Against the Cold

Every year we venture Westward to the small town of Reedpoint Montana to enjoy the festivities of the Sheep Drive. There are a variety of vendors up & down Main Street, a sheep sheering contest, parade, some type of auction I think, the “running of the sheep”, and a street dance in the evening. Some years we stay long enough to see the sheep make their short run and some years we leave earlier.

I like to find vendors selling their own hand-crafted wares. A woman from Wolf Point makes her own soaps and other products, all natural. She even grows some of the herbs she uses. Of course I had to buy a bar. It seemed like there were fewer vendors this year (probably due to the economy), but thankfully there were a couple of fiber folks present!

Rocking L Alpacas from Victor Montana had absolutely lovely fiber, some reading for spinning and some already in the guise of yarn. I have a nice fat skein of shimmery silver alpaca to make myself a warm hat and two tiny balls of turquoise blue lace-weight llama yarn. I think they will become a scarf.

One child wanted alpaca socks and the other wanted mittens, so those were purchased in ready-to-wear format.

In my yarn stash I already have several projects waiting for free needles. On my needles is a delightful merino/llama/silk blend slowly morphing into a beanie. Two other balls of yarn await a similar fate, and I need to take one of the kids to the yarn shop to pick out their hat yarn still.

My Christmas/birthday yarn is waiting patiently, occasionally whispering at me that I ought to hurry up a bit. I picked out a lovely lace-weight yarn (I forget the fibre content, probably merino/alpaca/silk or similar soft and not at all itchy) and a really pretty lace knit shawl pattern. It is very intimidating so I’ve been putting off starting it. I’m telling myself that knitting all these hats first will help my knitterly skills!

But I need to knit faster and procrastinate less because these hats need to be done asap. It’s a “Mom Thing”, this making warm objects to keep my people from freezing to death in the winter. It might feel like summer is lingering and autumn is reluctant to swing by, but there’s a certain feel in the air that says the pleasant days are numbered. So hurry I must, before ol’ Jack Frost stops by again.



I had the opportunity to get a free Alpaca fleece a few years ago and said “yes!” in spite of not really knowing much about turning it into yarn other than having watched some of my various family members work with fiber of assorted origins over the years…

update: I obtained hand cards from Kind Mother, and a drop spindle at one of the annual sheep runs in Reedpoint, Montana. I washed a bit of the fleece and made a couple of attempts at hand carding and said to myself “heck with that!” Last summer/fall I got to play with a drum carder with a couple of friends and I’m here to tell you if you’re interested in turning fleece into roving and are not interested in the Zen of hand carding, the drum carder is the only way to go. (Or just send it off to one of those places that does the entire process and sends you yarn ready to knit or crochet!)

Some people like to prepare fiber. Some people like to use it. I lean more towards the “use it” end of the spectrum. Luckily my best friend loves to prepare it. She’s using my spinning wheel to make awesome yarn from the fleece from her very own slowly-expanding sheep herd!

August 16, 2006:

Yesterday I went in search of fleece hand cards locally. The nice quilt-shop guy gave me the name & number of a person who may know more. As well as info on where & when a knitting group meets (some of them also spin). AND, the tidbit that there’s a new yarn shop where the old Christmas Store used to be. That sells gorgeous fibers, not just nasty acrylic yarn.

So I stopped in at the yarn shop, and the nice yarn-shop lady gave me another name & number in the pursuit of the cards. I signed up for her mailing list. Some day, after I’ve successfully gotten cards, washed the alpaca fleece, and carded/spun the fiber into yarn, I’d like to make something.

I know I could just buy the fleece hand cards online, but I’d prefer to support someone in our general local area if I can. And I’m still intimidated by the wheel, so I’m thinking of getting a drop spindle too.