Remembrance Day off and spent some time with the dogs and getting back to my regular routines.

Having a guest visit was good! It forced me to get out and explore, which was great! It was also tiring, but every time I hop in the car and see something new, I've learned new driving routes, met new people, and seen more of the potential of my new home. It's totally worth it...and exploring Winnipeg is something we haven't had enough time for in all the moving chaos.

Finally, I mentioned dyeing a sweater last time, so here are the details. A while back, I knit a sweater called "Thermal"--a design I found online at Every so often, I like to knit other people's designs so I can explore how their patterns work. This sweater, knit out of Australian Merino, took a long time to knit on size #3(3.25mm) needles. Here's what it looked like.

Sadly, I found I never wore it, because it looked ok when I put it on in the morning, but as gravity worked throughout the day, I began to look like a big cream colored marshmallow. I decided the sweater design wasn't the problem but the color was.

On Sunday, my sweater took a dip in a dyebath and became a deep rich forest green. It's hard to shoot a good photo of this, but here is an attempt. The coloration actually looks more solid and normal in person than in this photo.

I'm wearing the sweater today, and the next renovation will be shortening the sleeves, which are still several inches too long for following the pattern there, I forgot to think critically about how much shorter my arms are when compared to the pattern as written. Somehow, changing the color didn't magically shorten the sleeves!

That's the news from here. Thanks so much for all your kind comments on the last post about Knit Green! I appreciate it! Thanks for celebrating with me!

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Blogger Geek Knitter said...

I had my very first wheel-spinning lesson using samples from Rovings... lovely stuff!

November 12, 2009 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the chat, especially the vicarious trip to Rovings. Hi to Francine, when you see her again. I have greatly enjoyed that Polwarth over the years. I still have a blue batt here that I dream about (for when I'm done with the current Project).

November 12, 2009 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

It came out gorgeous!

I'd so love to have my own mill like that. In my dreams.

--AlisonH at

November 15, 2009 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger AdrieneJ said...

It's funny how I've found out about all the fibre goodness AFTER I moved from Winnipeg! I drool with envy, but now I've got a list of places to go next time I go to visit!

November 15, 2009 at 9:01 PM  

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