Wild fiber


Just rolled in from spending the past week hanging around “wild fiber” in Yellowstone.
The highlight of the week was getting the opportunity to stay at the
Lamar Buffalo Ranch and take a class called “The Carnivore Conservation Challenge”  from the Yellowstone Association

Early in the week I came across decent quantities of buffalo fiber left on the ground near a picnic point in Hayden Valley but I resisted the urge to take any.  Later in the week I had a chance to ask a ranger whether it was OK to take buffalo fiber. She confirmed that it isn’t allowed. I could look but not take it out of the park.

The gift shop at the ranch had some lovely stocking caps for sale from a local company called Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company. Hang tags on the caps mentioned that the company uses locally raised predator friendly wool. I’ve known for some time that ranchers weren’t keen on loosing livestock to wolves and bears but wasn’t aware that there was a program to recognize products that use predator friendly methods to raise their livestock. One of the teachers mentioned that it’s hard to get ranchers interested in having their product labeled “predator friendly” since calves are usually sold to large feed lots with many other cattle. This makes it hard to distinguish between ones raised on predator friendly ranches or non-friendly ranches.

This whole topic is very new to me and has got me thinking more about the wool I use. I’d like to do a little more research on the topic.

Firebirds_swatch2Like every vacation, I usually have grand ideas about getting lots of knitting done while traveling in the car or plane. As usual, I was only able to manage a small fraction of what I had planned. This time I only managed to knit a swatch of the Firebirds cardigan.

Instead of knitting the swatch in-the-round, I decided to knit it flat as described in the pattern, which I gather is the more traditional “Fair Isle” way. Using a circular needle I started each row with new strands of yarn and cut them at the end of each row. In this way each row is knitted in stockinette (no purl rows) and is suppose to mimic knitting in the round without having work twice as many stitches.

Notice the long yarn ends? I think it’s unusual to leave them so long, but cutting the ends made me nervous about loose edges so I kept them long.

The swatch turned out to be very tight ,~ 9 sts X 9 rows per inch. I’m was aiming for about 7 sts per inch.  After measuring this swatch I started to regret not knitting it in my usual manner (in-the-round). I suspect that managing all those ends made my tension tighter than it really is. This week I’ll work another swatch but this time do it “in-the-round”. Hopefully I won’t use up too much yarn trying to get a “good” swatch.

10 thoughts on “Wild fiber

  1. Great picture of the buffalo!
    I also had been looking forward to seeing more pictures of your Firebirds cardigan progress. The colours are wonderful!


  2. Lovely pictures, and Becky at Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool is awesome! I was just fiddling with one of her corriedale cross fleeces last night, I combed a few locks and spun them on a spindle for some very nice thin lace weight samples. It sounds like you had a good trip, thanks for sharing!


  3. What an amazing photo! I remember reading, in a back issue of Spin-Off, how dangerous it is to be that close to a bison (are bison and buffalo the same thing? I think perhaps they aren’t, but the advice probably still applies.) The article said something like “there is no fence strong enough to hold back an angry bison” and thet even if there are TWO fences between you, if it looks peeved, you should get the hell out of there PRONTO. Scary stuff!
    I bet the rule about collecting the fiber was purely an economic one–if you take it away, they have less of it to sell. It was good of you to comply, but I bet you could have put some fiber in a baggie and packed it away and nobody would be the wiser. 😉
    And Firebirds… wow.


  4. Yes, it’s very dangerous to be so close to buffalo but I think it’s ok if you’re in a car like we were. A herd just happened to cross the road on our way out of the park so while we waited for them to cross, I poked my camera out the side window to snap that photo.
    It always drives me crazy is to see people getting too close to wild animals. On a previous trip we ran across a massive “bear jam” of cars. A black bear had sent her cubs up a tree and they were bawling their heads off. At the same time people were jumping out of their cars trying to get closer to take pictures. I
    Also, I would be surprised if the park sold the fiber. It’s just general rule that things like that can’t be taken. They probably don’t want commercial collectors striping the park bare.


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