Monthly Archives: June 2011

Black Sheep Gathering 2011

We took off down south today to pay a visit to the annual Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR. Oh my was it lovely! It was the largest fiber festival/gathering I’ve ever been to. There was a large range of goats and sheep in pens and I really appreciated the opportunity to finally see some of the breeds I’ve been reading about in person. However. I must say that I like the roving for sale at Vermont’s Sheep and Wool festival better. That being said, we went to the fleece sale and I was blown away with the sheer number of fleeces mounding up on tables (I even… gasp… bought one! More on that later…). For now, here are some of the handsome devils we gazed at today…

And now it must surely be time to contemplate the fleece I mentioned earlier. After much mulling, hemming and hawing over the bags and bags of wonderful fleeces I finally picked a very nice white Romney fleece from Ramifications (oh yes, I know, isn’t it great?!). At nine dollars a pound, it’s really quite wonderful wool.

And wouldn’t you believe that I ran right home and washed it ALL in the tub?! But of course I did. This is the first time in two years that I’ve had access to a bathtub to do my wooly washing craziness in (as opposed to a kitchen sink) and I can’t believe how much easier it is to do it all in one go instead of teeny batches.

First, I filled up a bath tub with water that is good and hot… so hot that I could only just stand to put my hands in it. Then I added about 1/8-1/4 cup concentrated Dawn dish detergent and swish that all around. Last, carefully add your 8.39 lb fleece to the sudsy bath and gently push all the fibers under water.

I let it sit until the water was warm. Now, the tricky part was getting all the wool out of the way while I emptied the tub and refill with clean water. I used an old laundry hamper on top of a step stool. That allowed me to fish out the wool into the basket, let the water drain from the wool as it waited and kept everything neat and tidy while I was refilling the tub.

This fleece is the cleanest fleece I have ever worked with and the water was still really grubby after the first rinse.

But you can see how much cleaner everything is already!

Repeat the scalding hot water + dish detergent again (and again and again if you’re working with a truly filthy fleece) until the water is clear when you lift the wool out. I only had to do two really soapy washes, one slightly soapy wash and one clear rinse before I was pretty satisfied about the level of cleanliness.

Once the wool/water is satisfactorily clean, fill the bath tub 1/2 way with warm water. I keep all my clean, slightly soapy wool in the bin and take a handful of wool at a time. I gently submerge the handful of wool in the water to rinse the soap out, gently squeeze the wool to get most of the moisture out and place it in a bin next to the tub. Repeat until the dry bin is full…

And lay all the wool to dry in the sun!

So nice and clean…

New Road Trip Socks!

Before we left one coast for another, all of the wonderful ladies at work gifted me a going away present of wool, a yarn tote and some wonderful, local salve! I immediately set about knitting myself a pair of socks for the road trip.

I’m always amazed at the length of my feet and how many stitches it takes to cover them in cozy wool…


As you may or may not have guessed after reading this post, we’ve moved! In fact, we moved quite a bit. Last Friday I drove the car packed full of all of our schmoo and Linus to pick himself up at Yestermorrow in Warren, VT. From there we journeyed over to the Lake George, NY area and spent a delightful night with friends. We had a nice, leisurely breakfast and popped back on the road and spent the night at Allegany State Park in New York. From there we spent the next night at Johnson Sauk Trail State Park in Illinois at a very empty campground… then on to the Badlands that next night. The next morning we camped at the Wapiti campground outside of Yellowstone, went through the park the next morning before camping at  Three Islands State Park in Glenns Ferry, ID and finally home! Phew!

We camped the whole way (well… besides that first night) and loved avoiding stuffy hotel rooms. We used the website to find camping sites along the way. It was so helpful and easy to use! Plus they have a companion swimming holes site (if you’re of a mind to go a-swimmin’).

The very first stop at Yestermorrow to pick up the final travel companion. Everything is all packed and ready to go, including Linus!

We had a really late night getting into Lake George, so no photos. But that’s ok! I took some the next day…

Linus, stretching his buns at a rest stop along the way. He made many new friends, mostly women over 50 who were intrigued that a.) he was not, in fact, a dog and b.) that he had a lovely pink harness on.

We set up camp in Allegany, NY the second night and cooked some Annie’s macaroni and cheese with some tomatoes for dinner.

We worked it out so that Linus camped inside his cage in one of the tent’s vestibules over night with a tarp wrapped around the sides of his cage to keep the extra wind and any driving rain out. He seemed pretty content and happy to be out of the car.

We went for a little stroll together while we waited for the noodles to cook. Muddy paws are a sure sign that everything is right in the world with Linus. We had an uneventful night and left the park at 6 the next morning. We drove across Ohio, Indiana and most of Illinois and camped at Johnson Sauk Trail State Park.

We drove in as the sun was setting and camped in the middle of a rather large, human planted forest with very straight rows of trees. It was so muggy that we didn’t use our sleeping bags at all. There were three only three other groups camping in the park that night so Linus was able to roam around sans leash! Oh how risque!

We broke camp at 5:30 the next morning and made our way across the rest of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and most of South Dakota and camped in the Badlands! We were caught in a crazy storm complete with driving rain, wind and lightening in South Dakota so it was dark by the time we made it into the Badlands park that night. The lightening lit up the rocks and made everything feel very eerie as we rolled down the deserty roads. We woke up at 5 am the next morning and finished packing the car as the sun came up over the hills…

We rolled through the park as the sun came up and Joe took a little walk out over one of the ridges…

We found an enormous colony of prairie dogs along the road and got out of the car to watch them dance and squeak at each other from their burrows. But then we noticed this sign and decided to keep on moving before plaguey things started happening.

We went to the infamous (or at least incredibly well advertised) Wall Drug which was fun in an embarrassing touristy sort of way. Then we puttered up to Mt. Rushmore… I don’t know that I’d make that stop again. But it was a nice, scenic-ish drive. We made it across the rest of South Dakota and most of the way across Wyoming before camping at the Wapiti Campgrounds outside of Yellowstone. That was by far my favorite place to camp over the entire trip.   

We rigged up a nice little kitchen roof to cook under because it threatened to rain all over everything.

I had a genius idea: let’s make pizza bread! A whole minute later, I realized that there’s no way to turn the stove down AND we didn’t have a lid for the pan. That most certainly equals burned bottoms. I gave up pretty quickly and made a squishy bready soupy thing instead! Nice. It was a bit chilly so a warm dinner was most appreciated.

I curled up in my sleeping bag pretty early that night but in the morning….

I spent some time cuddling with Linus! It’s so nice to be able to zip open the flap and have a whole ‘nother bunny room right there! A very large fox cruised right through our camp that morning (about 16 inches tall) and would have come right into the tent if I hadn’t shushed it away!

We motored right into Yellowstone from there.

Before Old Faithful did it’s thing…

And after. There was another fellow standing next to us who kept complaining that it was only a “wussy squirt”. The sentence still makes my mouth feel yucky. I was duly impressed.

As I’m uploading these photos I’m noticing how epically clouded that day was! So pretty…

We spent the next night in Idaho at the most pristine, park-like camp site I have ever seen. They had some beautiful bathrooms. It was also the most expensive.

Draining some more Annie’s for dinner!   

This tree has eyes! It sees all…

The next morning we drove through Boise (a very neat city!), on through Oregon and ended up in Sandy at 4 pm! Not too shabby!