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Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival: May 7-8

April 15th, 2016 by Gretchen

It won’t be long now, Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is always the first full weekend in May, this year it’s May 7th and 8th.

Come see us in the Main Exhibition Hall: booth D17.

new samples, patterns and as many breed specific yarns as we can fit in our booth!

Wed, April 6th, Presentation to Waterford Weavers Guild

April 3rd, 2016 by Gretchen

Sue Bundy, Solitude Wool partner, will be speaking and demonstrating to the Waterford Weavers Guild this Wednesday at their regular meeting.

Topic of the day: how to evaluate and select a fleece (be ready for the fleece sale at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May). Sue will cover the five broad categories of types of wool: Primitive (or double coated), Longwood, Medium, Down type and Fine.

April 8,9 & 10: Northern CA Handweavers Guild Conference

April 3rd, 2016 by Gretchen

Our boxes have already arrived in Modesto and I will be heading out there mid-week so Solitude Wool can represent at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers (AKA CNCH, or cinch). This is a regional association of five different Guilds, and I’ve heard some high praise of these folks from weavers out here.

Excited to show off four new handwoven samples from four different weavers and four different Solitude yarns: Coopworth lace weight, Montadale light, Border Leicester re-twist and Llama-rama! We will also have skeins of yarn for knitting and crochet. We have quite a number of online customers from Northern California, and I hope I get the chance to meet many of you. Come to Modesto!

Speaking to Potomac Fiber Arts Guild Sat 3/12 & Fiber Farmers Market Sun 3/13

March 9th, 2016 by Gretchen

Jeepers peepers…spring is exploding so early

a mass of wood frog eggs floating

I wonder how many spring peepers and wood frogs are in our little pond? Bet its thousands. Solitude is positively vibrating with singing and frolicing. I wish I could put sound into this email…it hurts it’s so loud (but thrilling). See the honey bee getting a drink…and the wolf spider and another spider too?Masses of frog eggs are accumulating.




Yesterday, along the road to our warehouse, I found these last bits of snow. They are so doomed.

Sue crutched her pregnant ewes yesterday afternoon (clipping the back end and udders in preparation for lambing). I’ve got hired help arriving this morning to work outside with me in hopes of getting ahead for once.

Welcome Spring!

But this weekend it might be rainy, so come see us!

Saturday Sue and I will be speaking to the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild at their monthly meeting in Potomac, MD at the St. James Episcopal Church (directions at link). A short business meeting starts at 10, we start at 10:30 and will have yarn and fiber there for sale after the talk. The meeting is open to the public.

We are telling stories of how we each got into farming…how we discovered we were both thinking the same thing which led to the birth of Solitude Wool ten years ago and where we are today. Then sheep and wool stories of the small farms they come from, the process from sheep to label and yarn design and structure. It will be our first “projector” show…fingers crossed.

Sunday is the Fiber Farmers Market in a new location

One of our favorite events! Spinners especially, this is a great opportunity to tap into your local fibershed…but all fiber folks will find local artisans and producers to make your work special. Due to the Vienna Community center renovation, it is in a new location: Patriot Hall, 330 Center Street, North, Vienna, VA 22180. Do come! Hours are 1:00 to 5:00.

Are you a weaver? Would you like to be?

Do you have daydreams of being a weaver? You can do it! There are at least three places to take weaving classes in our area: Barefoot Weavers Studio out here in Purcellville, VA; The Art League in Alexandria, VA and the very new Red Stone Glen Fiber Center in York Haven, Pennsylvania. There are books, but I would recommend taking a class to get a solid start. Post note: got an email from Kristen Hughes about places in Richmond, VA to learn to weave: City of Richmond’s Pine Camp (http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/parks/programmingArt.aspx), and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (visarts.org)

We are excited to be doing two events that are weaving centered: the Conference of Northern California Handweavers in Modesto, CA in early April and, this summer, Convergence, the national conference of handweavers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


So, we have enlisted good friends who just happen to also be quite good weavers to create some samples to show off our yarns. This is the first in: a baby blanket in our Montadale light yarnwoven by Sandy Lund. It is just lovely and feels so cozy. I want a full size blanket for me. Sandy wove two small blankets so we could demonstrate that because we added a bit of nylon to this yarn…it is machine washable. The second folded blanket in the photo has been through the machine on a regular cycle, warm water and then thrown in the dryer on regular. It is softer, and the lovely basket weave is a little less pronounced, but it probably works even better this way for a baby.

The pattern is from Tom Knisley’s Handwoven Baby Blankets book, and you could weave one blanket a little larger than Sandy’s samples with the 1.5 pound cone. I’ll have the blanket this weekend for show.





this is the handwashed blanket




this is the machine washed and dryed blanket

Thank you for reading all this.

Hope you have an opportunity to soak up some spring this week.


Open House Sunday Feb 28th at warehouse: 10% off everything!

February 21st, 2016 by Gretchen

We are expecting the boxes of yarn from Madrona Winter retreat to arrive back from the west coast this week. We know we have to empty them all and re-sort. Seemed like a great time to offer a warehouse sale.

Come by anytime from noon to 4pm this Sunday, February 28th and get some fresh local wool! Not only will we have yarn everywhere, Kim has sorted through all our odds and ends and they will be out. Some good deals! We have new roving too.

The warehouse is part of Endless Summer Harvest. The address is 36474 Osburn Rd, Purcellville, VA 20132. When you find it, follow the gravel drive way around to the back. We are in the back corner.

Spring Schedule & beyond

February 21st, 2016 by Gretchen

Here’s what we know so far:

Sunday, February 28th: OPEN HOUSE at our warehouse in Purcellville, Virginia.    Noon to 4:00 pm   10% off all sales
We are expecting our boxes from the Madrona show to get back mid-week. We want to dump them and re-org. Seems like a good excuse to have an open house, doesn’t it?
36474 Osburn Rd, Purcellville, VA 20132   Drive around to the back of the building and come in the door back there.

Saturday, March 12th: Sue and Gretchen will be presenting to the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild at their monthly meeting. Meeting is at the St. James Episcopal Church in Potomac, MD and is open to the public
We are excited to be pulling together our Solitude Wool story in our 10th year of business, with photos. Yarn and fiber available for sale after the presentation.

Sunday, March 13th: Fiber Farmers Market hosted by Uniquities and Fibernate. There is a new location for the event: Patriot Hall, 330 Center Street North in Vienna Virginia. Hours are 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

April 8 – 10, 2016 Conference of Northern California Handweavers in Modesto, CA; Field to Fiber We will have a booth in the marketplace at this annual conference of Area 5 guilds. We have heard really nice things from people we respect about these folks…and they asked us so nicely and persistently that we are once again crossing the country.  2016 is looking like a good weaving year! Are you in California? We will have weaving and knitting yarns. Please come see us!

Date to be determined: Solitude Wool Farm Field Day: Icelandic at beautiful Three Bags Wool farm in Loudoun County, Virginia. We are still putting together plans for this field day but know it is going to be special. Will let you know as soon as we nail down a date.

May 7th & 8th: Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. As always one of the fiber highlights of the year. Presume we will be in the same location in the Main Exhibition Hall but will update when notified.

June 3rd-5th: 43rd Quilters Unlimited show at the Dulles Expo center. Suggested by a customer, we are looking forward to a new event. Hope we can turn on some quilters to local wool!

Saturday July 9th: Beat the Heat Fiber Treat: new (bigger and easier to get to) location this year in Leesburg, Virginia. New classes, new teachers and some new vendors too. SAVE THE DATE! I’ll be doing a natural dye class and there are other fun things lined up already.

August 3rd-6th: Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Another first for us. We will be vendors and be making a presentation in the marketplace. Are you going?

September 24th-25th: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. See us in our usual spot in the Ruritan Building.

October 15th-16th: New York Sheep & Wool Festival (Rhinebeck). Looking forward to a trip to the Hudson Valley and seeing fabulously dressed festival goers! See us in the lower level of the Horticulture Building.


Madrona Winter Fiber Retreat Feb 11-14 in Tacoma, WA

February 4th, 2016 by Gretchen

Heading West for the third year to Madrona Winter Fiber Retreat. Certainly one of my favorite events.

We are excited to offer two exclusives at the event: a new little book by Nancy Marchant with 8 patterns and Evelyn Clarks new Reykjavik Lace Shawl pattern.

Plus, there are 16 boxes packed snug with lots and lots of yarn and fiber somewhere on the road now heading that way!

Come see us in the marketplace (free admission).

talk & trunk show about Romney sheep: Jan 23rd in Alexandria

January 4th, 2016 by Gretchen
I’ve been invited to talk about my favorite sheep breed and favorite wool with Caroline Hockenberry’s Fibernators. I’ll begin the morning sharing my experience raising Romneys and working with their wool plus lots of photos, a couple fleeces to touch…etc. Caroline will follow with a special class on spinning many types of yarn from one type of fleece: Romney of course. And I will bring three different Romney yarns and roving, including a little handspun. Trunk show is free & open to the public 11:30-1:30.
follow link below to register for talk.
Fiberology: Romney – A breed study w/Gretchen Frederick
When: Sat,  January 23, 10am – 11am
Where: 5520 Cherokee Ave, Alexandria, VA 22312 (map)
Click here for more information and to register. Admission is $20.00.

Solitude Wool Trunk Show of Romney Yarns and Fiber
Open to the Public

When: Sat,  January 23, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Where: 5520 Cherokee Ave, Alexandria, VA 22312 (map)
Class Participation Not Required to Attend the Trunk Show!

Leesburg, Falls Church and DC markets this weekend

December 3rd, 2015 by Gretchen

Catch us at a market this weekend (Dec 5 & 6th)

Sue and Kim will have our booth at the Leesburg Farmers Market on Saturday, 9 to noon

I will have our booth at the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturday. NOTE: we will be up the hill in the parking lot then next three weeks. Look for our polka dot tent

And I will be at Dupont FreshFarm market on Sunday.

LOTs of yarn, Lots of kits,

come see us!!

Sue Burke and the Karakul bucket bag

November 12th, 2015 by Gretchen

three of Sue's handmade Karakul bucket bags


A little history: Sue Burke found me at the Dupont Farmers Market back when I was just selling handspun yarn from my own flock of Romneys (could it be 15 years ago???). She is probably our greatest supporter: best customer, helping at yarn events and the farmers market and as a knitter, is so astute about our yarns. Sue completely “gets” how different “types” and breeds wool are different from each other and has designed several patterns for us that don’t just utilize those characteristics…they exemplify their strengths.

These bags are a great example. Karakul yarn was one of the first three yarns we had spun when Solitude Wool (the partnership of Sue Bundy and I creating breed-specific yarns) started in 2006. Karakul is the breed Sue raises at RedGate Farm.   They are a heritage breed, rare in the US. The “type” of wool they grow is very different than what most knitters are familiar with.

Emily Chamelin shearing Sue's Karakul ewe

Sue’s Karakul flock

One of the oldest sheep breeds, they have a Primitive type fleece with a long outer coat for weather protection and a softer, down undercoat for warmth. The wool is coarse with no elasticity and traditionally used for Persian rugs. It also felts fantastically…makes great yurts and other felt products.

So we had this really interesting and cool yarn, but people touched it and their eyes popped open with the tactile shock of the rough yarn. No one knew what to do with it.

Sue Burke experimented and designed a knit-to-felt bucket bag using the Karakul for strength and felting ability and pairing it with one of our handpainted woolen spun yarns to create a thick fabric with beautiful texture and color blending. It works so well that the bags don’t need to be lined. The finished bag is solid and will not wear out. 


Sue has revised the pattern for bucket bag to use with our Targhee 2 yarn. The yarn partner previously was the Tunis, currently on clearance sale. We have the original pattern in the old format and I still haven’t gotten the new pattern into our new format, so I can’t get it up on the website. I am going to get it in the works, but in the meantime, we do have the paper one. There are several sizes in the pattern including a mini zip wristlet. All variations take even amounts of Karakul and a partner yarn.

Sue has made maybe a dozen or more of these bags and the pattern has been popular with our customers. It is an exciting project to plan and create partly because of the fun of combining two colors and the magic transformation that happens when you felt them. This is a case of one plus one creating something completely new…and greater than two. The Karakul yarn (and color) will dominate in the final felted fabric. You can create a bag that is very sophisticated, elegant and understated…or one that is still sophisticated, but dramatic and bold. It’s in the color choice.

The pattern gives instructions on hand felting your knitted bag in the sink so you can control it. Sue recommends not selecting a button or handles until after felting when the size and color have revealed themselves.

This is not an inexpensive project if you knit one of the larger bags. Those take two or more skeins of the Karakul plus an equal amount (probably one large skein) of a companion yarn, plus pattern, plus a great button, and great handles (plus optional zipper closure). But you will enjoy making it…and love the fun of felting it and feeling it transform in your hands. And it will be a bag you can use for a long, long, long time.

This weekend at the market we will have five of Sue’s bags plus a couple of her zippered wristlets available for sale. By the time we figured out how much Sue had invested in all the materials, her time and the small cut to the market, the prices seem high. But I stopped to think about it, knowing how we arrived at the price, I knew it was fair. These are all hand crafted by the designer using our yarn, from local (very) wool with excellent (read expensive) handles and are one of a kind creations. What do designer bags go for???? way more than these bags! Actually, I think they are a deal.

Sue is the master of color combinations and she will be with me at the farmers market this fall. If you want to knit one for yourself (or a special gift), she will be there for consultation. Her experience with these bags lets her visualize what will happen with different colors, come take advantage of this opportunity! Will bring the Karakul, Targhee 2 and Tunis this weekend. If you are coming another weekend and want to see these yarns give me an email request a few days ahead of time and I will put them on the truck. If you can’t come to market and want help picking colors, send me an email and we can give some suggestions and help you with your order. Ditto on the bags if you would like a Sue Burke original, send me an email: f-fsolitude@mindspring.com

hope we get to see you at the market!