Friday, April 10, 2015


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 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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Unexpected Harvest

My Nigora kid Ernie, got really sick a couple of months ago.  He is fine now, gaining weight back and even feeling a little spunky!  I have been watching him very closely since he got sick, I was really fooled by all that lovely fleece, I had no idea he was so thin!

Just like people, when an animal undergoes  a difficult health situation, you can see it in their hair.  Just the other day I noticed that he had begun to roo.  That means that his lovely fleece was falling out!  I spent a couple of sessions over the next few days and literally pulled his fleece out.

He went from this:

To this:

Luckily, his guard hairs are still in place, and a new fleece will be growing out shortly.  If it gets too cold, I will make him a coat.  His fleece pretty much fills a walmart bag, I haven't played with it yet, but you can be sure I will!

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fleece Washing, again

A month or so ago, one of my weaving friends, Betsy, gave me a couple of Jacob's sheep fleeces.  I kept them upstairs in the studio, sniffing gleefully whenever I would pass them.  (Such a nice sheepy smell.)  This past week I have been taking a lock or two at a time and washing them in different ways, and using different soaps/detergents, to see what I felt was the best way to handle these particular fleeces.

The fleece is really dirty, (this sheep had fun), but the fleece comes clean really quite easily.  I really liked how clean the locks got with Orvus paste, but I was not in any mood to clean this fleece lock by lock.

I took some tulle I had on hand and cut it into pieces large enough to wrap around a line of locks.  I ended up with 8 pieces of tulle, and last evening I loaded them up, in anticipation that I would be able to do some washing today.
 I filled little buckets with really hot water, then I added about 1 Tablespoon of Orvus paste.  I took 4 of the packets and I rolled them up jelly roll style with the tips of the locks all pointing in the same direction.  I placed these rolls tip down in the hot soapy water, and I left it for about 15 minutes.  I carefully took the rolls out of the dirty water, emptied the buckets in the yard, then I rinsed the buckets and filled them again with plain hot water to do a rinse.
Once again I did a soapy soak, with a little less soap, then a rinse with a little bit of vinegar, and then one final plain water rinse.

 I hung the little packets out to dry on one of the chairs on the porch, and proceeded with my other projects.  By the time I was done with my day, the packets were ready to be put upstairs in the studio, on the sweater dryers.
Tomorrow I will unpack them and see how clean they came before I do anymore.  The last rinse water was quite clear, and I used a lot less water than I normally would have, (and a lot less heavy lifting!) so if the locks are in good shape, I may have found my new favorite way to wash fleece.

I like how I can keep the locks in an organized form, and that I can also sort them  for length and colors as I wash them.  (Jacob's sheep have several colors in each fleece.)  This fleece combs up beautifully!  This combed sample of the white part of the fleece is from the locks I did earlier this week.

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

Friday, August 1, 2014

Glamour Shots

It had been a little while, life can easily get in the way!  Anyway, here are the latest shots of the 2 Nigora Wethers we have here on the "farm".

First the oldest at just over 5 months, Ernie:

Just look at that fleece!  It should shed out white, that red you see is the guard hairs that are protecting the lovely fuzzy stuff.

Next is Bert, who at a mere 2.5 months hasn't started his fleece for the year yet.

His fleece will be white as well.  Berts Mom, gave up a beautiful white fleece this last spring.  I sent it to my friend Linda since she had done the feeding and tending of that fleece.

Linda came just before we went on vacation, and she took her two goats home, so I am down to the ones that belong to me.

I am keeping all the Nigoras that will shed out white, and Linda seems to be keeping the ones that shed out a soft gray or soft tan.  It is really quite lovely!

That is it for now, I will try to get some shots of Bert's fleece as it comes in, I hope it is the same loveliness as Ernie's is!

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lever Knitting

I am sitting here trying to take pictures of myself knitting using the Lever style.  I have concluded however, that it is almost impossible to do.  I am too close to me, and I need a free hand to do it!  I will have to get my friend Lou Ann to do the honors one day.

 I can however show you my rehabilitation progress.  The knuckle on the middle finger, of my right hand, blew out about 6 weeks ago while I was merrily knitting at a knitting retreat.  It swelled up and was red and painful.

 It is still a little larger than I would like, but I do keep bumping it!  I haven't iced it in ages but I have done some cold water exercises.  The mountain stream in the campground was sooooo cold, but it felt wonderful to be able to flex that finger to almost a normal angle.
Here it is almost flush with the other digits!  See, I am giving the thumbs up!

Now, back to Lever knitting.  The injured finger was put out of commission by the pressure of the stitches that were building up on the right hand needle, I had to find a way to take that pressure completely off of it.  When you use the Lever technique, the right hand needle is placed in your right armpit.  (At first it seemed to not want to stay put, but now I don't even think about it.)

The heel of my right hand rest and remains on this  right hand needle.  The yarn is carried by my right hand, but it is wrapped in such a way so that my thumb and pointer are free to manipulate the stitches along as they build up on the needle.  (They are also free to help when I need to make a cable.)

Let me see if I can say how it is wrapped with words.  The yarn comes from the ball that is placed on your right hand side.  It comes over the back of your hand and between your pointer and middle finger.  It then wraps around the middle finger clockwise just once, then goes over your ring finger close to the fingernail bed.  I will be getting some good pictures of this in the next few days so that you can see it with your eyes.

There I was with a knitting needle in my armpit, and the yarn wrapped in a completely different way and in the other hand, and I haven't even picked up the left hand needle, can you say awkward!  Since I really had no choice, I had to press on!

I'm not sure my word pictures are going to cut it, I will continue, when I can get some pictures!

Until next time, Happy Spinning and Knitting, Tina

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nigora Bucklings!

We had a camping trip this week that got canceled for various reasons.  We got some days in August instead.  It turns out that it was a good thing, because the Nigora doe that I bought a little while ago decided that it was time to have her kids.

We had some trouble establishing a good nursing relationship, but I think we have made it through the rough part.  There are 2 Bucklings in the barn doing well, as is their mom, Kami.  ( I will get some pictures up when I can get to the computer.)

Until next time, happy spinning and weaving, Tina