Friday, May 27, 2011

I think they are stuck that way!

 I took these pictures, about 2 weeks ago, of the Nigerian Dwarf does that I have on the little farm.  I was sure that by the next day there would be little goat babies running around all over the place.



And yet, they still haven't given a single sign of upcoming labor.  They are both eating like there is no tomorrow,  and I can't see any progress by looking at their rears either.  They have however begun to "bag up" as they say. 

I have begun to get a little nervous, as these goats have been known to have up to 4 kids at a time!   I could possibly, though not probably, go from 4 goats to 12, in a matter of days!  What was I thinking!  It is more probable that they will both have twins, which is still doubling my herd.  Oh, well, all for a little milk in the pail.

Stay tuned for updates as soon as something happens.

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spinnin' Linen

My husband was out of town for a couple of days this week.  When he is gone I am like a wild woman rushing from one crafting thing to the next.

First I had the great fleece washing that Lou Ann helped me with, then at the same time we timed how long it took to put on our Inkle loom class project.

Then, well, really at the same time, I had every wheel I own out in the family room.  I am in the process of dedicating each wheel to a specific project.  I have a 5 wheels, and only the great wheel is unusable right now.  Here is what I came up with.

The Ashford Traditional will take over the Romney fleece that I have been working on.  I can still get 2 oz on a small Ashford bobbin, and ply onto the bigger  Louet bobbin.  The little treadle Spindle Wheel is going to be dedicated to spinning cotton, that I have finally figured it out.  It spins cotton so well I am thinking about selling  my takhili spindle, and my Spindolyn.  The Electric Spinner I am going to use to spin up the silk hankies I have.  I want to try my hand at making tassels, and I thought silk would make beautiful Tassels.  The Louet S-10 will be spinning up all that flax I was given a couple of weeks ago. Over 4 pounds of it!  I chose this wheel because it has a distaff. 

Here she is all loaded up and in action.  The distaff  is good for holding a large amount of flax, so that I have both of my hands free to draft the fibers.  I have run into a couple of problems however with the placement of this distaff in relation to the orifice.  You see, they are too close together!  The flax has, on occasion, tried to join the already spun linen as it is making it's way to the bobbin.  That just makes a mess!

Another problem I have run into is that the spun flax has to make a u-turn in my right hand and go back to the wheel.  This is will quickly give me very sore fingers!  I pondered on this problem for several days.  I did a search on free standing distaffs as well as the hand supported ones,  I wanted to see what they looked like.  I knew I wanted my hands to be free so the hand supported were not what I was looking for.  They are mainly  used with a Hand Spindle.  I started thinking that I could possible add a stand to this distaff.  I even went to a couple of the hardware stores looking for ideas.  I finally decided that I didn't want to spend any money on it right now so that I would have to come up with something with what I had at home.  You won't believe what I came up with!

I have several small G-clamps in the studio that have come in handy more than once.  I carefully clamped the existing distaff to the rocking chair that I like to sit in when I spin.

I now have a much improved pathway to the bobbin.  The flax is far enough away to not mix with the spun linen and it is a straight shot from distaff to orifice.  No extra wear and tear on my hands.

I am going to spin enough to weave some cloth.  I have been thinking about a couple of products I Could make with it. I could make spinning lap cloths to sell to spinners  or fabric to sell to re-enactors, for their garments.  We will see, it will be awhile before I have anything to show for it!

There is a ton of other stuff going on, I will post more later this week,

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A closer look

Here we are in the kitchen!  My daughter helped me move her in.
I oiled her up this morning, and she runs smoothly.  I need to replace the top tension spring or maybe even the whole piece, I have seen that online.
A closeup of the decal, I saw this called Pheasant/peacock.  I am not sure at all if that is correct, more research needed!  Yeah!
Front plate
Shuttle and bobbin!
Yet another bobbin winder
The drawer details, and treadle too for that matter.  There is another set of drawers on the other side.
I bought the center drawer on ebay, it should be here next week.  There are some attatchments included with the drawer, so I will not get any more til I see what there is.

The garden is looking good, I am doing weed control with my favorite claw like tool, almost every day.  I hope that if I spend 30 minutes or so every day I will work my way thru the garden in about a week and a half.  We shall see, the weeds usually win.

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Kid on the Block!

I sold my Knitting machine last week, and today I finally picked out my Treadle sewing machine.  The machine that you can see peeking out where the drawer is supposed to be, is a model number 27.  Made on April 10, 1901 in Elizabethport, New Jersey.  The machine is in really good condition, as is the cabinet.  It has some minor veneer problems that will be easy for the right person to fix.

I have to wait for my neighbor to come home, to help me get it out, or my daughter is coming in tomorrow sometime, so I can't show you more than this.

I have wanted a treadle machine for quite some time.  My motto on the Etsy shop is "Tromping old Treadles to make new Textiles".  I thought it would be cool to go foot powered all the way!

There are more machines where this one came from, so if you are in the area, and are interested, just let me know and I will point you in the right direction!

Oh, and I already found the drawer on ebay, I will bid on that tomorrow!

More later, until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taming the Wild Bobbin Winder!

Lou Ann has let me borrow this Bobbin Winder, it came with one of her loom purchases.  She isn't using it right now, and I thought that it might be something I could use to wind the pirns for my new end feed shuttles.

It has alot of extra washers and stuff on it so I took all that off.  This winder is homemade, and it has a yardage counter and everything!  I have used it before  when I was winding spools to use in sectional warping.  So I am familiar with it's problems.
1. It is loud
2. The motor wants to loosen the screws that hold it onto the board
3. It is all go right from the start, no half measures here!

I purchased these cute little rubber washers to place between the motor and the base.  Once I did that the motor was tight on the stand and did not loosen any more.  That takes care of number 2.  This also seemed to quiet the motor a little, working on number 1, but with the attatchment to mount the bobbins it is still a little noisy, and unbalanced I think.

Here is a very unexpertly wound pirn.  Be sure and notice the bit of t-shirt to make it fit on the attatchment.

I consider that it is pretty good really considering that this is what I see when the thing is in motion!  Try winding that evenly!!!!!

I even removed the attatchment and went straigh from the motor,  that took 2 bits of t-shirt.  Slight improvement but not wonderful.  It is however very fast, so I think it is time to take it with me to Weaving on Tuesday and see if Alan can work with it.  He is our fix-it guy!  I may see if we can fit it with a dimmer switch instead of the foot pedal so that the speed is variable.  That would take care of number 3!

4 wound pirns, not perfect, but quick!  It just needs a little TLC,  that's all!
Now let's go try out that shuttle!

Until next time, Happy Weaving, Tina

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Slow Fleece Finished

I started washing this fleece lock by lock on April 18th.  I soon discovered that there was so much old lanolin on it that I would have to do a soaking type of wash instead of the quick wash I was doing.

I began to soak it by the dishpan sized amount.  I  fill the pan with hot water, add a good amount of dawn detergent and then I just place the bit of fleece tip side down and let it sink in.  Then I set the timer for 30 minutes.  After the timer goes off, I use my hands like a rake and slowly move the fleece towards me in the pan, then I lift it out and squeeze it without twisting.

Start the hot water tap going right away, so that you don't get cold water on the wet fleece by mistake.  Fill the tub once again with hot water, (use gloves)  I even run some of the hot water thru the fleece in my hands and squeeze once again.  No Twisting!  Add dawn once again to the hot water, and slip the fleece again into the water and watch it expand to fill the space.

Next I repeat all that, but just use clear water for the rinse.  I am letting this batch soak right now as I am posting.  I may have to rinse one more time.  Once it is rinsed and squeezed that last time, I set out a towel or two, doubled.  Lay the fleece down, all tips to one side, in the middle of the towel.  Fold the two sides of the towel over the fleece, then roll it up like a jelly roll.  Take it upstairs and lay it on the sweater drying rack.  It will take about 24 to 48 hours for it to be dry.

Here is the rest of the fleece already dry and waiting for my to pack it away.  The bit to the right is the only felted bit, it was really too dirty for me to wash, but I thought I would try.

A close up of the oiled and combed ready to spin top.  Isn't it beautiful!

As I was pulling the  final bit of  fleece from the bag this morning I noticed that there was a name and wt on it.  Valrhonan, 2# 5oz.

I had been told that this was a shetland fleece so I did a search of a shetland sheep named Valrhonan. 

I found a sheep over on , though over there it is spelled Valrhona.  Who knows it just might be her!  She would get a little darker as the years went by, so this could be an early fleece.  I thought that was pretty cool!

It took me less than a month to wash this fleece, and for one week of that I wasn't even home!  I am really pumped about this, and I love the finished product so much more than what I got back from the professionals in the past.  I can't wait to start the next one!  Now that is a surprise!

Until next time,
 Happy Weaving, Spinning, Gardening, and Fleece Soaking, Tina

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Toys!

I was on pins and needles while I was sitting in the dentist chair early Tuesday morning.  Not because of the dental work that had to be done, but because I was going to get to go to the wonderful weaving group at the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center in Norris Tn.  I had missed two weeks and while I had a great time traveling, it is great to get home and to get back into the regular routine once again.

Another thing I had to look forward to was the endfeed shuttle that Carol said was in "my" bench.  It had come in with a load of weaving articles from a retiring weaver.  I was curious about whether it would match the other shuttle I had purchased just 2 weeks before.  Turns out it is the same size, but it takes a different type of pirn.  I will be able to pick those up a few at a time, maybe even on ebay at a good price.  If not I can still get them from AVL.

I wound a pirn with the linen I have been working with at the center.  I was getting ready to start a new towel and thought I would give it a try.  I did a good job winding the pirn and it really holds a lot, almost a whole towel worth!  I ran into trouble however, because I couldn't get the tensioning screw to do anything.  I ended up using my catching hand to tension, on the left to right pick, and giving a small tug on the right to left pick.  Definitely, not something I want to continue doing, but it did a really good job.  After some research on the AVL site, I found that this shuttle has a screw on the bottom that you can take out and put in the correct tensioning device.  The only thing is I don't have any of the tensioning devices!  I will be calling AVL in the next few days to see if I can purchase these seperately, I wasn't able to find them on the website.

Like I said, I had been gone a couple of weeks, and while I had been away, it seems that there was a lot of cleaning up.  As I approached "my" loom there were a couple of bags, with my name on them, on the bench and under the loom.  One of the bags had egg cartons, nothing new here.  I bring eggs to sell twice a month when the hens are cooperating.
In another bag however was a machine with a motor!  I could not believe my eyes!  It was and electric spinning machine.  (I had just seen one in a magazine and wondered what it would be like to use one!)  It wasn't until I got home however, and pulled it out of the bag, that I realized that it was a Clemes and Clemes, Electric Spinner.  The speed is highly adjustable, and it took me only  a couple of minutes to figure out how it works.  I oiled it like the instructions indicated, and started to spin.

I had pulled out my demo/teaching roving, and I could get it to spin, but it didn't seem to want to load onto the bobbin.  I realized that, I needed to adjust the drive band so that there was a loop around the bobbin as well.  I had never tried this kind of tensioning device before, but I found it pretty straight forward.

You can adjust the tension on the drive band by a wing nut located on the right hand side of the motor.  The speed is adjusted by a dial in the center.  It took a few minutes to figure out what speed I needed to use to spin my usual, but in the end, I figured it out.

Only one bobbin came with the Spinner,(there should be three) and I don't know if the Spinner came with the retiring weavers stash or if it was found during the clean up, so I will snoop around next week to see if I can find a stray Clemes and Clemes bobbin or two.  You just never know.
Since I had only the one bobbin, I decided to Andean Ply my small sample skein.  There are tutorials on Youtube on how best to wrap your hand, my only suggestion is to wrap loosely, or your finger will turn purple, don't ask.

Here it is my first sample skein on the electric winder.  A little rougher than ususal perhaps, but still for a first, I think it is passable.

An  interesting thing about the electric spinner is that, unlike the traditional wheel or spindle, it only goes in the direction you choose it to go in.  It might be a good teaching tool.  The new spinner could concentrate on just drafting for awhile, and then on treadling for awhile and then combine the two.  Just a thought.

There was still one more bag under "my" loom, with my name on it.  This bag contained about 4 lbs. of line flax!  You know those long thin flax fibers that you spin into linen!  I had just been thinking about finding a source for flax so that I could spin some singles and weave off some linen cloth to sell, in the form of towels, or possible the reenactors might be interested in some homespun and handwoven linen cloth.

I also went by and looked at some treadle sewing machines.  I think there were 20 there.  I did not get one, but as soon as my knitting machine sells I will get back in touch with the owner, and if she has any left, I will choose one then.

It was a day of surprises,  it was fun being back with the gang, and it was also fun finding so many cool things around my loom, I will try to get an idea next week of where it all came from.  

I am off to the garden this morning, we got the tomatoes in yesterday.  It has been so wet that my neighbor has not been able to get the garden disked for the second time.  We were thrilled to see Monday evening when we came home, that it was a blank page just waiting for us to get busy.  Today I will put in the first patch of corn, and put the herbs in that I got a couple of days ago.

That is it for now, until next time, Happy Weaving, Spinning, and Gardening, Tina

Friday, May 6, 2011

Memory Lane

I haven't posted for awhile and for good reason.  For a whole week, I was given the opportunity to walk down memory lane.  You see in 1985,  my husband and I and our 3 kids moved to Italy, to start a new life working among the Italian people.  We were excited and petrified all at the same time.  We spent our first year in Florence, (Firenze) to study the language.

It was hard, and there were many surprises along the way, including a new baby!  We stuck it out and after that year we felt comfortable with our language abilities and moved to Milan to start our career.  It was great and for 10 more years we laughed and cried our way thru the Italian culture, until we came to love it as our own.

We left Italy and came back to the states, to get our kids off to college, and we were able to do much the same sort of job, just with those who live in the USA.  At that same time we became aware of a group called Young Life.  It is a group that focuses on reaching teenagers with the love of Christ.  We began to get involved, working at the weekend camp, serving on the local committee, etc.  Soon DH was being asked to speak at Young Life fund raisers, and also to speak to groups of Young Life staff and volunteers, encouraging them in their ministries.  He even went to Spain a couple of times, and last year I was able to use my passport once again to join him on his Spain trip.

Then he was asked to come to Pisa, Italy, to encourage a group of people who work with the kids on our military bases overseas, MCYM.    This group is a partnership between Young Life and Youth for Christ,  they work together with the chaplains, reaching out to kids that are living a life we can only imagine.   He had done it last year, but that time it was in Germany.  They also asked if I could join him this year.  I was thrilled to be going back to Italy,  I was the only one in our family that had yet to return.

While we were there we were able to sneak off for an afternoon and revisit Florence.  We took a bus then a train to get there.  When we arrived, we took another bus to get to the section of town that we once lived in.  I was shocked at how much I did not remember!  I remembered our apartment, once we were right up on it, and I remembered the bridge that I swear had 100 steps on each side,( turns out there are only 40), and it was a lot cleaner than it used to be.( It used to be covered in what dogs leave behind, and other horrible things that challenged my morning sickness racked body)  We cried tears that we were too dazed to cry back then, and  we were amazed at how we had all gotten through it, and yet more than survived.  In only 2 1/2 hours we toured all the places we had been that long and difficult year.  We didn't need to go inside anything, (except for the Pizzeria and the Gelateria) we had already been there, we were content with the exteriors, just reminding us of our life back then.

Another day we toured "Le Cinque Terra", that we had heard so much about, it was indeed beautiful.  The last day we were there we, along with the group, went to visit a farm.  It is in the Tuscan hills, and they raise grapes for wine, and olives for olive oil.  We got the grand tour, and a wonderful meal, all with farm raised produce.  While we were there we met the caretaker of  the near by Brethren Retreat Center, Poggio Ubertini.  DH recognized him as one of the members of the church that we went to while we were in Florence that first year.  As he was telling us stories of the times long ago, I all of a sudden thought to myself, how in the world can I understand every word he is saying? ( You see In Italy, when the story teller is of a certain age they usually speak in dialect more times than not.  Each region of Italy has it's own dialect, and most of the time they are not anything like Italian.)  Then I remembered that since the Florentine dialect had become the Italian language when Dante wrote his "Divine Comedia", that the caretaker was speaking in dialect, it just happened to be the one I spoke too!

It is good to be home, good to run my fingers thru fibers once again, to see the looms sitting there ready for me to get over this jet lag and get to work already.  But I will approach my days, for just a little while with a fresh eye, and maybe just a hint of Italy.

A la prossima volta, Buona giornata a tutti, Tina