Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keeping Busy

Good Grief. It's been too long since I have posted here. Warning - for some reason Blogger is putting spaces inbetween paragraphs that are HUGE.

From 12-18-2008
As mentioned previously I pretty much kicked off a spinners circle with Sunshyn689 as she attempts to learn how to use my Ashford Kiwi.

While she's busy with Beaky, I spin on my MerlinTree Roadbug. Every Thursday (with exception to holidays and we seem to be managing to pick up a Friday before or aft to balance it out) we have been meeting at the local Starbucks here in Bristol and we've been spinning.

Looking to get her own wheel in April at the CT Sheep and Wool Festival, she's been getting practice using Beaky and has been bit by the spinning bug pretty hard. She likes the MerlinTree Conversion, so I expect that Dave will have another happy customer that will be sending him business along the way as she becomes a more experienced spinner.

From 12-18-2008

She's been working with some pencil roving as she gets the hang of it (OMG she picked up plying and her finished yarns are so nicely balanced,) and I've been slogging through some pink Merino that I dyed using Cushing's "Wood Rose" acid dye... it's rather pretty, and when spun up it's not quite the Pepto Pink it had been. Tonight I emptied the bobbins of it I had and winding the singles onto my ball winder I have set them aside to get stale before I ply them up. I'm really hoping Santa brings me a Jumbo flyer for my Roadbug, as it's what I've really asked for and had hoped to be able to get for myself earlier this fall.

In late November, Tessa (my four year old) and I picked up the Tunis and Southdown Roving from the mill that we'd dropped off after buying from a local shepard in late spring, and getting a tour of the farm. We'll be dying that soon enough and I will be bringing that on Thursday evenings too before ya know it.

I'm really pleased with how the fiber turned out and would definitely recommend Twist of Fate Spinnery, however with the cavaet that this MicroMill has a very long wait to get your fiber back. The stuff we dropped off in early June took until November 20 to be ready. Hopefully my order to pick up in January won't be delayed like the previous order. So if you are in CT and want to throw your money in a local direction for wool processing and have the luxury of waiting the long wait - the roving they process is beautiful. Not terribly expensive for processing either - I paid 6.50 a pound, pre-washed weight. The only difference I might do in the future is that I may do a pre-wash first so I'm not paying as much due to the lanolin, suint and dirt that gets washed out.

We have had another gal joining us for our Thursday nights on an intermittent basis - she's a rather nice gal and spins on a Kromski Sonata. Hopefully she'll be back, as it's nice having multiple wheels going and seeing the faces of the other patrons of Starbucks as they realize what we're doing.

From 12-18-2008
I finished spinning some lovely Angora Bunneh/Cormo Wool this evening, and took that off the bobbin too. This basket full of singles is just waiting to be put together to be plied - and I think that the Bunneh/Cormo blend may be plied against some lovely maroon silk I still have to spin up. I may just ply on the fly as I spin it and see how that turns out. The WoodRose will be plied against it's self as. The Bunneh/Cormo is the glaringly white ball in the top row there...

I'll have to try to get a better pic of these but all pics were taken with my camera phone this evening. The top left is my bubblegum pink silk. Yeah - the one that I am not too sure what I'm doing with.

From 12-18-2008
I also got to start spinning some rolag's I got in a fiber swap this summer. It's an interesting combination of colors and I'll just have to wait and see what the finished yarn turns out as... but the combinations are definately making me wonder what the person who carded them up was thinking, after all Neon Green and Magenta as a color combination haven't been seen together since the 1980's.

From 12-18-2008

The Creme Orange thread from the previous picture is meant to be plied against the finished yarn there at left on the bobbin. Part of the swap goodies... At present the rolag's are spinning up rather slubby (this means big lumps in the yarn on occasion), and it's not inclined to be a thin yarn, unlike the Bunneh/Cormo. I think that the name of the finished yarn from this fiber swap may just be "Laupered" or "Girls just wanna have fun." To the left is the single right now. To put it mildly it's a colorful visual experience.

The Fiber Swap also Yielded a drop spindle, but I've not been able to use it as such yet...

From 12-18-2008

I just can't figure out a spindle without a hook.

Both wheels were brought in out of the car due to the extreme cold and Winter Storm "Austin" that we're due to get. I usually end up bringing them in the next morning after spinning the night before, but I don't want to have to do that in the morning. I need to find the oil and take care of some squeaks on Beaky, and as I will be working from home tomorrow (the drive in to work is not one to make in this weather.) If I am lucky I will get some more spinning done during lunch time.

I'm looking forward to it, and glad I won't be risking being stuck in traffic for hours, as I expect that the worst of it will be in the afternoon. I have set towels down in front of the bottom of our front door and really need to get to making a door snake. One of these days I guess... ok - it's late, my daughter wants snuggles and I am getting tired, so it's time to wrap it up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where have I been?

I've had some medical issues I've been focusing on of late, and as a result I've not even been spinning. More's the loss there as spinning is something that helps me deal with stress.

I had hoped to do multiple craft shows this season, but that doesn't appear to be happening. I'm resigned to this fact, and rolling with it. In the interim, I'm working on getting my Etsy store re-stocked with what I have on hand, and will be running a sale as I have more roving to pick up from the mill this week. If you've bought yarn from me before, keep an eye out, as I'm going to be offering some deals as the pocket money just isn't there to pick up what I dropped off, and I keep my commitments.

I got to pick back up teaching tonight. Sunshyn689 and I met at Starbucks - where I transferred the full cop on the drop spindle to bobbin and she tried drafting roving to spin. She's getting the concept, but the implimentation is kinda rough, so she went back to the pencil roving and had much better luck. I'll be splitting down what she spun into two even bobbins worth and next week she gets to learn to ply. It was rather nice, and while she spun on Beaky, I got to work on the pepto pink roving I've got plans on turning into a pair of leg warmers for Tessa.

We'll be there weekly, and I'm going to make a point of trying to scare up other spinners to come there on Thursday nights. The kids go to Grandma's on Thursday's so I know I have the evening free to do this. I need more time with other adults. My husband is a wonderful man, but I really don't get enough adult interaction, and given I'm off work for health reasons right now, I should be probably looking into outlets for such interaction.

In the mean time - as I am on leave, I forsee more spinning and dying in my future. I am looking forward to that. Time to recover - physically and more.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Strategy Couponing, Spinning and Grace's passing

Strategy Couponing
Based on a friend’s experiences with cutting her grocery bill to next to nothing (in fact this week she didn’t have to buy anything) I got a membership over at the Grocery Game. Finances are a little snug this week, and I need to get the most I can for my $, and short of going to Aldi (which is an option I have no problem with) I am in need of spending less than 100.00 on groceries for the four of us for the week.

The grocery game site provides strategies on effective couponing and how to stock pile things when you have the extra coupons for them. Put it this way – folks in the Gulf who are members of this site made it through without worrying about having enough food when they were let back home because they had stocked freezers that were so well stocked that a couple of bags of ice to fill the space was all that was needed to keep the frozen stuffs going when they were without power and when no one else in the area had milk and bread, they did. (along with other sundries as well – they weren’t hurting at all.)

I’ve always been a believer in a well stocked pantry, a byproduct I am sure of my early childhood in Backwoods Michigan, where you needed to be prepared to be snowed in for days at a time, and getting out in winter might not be as easy as you hoped as the nearest paved road was at least 4 miles away. My Mom had a seriously stocked pantry and her brilliance in that manner kept us fed in the middle of several blizzards. My Dad was a small engine mechanic and I remember several winter days he’d not be driving in to work but instead taking a snow mobile or his old Jeep Willys. There’s still a story about cream puffs that circulates amongst our family, and those delicious treats would not have been possible for that blizzardy day without my mom’s well stocked pantry. So – using coupons and the grocery game I’m hoping to be able to build up an impressive pantry my self, and do it on a shoestring. ‘cause again – this month is snug on money.

If you are interested in checking out the website that gives those strategies and weekly reports let me know. I get free weeks of use for referrals and it’s worth spending the money on it for sign ups. It’s far better doing it this way than trying to figure out on your own what you’re going to buy with the weekly coupons. What I like is that the site follows trends and you don’t use all the coupons you have weekly – saving them for use when they alert you to a sale they have tracked as coming up within a 12 week period. Seriously, unless you are beyond anal retentive there is no way without this site that you’d know when the store you go to regularly has specials on stuff you may not need today but will tomorrow or the next month…

I also don’t mind getting the papers I’m getting so I can get those coupon inserts. I want to move up to the north Shore of Boston in the next few years (Probably after CR is born IF we have him or her – yes we have initials for a third baby’s name, and CR is just the girl initials) and I want to really get familiar with the region, so getting the Boston Globe along with the Hartford Courant works for me.

I’ve been spinning that wood-rose merino roving I promised Tess. It’s on my Road Bug (the model of the spinning wheel made by The Merlin Tree – now called “Road Bug” where they used to call it a “Hitch Hiker.” The difference between the two models? No cut out hand with a thumb up like the Douglas Adams novels, and about a pound less in weight. I really raised eyebrows when spinning during Tess’ dance class. If I have to wait for an hour for her there (they ask parents to be there for the littles so they can help them go to the bathroom) then I can get a jump on her yarn for the her shrug and leg warmers. I have a ton of yarn in center pull balls set aside for plying, or skeining, but I just haven’t done it yet.

Grace passed on Saturday afternoon.
I have a funeral tomorrow late afternoon, and the day off for it, so I may get some spinning done during the morning and early afternoon. I also have to figure out what I’m dressing the kids in and if it’s even appropriate to take Tess to the viewing – it’s open casket. I’m iffy. She is my Brother in Law’s mother, and I’m just not sure as while I love Joe and Angel, his mother was one of those people you have to watch your children around as they have no brain/mouth filter. A very sweet woman, her views were acceptable abut 30 - 40 years ago, but these days not so very PC... The morning currently includes shopping, putting up meals in a ready to cook manner for a week or two (including a casserole for Joe and Angel) and figureing out if the kids are going what I'm dressing them in. Happy Cinderella Princess dresses aren't exactly the appropriate attire, nor is the favorite Tshirt of "what happens at Grandma's, stays at Grandma's"

Tess has been asking about Grace’s death. “Can she go get her nails done when she wants now? Is she able to drive again now that she’s in the Summerlands? Do they have golf carts in the Summerlands?” She pretty much has been taught that what we call the Summerlands, other people might call Heaven or Valhalla… and that while Grace’s body is stuck here and going to be cremated it’s only her body, that what made her Grace is now in the Summerlands and she’s very happy.

Garret – blissfully unaware. He’s not been aware of so many passings in his short life unlike his sister. I wish I had his innocence.

Teh Sick
Gaelon's down with a nasty cold, Garret and Tessa appear to have it as well and I have a killer sinus headache with sneezes that won't stop today, and wish nothing more than to be able to crawl back in bed. That’s not happening however, and I have a meeting with someone shortly about messed up time reporting that I submitted. This messup? It was all based on the direction of my boss of course thank you…

My brother is being called up to go to Afganistan in April. Time to learn about the geography where he'll be at and to start working on knitting black wool socks for him I think.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The tale of the busy body neighbor

I have a handicapped husband who is Mr Mom to our almost 4 year old and 19month old. He's amazing with the kids, and while he'll never be the kind to be able to do yard work or go running with the dog, he's a phenomenal daddy, and happy with his job being the care and nurture of our kidlets.

Me? I come from a long line of type A women who were the primary provider. It's my paradigm, my reality from childhood on - Most of the women in my family fit this archetype and we're good with it.

This seems to completely blow the mind of our neighbor woman. So I don't have a perfectly manicured lawn and my porch needs a coat of paint. I'm OK with that as long as I have my awesome hubby and kiddos. Oh and a spinning wheel or two of course.

I've been getting ready for a yard sale at my Mother In Law's, and have been putting things out on my porch so I can load them up in the van and take them over for the neighborhood wide sale on the 5th of October.

Today however most everything on the porch was freecycled.

A letter came from the town today, complaining about the mess on the porch. Eh? Last year this time she called Animal Control on us to say I was starving my dog. I wasn't... that didn't change her from making the report however. The ACO said our Brittany was a great example of her breed, and looked very healthy - all things her Vet had backed up as well. He verified that it was her who had complained, so I think it's got to be her again complaining about the clutter on my porch.

Seriously however - how does a tent, bookshelves, a sealed 4 pack of Tiki Torches, a windowbox planter, an Excersaucer, a Walker and a play kitchen translate into garbage? I don't get it and I'm not going to worry about it. The Tent and Tiki's are already gone, the Saucer and Walker will go tomorrow or be taken to my MIL's and the shelves and play kitchen will go to my MIL's as well or be carted to the dump. Even in the rain that we're supposed to be getting.

The neighbor woman is elderly. She's lonely. She really freaks out over Mr. Mom who doesn't do yard work and opts to be primary caregiver of our two kids while I work.

She has issues, I get it. But seriously - when I hang roving from the porch on hangers it is not trash, it is processed wool that I've dyed that I am going to spin.

The upside is of course I will have my porch ready to decorate for Halloween a little earlier this year than I did last year. As the skull with dancing flowers finally gave up the ghost, I'll need to find something else to sit in the cauldron and frighten the unsuspecting with.

If I weren't the nice kind I'd likely prank the old bat up the hill, but instead I'll hang back and simply accept that she has already done everything to herself that she can to be this way and I'll hope that somehow she learns to love herself and not be so cranky to the neighbors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beware of small children prepping for their own chop shop

Last night I finished off the first run of some handspun Merino, I'll have a lot more handspun in my Etsy store soon btw, as well as cleared off several bobbins into center pull balls so I can ply, measure, steam, re-skein, and set aside to determine if I stock the etsy store or put them aside for the craft fair season ahead. I have some lovely Cormo (OBSCENELY SOFT and LOFTY WOOL) and Angora (Bunny) blend that I'm half through spinning. It's snowy white, and I think I'm going to leave it that way. This stuff is going to make someone an awesome scarf I think. Just not sure if that someone will be me or not. Seriously, it's blindingly white and so soft my daughter has been caught snuggling the bobbin.

She's been told Santa thinks that the spinning wheel she wants is too much / too big for a 4 year old, but that if she tries out a Babes Pinkie at Rhinebeck, does well enough with it, and really wants it - we can tell Santa that we can contract that out so his elves don't have to worry about spinning wheel manufacture... really she thinks that elves need to make wood and cloth toys only and everything else he has major toy companies to make. Elves are in Management at Matell and Fisher Price ya know, but they don't like working with plastic because its not "creative"

Out of the mouths of babes - I swear, I don't remember being this precocious. I know I used big words and got beaten up in kindergarden for it, but I don't remember being that sharp a kiddo.

For those of you familiar with what Scotch tensioning, I just want to say we're on spring set number 9 for my kiwi, and I've finally gone to a tensioning similar to what Schacht uses with the option of being able to remove the Tensioning band completely when the wheel is not in use.

Garret has completely gone bonkers and removing the drive band, the flyer assembly, bobbins, onboard kate spindles and anything else removable from my Kiwi is NOT enough. No - I had to make it so the Scotch Tensioning was removable as well.

I have a box of springs I bought from the hardware store as the springs have been victim to his little creative exploration / destruction as well, and it's enough to have me want to hang Beaky from the wall out of the way when not using her - even though on the whole I already store the wheel far up out of reach. I'm not sure how far is far enough for my kids these days though. And they do love to treadle the wheel when I'm not using it to spin. Last night as I was finishing off some yarn, Tessa wanted to treadle and help spin. It really didn't take much to make sure she was going the right way for the current twist I was putting in the yarn, and she had fun.

I am sanding down the Kiwi this weekend and going to give it another coating of Danish oil afterwards. Someone took an inkpen to the treadles, and now knows if she ever does that again Santa won't bring her a spinning wheel of her own until she's a teen-ager.

My PVC Swift - which is freestanding on a 3 foot PVC pole is often used for a 'microphone' stand by both kids. I chuckle as well that's annoying, it's not the end of the earth, and it shows imagination. I'm just still at a loss for what the ScotchTensioning knob is in thier imagination.

It's going to be oddly quiet tonight. Tessa is staying overnight at my inlaws, and on those nights (unless he's napped late in the afternoon) I can get Garret to bed early. If so then my plan is to card up some fiber I dyed last week, dye some more for a custom order, and get some more spinning done. Tess slept next to me last night and snuggled tight... knowing she's going to be at the inlaws for the next 36 hours I just cuddled her for all I could. As much as my kids drive me off the edge sometimes - they are the best thing that ever happened to me and I thank the PTB's for their very existance. Even if they do manage to strip my wheel bare quicker than a chop shop can a stolen Beemer in LA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Busy day, Busy night

The day flew at Initech and before I knew it, I was back home.

I knew when I came home tonight that I needed to strip my bed as my daughter had spilled her juice and then had an accident while sitting upstairs working on homeschooling programs on the computer (laptop on the bed) so when I came home from work I washed the bedding, fed the family, then finally got into some of the roving that came in on Monday.

I now have half a pound of buttercup yellow that I'm going to run through the carder once it's dry to make sure it's blended into a lovely consistent enough shade of yellow - the first of a custom order... I refreshed the jug of dye solution before going upstairs and will finish dying the pound to be all buttercup yellow before I start on the greens and red that are all in the order. I might start soaking the remaining wool in that pound if I can get the Diva to go to bed. She's good at fighting going to sleep. That is if I am not so tired I just want to sleep m'self...

So I have half a pound of fiber draining in a colander in my sink right now. If Tess will go to sleep for me I'll get that laid out to dry as tomorrow is supposed to be a perfect day for it, and then I'll start on more of the roving for the custom order. If I don't do it tonight, it will be the last thing I do before I leave for work in the morning. My Mailman is vastly entertained by all the dyed roving on my porch I tell you.

I'm going to blow through this huge box of roving in no time flat I think. Working with the Professional Acid Dyes vs the Food Coloring Acid dyes has been a definate experience. I've not gotten into the Jaquard dies - I'm still working with the Cushing's, but I really like how well they dissolve and how little I have to do to get them ready to work with.

I got some of the Merino I worked on over the weekend rolled up and set aside for future spinning and my upcoming fiber swaps. I'm trying to get as much ready for the upcoming craft faire season as possible, I'm trying to go as much with my own spun vs what I did last year of a combo of hand and machine spun and all dyed by me...

A hilight of the evening was Tess' reaction when I got out the other wheel for her (PC, My Hitchhiker) and I told her she could spin. We picked out some red pencil roving, and she tried. Oh how she tried. She has gotten to the point where she's good with a double treadle, and a single treadle isn't going to do it for her. Tomorrow we'll swap over as I want to try to finish a couple of small bobbins I have waiting anyhow, and then we'll see how she does. The biggest problem I have when spinning is keeping little hands out of the way - as Garret wants in on it too.

Gaelon says he can see the day when the house is overtaken by spinning wheels. This makes our daughter smile, a lot. Her mother too...

My best friend's wedding reception is this weekend. I'm taking Friday off as a PTO from Initech and plan on spending it dying roving, spinning, and getting ready to go to Salem overnight on Saturday. My hubby has only been up there once, so we'll be doing a lot of the touristy things - including going up towards the Salem Willows on Sunday, as well as seeing if we can get into Winter Island as well - considering camping there next season when Garret's a little less likely to just toodle off into the ocean on his own (like his sister - I swear they are utterly fearless.)

ok - the Diva has been out cold for a while, and I am getting tired so the fiber gets to go outside tomorrow morning and I'm going to sleep tonight.

Sweet dreams to all who are reading this late at night.

Into the Dyepot!

From Tessa's first Day at Dance School

Monday my daughter had her first day of Dance School.

Talk about mommy shock. She was more than happy to have me leave her while she learned, pranced, tippety tapped, and tumbled...

The day also included discovering that at 3750 miles I do not have to get my car serviced (wait to 5K now,) so I ran laundry and of course before we left for her first day with Miss Tammy, I pulled the following shades out of the dye pot:

Wood Rose 8oz
Green/Purple 8oz
Moss Green
Sunrise Yellow
Varigated Butterscotch 4 oz
Cherry Red 4 oz
Bubblegum Sherbert Mohair Locks - 2oz

I also explained to my mail man what the heck all that stuff was hanging off the porch. He had no clue what roving was, and spinning was a foreign concept to him. He wondered why I was getting "Art Supplies - Wool" shipped internationally. Ha. :-) See you're never too old to learn!

On the wheel right now I have some white Corriedale, on the bobbin I have some Cormo/Angora, Baby Bluez, and candycorn. The last two are Merino and Merino blend.

Tonight I need to take new pics of everything in stock plus the new things I want to stock tomorrow at my Etsy store. I have an Advertising slot for Thurs... and I need the store brought up to snuff.

Tomorrow night I will set out to mordant the following shades - no nifty title to the roving yet:
Dark Green
Light Green

These are for a custom order for a baby blanket. Hopefully she likes the shades I generate out of my dye pot - its going to be one of a kind however, and for that baby I can't think of anything better ;-)

I also have to get my fiber swap out to SweatPeaFibers over on Ravelry. I think I have enough lovely stuff dyed up to surprise the heck out of her. (pleasantly so I hope, I hope.) I've still not heard from my August swap partner, and hope that the fiber made it to Singapore fine. She's not updated on Ravelry or her blog lately, so it's hard to tell.

And on top of that I have two small ones who have discovered that with their tiny little table and chair set they can use the chairs and treadle Beaky while I'm at work. They both want to learn to spin so much and still Tessa is asking for her own wheel for her birthday. I think Rhinebeck this year may have us on a search for a DT Pinkie. Anyone out there know of a vendor who'll have one to demo?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Meet Violet

This is Violet. She comes from my birth state - Michigan.

Violet is a BFL/Romney cross who happens to have characteristics fleece wise mostly of her BFL heritage. has some details about the breed -
Wool: The Bluefaced Liecester is classified as a Longwool breed with a staple length of 3- 6”, a fleece weight of 3 to 6 lbs., and a fiber diameter of 56s – 60s count, or 24-28 microns, creating high quality luster yarns with beautiful drape.

Size: The adult Bluefaced Leicester has one of the largest body weights of the British breeds, some rams having been weighed at over 3 cwt. In spite of this size, when mated to the smaller hill type ewe, the ewe is able to carry and lamb its crossbred progeny without the slightest difficulty. A ram at maturity should weigh 250-300 lbs. They have an excellent disposition and are quite manageable despite their size. Ewes will typically weigh 170-220 lbs. at maturity.

Violet's latest shearing produced 8# of the softest fleece, and that is going to the processors sometime next week or so.

I will have her fleece back in Roving form for spinning about the time we elect our new president, and will have skeins of her yarn on sale just in time for the holidays.

I can and will take orders for custom colors in advance - please let me know what you are interested in.

BFL and Romney are both increadibly soft, but do not felt as easily as Merino. This means that you will not see as much pilling from this as a traditional Merino based yarn. The natural luster from this yarn is amazing though, and it is a big hit through many of the cloth diapering communities for diaper covers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She's not given up her request for a wheel

Although she has asked repeatedly for a Schacht Ladybug (spinning wheel for those who don't know) for her upcoming birthday, both my husband and I can not fathom giving our daughter a spinning wheel that is so expensive for her 4th birthday. She's hard on toys and clothes, and while she's mostly respectful of my spinning/fiber tools - I found my Drum Carder on the floor upside down yesterday, uncovered and bearing weight on the bristles. The drum carder was ok, but I still cringe over how we found it.

No way is she getting a $550 spinning wheel.

She has not given up the ghost however. So with that in mind, and between studying the Babes PVC wheels and my Ashford Kiwi, we think we might be able to make something for our daughter that by all rights IS a spinning wheel, but costs much less and has most parts we can fabricate on our own. Right now we're trying to sort out the basics of it, and figure out how to actually get the some of the mechanics worked out... but barring that, and with a little red spray paint, for our daughter's 4th birthday we will have a wheel for her.


For those who've emailed me about Blue Faced Leicester, I contacted a shepard in Michigan who happens to have this lovely ewe recently sheared... If she'll ship to the processor for me then I'll have some BFL in stock in around 2 months vs the insanely long amounts of time it takes normally to get my fleeces back. I'm not sure on the cost per skein right now as this fleece is a little more than the normal cost I pay locally for the Romney, Tunis, Cheviot, and Southdown fleeces I get.

On the Dye front, as it's that time of year I'm keeping a pair of rubber coated gloves and a pair of scissors in my car with me at all times... if I see a plant growing wild in an area where I can harvest that I know will be perfect for dying with, I'm grabbing it, and hanging to dry so I can work with it later. I also happened to get in about 5# of Jaquard acid dyes via mail yesterday. I completely forgot I'd bought them when I saw the box on my porch. Needless to say I'm a very happy camper right now.

While I don't forsee getting to dye much before mid month (have a wedding reception in Mass next weekend and a bathtub to replace at home before then) I do think that before October I'll get a lot of the roving I do have in stock spun, dyed and listed in Etsy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Where do allergies go
When it's after a show
And they want to get something to eat?
Something's living on my skin
Doctor please
Doctor please
Open up it's me again.

-Paul Simon, Allergies.
ACHOO seems to be my favorite expression lately.

I got a small amount of dying done this weekend - some mohair locks. Not really something I'm looking to do much with, as it's a royal pain to work with. I have roving coming in late this week or early next, which is so needed to fill some orders.

Today the nice mailman brought me 5# of Jaquard dyes, to compliment the Cushings dyes that I picked up last week. I still have a few colors I'd like to pick up and when I go to Webs this weekend to pick up my replacement swift. Alternately on the swift, I may look into making something from PVC - the plans are out there and if the kids break it this time life is not over... I still need to pick up some other acid dye colors though.

I've also been harvesting dyestuffs from mother nature. While the roving I have coming in next is superwash (meaning that whatever is made from it can be tossed in the washer without fear, good for socks, baby garments and blankets, but not for diaper soakers or longies...) I am looking forward to picking up my Tunis and Southdown in October - both very nice for things that you don't want in superwash... so that stuff will get the natural dyes.

A particular breed of sheep's fleece I'd been looking for has come up for sale, and as I've got requests for yarn from it, I am going to see if I can slip that in to the same slot over at Twist of Fate for my January pick up... would be nice if I could get into the Oct slot I have but odds of that happening are slim to none...

I had hoped to go back to the NYRF this weekend. It looks like Hannah will be on her way north though, so Faire may be out of the plan for the weekend... I'm still iffy. We have a lot to do on the house as we get a new bathtub the next weekend. The bathroom needs to be reasonably perfect as we'll not be home when the landlord comes in to replace the tub. We have much more to do house wise as well to be honest... I'm taking the 8th and the 12th off from work and will be doing dump and salvation army runs with the van on those days. I'm trying to get everything together and thinned out and as a result it seems that cleaning a cluttered house is making more of a mess.

Nothing like a self imposed deadline eh?

Anyhow - Tess wants some computer time before bed time and I have some fleece to card up, so I'm going to close off this post.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'll stop the world and Dye for you...

hee hee!

I just picked up a boat load of acid dyes for a comparitive song. I love my email lists.

Yarn stocked at Etsy, more to come, and a weekend of spinning and dying ahead of me. I can't wait.

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I want my own spinny wheel Mommy!

Last night while on the way to pick up my replacement whorl for my Kiwi's Jumbo Flyer my daughter let out a sentance I didn't expect to hear her utter for a while.

"I want my own spinny wheel Mommy!"

Furthermore she's certain she has to have a Schacht Ladybug.

Now I can't argue with her taste. The wheel is one I've been eyeing for myself for a while for the day that Beaky and I decide we've come as far as we can with eachother, but at the same time, it's a bit stunning when your 3 3/4 year old asks you for a wheel. If she hadn't already proven her skill in using the very wheel she's asking for I wouldn't even give this a moment's pause.

So what am I going to do? She's asked for a $550.00 spinning wheel for her 4th birthday.

I have 3 wheels. There is a 4th I'm actively considering, but it's not presently on the budget and is not a Schacht Ladybug.

I've told her she needs to get good at using Beaky first, and we'll make her a "Ladybug" Orifice hook. Ladybug buttons and matching wire to be twisted appropriately have been acquired, she'll get a bundle of roving or a batt for her birthday with this, along with the Barbie she's been asking for and (for now at least) she'll be set as she really gets spinning on my Kiwi down.

I'm also teaching her to identify the parts of a wheel. Which is good, because if you asked me to identify and label the individual parts of Beaky the answers would be functional in description and slightly comical, but definately not the appropriate technical term. So along with her, I'm learning my self. And it's one more thing I can share with my daughter through life. Which to me is just awesome.

As for what's on the bobbin of Beaky right now? Some Cormo and Angora (bunneh - is sooooooooo soft!) and I still have quite a bit to go through before the bobbin is full.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Whoo Hoo!

Awesome, I found a Sheperd in the area who can sell me raw fleece for nearly the same amount as my other source without the drive, and as the sheep are coated there's less work in cleaning up the fleece.

Even better as it's Corriedale it's next to skin soft but not going to pill in my drum carder. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend? Well if I get ahold of the Sheperd I will be scouring wool and then dying it before carding it. Might as well dye the locks after scouring right?

I really need to get moving on building stock up for the upcoming craft fair season, plus I have currently nailed two advertising slots down starting this coming Friday. If my colorways are appreciated enough I'll have to re-stock anyhow - leaving me again with the whole "Oh Oh I'm running low on fleece!"

I don't regret sending out the Ramboullet, nor the Merino. There's no way I could have processed those - seriously, my drumcarder is a lovely machine but it will create neps in the roving and that's not what I'm looking for.

The Diva is off at Grandma's today and the baby has a nice quiet Daddy day. Leaving me to get what I need to do for the office today. I'm motivated, but it's more as a means to be able to get to doign fibery goodness. If I get 2 presentations and 2 doc reviews done then I'll be that much closer to being able to potentially pick up the raw fleece today after work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Seeking Reccomendations

Ok - I have the one mill I work with, that has a rather extended turn around time, and I am looking to find other mills for processing Roving.

Please spam me with your favorite processors as I'm definately looking to find a secondary processor to work with.


Holy cow that was a busy weekend

There will be tons of pics in this post, but as I haven't learned yet how to work our video camera a as a still camera well enough yet, so be prepared for lots of overexposures.

Tess and I had a heck of a day yesterday.  We went out to the farm I have been getting fiber from and picked up two more fleeces.  An Oxford/Romney in silver which I will overdye, and a white Romney, totalling about 15 pound unwashed.  Neither is a high grease wool, but they do have their share, so I'll lose at least a third of that weight in the cleaning process.  I also had another 11.5 pounds that I dropped off with the fleece I just bought at the processor. 

That house is just massive and amazing and oh I have house envy.  Seriously... neither of my grandparent's farms were this ostentatious big.


Tessa being horse crazy of course was unhappy she could not have a saddle thrown on the Percheron so she could ride across the farm like a princess on a white horse...

She really was in heaven there and was even more delighted to be asked to hold one of the week old piglets.




The piglet was not so thrilled to be held by a small child, and as Tessa put it, "it was very scared and was crying or it's mommy..."

The mill is close to this farm, and the guys that own the mill are associated with this farm (one appears to be a caretaker, or foreman on the farm and it is almost a given if you buy the wool from the farm that you will let these guys process it) - but their turn around time is slower than molasses, so I the bee was set in my bonnet that I just needed to find another shepherd and another mill to work with because what I dropped off yesterday will not be ready until January.  What I dropped off earlier this summer, well that's on their calender for an October pick up - it was supposed to be in September.  Not too happy there lemme tell ya... 

I've also had a bit of a problem finding a supplier or Acid dyes in the area and had to drive up to Northampton Mass yesterday.  It's a lovely little town, as Tess and I got lost trying to get to WEBS.

We eventually got there, and did try out some spinning wheels before Tess discovered they had a toy box there.  Tessa drew a crowd, and I wish I had the camera with me when I went into WEBS because my three year old was schooling people much older than her in how to spin yarn.  She sat infront of a Schacht Ladybug and treadled her little heart out, drawing the fiber out to a spinnable level with only a small amount of help from her mommy.  She now has decided she wants her own wheel and she wants a LadyBug.  She tried pulling the "My fourth birthday is coming soon mommy, I want this."  People got a good chuckle when I asked her if that meant she didn't want the new Barbie doll anymore.  Of course she wants them both.

Not really planning on being dependent on my present source for raw wool in CT, I have made some connections while at the Terryville fair today , for a consistent breed of fleece that produces a lovely yarn - baby soft and at the same time not overly pilly.  I'll be following up on that this weekend.

I'm still waiting for my jumbo flyer's whorl to return... when that comes back from Ashford I'll be able to really get to a custom order that has come in.  I'm going to weigh out the roving I still have and see if it is going to be enough to fill the order or if I need to order more on line.  Of course if I can convince the guys at Still River Mill to hurry up then I might be able to use the Southdown I bought in June for that order.  It's for a fellow OD'er and as it's going to be used for a baby blanket I'm going to want something sturdy enough to be washed frequently without too much attention to care.

As mentioned about the new wool connection and where I made it, today we went to the Terryville Country fair.  Much sunburn was gained by yours truly on my face, and a little on the face of the diva.  Garret however was sunscreened everywhere, including the top of his head as I couldn't keep a hat on him.  Here are some pics from the day.

Starting the day out right as far as she was concerned.


Then practicing her back seat driving.

 Waving at his sister on the Airplane ride

 Wishing he was tall enough to go on the ride

 She watches MXC with Gaelon and told me it was her "Challenge"

 She didn't know what to do with this first and then I told her that she jumped like she wasn't allowed to on my bed.

Screams of delight came from one young girl I tell you.

Ending her day the way it started.

and a couple of you tubes to finish things up.  One being her driving. 


 and on that note - I'm sleepy.  Hope you all enjoyed the pics and videos.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crafty plans for the weekend.

Given the uncertainty of my job at Initech (oh how I love our economy,) I thought it would be prudent to update my listings over at Etsy, as well as get to work on dying roving and getting some items that aren't ready for display in shape and ready to go for sale in the upcoming month.

So - I went ahead and generated my latest Etsy Mini. I'm thinking that this is the perfect time to start looking at things for holiday knitting, as being a slowpoke at it my self I know now is the time to get moving on Christmas crafts!

I decided to offer the code "Initech" in the note at checkout (and wait to be invoiced via paypal before paying) and I'll give buyers a 25% Discount with it.

This sale will go on through the end of August and into September, so if you want, take a look now, and of course I'll have some more things to list as we get them stock ready.

This weekend I plan on going back to the Farm in Eastern CT and picking up a few more fleeces to drop off at the processor, so I can promise a diverse selection of hand processed yarn available, and maybe even some roving as well. Micron count on thes will range from 21.5 to 35 for a nice fine and medium coarseness to the fiber, making it ideal for next to skin wear.  I've gotten quite a lot of requests for that level lately, so it's going to be my goal.

I'll also finally be working on the cloth diapering line I've been talking about for what seems forever. We'll have hemp and bamboo velour lined fitted diapers in a well tested pattern for sale very soon in the Etsy shop.  I'm pretty excited about that.

Needless to say - I'm taking lemons and making some lemonade, giving others the opportunity to experience some of the nicer fibers out there at a pretty affordable rate.  (I hope -gotta love this economy.)

I'm also going to try branching out in a direction I have been reading a lot about over the last year.  Natural dyes.  I've tried to spend time learning about what I can and can't do with the available resources I have and as we have a lot of reinactors in the area, I'm hoping to interest them in what I have available.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!

I came home tonight and dumped the mesh bag of Black Navajo Churro I had dripping all day on my porch out onto my drying matt and then set to flicking out and carding some white ramboullet... which is nice and so soft and feels like cotton balls. Hard to believe it's Wool. I'll probably scour some more wool later tonight - I have a lot of Jacob to clean before I start carding it up, as well as some Llama that I have to figure out how to dehair without viking combs, which just are not child friendly.

The Churro may be perfect for Gaelon in his new endeavor which has already resulted in an inquiry from Jon Bristol of a local production company. (He's also one of Gaelon's oldest friends he maintains contact with.) I looked at it tonight and instead of seeing Yarn, I saw puppet hair... I know - strange eh?

Keep an eye out - as one of these days one of the puppets filmed by Elmwood Productions could be one made by my very own Hubby!

Monday, July 28, 2008


So - I got in a couple of packages of fiber for my fiber swap on Ravely recently. First came one from SweatPea Fibers. I got some beautiful Targhee, some Alpaca/Corriedale and then some Camel down for blending - which is just way cool.

This poor package sat on top of my shelf right in the laundry room for a week as my husband brought it in set it there and then forgot to tell me it was in... I discovered it on laundry day and was absolutely delighted. Targhee is a fiber I've always wanted to try, Camel Down just is way cool, and I love the blend of Corriedale and Alpaca, the colorway is just beautiful.

Then last week I got a package from Singapore - Ghostknitter sent something pretty cool - which surprised the heck out of my husband as he had no idea I was participating in the swap, and the postmark from Singapore alone took him by surprise.

Me - I was stunned by both the fiber and the goodies she sent along... ironically I had just sent a drop spindle to BrookeKnits - so I guess I had drop spindle karma going on.

I am working on my August project which will be sent to Ghostknitter, and based on what I've read, it should be well received. It appears to be a fiber that she hasn't used before or recently at least... I'm pretty excited about it.

and on that note I'll leave you with some more pics of fiber that's come in via mail or that I've begun processing by hand my self...

And of course - me:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Man I gotta take some pictures

This has been a fiberriffic weekend!

I got a lot of roving dyed... nothing like Joy had dyed up for her by her mom... but about 3 or so pounds of it in the past few weeks, and have been working on getting what I can spun up...

Friday we did the family thing, and I didn't do any spinning at all, instead enjoying family time with the inlaws (a very serene holiday, and it was a true pleasure) and lighting firecrackers and sparklers in the back yard. My brother in law as usual managed to do something to make the holiday interesting, this time setting the neighbors bush in their back yard a fire. Fortunately my father in law had the water hose handy, and we hope that incidents like that won't happen again, but you never know with this bunch...

Saturday I went over to my Mother in Laws again, spent the day teaching her to take pics and load items up for sale in the etsy store, and then taking pics of the hand spun yarn I have that needs listing. I got 5 handspun skeins up, and have much more where that came from.

I also got to spin up the rest of a Batt that I'd been calling "Bradshaw Mountain Fiery Sunset, but after this, I may just call it "Crown King Fire"... it's the thinnest I've spun yet and I need to ply it against itself so it's been wound into a center pull ball to make plying easier. I think that even plied I may have sock weight yarn from this stuff - it's tinnnnnnnnnny LOL

It makes Nicole Ritchie look like she's in need of Over Eaters Anonymous I tell you.

As for Crown King Arizona? It's my teen-ager years playground. Much Camping and hiking was done around there. I lived in the foot hills of the Bradshaw Mountains. Looking at that picture however, I think I need to card up some of my Jacob or Finn to ply against the red and gold of the Merino. A triple ply would be awesome, although potentially a challenge to my current skill level.

Never let it be said that I'm not willing to face a challenge though. I am teaching someone after only doing this with gusto for just over a year my self... and I'm coming up on a year since I bought Beaky. So yeah, learning a lot, and learning by teaching too as Sunshyn689asks questions that challenge me to learn more myself so I can be a better teacher. I think I need a triple diz though. Time to ask my hubby to get creative with the sculpy I think...

Today - I took my drum carder over to Sunshyn689's and we sat on her back patio, flicked out the Tunis she'd scoured a month ago when we had gone to the farm to pick out our fleece, and carded it up. She got a chance to learn how to prepare the fleece her self and to strip a batt, and was a little nervous, but all told it was a good experience for her. The fact that my Three and a half year old was teaching her what to do was not lost on any of us... but I have to chuckle as her bedtime stories have come from YouTube lately and have been from Rexenne... She's got some wonderful tutorials for anyone who's looking to learn some of the basics in fiber prep and spinning.

So Sunshyn689 now has about 4-6 ounces of the Tunis ready to go, and hopefully some time sooner than a month from now we'll get a chance for her to actually learn to spin it.

It's Sunday night and I'm absolutely exhausted - ready for work tomorrow and at the same time I'd like to have had taken the day off... personal time can come later though and I'll get my car back from the shop (owned it 3 weeks, and rear ended someone thanks to a bee flying in my window, foot flying from break to gas and car slamming into big old Ford truck...) I have a bachelorette party that I'll be going to in a few weeks so I'll likely take a PTO day then. I just need to keep doing my very best at work in the mean time. Nothing like being in a new job during an economic down turn - and needing to be on your very best behavior. I'll have a couple of days to me outside of the party so I'll bring my little wheel and a bunch of roving and spin away...

Hard to believe the weekend is over. To be honest, while I spent tons of time with my kids, it feels like I could have spent more. So on that note I'm going to go find my daughter and snuggle her - besides it's beyond time for her to go to bed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bubble Bubble Boiling Trouble

It never rains but it pours, and it seems that May/June for me is traditionally stressful. Last year we scattered my dad’s ashes in Michigan, during a trip that had me stretched to my limits on my sanity… only to return home to discover that the IRS and I were going to be having big issues, and my employment was slated to end as the company was closing it’s CT office and people were going to be laid off en masse.

This year – my Step-Dad had his heart attack, strokes, and my mom had her own near heart attack. My son had his cyanosis that had us going in and out of hospitals for testing, and I started a new job, only to be distracted by the things in my personal life being overwhelming.

I can deal with a simmer, but when things reach bubbling/boil level I get close to cracking… and well I’ve been close.

Today I had a conversation with my new boss – seems I’ve been a bit distracted and it’s hard to judge if a new employee is actually going to be a good fit if they are so out of focus on everything in their life that they can’t see straight. That’s been me. I did tell her that the worst was over and I can say I feel that this is a good fit for me, reassuring her that yes I’ve been distracted, but I’ve really gotten a handle on it. Goddess I hope I have anyhow…

Notice I use the word “Been” as in past tense. It’s all come to a bit of a bubbling head, and instead of the continual teary-eyed mess I was last summer when I nearly cracked, this time I’ve focused my attention on doing something. Making something… taking the time to distress and find a way to say “See – I was productive.”

This weekend I dyed roving like a fool. Seriously, my front porch looks like it’s been hit with Roving Kudzu and we’re no longer in New England. The picture at right does it no justice... Sadly due to a thunderstorm and downpour I have very little dry to speak of and when I get home tonight I’ll have to check what dried today – if any as we may be getting more storms this afternoon. If it’s dry I’ll braid the roving up and set it aside to either sell on Etsy or spin my self.

What makes me think that it’s settled down now? Outside of rediscovering an outlet and throwing my self into it, I got news back from Garret’s doctor’s office. His EEG came back with good news. It appears he's fine - no details, but he shows no sign of seizures, nor was there any brain damage due to the cyanosis. Right now the leading theory is that he has had a lesser version of that nasty virus that attacks a person’s heart… which means that he has a natural immunity to it now, and we can breathe easier. Until I hear otherwise, that’s what I’m going to operate under, and I’ll let life get back to the normal simmer I’m used to.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming and what I write about in this blog normally…

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Satuday to Dye for

I currently have 12 oz of merino roving dripping dry on my porch. 4 ounces in my sink in a colander. 4 ounces in the dye pot.

There's more where that came from, and by the end of the weekend we'll have dyed about 2 pounds of roving. I will be ready for that Ravelry swap, as well as stocked with hand dyed colorways to spin, and if I'm feeling adventurous I'll consider selling some dyed roving by its self in 4oz increments on Etsy.

That is if this headache finally goes away...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Finally - some fiber related progress!

First things first - Garret's doing ok. This last Wednesday was rougher on me than him, although he's still working on getting his sleep back on a normal schedule. That said - he's doing good, and Yale New Haven Children's hospital has not called us back (other than to check on him) to say "Hey his test results show he needs to be back here now!"

I've gotten to do a lot more spinning lately, cleaned, flicked and carded a pound of Border Leicester that I will probably dye tomorrow, and tonight I dyed up a pound of roving - a bunch of reds this time, as well as some earthier tones. At this rate I'll probably be looking to get my Rambouillet fleece scoured so I can get the locks dyed before I card them. I'll need to however or I'll be running out of Roving before you know it.

I'm also looking to add on to my equipment this year. I want to get a picker, some hackles, and some combs. The Combs are a bit frightening only as they are really pointy sharp and my kids have a natural desire to explore - and a drive to help.

Tess has her own project on the carder right now. I have flicked out some Mohair/Border Leicester/Romney and it's being fed into the drum carder in bits - all to be cranked by my bright little three year old. It won't be long before she's spinning on her own... and I'll have to decide which wheel I'll let her use as her full time wheel. Probably the Kiwi as my lovely husband has cleared me to get my Golding.

Of course I don't think that spending 5K on a spinning wheel is a smart purchase when you have small kids, so I'll look at the Majacraft and Lendrum lines... but it's nice to know that I have that backing.

It's late, I've dye all over my hands and likely will be doing more tomorrow (I really want to get the prepared wool ready to work and set aside from the raw wool) and I'll be dreaming of spinning and processing fiber in my sleep, I'm more than certain of this.

and on that note I leave you with this - an icon of my childhood, who's decided he's got a lot in common with Robert Downey Jr.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer is still a week away

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that summer is still a week away.
*sigh* It's been too hot out this week. Today is much cooler (By nearly 20 degrees) than yesterday, but it's still no fun.

I came home from work at 1. My stomach is feeling rather upset, and I wanted the comfort of my own bed and to be close to the bathroom if needed. Before lugging the computer upstairs, I made some tea and grabbed me some left overs from dinner last night, and then realized only after I was already upstairs that the power cord for the laptop is still downstairs. *sigh*

I have to go down shortly to get it, and I really need a brief nap. I either have a virus or ate something that really didn't agree with me. Yuck. Nap's not going to happen today though.

On the fibery goodness front I got three skeins plied up last night, coupled with the two that are done and twist set, and a few others that should be skeinable by Friday - I should have somewhere near a dozen skeins of hand spun available on Etsy this weekend.

I'm feeling accomplished here. I think that my skeining is turning out to be the best I've done yet.

Oh and guess what I just won on eBay? It was for 2# of Java, and I'm not talking about the coffee beans. He won't be needing it anymore...

Lets just say I've lucked out in the raw fiber dept lately and hopefully this fleece is skirted and not filled with second cuts.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Some pics from the weekend.

So as I previously wrote, on Saturday a friend, my daughter and I all went to a local farm and picked up 10.5# of fleece, and then dropped it at the processor to be made into roving.

We picked up all told 4# of Southdown, and 6.5# of Tunis - both good for teaching a new spinner in my opinion. We held back a half pound of the Tunis so sunshyn689 could learn the whole process from start to finish.

Jerimiah from Twist of Fate was awesome, and gave us the tour allowing both Tessa and sunshyn689 to see how roving is made on a larger scale than our little drum carder. Tessa was delighted to see how it all was done and was awestruck by all the bags of fleece waiting to be washed, dried and picked and carded.

From my daughter's perspective, it's always been done in a tub in the sink or bath tub with a little dish soap with as hot of water as Mommy can stand and repeated until the water was clear. We then hang it out on a rail on our porch to dry, and later it is brought and flicked out by hand and then run through the drum carder to be made into a batt.

Those Bats get torn down into strips and then I spin them into yarn, so for Tess to see it all on an industrial capacity was pretty impressive - especially when she got to see the spinner. She was pretty stunned to see that it wasn't a spinning wheel making the yarn. I have to laugh as she see's yarn at places like AC Moore and is convinced that it's all made by people in their living room watching TV while they spin.

The carding machine they have is a smaller machine as mill machines go, but that's not a bad thing. It allows them to do batches as low as 2#, making my 4# (Pre wash weight) of Southdown a sure bet to make it through after it loses at least a fourth of it's weight to the wash bin... There was much more than just the machine you see to the right, but I forgot my camera so you get what I nicked from their website... that said, if you are looking for a really nice processor - these guys are awesome.

The wool was pretty well skirted so when it gets to the stage of sitting on that conveyor belt there should be very little vegetable matter that makes it into the roving.

I have to say I like how close the spinnery is to where I work too - as I have a couple more fleeces to drop off for processing and I'll be doing that this week after work. Probably on Tuesday or Wednesday - allowing the fleece to sit in the trunk all day to kill any thing that might be living with the fleece... like say - moths or anything else that they could have been exposed to during the past 6-8 months in my sun room with a busted screen window...

While I won't get the roving back until October, I've been saying for months that I was going to drop the fiber off to be made into roving and I've just not done it.

Will I keep some back to process and blend at home? Probably. But I've decided that at 6.00 a pound to be washed and carded, that I'm just ready to have it out of my house as I don't know when I'm going to get it all processed. Their price as listed on the website is a bit more than I'm being charged, and I'm not really sure but as my stash is all pretty much low grease wool then I don't feel too guilty for the discount.

Jeremiah is a sweetie too, and the time he spent explaining to Tessa was appreciated. He also gave us a brief tour and Tess got to see the Goats and Alpaca they have as well as a couple of Ewe's and Rams they have... and the poor guy was flustered when sunshyn689 asked why he wasn't shorn down low in the back. "That's his balls ma'am." I think she was pretty embarrassed/mortified too... but it was a very funny moment. I wish I'd have gotten pictures when we went to both the farm and spinnery, as the farm was something out of my brightest and most desired dreams... oh well some day.

Anyhow - after we got back sunshyn689 started on the scour of the Tunis we held back. I don't know if she's taken any pics of it yet, but I know it's not dry yet as we got a heck of a thunderstorm yesterday which soaked the heck out of everything - including the freshly washed fleece. Next Saturday morning we'll be running it through the drum carder and then spinning it up before dying it.

On other fronts - this weekend I got some merino I've been working on finished spinning up - it came out beautiful.

The photo's not so hot, but that's ok - the single twisted up nicely without over twist, it's going to be allowed to sit on the bobbin a week or so before I run it through the yarn winder so I can create a center pull ball to ply. After measuring it up, and skeining I'll put it in the bin for photo's and sale on Etsy... it's a rather lovely yarn if I say do say so my self.

So my previous post I mentioned the BFL I had hand washed, flicked, carded and spun - here's some pics from that. This was all done from 12am Saturday to 2am sunday.

Yes - again the photo quality isn't the greatest, but it was a last minute thought of "Hey I ought to take some pics of what I've been doing for my blog... especially as I've gotten requests for them recently in my other blog. I still have half the BFL fleece to finish up - it's still slightly damp as it was on my porch when the rain that drenched the Tunis drenched my BFL as well... Given that today is going to be a scorcher, I fully expect that I'll be able to card it up in the next couple of days. It should be dry by tonight.

At present I have some Mohair/Romney in the bin you see in the far left above... I've been flicking it out, and opening the locks as well as doing a first blend with the hand cards, and then will be putting it through at least once on the drum carder. That will be set aside to spin later this week too.

I promise more photo's to come and maybe even a video from this Saturday if sunshyn689 isn't too nervous about having herself be the guinea pig in a how to session. :-)

Oh for those of you HitchHiker fans - yes the wheel is still in my car, poor thing is in the trunk with 4# of Navajo Churro and 2# of Jacob. It will probably come out of the car smelling like a sheep farm. That ought to be fun at S&B on Wednesday ;-).

(BTW - Why use sunshyn689 as a guinea pig for photos and video? She's 1. Younger 2. Pretty & 3. I'd be the one holding the camera for all this LOL!)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

BFL from ewwwwwww to ahhhhhhhhhhh and Raw Wool finds

As previously written, given the heat of the weekend, my plans have been predominately fiber related.

Friday I had some of the most amazing Blue Faced Leicester that needed to be scoured to remove the lanolin and any dirt. The fleece hinted at being snowy white and amazingly beautiful when spun up.
It was late, the kids were asleep and the fleece wasn't washing itself, so I got out the wash tub, and filled it with detergent and the hottest water my tap produced.

I was not disappointed - when clean (after about 5 soak/rinse combo's) it was snowy white, and I set it out to dry.

It was very late when we got to sleep - the kids woke at 2:30 and it was emotional trauma time as one of them had a nightmare screaming enough to wake the other and leave me with two frightened kids.

At 9am instead of being on the road, I was in the shower, but caught up pretty fast so we could pick up [info]sunshyn689 and get over to the farm. I have to say I love my GPS, as we might have gotten lost if not for it.

We selected a Tunis and a Southdown fleece, and then as the fiber mill is only 2 miles away and we bought 10 pounds of fleece we dropped all but a small amount off for the processor to turn into roving for dying and spinning... and it's really nice to have a connection with a local fiber source. Plus - those fleeces were well skirted so I know we didn't buy bags of rocks or dung.

We have to wait until October for them to get back, but we held back a small amount for [info]sunshyn689 to learn on... and when we got back to her house she pulled out a dish tub and started scouring her first batch of wool. I have to say I'm tickled pink at how well she's picking it all up, but she's not a stupid woman, so that makes it a lot better. I'll bring my drum carder and a diz next weekend to her house and on Saturday morning we'll finish processing that fleece. We'll decide once we have made roving if we're going to go straight to spinning or if she'll want to dye it first. My first thought is to just spin it and move on from there.

Last night I pulled what was dry off my porch and sat for an hour flicking it out (which means I opened the locks to make it fluffy for carding and had a couple of medium boxes full of fluff ready to be put through the drum carder. Lesson the first however was no matter how clean you think you got your wool, it's still going to drop small bits of dirt and vegetable matter. Doing it on the couch without a drop cloth produces an awful mess on your once clean shirt and shorts.

The BFL that I cleaned the night before and spent time flicking out before running through my drum carder turned out amazing, and I'm really excited about plying it with something... not sure what right now, so I'll be taking it off the bobbin and balling it so the singles can go a little stale before I ply it. I'm not sure what I'll ply it with right now...

My Jumbo flyer for my wheel is broken again, so plans today had me going to "In Sheeps Clothing" but they were closed today, and then back to the inlaws for strawberry shortcake. Lemme tell you that 40MPG is awesome and my new car has 205 miles on it now. We drove about the Litchfield hills before picking the kids back up at the inlaws. Tonight I sat with some Mohair and Romney and hand blended in preparation for working on the drum carder again. Getting the kids to bed much earlier has been a godsend for me in getting anything fibery done. Yay for that!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stinky Fiber for a Saturday Morning

So I stepped into a heck of a deal on Monday on raw fleeces (already skirted though which is good, although I'll be doing another good once over before scouring.) [info]sunshyn689 and I are going in the morning to look at them tomorrow and see what's in good condition and will require the least amount of work to get vegetable matter (Hay/straw) out and they've supposedly already been skirted to remove anything gross. As it's going to be 95 here tomorrow I figure I can spend part of the afternoon scouring what I pick up and then set the washed fleeces out to dry on my porch overnight - by Sunday they should be good and dry and ready to be carded to be spun...

It's going to be hot all weekend, and this will be a great time to get caught up on my fleece that I need to get processed. I'm thinking that I might pick up some staples for my staple gun, some window screen and a bunch of 1*2's to make some drying frames with... as well as latex gloves for use when washing the fleeces... ya never know until you see the fleeces out of the bag how well they were skirted for dung etc until you can lay them out on a tarp and do a good once over...

  • Lincoln 8 lbs. 7” staple grey
  • Lincoln 5 lbs. 4” staple light grey
  • Lincoln lamb 9 lbs. 12” staple dark grey
  • Lincoln 7 lbs. 7” staple silver grey
  • Border Leicester 8 lbs. 8” staple white
  • Romney Cross 6 lbs. 4” staple white
  • Romney cross 7 lbs 4” staple white
  • Romney cross 7 lbs. 5” staple white
  • Southdown 4 lbs 1.5 “ staple white
  • Montadale 5 lbs 3” staple white
  • Tunis cross 6 lbs. 2.5 “ staple white
  • Tunis 7 lbs 3.5” staple white
  • Romney 8 lbs. 4.5 “ staple white
  • Romney 7 lbs. 5” staple white
  • Cheviot 4 lbs 4” staple white
  • Oxford 7 lbs. 3.5 “ staple white
  • Romney 9 lbs 5” staple white

Will I buy all these? Um No. But this is what I have to select from tomorrow. Pretty cool eh? Ok - you there reading this will probably not comment, and ya know that's ok. To me - it's pretty cool - the farm is so close to me and I like the idea of developing a relationship with a local shepard. Ok - NOW GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER, NOT THAT KIND OF A RELATIONSHIP.

Sheesh folks.

On my wheel right now I have some lovely Merino that I hand dyed in shades of red. It's spinning up pretty nicely but it appears to be more pink than red :-) we'll see how it plies up when I get to that stage. I've been pre-drafting the roving into nice spinnable slivers, and getting in some spinning time each night after the kids have gone to bed. It's a definite change for the better and I find I'm more relaxed and sleep better after getting in an hour or so of
spinning a night.

Tonight after the kids went to sleep I scoured up a pound of BFL - oh so lovely and the staple is really nice and long. I also washed a half pound of Ramboullet... nice but after doing the BFL I'm a bit spoiled... where one has such a nice long staple the other is velvety soft. I'm now going to head back down stairs, get a shipping label that's overdue onto a box to go out tomorrow morning and then get the rest of my red finished spinning so I can ply it later.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

how to freak out your cube neighbors.

So as last night was the first S&B I've been to since my step dad's heart attack happened, I had my HitchHiker Mini in my car still this morning. He came in to work with me today, and I took a brief break to empty a half dozen bobbins using my ball winder that happened to just fall into my purse on my way out the door this morning as I left for work.

This is the results - all waiting plying except the one in the bottom left corner - that's a failed experiment in plying Alpaca, and it's soft, but man I do not advise using the Kate on a HitchHiker Mini for the purposes of plying. Seriously... it's nice stuff, but that other alpaca you see there, it's going to be plied with some Silk I think. Something complimentary that I've been working on with a drop spindle I think. Something with dark but complimentary colors.

I do now have several empty bobbins though - which will give me a chance to get to more of the roving for that lovely purple and green colorway in the bottom right of the yarn ball pyramid. Do I know the yardage or ouncage on any of these yet? Nope. Won't do that until the end, and I still have all of the below shown roving to spin as well.

Isn't it all so pretty? Almost done and I have 3/4 a bobbin full still on the Mini. I'll be plying this colorway against itself, unles I find something in my fiber bin that sings to me to blend the shades together.

What will I do with these? Well when finished they'll end up in my Etsy shop or as gifts to my knitting friends... as usual.

BTW - regarding the previous post, my little guy is doing well. Thanks to all who contacted me off blog to check on him :-) He joined me for lunch yesterday and charmed every one in his path. I'm so in for it...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Scared witless

Not really a fibery update this week guys. My baby did something on Friday and then Sunday that really has frightened me beyond words. His lips turned blue in his sleep.

In trying to discover what caused it I've concluded that modern medicine is just barbaric.

My poor little man's been a pin cushion, been jammed in a Plexiglas frame that bolts shut on the sides, while he sits on a saddle to get chest X-rays, had an EKG run, and still has to have an EEG run that they can't get scheduled until mid June at Yale New Haven. I'm exhausted from it all, he's beyond words of done with it all. They don't know yet why he is going cyanotic when he sleeps.

It hasn't been something they've been able to observe... outside of a possible arrhythmia - there's a chance it was a series of small seizures - but they just don't know. It first started happening on Friday - and was noted by my husband at nap time.

Sunday I had 4 incidents of it while we were in the car, and I decided that I'd call my HMO's Nurse line. They suggested getting him into the Children's hospital that night, no later. Home on Sunday night, we went to his pediatrician early monday, and I spent the day in and out of medical facilities, and again the childrens hospital in Hartford.

They sent him home, his little arm covered in paper tape and gauze that he immedietly tried to pull off, that covered the site where they drew multiple HUGE vials of blood from him off, and he spends time rubbing the bruise on his leg from where they jammed him into the X-ray frame so they could get a chest X-ray

His heart and lungs look good on the x-ray and for the EKG and Blood tests - they came up normal.

So that one more test is left and the local hospitals aren't deemed prepared enough to deal with little ones, so they are scheduling at Yale New Haven for an EEG for him. (CCMC doesn't have someone who can do this until July.) This will require that he's sedated, and I'll likely need to take another day off from work like I did Monday.

I don't regret it at all, but I'm exhausted and just want to know what caused this so we don't have the ghost of the issue haunting us.

I told Gaelon I need a spa day - but I'm thinking I need a weekend where I can spin, and not be worried about kids, or anything else inbetween massages, pedicures and little things to help de-stress me.

Have I mentioned I was interviewing for a new job at Initech too? It's a wonderful job in Quality Assurance, an audit and compliance position. While dealing with my son's issues, and my mom and step dad's ill health I have been trying to decide if I want this job that I've been agressively recruited for. Critical analysis regarding my career is eclipsed by thinking about one beautiful little blonde haired boy.

So what's wrong with my baby? What made my him go cyanotic and scare the poop out of his Mommy and Daddy?

Well like the Doc said - it's just not known and they are leaning towards saying it's a virus right now.

I looked at him last night in his sleep and said "Garret you aren't MS Windows, there are no bugs allowed."

On the work front - I accepted the position. I start my new job on the 2nd of June.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Silk nice, icecube on my bum not.

Ok, so in the face of all that's going on right now with my step dad being ill and having recently lost my step mom - which brings the loss of my dad to the forefront of my mind and heart, I decided that if the kids won't let me get time on the wheel I'd haul out a drop spindle. After all, with a drop spindle there is no chance of little fingers getting caught in whirring parts.

So I've been working on a lovely silk colorway that I think is in need of spinning up in a ply with some Alpaca. The Alpaca only has me peeved with trying to ply it with more alpaca and I think that's got a lot to do with the fact that I'm using the onboard kate and my HitchHiker to do the plying, so my need for a real tensioned kate is coming back into play.

*sigh* I was going to get one at the CT Sheep and Wool festival - really, but for whatever reason it didn't happen.

I need to keep an eye out for one, maybe if we get to go to Coggeshall farm in RI this weekend I'll find something I like.

So - regarding the title? My three year old daughter is an ice chewer. She just crawled into bed and dropped a piece of ice down the back of my pajamas giving me a rude awakening. Then she runs off giggling maniacally.

I want to know who taught her that trick. I truly think they deserve a special thank you of their own. Don't you?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Well wishes sought

My step dad had a heart attack last night. Not a strong man to begin with, this is a very bad bit of news. There may be a trip to Las Vegas for me soon, and it's not to gamble...

I have a rough game plan if I need to go out for the funeral, and a very liberal boss who will undoubtedly be understanding. My complications will be of the financial and toddler kind. Yep - my 14 month old is still nursing, and it's not like I could leave him behind. It's hard enough thinking about leaving my three year old and husband, but man airfare isn't cheap and we've cut down our trips out as it is - I saw gas on the pump this morning for 3.99 a gallon. OUCH.

Now if he happens to miraculously recover (ha - don't laugh, he's managed it before, he's awful ornery and love my mom too much to just check out on her despite frail health) then I'll be taking my three year old to the fiber fest at the Coggeshall farm in Rhode Island next Saturday. She has a love for spinning, and I think that getting her turned on to non oil dependent (other than the petrol to get there to learn more) activities and fabrics and means of living is a good thing.

We'll have to see what the week brings before we make solid plans.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm too productive out of the office.

Today is my work from home day... those days usually start earlier, and end later than a work in the office day, and I am usually saner by the end of it as well.

Already today I've gotten 2 reports and one major document finished, and that was in the first hour of the day. It's a rainy grey day and I'll be slipping folding laundry into listenening to teleconferences. I get asked "How do you do it all Annie?" and well there's a glimpse... like most working mom's I've learned to multi-task at a level I personally thought unatainable before having kids.

Seriously, I've also gotten a couple of loads of laundry started and have a batch of wool I'll be cleaning today so I can card it and then dye it. (Crossing my fingers on the wool scouring as it's rainy, it won't happen if the weather stays so gross.)

I've also got yarn to ply, measure and photograph for the Etsy store, as well as new labels to make up for the existing yarn I have in stock. ahhhhhh I love my little color printer. It makes life so much more fun - printed out coloring pages for my daughter, photocopies of documents for me, etc...

When my SIL moved I interited her big old plastic bins that she had kept dog food in. These are going to be re-purposed to hold wool. These are tasks that don't have to get done today, but will hopefully be done by end of weekend. I am going to finish out my office/studio and get it back in shape where I'm happy with it. This means that I'll have several rubbermaid bins that will be re-purposed as well.

Yep. Work from home days are nice. I made hot ham n cheese sandwiches for lunch for my hubby and I, nuked some kids meals for the tots and on top of it all I'm also not using gas in my car. Yep. Definately nice.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why would people be so thoughtless?

Where - MD Sheep and Wool Festival
When - Last weekend while I was in NH (see previous post)
What - Theft, Vandalism, Animal's let out of pens

Read here, and lets all watch out for eachother this festival season ok?

Kids and Dog

So outside of my spinning, I also have two other loves in my life. My family and my dog. The kids go without saying, and I've described them as my soul on my sleeve. They really are my world, and are the reason I'm a grown up these days...

The dog?

What can be said about Daisy... This little stinker of nearly two years ago

is now this little stinker (Picture taken tonight as I ran out for iced coffee at Dunkins)

She's still doing the weight fluctuation thing, and I broke down and went to the Butcher to get trimmings. Adding extra fat to her diet has been extremely beneficial, and she's starting to get a better sheen to her coat, and is just happier. She's never going to be a rolypoly dog, it's just not in her make up, but I can at least get a little extra flesh on her bones and an insulatory layer. The fatty trimmings aren't going to ever be a staple in her diet, but I can hopefully get an insulatory layer built up under her skin, as she was so lean that this winter was hard on her. No sweater would have helped.

We're going to go back to dog training classes later this spring, and she needs to be better about not having accidents in her crate. She's good about peeing, but not always great about her bowels... I had taken her out of dog daycare in January as we just couldn't justify the expense any longer - the money just wasn't there, but I wish we could put her back in.

I might make a decent living, but my kids needs come first over my dog playing all day with other dogs. We have 'Guiness' the kodiak bear disguised as a dog, down stairs to play with, as well as my MIL and SIL's dogs to play with on weekends - something I'm hoping to do more of now that the winter is over. She is playing more with Tessa instead of just jumping on her, but she's still got house training issues... she isn't good at the communicating her needs thing, and I don't know really how to change that, so I'll be dependent on the trainer for help with that. It's back to the Brittany Dog boards I guess...

Anyhow - I hope to get some better pictures of her soon, but I thought I'd share the pic I have here for now. She really is a sweet dog, and like my kids - each day she reveals more about who she is and how much fun she is to have around.

She's the sweetest thing though, and a real pleasure to spend time with. As she and the kids get older they all get to interact more.

I was contacted a couple of months back by someone who got their puppy from the same litter as Daisy's... wanting to know if we'd gotten papers to register her. None of Audrey and Arrow's pups were papered, as Audrey wasn't. What do you expect for a dog that is specifically not a show dog. She's a pet, she might be bird trained in the future, but that would mean I'd need to have her actually going out birding, and as we've not been in touch with our friend Brian that much lately (He's a police officer the next town over, and has voiced an interest in taking Daisy Birding if she were trained) I've not seen the point in looking into that aspect of her training.

Daisy doesn't care that she doesn't have papers either. She just wants to have that next meaty bone or sirloin trimming ;-) We're participating in a DNA study about Brittany dogs, which should be interesting.

On to the weekend, and my non spinning time...

Are these the cutest kids in the world? Seriously - I know I'm their mom, but still... and man Garret DOES NOT LIKE his monkey suit... can't blame him.

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