sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monterey wool auction 2008

So I've had this crazy plan brewing for months now, and I didn't really want to talk about it since it really shines a light on the nut inside my head, but... so. After Retzlaff, I knew I loved the Cormo fleeces Sue grows and that I'm pretty much only buying colored fleeces... all of the colored 2008 fleeces were reserved or sold, except for three that were going to the Monterey wool auction at their county fair.

I didn't really think I'd go, looking for *one* fleece of those three that I had worked up in my mind that I was in true love with, but Tika said she and Jasmin were planning to go and I should hitch a ride...

Backing up forward though... Krista (yeah, Pigeonroofstudios' dyer extraordinaire ;) who will groan when she reads that I write it but I believe to be true) and I headed down from Oakland straight to Monterey, and what did our wondering eyes see when we got there?

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Closer...

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Yeah. Tables of fleeces.

Now, I know for some of you local to big wool shows and fests this is like, not a big deal but for me-- dude. I've never seen over a hundred fleeces in one place before, and I was floored. Unfortunately the wool judging was the weekend prior, and I'd liked to have seen it as much as I liked watching at Lambtown. Although, every fleece was gorgeous-- really. Lots of entries from growers I'd bought from (Sue Reuser of Cormo Sheep and Wool, Janet Heppler of Nebo Rock Textiles-- no website), and others I hope to know in the future ;)

Amidst it all, I found The One I had trekked all this way for...

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left: Henna, reserve champion for solid color other than black
right: Aly, champion for solid color other than black
both Cormos from Cormo Sheep and Wool

So after pawing, pinging, and digging thru these bags of wool, Tika, Krista and I settled in to our seats with our bidding cards and waited... The fleece is auctioned off, and you bid on the price per pound you're willing to pay-- some fleeces were monsters at 13#, most were less than that. I mapped out my fleece's actual cost before the bidding began...

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...you know, so in the heat of the moment I'd know exactly what I was paying in total. And it really is heat of the moment-- I took two short videos on my camera of the auctioneer here and here so you can get a sense of how awesome she was. It's been years since hearing my heart in my ears with such anticipation, but still staying within the budget I've been saving up for months I can call "Henna" mine.

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(most accurate color)

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Caramel, 4.5" locks I can't wait to lash onto my combs... man.

And, a serendipitious love came home with me too...

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Corriedale x Rambouillet true black, "Kali"

I'd told myself that if I couldn't bring the caramel fleece home, it would be a true black-- and goodness, both are sitting on my floor begging to be washed right now :) The black-black also has a nice length for combing...

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Really hard to see the fineness of crimp in such a dark fleece, you can kinda see it towards the edges.

After the fleece rampage, I headed back to Krista's car to drop these off and pick up the two bags I brought in for Morro Fleece Works to process...

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I bought three partial Cormo fleeces from Nancy Ortmann in MT, and while they are gorgeous, they were uncovered and I've made a pact with myself only to wash covered fleeces at home. (Excepting a colored Polwarth, if I can find one next year.) They really weren't dirty though...

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...just minor chaff. I also wanted prep done I really didn't want to do here at home-- I am having the middle and left fleeces (dark grey + dark brown black) blended together, and the right cormo (that had the softest hand of the three after I washed up samples at home) blended with about a pound and a half of baby alpaca for maybe a 50/50 blend.

Dark brown baby alpaca...

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Both blends should be nicely heathered and evenly blended, something I can't do reliably here at home. I've also decided to only use mills when I can't do something at home now, so pretty much for picking and blending on a poundage scale. I can hang with my drumcarder for a few ounces worth, but more is really not something I enjoy much lately.

I love the job Morro does, and I'm anxiously awaiting the grey Cormo I dropped off there at Retzlaff, but I really do enjoy prep at home and the mill cost adds onto the cost of the fleece in an exponential way (that I can avoid, with as many tools I have here myself.)

We'll see ;) I have a feeling that with ALL the natural colored wool I have out being pindrafted all mills right now (4 batches of at least 3# each), I may be destashing some since I live in a shoebox and fiber is... big. Another we'll see. ;)

Meanwhile, back on the farm... the wool auction was great! A really fun time, and some fleeces went for a steal (getting only one minimum bid), even some of the champions. It seems that the naturally colored wools were what were sought this year-- there were some breathtaking whites that the three of us almost felt sorry for when they didn't get bid on at all. I didn't even look at whites myself in the preview... but then again see above, I'm nuts and went for ONE. With a plan of attack ;)

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(pic just cos i can't get enough of this color!)

Just for those thinking about going to the Monterey wool auction sometime in the future (this is all stuff I wondered about the weeks prior)-- they open the furthest right gate (Gate 4) for the wool auction and you don't have to pay admission. They were open for the preview by 10:30am when Krista and I arrived, and behind was the handspun competition with gorgeous skeins and textiles, along with interesting displays of grist across wool breeds.

The fleeces are judged earlier in the week, either in their breed class (merino, romney, cvm, etc.) or by blood class (fine combing, 1/2 blood combing, 3/8 combing, etc.) The blood class fleeces generally don't list the breed of fleece, though some growers include cards with info like that in the bags holding the fleece. At the auction, the breed classes are auctioned off first, then the champions, market wool (all whites), then colors-- solid black, solid other than black, variegated. At the end is the mohair auction. Sometimes the fleeces you're interested in most don't come up til last, hard choices to make ;) The preview tables were set up in the same order as the bidding so you could see which order they were going in by your bidder's book-- a little confusing for me at first but worked out okay in the end :) Once the auction's done, you can pay and they take everything-- cash, checks and cc; I was worried they wouldn't take cash but yay :)

And once the auction's really all done and you've dropped all the fleeces off at Morro that you aren't packing home...

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Jasmin lost in wool, Tika taking a picture I hope doesn't go up anywhere

...you get to see the rest of the fair. Which was a lot of people, attractions, and food...

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(officially a blogger. pictures of food.)

I don't think I've ever turned down a funnel cake in my life, not about to start now! :)

This was the best county fair I've ever been to... lots of animals (alpaca, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, etc.) and if you're lucky, they love you back.

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Awesome time!

Til then, and next year's auction too ;)

22 comments:

lexa said...

That looks like a total blast! Glad you had a good time. Lovely purchases, too. :)

Sarah said...

I used to live in Monterey before I was a spinner :(. Boo! Looks like a great haul and a fun time.

Jenifer said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing about the wool show. I'm only about an hour away from Monterey but didn't go since I had been at the Black Sheep Gathering already this summer. Now I'm motivated to go next year. Looks like you got some fun stuff!

Adrienne said...

Beautiful pictures!! I could almost feel the fleece. It looked like a great day with some nice weather, too! Thanks for sharing!!!

Melly Testa said...

Wow. I am new to all this. I was just given a set of hand carders but have yet to get some wool to try and feel like too much of a newbie and ignorant to boot, to try buying yet. Great fun to read your blog, thanks!

bockstark.knits said...

Holay Molay! That is a lot of fiber! I think had I been there, I might have come home with some, which is scary because I said I would never process fleece. ;) Thanks for sharing and the detailed report! BTW, is that you in the last picture? I have no idea what you look like...

Stacey said...

wow. that fleece is BEAUTIFUL! caramel is the perfect name for the color. Very rich. The black one - I can see why you got that.....stunning!!!! These should keep your wheel humming for a while, huh? :)

Rachel said...

Holy moly! Those are beautiful fleeces. I don't think I could stop myself from breaking out the spindles and spinning in the grease straight from the lock.

Tikabelle said...

Dude, that was a ton of fun, wasn't it? I'm all excited to go next year. :) I took some good wool pr0n pictures - they should be up once I can wrap my brain around typing anything remotely readable. More coffee is brewing.

HPNY Knits said...

looks like great fun! can't wait to see what you'll make of all this fab raw material!

madonnaearth said...

Dude, you scored auction love!

I am so, so glad you posted this, because it helps me decide just how far I'm willing to go for good yarn (I'll be shopping in the online and brick and mortar yarn stores). And also points out how much work goes into getting good yarn. Now I know I'm getting great value for my money.

Processing fleece on your particular level is not for the faint of heart. I am probably going to be taking up dyeing my own personal yarn stash this year and get into spinning next year, but that's about it.

Kelli said...

So I have this lovely Polypay fleece, but I'm struggling with wasing it and retaining lock formation. I need to dig through your archives for the "washing a fleece" posts, but I'd love it if you did one with extra pictures on how you lay out the fleece to wash it. :)

Clare said...

Hey!

For some crazy reason I can't gain access to the BBoY email address. Yahoo is worse than my mother-in-law! LOL

I'm going to be around the Bay area for the next two weeks and need to talk with you about next year's issues...I know you have the little punkin' in school, but if you have 90 minutes where we could just sit down and talk, that would be great.

Let me know, I've been dying to talk to you...I forgot to set something up at this year's festival -- in too much of a hurry living life to actually do things! LOL

Thanks.

(I didn't have those new sox when I saw you last -- that superwash is REALLY nice, it takes on an interesting post-wash sheen.)

Anonymous said...

10 1/4, R's.

Anonymous said...

hot neighbor. you are SO bratty.

Anonymous said...

i wore a hole through the toe of my yellow-greys.

godDAMMIT.

Anonymous said...

national parks marathon would be AWESOME.

Anonymous said...

so what *is* enough?

gone from the US for a fortnight in 48 hours.

moox2.

Anonymous said...

super happy birthday to you from huatulco.

i hope the kindergarten photos come out the hope.

Anonymous said...

(the way you)

Anonymous said...

someone's got the skype tools here now. hang tight.

Anonymous said...

i'm trying xxx0202 but getting no answer.

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