Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On the Porch

Early this morning, I was sipping my coffee, and following my usual morning couch reading, when I looked out the window at first light.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing, so I got up and turned the light off in the family room, and I tried to sneak over to the door to get a better view to confirm my suspicions.

No doubt about it, Mouse, the black cat was snoozing on the fleece drying racks surrounded by white fleece.

It becomes apparent to me that until we get the porch screens up, the fleeces will have to be dried indoors!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Monday, June 27, 2016

Oh the Dust, oh the Rust, oh the Dry, Dry Wood!

Yesterday, I was looking at my week and it was going to be full of grandchildren, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  By the evening however, the week had substantially changed.  Cousins visiting cousins elsewhere, kids doing overnights at friends houses, chores getting done earlier than expected. All these things worked together to have only Monday evening and Friday afternoon with the kiddos.   That is quite a change, and it sometimes leaves me wondering what I am going to do, since I had not planned anything.

I quickly of course came up with a plan.  I washed a bit of one of the Museum of Appalachia's fleeces, and when I had gotten it done and my drying racks were full, I decided that I wanted to go on an errand that has been at least 1 year in the making, possible 2 years.

Very near the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center there is an antique store, one of the big ones!  More than a year ago, I saw a 4 harness Cambridge floor loom out on the front stoop, exposed to the weather.  At the time I was not interested in it,  I had more than enough looms, one of which was a 4 harness Cambridge,  so I passed it by, wondering how it was going to make it out in the elements.

Several months later I went thru a period of loom removal, for some reason I did not want any loom in my house that did not belong to me.  I may also be because I had 7 floor looms of all shapes and sizes.  I quickly got down to a reasonable 3 floor looms and I was happy.
I would still see that loom now and again and be so sad to see it in the heat and rain, fading, drying out and rusting, but I did not need a rug loom.

Notice the crank on the back beam!

Then about 2 or 3 months ago, I read a blog about a weaver who wove these really nice rugs, and I started to get interested in rag rug weaving again.  I thought about that loom, but I thought that it would be in really bad shape by now, just in case though, my friend Lou Ann and I went by to look at it.  It was rusty and dusty and dried out.  However, there was nothing warped and it was strong and sturdy, it was also 4 harness with the treadles mounted in the front, which is how I like them to be.  Still I thought, this rug thing might be short lived, I'll just borrow the "tiny" Cambridge we have at the Center in the annex, and take care of this silly rug weaving notion.

I did that the very next Tuesday, and I had that little loom up and running within a day or two.  It needed some adjustments, but all in all it is a nice little loom.  I rummaged through my stash of t-shirts and came up with several color combinations, and I basically had so much fun, I was sad when the warp was finished!

The Small Cambridge is a nice little loom, but that's just it, it's little.  It is too narrow to weave any wider than a 27/28 inch width.  So, I thought again about the full size Cambridge at the Antique store, and I made up my mind.

I texted Lou Ann this morning and I said, IF the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition and IF the seller will come down to my price, I would go get that loom today.  Those are 2 pretty big ifs, and I was not sure at all how it was going to go.

Long story shortened just a bit, the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition, and the seller did come down to my price!  I took the poor loom apart and loaded it into the pickup truck I had brought just in case, and raced home to beat the possible rain this afternoon.

Dear One was home when I got there and he laughed when he saw the loom, and then he helped me move it onto the front porch to get it out of the sun and rain.

Rusty heddles and bars

12 dent reed
Here are the rusty heddles and and there are rusty nuts and bolts too, but they are not badly pitted.

I was sure this was going to be a 15 dent reed, they always are when I get a loom, but this one is a 12 dent!

 The breast and back beam really need some attention.  I will wash off all the dust, lightly sand and then slather on the Danish oil.

This is one of the uprights, dry and cracked.

Here is the underside of the treadles, and this is where I get a glimmer of hope, I know that  once I have washed, sanded and Danish oiled, all this dry wood, it is going to gleam!

I have heard of a product at Home Depot that is supposed to work wonders on rusty metal, you can be sure I will be checking that out later on this week.  All of the cords of course will need replacing after their months in the sun, and I will be double checking cord lengths all around.

This afternoon, I will be taking apart the small Cambridge loom that is up in the Studio and bringing it down to go to the Center tomorrow.   I will then be moving the big Cambridge up there, with a little bit of shuffling of looms of course, to take it's place.

Looks like my week will be busy after all!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I did finally get all the fleeces off of my 9 Nigora goats.  Some of them are nice but a few were not as good as I had hoped they would be.  Heat and  agitation seem to have felted a bit more than usual this year.  It is a difficult thing to judge, I don't like to shear the goats because we still have plenty of cool weather well into spring.  For example it is so cool today that I should have been wearing a sweater all day!  The Goats have not shed their regular coat yet, which would have been cut off of if  I had sheared them.

This week I have been going thru the fiber stash:  fleeces and processed fibers.   Right now I have 8, 58quart tubs full of processed fleece ready to spin. (Most of it I have combed, but there is some indy dyed top)  I have 3 fleeces that are washed and ready to comb, and 1 more fleece that I have almost finished combing.   These are all sheep fleeces not the Nigora goat fleeces.   I have several different sheep breeds represented in the stash:  corriedale, shetland, polwarth, merino, cormo and cvm to name a few.  (That doesn't even count the 6 fleeces that I use for spinning demos at the museum!)

When I do demos, I take hand cards and show the public how they work, but my favorite way to prep fiber is to comb it.  I will show you a couple of pictures of the fleece I am working on.  This is a Jacobs fleece, I call it #2, I had gotten 2 fleeces from Betsy some time ago.  I had washed them but hadn't combed them yet.  I decided to start with #2 because this fleece isn't as soft as #1 and there was a lot of kemp in it.  Kemp is short wiry hairs that are at the base of the lock of wool.

 Jacobs sheep usually have a multi colored fleece, this one has 3 colors, white, gray and black.  I have separated out the different colors as I loaded the combs.  I did the white first then the light gray /tan color, then I searched for the darkest locks and did them all together.  I am still working on this one, I had hoped to finish it tonight, but it will have to wait until next week.
The kemp combed out beautifully!  When you do a combed prep, you comb out all the shorter fibers, all the kemp, all the vegetable matter, and in the end you are left with lovely, lovely soft clean fibers.

My combs are by far my most used fiber prep equipment.  In fact, when I come home from the Museum of Appalachia, I take all the rolags that I carded as I demonstrated, and I comb them and put them in my little wicker basket to spin at the next demo.

My eldest Daughter and  I are going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this coming weekend.  She is going to be helping in one of the booths and I get to wander around and smell the wool fumes, see the sheepdog trials, listen to Judith Mckensie McCuin talk about wool, go to the podcaster meet up, and run errands for the booth.  I plan to go to the fleece sale, but I think you will agree with me that I do not need any more fleeces!  Surprisingly enough, I do not have very much yarn, I have a lot of bits and bobs, but not much that is enough for a project!  I know that they will have yarn there!

Every year at MDSW there is a used equipment auction,  I have always been jealous of those who got to go to it, and this year I will be there!  I am on the look out for a rug loom at a really good price!  The loom needs be 36 inches wide, have 4 harness, and 6 treadles and to be heavy enough to be used to make rag rugs.   You need quite a bit of tension on the loom and a heavy beater bar to make rugs.

Wish me luck, Until next time, Happy crafting, Tina

Friday, April 1, 2016

Not Quite Done

I didn't get all the Nigoras done last week, but I am well over half way!  Kami, Bert, Cerin and Ailin all plucked/rooed out fairly easily, for Ernie however, I had to bring out the scissors.  The butt ends of his fleece, which is the part of the fiber nearest to his skin, had let loose, but it was felted just enough, that it wouldn't roo easily.  He was quite adamant that he was going to have none of that thank you!

  I know that in goat language, the pulling of hair is quite the insult, so that while many of the goats do not take long term offense to having all that nice fluff pulled off of their "over heated in all this heat" bodies, some of them really let me know that it is not going to be tolerated.

I prefer not to shear the fleeces, mostly because it increases the amount of guard hairs that I get in the fleece, but sometimes it just cannot be helped.  I think that I will be able to salvage quite a bit of Ernie's fleece, and that is a good thing.

Ernies brother, Bert however, was quite nice to roo.  Bert is my only white Nigora, and the staple length on these fibers is at least 4 inches, which is fabulous!
Here you can see the section on Bert's side where I took that gorgeous handful of fluff.  If you look closely, you can see the guard hairs that remain on the animal, (don't forget to click on the photo to enlarge it) these will be shed within the next couple of weeks and a whole new crop of them will appear.  As summer comes on I will be able to see the beginnings of next years winter insulation begin to peek out, and by fall they will all be glorious!

I still have all 3 of the yearlings to too,  Ellie and May, are beginning to loosen up a bit, and I too a handful of Ellie's fleece every time I go out.  She seems to put up with it quite well.  Her fleece for this year is along the lines of 2.5 -3 inches at best, next year should be more like the 3 inches I am getting off of the older goats.  Dash however hasn't even begun his shed yet.

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Thursday, March 17, 2016


You can tell that Spring 2016 is here in East Tennessee, the day temps are warmer while the nights can still be chilly.  The grass is starting to green up, the daffodils are in full swing and even the redbuds are coming out!

I can tell that Spring 2016 is here on my tiny little farm because the Nigora goats are starting to shed their winter insulation!  Time to start rooing, or plucking it off before it gets ruined!


Cerin is almost finished with his shed, he is the first full fleece of this year.  The contrast between what has been plucked and what hasn't is really incredible!  I hope to be able to get the rest off of him soon, it just isn't ready to let go yet!


 Ailin has a much shorter fiber staple than the other goats, but it is really quite soft too!  You can see the scraggly bits on his shoulder that just wasn't ready yet.  I may have gotten 1 ounce off of him.


Bert, who is Ailin's brother is just starting his shed, you can see that he is still quite fluffy.  His fleece is white and a good 4 inch staple length.  Yay!


Ernie, who is Cerin's brother has a nice long fleece too, his is a cream color.  You can see where I have started rooing up around his shoulders.  His sides seem to be a little felted, but I am going to hope for the best, it may be some left overs from last years fleece, since I shaved him last year. 

 I didn't get a picture of Kami this morning, but she is just starting to shed as well.  Each evening when I go out to feed the goats, I check to see if any fleece  is loosening up.  I go ahead and get off what I can while they are eating.  Most of them are not really thrilled to get plucked, but if I don't rush it they do pretty good.  The trouble is if I wait too long, the fleece can felt on the goat, and I am trying to get it all off before that happens.  

Another thing I want to beat is the shedding of the guard hairs.  As I pluck the soft fuzzy winter insulation some of the guard hairs come off as well, but if I wait too long there will be many more coming away with the soft fuzzy fiber that I want!  Every guard hair needs to be taken out of the fiber before it can be used, a very time consuming process!  So it is a race against time and nature around here!  

After I get the adults done, (hopefully by next weekend) I will begin  checking the 3 yearlings (Ellie, Mae and Dash) daily, hoping to get them done before too much longer, but their fleeces have not started shedding yet.

Next week I will post some pictures of the fleeces, cause surely they will be all in the bag by then! 

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blue Nuvem

This week has been spent knitting and napping.  Sometimes I would wake up on the couch and find that I had fallen asleep knitting in hand.  The surgery site recovery was not to bad, but the anesthesia  is really a bear to get over!

During this week the yarn I am using went from this:

A sweater that I made but never wore,

To this:

In this picture I had just finished the third skein and added the fourth, it is going to be massive.  I refer to it as my monumental project.  This was the only way I was able to stay on the couch for 1.5 weeks and not loose my mind!

Once I get done with the 4th skein I will add the 5th and start the border.   Now that I am feeling better, this project, the" Nuvem" by Martina Behm, is not getting quite the attention that it did last week, but I am hoping to finish it in record time, for me anyway, as a reminder of my recovery.

Until next week, Happy Crafting, Tina

Friday, February 12, 2016

Where to Begin?

I just read my last post, and I am amazed that it has been 4 months since I wrote it.  At the time I had no idea what the next 4 months would be like, and I am glad I didn't know.

I will not go too far into the details, but I suppose it would be enough to say that my family has had 4 successful surgeries since I last posted.  My husband had shoulder surgery, and 2 of my daughters and myself have had our Thyroids removed, my surgery being the latest, this past Monday.

I am in the wet noodle stage of recovery, napping and knitting.  My girls have been wonderful morale boosters for me this week, bringing me to fits of laughter, with eyes squirting with tears, at their humorous outlook on our situation.  I don't have much to say about it yet, cause I don't know what is surgery fall out and what may just be my new normal.

Before surgery, I had cast on a very simple no brainer knitting project, "Nuvem" Shawl, by Martina Behm, and that is proving to be the best medicine ever!  I knit until I have to nap, and then I start all over again.  The shawl consists of 2 rows, once you get past the fussy beginning, which I did before surgery.  I have managed so far to catch any mistakes I have made, (mostly dropped stitches when I dropped off to sleep!)  That, down there, is supposed to be a link to the shawl pattern, hope it works!


The yarn I am using is Knit Picks Shadow lace weight.  I had used this yarn in a very light weight cardigan in 2014, but I had never worn it!  I knit straight from the cardigan to the shawl.  So far, I have knitted from both sleeves and the button band and I am slowly making my way through what is left of the body.  Once I finish using the three skeins from the Cardigan I have 2 more as yet untouched.  This is going to be a very big wrap you up shawl!

You may be able to get a glimpse of the shawl as I was working on it Monday pre surgery.  It is much bigger now!  The color is "Jeweled Heather"  I am sure it is now discontinued, I bought it so long ago!

In the near future, I plan to update this poor neglected blog.  There is so much information to change that it may take some time.

There are Nigora goat pictures to add, and Nigora fiber to talk about, explore and promote.  Weaving and spinning equipment to update and share.

I expect to start harvesting fleece sometime late March, I will have 9 fleeces this year, from white to dark grey, truly beautiful stuff.  Once I have it washed, I will be able to tell if I have enough to send off to be processed for sale.  It will be summer time before I know that.

For now, I am sitting and knitting, I have another week and a half of that ahead of me, and  I plan to make the most of it!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina