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

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Loom in the Studio

I bought a rigid heddle loom this week.  It is a Leclerc Bergere, a 24 inch sturdy loom.  I bought it so that I could weave scarves and shawls with my handspun, and also use up some of the commercial yarns I have on hand, that I don't want to use on the bigger floor looms, like this Alpaca yarn from Knit Picks.

I have had this yarn for awhile, and I have tried a couple of different projects, but have not been pleased with the results.  This time however, I think is a winner.  I have enough of this yarn to make several scarves, so stay tuned for different color combinations.

Until next time, Happy Spinning and Weaving, Tina

Friday, February 28, 2014

Slice of Life

I live in a very old house, and I spin on very old spinning wheels, and I weave on very old looms.  I am detecting a pattern aren't you!  I don't know what it is about the old things, Dear One teases me about being born in the wrong century.  It may be that I can feel the connection with history every time I sit down to spin or weave.  Or it could be the thrill I get when I learn a new skill, or handle a new fiber, especially the fibers that have been used for centuries like flax, and wool.

It centers me, the gentle whirring of the wheel, the creak of the treadle,  the rhythm of the loom.   I can think,  I can pray,  I can make plans for the days and weeks ahead, and trouble shoot any problems there might be.  When I arise I am a calmer, gentler,  and all around happier person.  That is why I love it!

I love living out here, just outside of the local towns, close enough to be convenient, far enough to be quiet and country like.  We love having family and folks out to our house to share a Sunday afternoon.  As the weather begins to warm up we are spending more time outside.

Last Sunday, we had 3 families with kids, a total of 16 people were at the house.  A friendly game of softball was underway when we noticed that we had an audience.  We have an unusual set of softball rules at our house, that have developed as the oldest grandson has grown up.  One of the longest standing rules is that if you get a hit, you run as fast as you can around the house.  If you can make it back to the front porch before you are hit with the wiffle ball, you have a home run.  Like I was saying, we noticed that we had an audience, that we were not expecting.

The market calves, all 10 of them, were lined up at the fence, watching the humans play the game.  I suppose this is the first time we have been outside in a "herd", since they have been in this field.  I had noticed that they have a habit of congregating  around the chicken pen, to watch the chicken channel at least once a day.  I ran into the house and grabbed the camera, I just had to get it on camera.


Next month, this batch of steers will be off to market, and then the new calves with their mom's will be in this field.  I do love watching the little ones running, and jumping around the field together.  Hmmm, It seems that I do as much cattle watching as they to  people watching!

Until next time, Happy Spinning and Weaving, Tina