Oct 22, 2010

Autumn Inspirations

It's that time of year.

Wonderful little color moments everywhere.

Divine inspirations.

A simple walk in the woods on a crisp day inspires a new project.

Sep 22, 2010

Felting Demo @ CGF

We're excited to be giving a Felting Demo at the Common Ground Fair this year! It will be Sunday morning at the Wednesday Spinners Tent, next to the Fleece Tent. We'll show how we lay out our rug designs and felt them by foot, with musical assistance by Wiffletree.

Our rugs start with hand-dyed "pre-felts". We process the shorter staple (fiber length) Nash Island wool into batts (a big fluffy sheet) and then felt them up a bit in our felting machine before dyeing them. Rugs can be made straight from a batt, but pre-felting speeds up the process and simplifies the dyeing as well.

Next we lay the pre-felts out on a bamboo mat and soak it with hot, soapy water. Any design shapes are added at this time. The mat is rolled up and tied, and then rolled under foot to felt the fibers together. It usually takes three to four sessions of 5 minutes each to felt a rug. More hot, soapy water is applied between each session to keep the fibers open and slippery.

Roving or loose fibers can be applied to the rug to create designs as well as shapes cut from other pre-felts.

Once the rug is felted, it is rinsed with alternating hot and cold water to firm up the felt and rinse out any remaining soap. The rug is then spun out in the washing machine and laid out to dry.

Once dry, we embellish our rugs with hand-stitching, using strands of hand-dyed yarns and a sharp tapestry needle. The stitches add definition to shapes and quilt-like textures to the background.

After felting, the rug is cut into shape - we like ovals and rounded-corner rectangles best. A stitched edge similar to a blanket stitch is added to finish the rug.

See you at the Fair this weekend!

Sep 15, 2010

Save Us From Fiber Lust!

Dear Local Handspinners,

We are suffering from a terrible affliction here at Starcroft Fiber Mill, and fear that only you can save us.

An epidemic of fiber lust has rendered all other work impossible at the Mill.

We are in the midst of preparing the hand-spinning Island fleeces for the Common Ground Fair and are overcome with the most powerful desire to do nothing but fondle such lovely fiber... nozzle it against our cheeks, maybe spin just a little, or just gaze at it lovingly, while the hours and days slip us by.

If there is to be any hope of recovery, every single Nash Island fleece will need to be removed from our possession at the Fleece Tent.

We're simply too weak to resist.

Jul 21, 2010

Shearing - 2010 Clip

Some beautiful weather afforded us a couple of lovely days out on the islands for shearing this year. These two little lambs looked on as their mom got a hair cut.

There were many fleeces selected for handspinning, which will be for sale at the Common Ground Country Fair in September.

At the end of a long morning, and a fantastic picnic lunch, it's time for the boat ride home.

Jul 17, 2010

The Sweat Shop

As lovely and super summery as it's been the past couple weeks, I'm sure you can imagine what nearly 90 degree heat and 90% humidity feel like when one is trying to make yarn... AWESOME.

We like to practice a Spanish workday when it gets this hot: Siesta from 2-4pm. It is much easier to make yarn at 7am and 7pm on days like this. But we're so happy that our new Fog Yarn has been flying off the shelves at Spruce & Gussy and Purl Diva, that we don't mind sweating to keep up with popular demand.

We'd hate to leave you with nothing to knit at the beach this week!

May 26, 2010

New Lambs


Twice as cute.

Three times as cute.

The one on the right is nicknamed "Knees". Next year's fleeces are looking good!

Mar 3, 2010

A Pretty Bit of Knitting - Lace Scarf Kits

We have a sign in the mill that sums up our general philosophy on things: Simplify.

It might be living on an old farmstead in Maine, or it might be the Yankee ingenuity in our genes for generations, but everyone from Martha Stewart to the Shakers inspires us to simplify everything we do. It somehow imparts elegance, enjoyment, practicality and purpose in things all at the same time.

We especially enjoy simplicity in our knitting. Beautiful yarn, straight-forward patterning, elegant designs, simple textures, and practical construction are the hallmarks of a truly enjoyable project.
Our lace scarf kits are a one skein, 4 row-repeat pattern that is so easy to remember it's relaxing for an advanced knitter and a perfect introduction to lace for a beginner.
Tucked into one of our hand-knotted Fisherman's Net Bags, the kit includes a pattern and one skein of 90% Nash Island Lambswool / 10% Starcroft Angora hand-dyed yarn. Feedback has been so glowing, we're working on offering this yarn by the skein soon!

Kits are available for sale on the website.

9.15.10 update - We are sold out of lace scarf kits! Check Spruce + Gussy in Bar Harbor. The NEW Nash Island Fog Yarn (the same lambswool/angora blend in the kits) will be available online soon!

Jan 1, 2010

Lambing on Nash Island

Every year we wait excitedly to see this year’s lambs and get the first feel of their new fleeces. For three to four weeks in the spring, new lambs are born on the Island, and we spend time out there with the shepherds to help the flock with their new arrivals. Often the ewes have no trouble delivering their new babies, so most of Lambing involves roaming around the island, watching the sheep from afar. If a ewe looks troubled or in distress, we do a stake-out and keep an eye on her. Only a very few end up needing medical attention or help delivering.

When we come out to the island for shearing, the lambs are sorted out and it’s always amazing to see how much they’ve grown in a few weeks time. A number of girl babies with the very best fleeces are selected to stay on the island and become the next generation of the flock. A few bucks (boy babies) may be kept for breeding, but most are destined for fine restaurants in New York City and the Southwest.

After all the lambs have been wormed and had their tails docked during shearing, they’re set free to roam around the island again. Most stay in a little group on the nearby hillside, to watch and wait for the ewes. As the day goes on, some venture over to see what all the activity is about, but mostly (like all kids) they’re interested in feeding time. Their little bleats sound so much like the persistent whine of, “Mom. MOM. MOM!”, it’s hard not to laugh at how cute they are as they wait for Mom to rejoin them.