Friday, July 3, 2015

Corriedale Goodness

Last fall at SAFF, I purchased a couple of Corriedale fleeces, both of which were variegated greys.  they were incredibly soft with a fantastic lock length and crimp.  I washed them some months ago, and I have been slowly combing my way through the fleece.
I put the clean dry locks in one of those gigantic ziploc bags, with the darker locks on the bottom and the lighter ones on the top.

Here is what's in the bag as of this afternoon, I am getting into the slightly darker shades of grey with the lighter ones already processed as you can see below.
 You can see the combed bumps in the back are just a little bit darker than the ones in the foreground.  I am not sure exactly how I am going to spin this lovely stuff or even what I will use it for, I just feel very rich knowing that I have it!
I have done some sampling, and this fiber makes wonderful yarn no matter how I spin it!  I am about 1/3 of the way through the bag, but it will probably be a this fall before I get to spin any of  this fleece, so I have some time to think about it.





Next in line for the combs, Cormo / Romney cross!  Oh, so soft!



Until next time, Happy Spinning, Knitting and Weaving, Tina







Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nigora Fleece Harvest 2014 / 2015

The harvest of the Nigora fleeces has been done for about a month or 6 weeks, I was unsure exactly how to proceed with them though.  I hadn't found any information on how to wash them, and I was a little afraid to spoil the whole lot.

I ran across someone on Ravelry that raises Cashmere goats, Cashmere Annie, and I contacted her.  She was super friendly and oh so helpful!  I began washing the fleeces, but discovered that unlike Cashmere, Nigora, also known as Cashgora, has a waxy like substance on it, and needs a stronger wash than the Cashmere to get rid of it.  Once the fleece is washed, unlike wool, you have to immediately start fluffing it or it will dry in one big lump.

 I only washed a couple of ounces at a time, because you have to work with it so much, and since I worked out on the porch a stiff breeze would blow the drying fibers away, they are really that fine!  I hope you can see the three different colors of fluff that I have.  The fleece on the lower right has more shine than the other two, does that mean it is the elusive type B, that i have been trying to define for 2 years?
Nigora is the undercoat of the Nigora goat.  When you pluck the fibers in the spring, many of the guard hairs come with it.  You do not want the guard hairs in there, so the guard hairs have got to go!  I began removing guard hairs as soon as some of the fleece was dry.  I worked for about a week every spare moment and a couple of full days.  It isn't unpleasant to do at all really, it is just that after almost a week, I had barely 1 ounce done! 

I began to reevaluate, and I contacted Cashmere Annie once again.  She has a machine that does the guard hair removal for you.  It is a bit pricey, and I have the fleeces packed up and ready to go to her, but I am really having second thoughts.  I don't know what I am going to do,  I'm not in any hurry really, but she does send it back in neat 1oz packages, which would make it easier to sell.  Anyway I am on the fence here, I may take one of the smaller fleeces and try it again, now that it is super clean, it may go quicker.

Stay tuned, this year it was 4 fleeces, next year it may be 9!   As my Dear Husband said last night when I told him I might be picking up another goat wether this week, "What's one more goat!" 

With the arrival of the buckling next month, that will bring my total to 9.  I have 3 females, that can each have twins in the spring.   I come up with a possible 15 fleeces for the following year  (though my friend Karin may be taking a couple of the wethers off my hands soon.)

All this fun on a mere 1.15 acre!

Happy Spinning, Weaving and Knitting, Tina

Saturday, June 6, 2015

New Nigora Pics

 Lou Ann came out and snapped a couple of pictures with her camera.  I think she got some good ones!

Ellie and Mae were one week old Nigora doelings at the time.  They are inseparable right now!  Ellie is the blonde and Mae is the brunette.  I will get a cream colored fiber from the former and probably a soft brown, from the latter.  I will be bringing in a black buckling this year, and from him I expect to see a silvery grey undercoat.

 I am in the process of separating the coarse guard hairs from very soft undercoat of the Nigora type C harvest from this year.  It is very time consuming but the resulting cloud is incredible!  I had sent this years harvest off to be de-haired at a well known mill, but the people at the mill said that the fiber was so fine that they were afraid that I would lose too much to the de-hairing machine.  They wanted to combine it with wool, but I am set on keeping it separate this year so that I can sell it as a blending fiber.
 
Lots of resting and growing going on right now in the barn.  This next week I will slowly introduce the other members of the flock, one at a time so that Mamma can put them in their place with regards to these new ones,  then by the end of next week, I hope to have them all together during the day, but still separate at night.  then finally full time together.

It is time to decide whether or not I will milk this Mamma.  As with most decisions there are pros and cons to consider.  Kami is a very nervous doe, and I know I would have to be up for a fight.  I'm not sure I am!  However, the brunette doeling Mae is going to be a very good candidate for the milking parlor.  She stands stock still when I am messing with her, closing her little blue eyes and just enjoying the moment and she comes up to me all the time when I am out in the barn.

That is it for the barnyard update, I'll probably check in next week with some new pictures, Tina 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy

We have a new set of Nigora kids, born just last night.  It is a set of does, which totally goes against my game plan!  My plan has been to have, in the long, run 5 or 6 wethers (neutered males) to keep for their wonderful fiber!  Wethers are so much easier to feed and house and you don't have to be concerned about a breeding schedule or finding a male that is not too related to your does!  You also don't have to spend sleepless nights, sure that the doe is in labor only to have her calmly stand up and quietly eat hay in your face at 2am!

Wethers are generally a friendly lot, happy to get along with others for the most part, does can be very bossy with others!  Wethers will give you a lovely fleece with no signs of damage from being busy growing babies. with does you have to make sure they are getting enough to do both jobs.  With wethers there is no temptation to milk them even one little bit, with newly freshened goat milk on the farmette, call me crazy, but I am tempted just a little bit, it may have the secondary effect of making this momma a little more people friendly!  CRAZY!

Last year my friend Linda and I had 2 little bucklings each, which gave me hope that I was well on my way to completing my plan of action.  this year we both had 2 little doelings each!  Arrrgh!

 I texted Lou Ann and Linda during the birthing process.









First out was this little charmer....... I got to help pull a bit.........

Next up was this little cutie, I caught her before she hit the ground cause momma was standing up!

I did a quick check and told the girls on the other end of the texts, that it looked like it was 2 does this year.



Within minutes Linda texted back, are you going to keep them?

I looked at myself covered in, well you know, and looked at these cuties and thought of all the trouble they were going to cause me and said "Probably, but I need a new plan!"

Happiness, Tina

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Suds

I got a text from my big brother the other day.

"Do you use homemade soap?  If so where do you get it?  Your sister wants to know."

I thought this a very strange text, and I was getting ready to answer it when my sister chimed in.

"Ignore him. LOL!!!"

I don't know what the joke is, so I responded to my brother.

"You can google it!"

He responded with...

"Thank you she did but it doesn't tell if you use it!" (smiley face)

I wrote him back and said that I have used homemade soaps on occasion, (or I should say hand made soaps as I don't make it myself)  but they generally are too scented for me.

A week passed, and I was rummaging through the cupboard looking for soap.  We had run out of the pears soap I usually get from the dollar store, so I was a bit desperate.  Way back on the lower shelf was a plastic baggie with a bar of handmade soap in it.  Whew, I thought  I hope it isn't to scented, but it was all I had at the moment.

I sniffed the baggie first and didn't detect any scent, which raised my hopes a bit.  I opened the package and found that it was indeed made without added scent.  The smell of the soap was very promising, it was well, a clean smell.  It is probably made with goats milk, and I have to tell you that I am in love with it's creamy goodness.


After a couple of days, when I was sure it was love, I shot off a text to the two of them...

"That being said, I pulled this one out of the cupboard this week, probably goats milk soap, and of course I have no idea where it came from, but I love it's creamy unscented goodness!"

(I still don't know what their joke was.)

Tina



Friday, April 10, 2015

Rooing

It has been pouring down rain here all day!  It is one of the many signs of spring around here, along with daffodils, tulips and dogwood trees in bloom.  For the Farmstead Studio this marks the first spring with a Nigora goat fiber harvest.  What I harvested last year wasn't mine to keep, but this year I have 3 full coats to roo.  The coat that I harvest from the Nigora goats is really their winter insulation, that sheds out like your family dog does.  I try to time my rooing, which is another name for plucking just right.  I have to wait until the fiber has let loose from the skin, but I want to harvest before the guard hairs start to let go.  I want as few guard hairs as possible in my fiber!

The first one to be ready a couple of weeks ago was my littlest one, Bert, my all white nigora wether.  I was taken a little by surprise at how early he was ready, and I didn't have my camera with me in the barn that day.  I got just over 5 ounces of fiber from him, I was very pleased with that!

  This week it was Kami's turn, I had combed her out last year, and she was definitely not happy with the situation!  She is not friendly like the boys are, and she may or may not have tried to bite me!  This year, I decided to try something different, I decided to roo instead of comb.

The first day, we worked on it a couple of hours, she was not happy at all!  (I had put her in the Stanchion, which holds her by the head and makes all things so much easier!)  She danced this way and she danced that way, and she fussed and fumed!  However, I really liked the fiber I was getting!  When you brush or comb out the fiber, it is all jumbled up  on the comb, and hard to distinguish one lock from another.
 With rooing however, I ended up with clumps of the most luxurious fiber you have ever seen!  What you can see if you biggify these pictures is the very fine downy fibers I want, in my hand and the guard hairs I don't want left on the animal.
After a couple of hours of rooing, it was time to go fix dinner and give poor Kami a break.  Next afternoon, I began again, determined to finish her that afternoon.  I got Kami back in the Stanchion, with a little bit of resistance on her part, but once there she stood really still, not once did she side step!  At one point during the two hours that it took to complete the task, she even began to bring up her cud to give it a good chew!  I was amazed!  The only thing I can think of is that she realized that life without that fleece was going to be a whole lot more comfortable!  We will see if that attitude holds over for next year. In all I think it took between 4 and 5 hours to finish the job and I got over 6 ounces of fiber!  That is a lot for this type of fiber!

In the next week or two, the rest of her guard hair fleece will shed out and be replaced with the new stuff, by fall you will be able to see the new downy fibers I love peeking their way through the guard hairs until all you can see is that lovely cloud of softness.

I have one more left to roo, and that would be Bert, the same little goat that gave me a surprise harvest last fall.  His coat grew out just as wonderful as ever, but I think that may mean he will be a late shed this time around.

Be sure to enlarge the pictures, especially the first one to get an idea of the differences in the fine fleece and the guard hairs.

Until next time, Happy Spinning, Knitting and Weaving, Tina


Friday, January 16, 2015

Fluffy Stuff

I was sick recently, but only from the neck up, I took that time I was stuck at home, to start a studio over haul.  I posted over on Tuesdayweavers.blogspot.com about my first day adventure, but I didn't stop there!

The next day, I gathered all the spinning fleeces and fibers I have, and I inventoried the lot!  I put all the fibers that were ready to spin under the table, and I put all the wool fibers that still needed combing/carding on the shelves.  I put all the flax together in a bag, and all the silk hankies together in their bag and finally all the cotton fibers together, again in a bag.

By then I had gone thru 4 of the 7 shelving units in Studio A, and it was a good stopping place.  I have one fleece that I still need to wash, and 2 that I need to rewash as there is still a little bit of lanolin left in them, but that may wait until warmer weather.

My attention then turned to one of the Shetland fleeces that I have been using while I demonstrate spinning at the museum of Appalachia.  Lou Ann and I have nicknamed this fleece Jack Sparrow, cause that is what it looked like on the kitchen floor, when we were preparing to wash it!

I spent the better part of two days flicking open the lock of this large fleece.  This is a really interesting fleece, there is dark brown and grey and orangey brown all wrapped up together in the same fleece.   I really like how it spins up, you can see all those colors all at the same time!


 Once I had it all picked, I began to load it onto the drum carder.  I did batt after batt.  I think I counted at least a dozen!  Once they were all done, I split each batt in thirds, an mixed them up for the final go on the carder.
 Each time the drum carder was full, I used a diz to remove the fibers in a long "top" like bundle.  It is almost like combed top in that the fibers are all going the same direction, though there may be some slightly shorter fibers mixed with the longer ones.  True "top" has only the longest fibers.
Here is the same tub that started the day filled with fluffy fibers, and now it is all organized and ready to spin, and ready to join the other tubs under the table. (I am running out of room under the table!)  I hope to have all my washed fibers ready to spin by the end of January.

There are plans percolating, to turn Studio B into a spinning studio, and move all this spinning stuff across the hall.  Then all the fabric stuff that is over there can move into the weaving Studio A.  It just makes sense!

Until next time, Happy Spinning, Knitting and Weaving, Tina