Blue Jay for the Bird Nerd

After almost a decade in our house, this spring & summer we have finally managed to entice regular visits to our feeders from neighborhood blue jays. Related to a host of other jays, the magical magpies, & even crows, blue jays are highly intelligent & social birds.

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Creative Commons

They are also incredibly beautiful, especially for someone like me who has an intense love of blues. Yes, it’s true, this bird nerd has a particular love of blue jays.

In a stroke of luck when I had the opportunity to spin up a braid of fiber from the wonderful folks at Fairmount Fibers, I asked them to simply surprise me with one of their twelve colorways to spin for the Tour de Fleece. I really do like surprises! I received none other than this:

blue jayBlue Jay.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, as I opened the package and read the colorway name to my husband one of our local blue jays landed on our feeder. We simultaneously looked from the bird to the fiber and back to the bird. And then we both nodded. The skilled dyers at Manos del Uruguay had really nailed it!

Before I show you the yarn I created, let me take a moment to talk about Manos del Uruguay yarns & those skilled dyers. I have relatively little experience with the company and while I did know it was a women’s cooperative, I had no idea its history. You can read the full story on the Fairmount Fibers website here, but let me give you a few highlights. Begun in 1968 by a group of five women, the Manos Cooperative works to give women opportunities to work in a place where these opportunities simply are not plentiful for women. They started very small, but now include 17 cooperatives made up of over 350 artisans. Each skein you receive is signed by the artisan who dyed it and the village in which she lives.  The artisans receive things like health care, paid vacation, and paid maternity leave. The Manos Cooperative also has been certified by the WFTO, or World Fair Trade Organization as a fair trade company. All in all, this yarn & fiber is more than just pretty — it stands for a pretty amazing enterprise. It’s really yarn & fiber you can feel good about purchasing!

Now, what did I made with the beautiful fiber dyed by Kelly from Dragan?

20140708-142701-52021773.jpgOh, just something I find to be pretty lovely. I knew straight away that this extra fine merino wool was destined to be a simple single.

20140708-142702-52022989.jpgI was pretty nervous — as I often am — spinning up a single, but it was just a truly enjoyable spin with vivid, gorgeous colors. There were a couple spots that I knew where a smidge under-twisted, so I decided to test out a technique I had recently read on Handmade by Stefanie — making a felted single, for which she has an awesome video tutuorial. After all, lightly felting this yarn should help to bind the weaker spots together, right?

Right. It worked like a charm!

close up 1About 275 yards of a thick and thick worsted yarn, it is as soft as can be.

close up2And those under twisted  parts — are felted just enough to make a nice single — of average strength and easily knitable.

skein Yes, indeed, I could not be more pleased with my first felted single made from my first Manos del Uruguay fiber.  So the only logical way to view this is one beautiful Manos fiber colorway down, eleven more to go!

13 responses to “Blue Jay for the Bird Nerd

  1. Beautiful!! Generally, I’m not drawn to blues. But this is enough to the purple side to draw my attention. Love the yarns from this women’s cooperative!!

  2. Very interesting and informative post and the colours are gorgeous. I’m going to check out the Manos co-operative right now!

  3. That is a beautiful colorway. I think it is just perfect as a single, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it will become someday!

    • They can’t all be gentle little beauties, can they? I just love that brash ‘JAY’ call, too. I think we also appreciate them a lot as they — along with their corvid family members — were decimated a few years back by disease. So nice to see them making a strong comeback… and feeding in my yard!

  4. We love Blue Jays here, too, mostly due to their entertaining (sometimes odd) antics. My daughter took a video this spring of a pair of Jays literally pecking (curiously or savagely?) a garter snake to its demise in the grass…very intelligent & a little creepy…I guess birds are no different than humans, really. The skein is divine, Sarah!

    • Oh yes, they are something! On the off chance you didn’t know, they are in the same family as crows, so they share a lot of that highly intelligent, occasionally seriously savage behavior. I think their intelligence is part of why I have such a healthy respect for them. The creepy, well, that is what it is…

      • Crows are another favorite of our family. We especially like observing the group that hangs out at the Starbucks (in the parking lot). You can bird anywhere. 🙂

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