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Archive for 'Workshops'

From Sunlight to Sweater

Columbia Sheep

Imperial Stock Ranch

My dear friend, Jeanne Carver (Imperial Stock Ranch), has always referred to her wools as “nature’s miracle.”  She speaks of the energy transferrance of sunlight to the grass to the sheep to our finished objects.  We had a number of our handspinning students ask us for a class on the full process of taking a fleece through all it’s processing

and I’ve been to ISR during shearing a number of times so I asked Jeanne if we could use her wool for the project.  She invited our group out to see the shearing and selected the 10 for our project. Back in studio, our group rolled out their “blankets,”  the intact fleece, so that they could pick out all vegetable matter and short cuts.

A Pico Accuardi student picks her fleece

We began our washing process by talking about all the ways you can clean a fleece (some stinkier than others) choosing to scour in our studio washing machine using just Murphy’s Oil Soap.

Everybody dyed their fleece the colors they hoped to see in their sweaters.  I encouraged everyone to dye a larger percentage of their wool the overall color they wanted with a small percent a contrast color and another a deeper shade to get their color to really pop!  Some decided to blend in different fibers, such as our 100% silk, to make it softer and add deeper color interest.

Columbia Wool dyed in three colors

Our next class took place at Andersen fiber works in Gresham.  They are the one place in Portland where you can rent time on the drum carder to blend your own batts.  You

Andersen Fiberworks, downtown Gresham Oregon

can see some of the owner, Jen’s, beauties under the Hanks in the Hood label ( I’m ridiculously addicted to anything with sparkle she makes!).  Everyone took turns putting their dyed locks through the mini picker to remove seeds and then blended their fiber on Jen’s large Duncan carder and began test spinning their fiber.  Did I mention Andersen fiber works serves local beer and wine?

Wine and Chocolate at Andersen Fiberworks

The next piece of the process is going to be spinning to gauge for specific projects for the group.  We just got serious practice at the fleece to foot at sock summit couple of weekends ago- we had to go from sheep to pair of socks in 5 1/2 hours!  Yes, the yarn had to be spun to fingering weight, plied.

I think I’m going to make a pretty simple sweater out of my Lavender-mauvey-grayish fiber.  I”m still deciding about whether or not it should be fully picked and carded or just spun from locks, whether I should , how I want to ply it, etc.  Sometimes it’s fun to just let the fiber tell you what it needs to be.

Stevanie Pico dyes yarn for Pico Accuardi Dyeworks in Portland, OR.  She has also designed colorways for Cascade Yarns, Imperial Stock Ranch Yarns and Autoctona jewelry.  Her work is featured in Chrissy Gardiner’s Indy Socks,  Larissa Brown’s My Grandmother’s Knitting and Judy Becker’s Beyond Toes.

She enjoys rocking out with her three kids, running around with Larissa Brown and Deb Accuardi, playing with yarn and fabric, spinning weird yarns and singing really loud.




Get your own Sheep to Sweater on!

Pico Accuardi Dyeworks is offering a giveaway of 8 oz. of wool roving to start your own project.  Winner may have the roving dyed a custom color.  See below for palette ideas or send a photo  to  To enter drawing for this gift, valued at $32 please leave a comment  by Sunday August 28th midnight pst.  Winner will be announced on Monday.

We Have a Winner!

Mary Whited
Submitted on 2011/08/25 at 2:44 PM
WOW! What gorgeous colors! I don’t know if I could choose if I were to win. I love to dye my roving, I use the Slow Cooker method.

Posted by Stevanie Pico on Aug 25, 2011 06:15 AM | 370 Comments

Evolving through Handwork: The Value of “Process”

In our modern world, we have become a “product” oriented society. The enthusiasm and appreciation for “process” has been lost. With technology, we insist upon immediate gratification and instant results to meet our ever-changing whims. Vermont Grand View Farm, a sheep farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont, runs fiber classes and summer camps for moms and children in hopes to provide a means to slow down, observe, explore, and create. Children and their moms are invited to spend a week at the farm learning about animal husbandry, farm life, and the many fiber arts of spinning, felting, weaving, and knitting.

Getting to Know the Sheep

One goal for their summer camp focuses on teaching children how to enjoy the “process” of creating, by engaging all of their senses. The farm becomes the perfect tool for meeting this objective as it abounds with numerous opportunities for learning. The setting allows the children to slow down, discover the world around them, and fully engage in the steps necessary to produce a product without distractions.

This July, one group of summer campers met this challenge with much enthusiasm and proved that children can still enjoy the creative process. Within a week’s time they learned how to go from sheep to yarn. They began their week being introduced to the sheep, angora rabbits, and llamas who live on the farm. All week, they cared for the animals, providing them with fresh water and new pastures for grazing and learning about the relationship between nutrition and fleece quality.

Washing Wool

Their first day, the children skirted and washed a newly shorn Romney fleece. They learned about lanolin, crimp, and lock formation as well as the importance of careful feeding habits to reduce vegetation from contaminating the fleece. In the days that followed, the children dyed the fleece and learned how to card it into batts for spinning.

Dyed Wool Drying on Screens

By the end of the week, they were ready to spin the wool with drop spindles made with recycled CDs. At last they had yarn to take home with them.

CD Drop Spindle

To help them bring all of these steps together and to better understand the “big picture” of where knitted items come from, the children worked on a group mural which highlighted what they had learned. With wool as their medium, the children made the background for their mural using a wet felting technique. After layering the wool into a large batt, they covered it with a sheer curtain and began gently massaging warm, soapy water into the wool. Next, they rolled it up using a swim noodle and recycled pool cover. Now they were able to work the wool more vigorously rolling it back and forth until the wool turned to felt. This piece of felt became the background for their mural.

Gently Wetting the Wool

Rolling the Wool

Once they had made the background wool fabric, the campers were able to begin depicting each of the stages of going from wool to yarn. The children had decided to represent the sheep, shearing and washing the wool, carding and spinning, and lastly knitting the wool. They spent one afternoon making sheep and placing them on the background. Needle felted clouds and flowers were also added.

Making Sheep

Over the next couple of days, the children each made felt dolls which represented themselves. The dolls had pipe cleaners for arms and legs which were wrapped in wool. Then, they wound more wool around their figures for pants and shirts needle felting them into place. Using wet felting, they created small wool felted balls for heads and found yarn or wool to match their hair color. Each of the campers decide which stage of the process their doll would engage in on the mural and they began felting and assembling their portion of the mural.





Completed Mural

By the end of the week, the children had completed their group project. With smiles on their faces, they proudly presented their masterpiece to their moms.

The children approached their work all week with much joy and laughter. Often, as adults, we sometimes lose sight of the joy in the process of doing something and get bogged down in the steps. We want to hurry along just to get to the end product quickly. The value of taking time and savoring each piece of the project gets lost in the desire to have a final product in hand. When this happens we often skip the process entirely and grab the finished product from the store. The campers at Grand View Farm, fully embraced each day and the tasks set before them proving that there is just as much value and joy in the process as there is in the finished product.


Kim Goodling

Kim Goodling

VT Grand View Farm

Kim, a home schooling mom, is shepherd to her flock of Romney sheep on her Vermont hillside farm. Kim’s sheep, llamas, and angora rabbits provide the fiber for her mill spun yarn which she sells as yarn CSA shares. In addition to tending her flock, Kim teaches fiber arts classes and runs fiber retreats and camps for adults and children. Her farm offers B&B Farm Stays and invites you to visit their farm for a full farm immersion experience into the wonderful world of wool. Follow the activities at VT Grand View Farm on their farm journal and facebook pages.




VT Grand View Farm is giving away one night’s stay in their Farmhouse Suite which sleeps up to 4 people. Sleep under cozy down comforters in 4-poster beds and enjoy waking up to roosters crowing, farm fresh eggs, and home baked muffins. Relax on the porch overlooking the mountains, visit with the sheep in the pasture, or stroll the dirt roads and forest trails.  To enter drawing for this gift, valued at $200 please leave a comment by Thursday, August 18th midnight pst.  Winner will be announced on Saturday August 20th.

We have a winner!

Christine Condon
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 8:35 pm
What an absolutely lovely business you have. I would love to see your beautiful farm and B&B! Thanks for the fun contest!


Posted by Kim Goodling on Aug 15, 2011 06:15 AM | 321 Comments


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