MDSW progress

I spent most of last week tinkering with dyes and planning colorways for Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May. Here's one of the products I've been working on : Ply Packs!

 A Ply Pack is a selection of 4-6 pieces of dyed top on semi-luxury bases like Merino/tencel, BFL/silk, Merino/silk, and Merino/bamboo. These cute packages nearly sold out last year at the festival, so I made sure to create quadruple the supply. I like to chain-ply these in random stripe lengths, but I found that most customers made self-striping or two-ply yarns.

My to-do list is daunting and I find myself getting distracted with fresh fleeces - baby BFL, baby Finn, Cormo X Merino, Moorit Merino, Huacaya alpaca.. I'm drowning in a delicious buffet of fine raw woolies! The wash process for me is finally streamlined - divide the fleece into 1.5 - 2 lb. chunks, soak, hot wash w/Dawn, rinse, rinse, hot wash w/Dawn, rinse, rinse - DYE! Most of my fleeces need the two hot washes since they're extra greasy fine wools, though some like the baby BFL can be polished off in just a couple of hours. Here's that baby BFL all dyed up in one of my favorite colors:

At least I'll have some happy farm-fresh fibers in my Maryland batts! It's been a goal of mine to make a slow switch to using about 30% (or more) fibers from small and/or local farmers, and this year I'm finally making progress on that goal. Of course, it's crazy-expensive to use wool from scratch - with a Merino fleece, up to half of the fleece can be lanolin, so if I'm paying $15/lb, that quickly turns into $30, not to mention all of the time it takes to skirt, wash, and pick out VM. Still, there's something really satisfying about starting with raw earthy wool and transforming it into something that's just as soft as the commercial top, but has a crimpy kinky texture and is filled with life.

I'm just going to put this out there - I'm always willing to trade finished product for high quality fleeces with low VM. My faves include anything with a lower 20's micron count, kid or yearling mohair, huacaya alpaca, and staple lengths that aren't shorter than 3".

Aaand, I better log off and finish sorting through pictures for the 2nd half of this week's update. I've got a tiny discount available (Code: HOBTEN) celebrating 6 years of selling on Etsy.


  1. Oh my! Those locks are a gorgeous shade of green. And the ply packs are the most amazing colour combinations! Hopefully we will get to see some more delicious fibre inspiration before the festival :)

  2. I'll be sure to post lots of progress pics!