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

Friday, October 2, 2015

New to Me Treasure

I think I have said this before, but I will say it again, I like old things.  They don't have to be antique by any means, but previously used and loved things, especially crafting supplies falls in that category for me.

I was perusing Ebay sometime last week and found a homemade, previously used travel pillow for bobbin lace.  This pillow is fitted to a travel sized suitcase, and it has patterns and bobbins and a book and a few tools as well.  The price was reasonable and well, I couldn't resist, I bought it!  It arrived well before the estimated day, which thrilled me no end.

 Here is the case, which is in pretty good shape.
 The roller pillow, with a pattern still on it.  There is a name mentioned several times among the papers and letter that came with this pillow, but I won't mention it here, except to say that a quick search showed me that she, the Lacer, was born in 1910, and that she was deceased.

There were newspaper articles from 1956, in Seattle area, and a directory of the International Lace Society from 1979, where I confirmed her last  known address.  I have contacted the nearest lace guild for more information about the Lacer and the pillow, but I haven't heard back from them yet.

The package itself came from Houston, but I have no idea how it got there!  If old tools could talk!  I already put a lace project on the pillow and made a little progress early this morning.  This time I am using 48 bobbins, a new record!

Here are the 49 bobbins that came with the pillow, I am using some of them on this current project.  It is not yet ready for pictures, I am learning how to do "spiders" and "rose ground" with this one, it is fairly wide and it will be at least a couple of yards of lace for a special someone.

As I said before I finished the square lace piece.  I still have to do the finishing  and framing though.  That will come next month when life just might slow down for a minute.  I don't want to rush the finishing since I haven't ever done it before.  I will be sure to post my progress.

I thought you might want some perspective.  :)

Until next time Happy Crafting, Tina

Monday, September 28, 2015

Latest Bobbin Lace project

 This pattern is from the same book as the last one.  "Making Lace with the Little Grey Bunny" this is pattern 5 in the book.  It is a square doily and it will be framed like last weeks project and presented as our "Mother's Christmas presents" this year.  They do not need to be worrying about keeping the little things clean!

This morning I made it back around to the beginning of the piece and I was ready to join the end to the beginning.   But I was out of time, and I had to put it up for the day.

Early tomorrow morning I will carefully tie the end to the beginning, but I will take it with me when I go to Norris, TN. to join my weekly weaving group the "Tuesday Weavers".  I have some ideas about how to improve my finishing techniques that I want to run by Carol, my weaving and lace instructor.

I used Gutermann's silk sewing thread again in the ecru color.  (I read something this week on the lace internet about this being a medium thread choice!) I was able to pick up some fine linen fabric for the inside of the pieces and I hope to have them both totally finished and ready to frame this week.

This is crunch week for me in the studio as well, because next week is the "Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia".  It is a 4 day event for those that demonstrate and sell, and since I am doing both it is a lot to get ready.  I will be spinning for 4 days while there is music and food and lots of people all over the place!  Thursday will be Heritage day, with oodles of students running all over the place!

The other 3 days are open to the general public.  It is one of my favorite events, but it is truly a marathon of an event.   By the time Sunday rolls around we are all a tired bunch of weavers.  I am lucky in that I belong to a team of weavers that band together to ply our wares and they will staff our booth that is inside the Peter's Cabin, while I sit on their porch and spin wool and flax.  People are always asking me if I sell my work, and I get to point them to the room behind me.  While they are looking at my inventory, they will also be looking at everyone else's too.  It is a win win situation in my book.

My latest knitting project is with my hand spun, lace weight, 2ply yarn that I finished a couple of months ago, using Malabrigo Nube, a Merino wool top.  It was a very long spinning project, because it was so fine and I was using a spinning technique I don't normally use, but I really like the way it is knitting up.  It is going to be an equally long knitting project as well, as it is a big one!  I will get pictures up and information about the project as it progresses.

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina