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We're thrilled to partner with Liz Gipson of Yarnworker for her Winter Weave-Along. This Weave-Along is suitable for Advanced Beginners who have a few projects under their belt on their rigid heddle loom. 

What's a Weave-Along, and why participate in one? You might be aware that handweaving hasn't yet caught on with the masses ;-) and many people don't know other weavers, or aren't in close physical proximity to other weavers. A Weave-Along is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a virtual community, all working on the same project, under the kind and expert guidance of Liz Gipson. You can ask questions and get feedback directly from other weavers and from Liz about how to troubleshoot your challenges. It can be nerve-wracking to try a new technique if no one is around to show us the ropes, so a Weave-Along is a wonderful opportunity to try something new within a supportive community. 

What will we learn with this project? A couple things, including how to use two heddles at once, and how to weave twill! If you've only ever woven tabby weave on your rigid heddle loom (the usual over-under-over-under weaving) this will help you significantly expand your skillset. You'll have the opportunity to work with two heddles (and you'll learn workarounds for weaving twill with one heddle if you prefer). 

What are we making? This oversized pillow was designed for serious lounging. The fabric is a 1/3 twill woven with two 5-dent heddles in a hardy wool grown, spun, and dyed in the USA by Mountain Meadow Wool Mill (lots more info and photos about this wonderful yarn and mill below).

You can find all of the other details, including how to register, how exactly the Weave-Along will work, and when it starts, on the Yarnworker website

Materials and Equipment 

Warp & Weft: Suffolk Tapestry Wool from Mountain Meadow Wool Mill (5 skeins for Large, 3 skeins for Small). 

Pattern: The pattern is not included in this bundle. Participation in this Yarnworker Weave-Along is free, but you'll need to buy a copy of Handwoven Home for the full pattern. (The education portion of the weave-along is totally free, but the publisher would frown on posting the full pattern for free.) If you're a rigid heddle weaver and don't already have this book by Liz Gipson - believe us, you want it! 

Equipment Needed: 

Bundles: We are no longer selling these as bundles, but you can make your own bundle here! Just add 3 skeins of Natural and 2 Skeins of a color for the Large, or 2 skeins of Natural and 1 skein of a color for the small. 

Large

The Large bundle makes a 21.5 x 21.5 inch pillow with an 8 inch flap. (You'll have some leftover yarn for future projects). 

Small

The Small bundle makes a 12 x 12 inch pillow. (You'll have leftover yarn for future projects). 

About Surprise Co. Ranch and Mountain Meadow Wool Mill

The yarn for this pillow is spun and dyed at Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, a woman-owned fiber mill committed to revitalizing the American wool industry through eco-friendly operations and fair prices for ranches. See the full line of colors for this Suffolk here, and pre-order your bundle for the Weave-Along here


The yarn for the bundles in this Weave-Along are grown by Lisa Keeler and Erasmo Garcia on Suprise Co. Ranch. Thank you to Mountain Meadow Wool Mill for writing up this description of Suffolk wool and Surprise Co, and sharing these videos with us!

"Suffolk sheep are a hardy breed of sheep that have a big body and produce quality meat. The wool from a Suffolk sheep can contain some black fibers since they have a black face and legs, and ranges in the medium range for coarseness with a fiber diameter of 25.5 to 33 micron. The coarseness and the black fibers are the general reason why most Suffolk wool is put into the wool pool, if it is sold for wool at all.

Mountain Meadow Wool began processing Suffolk wool several years ago because Suffolk is a common breed of sheep to our area. Many ranchers receive a very low price for their Suffolk wool and would drop it off at the mill hoping that something could be done with the wool. MMW processed the wool and marketed it on-line drawing attention to its outstanding qualities of being a very strong wool that is great for outer wear.  

Keeler and Garcia chose the Suffolk breed for several reasons, the primary reason being that they are tough. Wyoming is not a place for the faint of heart and that pertains to animals and livestock producers. Keeler and Garcia are proud of the ewes that they have created over years with ram selection and culling ewes that were not suited to the terrain or management practices of the ranch. Surprise Co. produces ewes that have big bones, massive bodies, great maternal instincts, long life span and produce a lamb that does well in the feedlot, producing a large, lean, lamb chop. A longer stapled wool has also been a primary consideration in their herd.

While the price of inputs, referring to vehicles, feed, fuel, etc. to run the ranch continue to increase, the price received for lambs and the wool has remained steady at best. Becoming Entrepreneur Extraordinaires is how Keeler and Garcia are able to survive in the ranching industry.  

As stewards of the land, Surprise Co. takes everything into consideration when making management decisions. Considering what effects those decisions made will have today, tomorrow and 10 years from today. Keeler says “if you are a steward of all your resources, they will be there for you in the future.” Some practices they have put in place include controlling weeds by being careful to purchase hay that is weed-free, and by grazing weedy areas when the weeds are young and green and will be eaten by their livestock, planting a lot of trees, and taking care of their wetlands.

While there is no doubt that Lisa Keeler is a tough Wyoming rancher, when asked what it meant to her that the wool she produced was going into a cooperative project between Gist Yarn and Fiber, Mountain Meadow Wool, and author of many weaving books, Liz Gipson of Yarnworker, her response showed [IN THIS CLIP] the softer side of her love for producing sheep.

January 02, 2020