Friday, August 02, 2013

Fluff all over the place, and a fabric rediscovery

I think that I've finally washed every bit of fleece and alpaca that I own.  I think!

Washing dirty/sandy alpaca is perhaps more time consuming than washing a greasy fleece.
One must be much more careful with the alpaca that it does not felt in the handling.  This white blanket from Aja the alpaca was especially sandy.  It took maybe five times through hot water and as many rinses before I felt it was clean.  On the other hand, I had a small bit of a lovely light brown from Grantt, that I first put through the picker to fluff the sand out, and it only took two washes to come clean.  Maybe that is the way to go in that I don't have a tumbler.

After my experience of using Wiltons food dye on a small bit of Aja I decided to try a larger chunk' and used a green with a touch of black.  The black, as expected, broke and actually gave me a lavender.  It's all carded now, and in punis for spinning.

That's my slave +Gina Assetta who came to spend the day on Thursday to help me get caught up and then play with the picker and the carder.  She brought some various colors of roving and top that she was not in love with, and some real curly fleece from long ago.

Blue cloud of fleece

The beginnings of Rainbow in the Clouds

Rainbow in the Clouds

She mixed the blue with some lavender and some pink and added some plum angelina

This was a combination of what she had left, its called The Bottom of the Dye Pot

When Gina does a dye run she sops up the remainder of the dye with small batts of fleece.  Great idea, and similar to what we used to do when we dyed wool cloth for hooking.  We would put everything in one pot and you got what you got.

It was a fun day spent with a good friend.  A good way to spend a wet and rainy afternoon as it turned out.

Now, about the fabric.  Well, there is fabric, mostly quilters cotton stashed in my 'craft' room.  I have been back in the Granbee quilt group for a couple of years now, and am getting my mojo back.  I think that I should look to see what there is that needs finishing, and what I can do with all of the fabric.  One of my first plans is to use the fat quarters that I won at the Granbees last holiday.  I think it will become a Scrappy Trip Around the World.  There is no particular rhyme of reason to the fabric.  Some old, some new, no real theme, so a scrappy quilt will work well.  Looks like I need to cut lots of 2.5" strips.  I'll keep you posted.

One last picture.  Our lab Daisy is very respectful of our cat Tigger.  

And that is why

Daisy is also afraid of the ceiling fans and the camera.  Last night was difficult for her, poor pup.  First the Howard turned the fan off, then the cat decided he wanted to sleep on the chair [her bed as he gets thrown off our bed by the cat] and then I got the camera out.  Poor Daisy, the last straw was when we turned the fan back on.  She may need help.

 At least she got to sleep on the bed all night.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Socks, carding and labs who don't swim

Do you ever find yourself in the mood to start lots of projects?  That seems to have been the case with me and socks lately.
There are these, my coffee shop socks
and these, something wrong with the heel.

and these, which are a MUCH brighter green

and lastly, these

And then there is the pair I frogged because I just didn't like them.    Didn't like the fabric I was getting with my 2.25mm needles.  That yarn has been tried in several projects and lost each time, so it's on its way out the door.

To top this off, I got some yarn at Jo-Ann Fabric the other day for socks for him.  It is Patons sock which I really like for men's socks.  It's fulls a bit and makes a nice cushy sock for olde soles.  Pun intended.

I've been carding the alpaca with the corriedale from Serenity Farms.  I am not being careful enough of the mix, but I figure it will all even out in the end.  I also carded the alpaca that I dyed with Wiltons food dye.
The color 'broke' when I dyed it, so instead of a solid I got a multi color.  Lavender and bright blue.  It is striking, I want to spin it NOW, but remember that Cormo, well, it is still on the wheel, taunting me.
This picture captures the blue better
This picture shows the lavender, but the blue is too light

Now, about the Lab.  Daisy, as I may have mentioned, is a Texas rescue dog.  Her first year here she was a bit timid about the water, but caught on soon enough.  Last summer, when the lake levels were way down she was a swimming and ball chasing fool.  She was tethered to us with a very long clothsline rope that just kinda followed along behind her.  Because the lake was low last year, she didn't land in water when she jumped off the wall, she landed on sand then then into the water.
This year, began with the lake low and everything was fine.  And then.
The rains came, and the lake almost topped the wall and well, she was jumping into water almost deep enough to swim in.  That and we removed her tether.  Maybe she feels unsafe???  To add insult to injury she was attacked by a large mouth bass several times.  So was I...............  Mama bass seemed to an issue with us being near her nest I guess.
The outcome, Daisy no longer swims.  She wanders along the shore, stepping on the large boulder type rocks, getting wet up to her elbows and knees. [at least she gets her feet clean]  Once in a while she will get her belly wet, but not on purpose.

Eighty-eight.eight-degrees now, time to head down to the water.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Whoosh and a month is gone.  Where?  Who knows.
But, it's been hot, and we've been doing a lot of this.

Napping under the fan

I've even been swimming.  The lake temperature quickly rose to 88-degrees and I find that acceptable for swimming.  Well, I don't really do what you could call swimming anymore, but I do a lot of moving around in the water.  It's great that my body has always wanted to float to the top.

Seems like in June I was talking about some roving that I had that was a mix of corriedale and alpaca.  Cary and I are doing a spin in/knit in.  I think I was supposed to wait for her before I started on the knit in part of the deal.  Well, I thought I should make a gauge swatch and before I knew it I had a sock. OPSS!

Coffee Shop socks, pattern by
Cary Smith, Serenity Farms
Alma, MI

These socks are just screaming cold, snowy winter walk.  They are heavy; boot socks for sure.  The yarn is so nice and soft and has a great sheen too.  Now, I seem to recall how we were [not me] all complaining about winter, so I won't wish for summer to fade just yet.  But I assure you, first cold nite these are going on my feet.

I spun up some of my mystery fiber last week.  I didn't overprocess this fiber so the finished yarn is rather rustic.  I plan to make the lined beanie.  And maybe some gloves too.  I have lots more fleece from this batch, but next time will run it through the carder [at least] once more.  I have about 8 3/4 oz which I think is only around 300 yards.  I keep doing the math again and again, but can't get more yardage::-(
Mystery fleece turned into rustic yarn

Next up on the wheel is some Cormo that I picked up from someone on Ravelry.  It is a roving, so that is a plus, but it is full of straw bits.  I am trying to make myself spin it thicker than I normally spin.  It's so funny that when I first learned to spin I was getting a ultra bulky two ply.  Now I seem to automatically spin so much thinner.  There is lots of this fiber, more that I will spin at this sitting for sure.  It is a nice clean white, so the yarn will lend itself to dying.
Cormo roving
 I promised the owner of School House Alpaca in Granby, CT that I would demonstrate spinning at Granby Open Farms Days in September.  So, naturally I needed some alpaca.  I now have a white blanket.  I'm slowing washing it and preparing it for carding.  I've sampled some mixed in with white corriedale at a 70/30 mix and it spun well.  I also spun some 100%.  I haven't plied them yet, but am sure they will make lovely yarn.

There is more I could talk about, like the CSA we joined, and more I won't talk about, like what is going on at the Board here in our community.  BUT, it's time to get moving along.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Keeping it in Circulation

Money that is.  I just purchased a Patrick Green triple picker.  Now you say, what in the heck is that.  Some of you know..........................
It is a potential killing machine.  It waits for that moment when one forgets what they are doing and grabs digits and won't let go.  It also picks fleece that is all ascramble from washing.  Gets it ready for carding.
Under that top part are a gazillion sharp nails

Nice soft cloud of fleece, ready for carding

On another note, THE SUN CAME OUT TODAY, if only for a moment here and there, but I did recognize it from the last time it came around.  The animals, in a rare moment of tolerance, not only shared a sunbeam, but also let me take a photo of them.  Miracles


Sunday, June 09, 2013

Sunday, a beautiful sun day

It's so nice to wake up to a sunny day and know that there is nothing on my calendar for the whole day.  A do what I want day, a do it when I want day.  We started out with coffee and the Foot Guard Dog Show on TV.  Enjoyed by someone more than the rest of us me thinks.
Although it does not look it, she was very intent on
watching the herding dog trials
Then it was on to OJ, bacon and eggs.  Now more coffee, and the smell of the corn chowder that is on the stove already.

Perhaps today will be the day that I fire up our new "fire pit" down on the dock.  Maybe my friend Sue will come over for a swim and she can warm up afterwards by the fire. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.
Waters is getting a bit high, but after last summer with the lake 
way low all summer, this will be a treat

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Oh my, what hot weather.  We were in jackets and jeans last weekend and this weekend it's in the 90's.  Guess we won't need a fire to warm us up tonight.

Yesterday I went to watch alpaca sheared.  I've previously watched sheep shearing, but never alpaca.  Very interesting.  It was so hot I felt sorry for the crew and for that matter for the alpaca.  I can't help but wonder if they are cooler without the fiber on them.

Of course I fell in love with the fiber, in particular a very dark brown, a white and a maple color.  I'm sure that the fiber will have to be graded and whatever before it is priced, but I might try to be first in line.

On September 7, I am spinning at Granby Open Farm days at the alpaca farm.  I am hoping to get and process at least a white fleece for my demo.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sisters of the Fleece

Sisters of the Fleece

Have you ever spun, spun out of control.  Well, I have, and I'm back.

Now I am spinning in a different way,  I am spinning with a spinning wheel and wool fleece.  I've found a calming hobby, one that allows me some ability to be creative, one that leads to my next hobby - knitting.

Several months ago I read an article in an online magazine that led me to find source for fleece and roving right from the farm, a farm in Alma, Michigan.  I began a timid friendship with Cary of Serenity-farms and it's been a great time, getting to know her.

Sisters of the Fleece roving
Cary and I got together late this winter and shared some very dark brown alpaca I had, and two lamb fleece from her corriedale flock.  See her post where she speaks of it.  We have decided to call our roving Sisters of the Fleece and we are having a spin along/sock along. We are using a pattern that Cary wrote up for her coffee house knitting group.  There are coffee cups around the cuff and at the heel, so cute, I cannot wait to have my yarn ready to go for this one.

I've never spun for socks before.  Certainly not fine enuf to have fingering yarn.  I'm not sure that will be what I get, but I am trying.  Cary suggests that she might do a three ply but then will have sport weight or so.  I will try too, just because I have much to learn from her when it comes to spinning for socks.
fine, but probably not fine enuf
working towards 100 grams
I have one bobbin full, 100 grams which is probably enuf for a pair of socks.  The next two bobbins will each be around 50 grams each.  I also have some white corriedale from Cary that I am going to spin for the coffee cups motif.  

It's great fun having a email pal/blog pal again.  I so miss my Florida genealogy/quilting/gardening friend Wanda.  We had a wonderful fulfilling friendship, but God had greater plans for her.  Since the internet, the world has gotten so much smaller. 

Time for tea. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blogger and I are having problems tonight.  Twice I've poured my heart and soul out here, once to have it not post, and the second time to have a window come up that I could not remove.

So, this is a test.

Maybe tomorrow I will try again when Blogger and I have had some time apart.