Monthly Archives: May 2015

Soft as Silk

Sammi the llama is guard and protector of Round Table Farm’s flock of Icelandic sheep.


This spring Sammi was sheared at the same time as the sheep and his wool was available for our first Fleece Sale at the FibreWorks Studio & Gallery (see blog May 11, 2015).


Deanna, Merrily and Lynda D. shared his fleece.


Then the work of processing his fleece began.  Lynda and Merrily got together in Merrily’s backyard to process their share of the fleece.


Lynda and Merrily worked for 4 hours picking vegetable matter from his super soft inner and outer coat.  They discovered he had shiny guard hairs and decided to separate them after washing.


At the end of a long day they had a small basket with second cuts, a small basket with the start of the guard hair collection and two large baskets of lovely soft llama wool ready to be washed.


The next day the old outdoor bathtub in Merrily’s backyard made a good wash station.


After washing, the wool was laid out on screens to dry.


Not a drop of the wash and rinse water was wasted.  Merrily and Lynda carried buckets and buckets from the tub to the garden.


Merrily brought Sammi’s wool to the next Spin-in.  There was still some vegetable matter to remove.


Then she carded it, deciding to leave in the guard hairs.


And then she set to work spinning.


Meanwhile, Deanna was working with her share of Sammi’s wool.  She carefully separated out the guard hairs.  She hopes to have enough of the inner fleece to spin into fingerling weight wool for Mechthilde to knit a Downton Abbey camisole.  The guard hairs will be combined with the togs of Prince and Ginger for a special Icelandic shawl.


Sammi’s inner coat, like that of the Thormanby Island alpacas and the Laughlin Creek llamas, is luxuriously soft.  The inner wool of the alpacas and llamas is our new local ‘silk’ for all our Fibreshed project needs.


Merrily, Lynda D., Deanna B. Pilling


Fibreshed’s First Fleece Sale

The commitment to a Sunshine Coast Fibreshed began 3½ years ago with an article in ‘Weaving Today’ on Rebecca Burgess and her quest to bring together farmers, spinners, knitters, weavers, dyers and clothing makers within 150 miles of her Northern California home.  Her commitment to caring about “how do we clothe ourselves?” was echoed from the book ‘The Hundred Mile Diet’ which made us aware of “how do we feed ourselves?”  Just after its 25th Anniversary, the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild accepted the Sunshine Coast Fibreshed as a project and the Fibreshed became the first official Fibreshed Affiliate in Western Canada.  The search for local fibre was then underway.

Now it is time to share the joy, excitement and pride we experienced with the incredible contribution of Yvonne and FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in hosting and managing this first Fibreshed Fleece Sale event.  The sun shone brightly over the many tables covered with eleven Icelandic fleeces from Leila Bee’s Round Table Farms.


Each was weighed and labeled with a picture of that particular sheep.  Yvonne had washed a handful of each fleece as the colour can change after washing.



A  Fibreshed display of books, samples of the wool processed as fibre and yarn, and knit and woven into hats, gloves and scarves showed off the beauty and versatility of the dual coated Icelandic Sheep and helped members see their chosen fleece’s potential.


The Team Roxy project included a 3 ply of the tog on the niddy noddy, a knitted hat and hand warmers, spun and plied skeins, some carded fleece and unprocessed tufts of Roxy.


This first Fibreshed Fleece Sale was limited to Guild Members only.  Buyers arrived prior to the one o’clock sale time, felt fleeces and measured staples.  Here Lynda C. is doing the snap test to test the strength of the locks.


At 1:00 sharp Yvonne conducted the sale by asking members to stand beside the fleece of their choice.  It went well – no arm wrestling was required.  Only three fleeces weren’t sold and these will remain at the Yurts for future teaching and processing opportunities.  Here Lynda D. and Merrily happily claim Stormy’s fleece.


Marie Claire shows off Bella’s beautiful fleece.


Leila Bee, owner and shepherdess of the Icelandic flock, joined us to share in the pride of her hard work of caring for these beautiful and gentle creatures whose fleeces are already growing anew and will appear again in another Fibreshed Fleece Sale in the fall.  With new lambs this year there may be eighteen plus fleeces.


Our incredible hostess Yvonne, who had organized and managed this event so well, brought out glasses and wine to toast and celebrate this wonderful day and milestone.  We shared sunshine, wine and a deep connection not only on a fibre level but in our spirits.  That one hour of a circle of friends celebrating the day’s event in answer to “How shall we clothe ourselves?” will remain a precious moment in time.


It was the day to celebrate the 3½ year odyssey of the simple notion that handmade cloth heals, not only with the making of the cloth and how we use it, but also with how it re-connects us to the farmers, the sheep and the soil.  It connects us all as artists and community to all the women who have gone before us down the Fibre Road.

Deanna B. Pilling with contributions from Lynda D. and Merrily

Spin-in at the Yurts

Once a month Guild members gather for our northern spin-in at Yvonne Stowell’s beautiful FibreWorks Studio and Gallery in Madeira Park.  On a windy rainy day we gathered in the yurt which is Yvonne’s studio and set to spinning with our assorted wheels.




We knitted, carded, visited and shared our creative ideas.



And then the sun came out and shone gloriously so after our delicious potluck lunch we moved outside.


Yvonne is the Fibreshed’s first certified vendor.  She currently sells wool from Oscar, Bessie, Y and Z – alpacas on Thormanby Islands, and from Angel, Bertuzi and Makari – llamas in the Pender Harbour area.  This is one of the joys of the Fibreshed – we can know and see pictures of the animals that produce the wool we spin and make our creations from.  Yvonne also dyes the wool using both natural and Gaywool dyes and spins it into beautiful, deliciously soft yarn.  Visitors from around the world come to FibreWorks and many happily leave with skeins of wool for knitting.  Here, Yvonne, Lynda and Merrily admire the locally produced wool that Yvonne stocks.


Yvonne dyes some of the wool with natural dyes.  On the left is Oscar’s wool dyed with Dyer’s Polypore.  Next is wool dyed with Japanese indigo (vinegar method) that Yvonne grew on her deck last summer.  The wool on the right is dyed with lungwort, a lichen that falls off the branches of broad leaf maples and litters the ground beneath the trees.


The beautiful brown and white wool of Angel the llama (who is spotted) makes an interesting and fun base for dyeing.  The brightly coloured skein was dyed with Gaywool dyes and is predominantly white fibre.  The darker skeins are a mixture of Angel’s medium and dark brown fibres.  The purple skein was dyed with logwood, which is darker in some areas than others based on the amount of lighter vs darker coloured fibres.


Here are the wools in their natural colours.  On the right is a slouch hat Yvonne knitted from Oscar’s wool.


And here Lynda models Oscar’s hat.


It was a wonderful day of fun, good company and inspiring fibre activities.

Heather Apple