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Well, it turns out that that due to a shipping error at the mill, the yarn that Jennifer received from her supplier is not the lovely superwash/nylon blend, but regular wool/nylon instead. They are sending her more yarn, but it will take a while. I guess the mills that are willing to work with small orders are, well, small, so perhaps not with huge warehouses of product just sitting around waiting to be shipped. But, the order also included a nice bamboo/wool/nylon blend and I have scored a cone of that.

This is lovely stuff with a gorgeous sheen, fingering weight, 4-ply, and will work up into lovely socks or whatever amuses. I am calling it Leafy Sheep Blend.  As there is both cellulose (the bamboo) and protein (the wool) fiber in this yarn, to get the best colors you need to use two dyebaths, one acid and one alkaline.  Or, there is a nifty product called I’ve used to dye devore scarves, called Alter Ego Dyes, where you can dye mixed fibers in the same dyepot. I pulled out the last bits of my sample kit, and there turned out to be enough of both types of blue dye to do at least one skein.

Dyes

Here’s what I used.  If you look closely, the bottle of Bleu Infini, the cellulose dye, is empty.  I was supposed to use 30ml for 100 grams of fiber, but there was only about 20 ml left. Remembering  that these are pretty  intense dyes, I also put in  25 ml of the Turquoise and proceeded.

Simmering

Bring up to temp, and simmer for 20 minutes  . . . At this point my son came in and asked if we were having blue spaghetti for dinner.

After dyeing the first skein, there was still a good bit of dye left in the bath, so I dropped in another skein. Here they both are, taking the air after drying overnight:

Catching some rays

And here are the closeups:

Lighter blue

The lighter blue is above, the darker blue is below.

Darker blue

Together again

Here they are together, and you can see that while there is a difference in color saturation, it’s not dramatic enough to make good stripes were they to be knitted into the same piece.

I think since there are only two skeins, I’ll not worry about putting this up on Etsy, but if any of you find either of these of interest, they are for sale for the bargain price of $15 each, plus postage.  Unique dyelot!  Let’s call it Robin’s Egg.  They are both 400 yard skeins, plenty for a pair of socks. 40% wool, 40% bamboo, 20% nylon, fingering weight. Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you via email — your email address comes to me when WordPress sends me an email containing your comments. And I could send a wee bit off in an envelope if you want an up close and personal look at the color and the yarn.

How much fun is this going to be?!?!?!? A Dye and Knit Weekend with Jennifer and Lisa, the Tsock Tsarina and her intrepid Yarn Slave! Can it get better? Yes, there’s cows, too, and piggies, and lambies, ( a whole farm, in fact), and a B & B, and no doubt the coolest knitting/dyeing groupies in the universe.  If you can be within striking distance of Upstate New York on September 1 and 2, check it out.  I think it’ll be a weekend to talk of and learn from for years to come.

I’ll just whimper quietly in the upper left hand corner of the country . . .

I just took a quick trip to Victoria BC with my daughter to visit a friend of hers, and saw this bus:

Polite bus

Polite bus

So polite, those Canadians.

 I went to Satin Moon Quilt Shop — what a great store! And I see their website even has recipes. Also, Beehive Wool Shop, which is stocked with bales of Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden yarns. I was good and only bought one skein of Silk Maiden in luscious pinks, blues, and golds.

We visited Abkhazi Garden, which is just a magical place. Only one acre, in a tidy residential neighborhood, this is a perfect and intimate gem of a garden, and one you are not likely to hear about if you just look at tourist brochures. Don’t miss it if you have a chance to see it.

Alliums

Any garden with alliums is worth going to. They also had

Super alliums?

these, which were at least a foot across.  Some sort of mutant Giant Allium, perhaps?

I went to the Stanwood Camano Fair today, a charming and tiny thing. There were
Alpacas

Alpacas, who always look so skinny after shearing, and

Bigfoot

bunnies, and

Cashmere on the hoof

even a Cashmere goat.

Pygmy goats

Pygmy goats were judged, and also sheep.

Spandexed sheep

This sheep is grateful that she won’t be judged for her attire outside the ring.

Does this make me look fat?

Yes, if I were wearing Spandex in public, I’d hide my face, too.

Spinners

There were also some spinners.  I like the way the wheel on the right is decoupaged!

I’ve given up buying cashmere, unless it’s very expensive. After reading this article in the Seattle Times, and also this, I’ve come to the decision that the environmental damage done to meet of an out-of-control rush for cheap cashmere isn’t worth it for me.

All those bargain sweaters at Costco, Macy’s, Land’s End, and your favorite department store come from fiber combed from goats living on the great steppes of Central Asia, that enormous grasslands we know as western China and Mongolia. The prodigious mushrooming of the numbers of grazing animals to meet the American market has stripped these ancient lands of their grass cover and unleashed cataclysmic dust storms that reach the shores of North America, choking cities in China on the way.

And the cashmere goats aren’t doing so well, either. Since there are so many of them, they’ve eaten the grass down to the ground and below, so they can’t find enough food. There is a reduced lifespan for goats (10 years instead of 20) reduced birthrate (to less than half of normal for the herd), and reduced fiber quality. A stressed, starving goat can’t make good fiber.

If you don’t feel like reading the articles mentioned above, Evan Osmos, the author of the first one, was one The Colbert Report recently, and here’s a link to a clip of him explaining it all . Mr. Osmos also has a photo/video piece up at the Chicago Tribune site (requires registration, but it’s free).

No, I haven’t thrown away my two nice sweaters or the shawl that is so drapey, warm, featherweight, and gorgeous. But I’m not buying more.

So what to do if you’ve got a jones for cashmere?

If you Google “American Cashmere”, you’ll find this and one of the first lines of text is “Cashmere America is out of business.” Scrolling down the list of yarns they used to have, they are annotated “Sold Out and gone forever.” But don’t give up.  Ask your LYS if they know of any non-Chinese cashmere yarn makers.  According to the Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufactuer’s Institute, cashmere fiber is produced in Iran, Afganistan, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as China, Mongolia, and Tibet. Note that the yarn you see in the store might say it’s from Italy, but typically the label reflects the country of manufacture (the spinnery), rather than the origin of the raw materials. So a little research might be in order.

If you’re able to spin your own, you’re better off.  I’ve seen cashmere fiber for sale at the local St. Distaff’s Day Spin-in, and small specialty farms will have it if you go looking. This  farm in Oregon has two ounces for $25. It’s not cheap, but then, there are no hidden costs. The major fiber fairs, like Rhinebeck and Black Sheep Gathering, will have some available.

And look into other fibers. I’ve got some baby camel/silk blend roving that is like touching a cloud. Camels don’t have hard little hooves, so they can’t be as hard on the soil of a marginal land as goats are.

In conclusion, I’m not saying we should only Buy American, I’m just saying we should Buy Sustainable. If buying American from our local producers is the only way we have, then we should be willing to pay the price.