So I didn't abandon the blog, but the holidays came and went, the world's nastiest virus came and went and a hellish cold snap came and went and the mill work is coming and going. I want to try to post some pictures of how the shop is coming along and what we're working on but for tonight, a quick update.
Things are progressing. Part of our issue at the moment is that there is a HUGE learning curve with the machines that takes a little while to overcome. Even though Adam knows fiber and I've been spinning and knitting for years, there's a vast difference between how you think fiber will react and how it actually behaves once it starts going through machines. We've learned that you can't fix bad, weak fiber- you can only put it in the felt table. We've learned that some stuff just isn't worth touching- after we got a bag that was more burdock than wool. We've learned that there is no substitute for properly skirting a fleece, as we've spent close to ten hours on just one machine with an otherwise lovely batch that had a million second cuts that should have been removed before it ever touched its first machine. We've learned that beautiful fiber will only get prettier and a coated sheep makes a world of difference in quality.
So far the hardest machines to learn have been the spinners, as there are a million minor adjustments that can be made that have a huge effect on the yarn. But luckily for us, Belfast is sending a top notch trainer who will be here Wednesday to help us sort out the kinks and get us more comfortable with the finishing machines- carder, draw frame, spinners and the rug yarn maker. I can't wait to get hands on training on how to make a more consistent finished product. In the meantime, we're trying to get as much stuff ready as we can so that we can spend days doing nothing but spinning up yarn. Luckily we bought some really nice fleeces at the fiber festivals and we have some family and friends that have given us their own stuff to practice with, so we have quite a lot to learn on.
The other issue is that Adam is still working a full time job. There is a lot that I can do by myself, and we've set up the mill to be as wheelchair accessible as possible, but there will always be a few things that I will just need that extra set of hands (or another six inches of height). We're starting an odd transition period where Adam still needs to work to full time but we need him home too. It'll take a little bit to get adjusted and we're hopeful that we'll be able to bring him home for good sooner rather than later.
Pretty soon the Skirted Fleece Mill website will be launched and I'm really excited to show it to the world. I think it's absolutely beautiful and it'll have all the information about classes, prices and when the store will be open. As far as launching the mill, once we're done with training and feel more comfortable with the machines, we'll be having a grand opening for everyone to come and check things out. We just want to put out something that our customers will love, and we want to know we can do that before we take on business.
In farm related news, our lambs should start popping any day now. Dutchess will probably be the first to go and she looks ready to burst. We're keeping our fingers crossed for safe, healthy and easy deliveries. And no bottle babies would be nice...
Also, Adam thinks that Gaia is pregnant, so we're looking forward to a new baby yak around mid-April. I'm not sure what our current little troublemakers will do with a new playmate but I'm sure they'll find new and interesting ways to cause havoc.