about the essentials of life...knitting, designing knitting, yarn for knitting...you get the idea...

My Photo

I'm a knitter, knitting pattern designer, and spinner. I also dye yarn with both acid and natural dyes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Socktoberfest Special, Special Yarn

This arrived yesterday and I'm so excited. Yes, I know, Socktoberfest was supposed to be a stash-busting experience, and heaven knows, I've the sock yarn stash to bust. But, you know how it is - every new project just needs, needs, a new yarn.

Actually, I've been waiting since July to order this special, special yarn. In July, I spent 4 days in El Rito, NM (up near Abiquiu, in Georgia O'Keefe country) participating in an intensive natural dyeing seminar at Northern New Mexico Community College. Liesel's (the instructor) web site in in the sidebar - Earth-Arts. I met some wonderful women at this class - weavers, spinners, a bride-to-be and one of her bridesmaids dyeing yarn for her wedding blanket, and the head of the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association. This woman provided all the yarn for our class and it was wonderful.

Living in New Mexico, of course I knew of churro. It's the fiber that the traditional rugs and embroideries are made of. You know, those Navajo rugs that are so prized and collected. Yep, churro. Those amazing colcha embroideries that you see in Santa Fe - churro. But it has kind of a bad rep here for knitting. Churro? You mean that scratchy stuff?

That's what I told Connie at El Rito. We were dyeing yarns meant to be used for the weaving classes at the school. I can't really knit with this, I said. It's kind of like lopi - you have to wear it over something else or you'd itch yourself crazy. Not so, she told me. Sure, the weaving weight is kind of stiff (those not so much after it's been cooked for a couple of days to dye it), but there is this finer stuff that you can knit socks out of. And she brought some in. "This is churro?" I marveled. It was much, much softer. Not exactly merino, you know, but perfectly wonderful for socks.

She showed me the natural colors is comes in - I love the idea of yarn that is the color of the sheep who grew it. She gave me some information about the breed. I knew I wanted to try this yarn!

So, Socktoberfest. It's a festival! Surely a festival deserves something truly, truly special. I started e-mailing back and forth (Connie is patient, patient) trying to determine the best weight for this festival sock. I finally ordered on Monday and the yarn arrived on Wednesday. Amazing - my rent check takes a week to get across town and it took 2 days for yarn from Ojo Caliente.

The package also included samples of other weights and colors.

Maybe next time I won't be such a pest in making a decision!

But, you ask, why am I so excited about this yarn?

I'm so glad you asked. First, look at this:

Isn't he great? I love the usual soft, cuddly looking white sheep you most often see. But this guy - why he has character. He is just so western, so wild and free looking. (Hmm...those look like babies beside him - maybe he is a she.) He/she looks just so right, so right for NM.

As well he should. Did you know that the sheep that the Spanish brought to the Americas back in the 1500's was a churro? This tough guy is the original American sheep! He has a long history of helping to sustain the culture and people in this part of the world.

He is also an endangered species. For a variety of social reasons, the churro very nearly became extinct. In the 1970's a few people set out to preserve the churro in New Mexico. Even today, true Navajo-Churro sheep are very, very few.

I'm going to dye this special, special yarn using some natural dyes I've been accumulating. I'm thinking either an light indigo blue or maybe a soft green. Either the color of the huge NM sky or that of the ubiquitous sage. I'll hold my breath the whole time I'm dyeing - I want so much for this to be perfect!

*for more information about Navajo-Churro sheep, click here.*


Blogger Brandy said...

Oh that yarn is just simply divine!! Thanks for sharing that information. Its great. I learned something new. Now as for stashbusting on this... I have no sock yarn to stash bust for this so I get to buy all new...LOL That girl/guy is gorgeous. Love the color of the coat!! Have a great weekend!!

September 30, 2006 6:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home