Last week I discovered a new favorite podcast: Woolful podcast by Ashley Yousling. Each week she interviews \different types of people from different parts of the wool and fiber arts supply chain: from sheep farmer to shearers to mills to yarn shop owners to fiber artists.
While I have just started to expand my fiber knowledge into knitting beyond a basic knit and purl scarf, and I definitely don't spin or weave, I have learned so much about the fiber industry and the different things people are doing with it. I binge listened to the first 17 episodes in about a week (thankfully we haven't started field work yet, so I've been listening nonstop wile doing office work).
Things I have learned so far:
Extreme knitting uses giant needles to knit with an already felted fiber. Little Dandelion is one company that makes these large needles and has some some very creative things. Her work is so awesome and I can't even imagine how warm her throws are. Unfortunately there is no way I could afford that fiber! I've seen some really huge knit blankets on Pintrest and I finally figured out how they're made!
Efforts for more mills: Ashley also talked with Matt Gilbert, a shearer from California who discussed his current endeavor to start a fiber mill called Mendocino Wool and Fiber. Right now they have an Indegogo campaign to raise the capital to start the project. It was really interesting to hear how there is such a lack of the "middle man" in the fiber industry- ie there are a lot of people who produce wool, and a lot of people who want to make things with it, but a lack of someone to create high quality yarns. He hopes to process >1000lbs of yarn in a week, which is a really good sized mill. It's nice that people are recognizing the need for more mills in the U.S. Currently, the wait time for any of my roving, yarn and blankets is a minimum of 2 months but can be 6-12 months depending on where it is sent.
Knit alongs: I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know of this concept previously.. Ashley is organizing a monthly knit along with patterns from designers featured in the show. This month the pattern is for an adorable stuffed bunny. This pattern was designed by Ashley for a line she is developing with a friend, called Little Woolens. The pattern (along with great discussion about the podcast), can be found on Ravelry. So far I have not been very adventurous with my knitting, but listening to people on this podcast talk about their "fiber journeys" has really made me want to start stepping out and trying new things. I have finished the body and the ears and depending on how this trial bunny turns out, I'd like to make some for friends who are having babies this summer and use my own wool! I will (maybe) post photos of this project when I finish.
Seventeen episodes and more than 25 hrs of listening time is a lot to sum up in one blog post, so you're just going to have to listen for yourself! You'll learn about new yarns you'll want to try, patterns to download, and people in the fiber industry who are just genuinely excited about fiber. If you are a wool or fiber arts enthusiast like me, I promise you will be incredibly inspired! So, pick up your knitting needles and get listening.