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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It Just Happened

I totally didn't mean to do it, but you would have done the same thing, if you were me!  It all started when I happened to check Craigslist, just for giggles you know.  (I really should stop doing that!)  There she was, one of the spinning wheels I have been keeping and eye out for, one of the early tilt tension wheels made in Canada in the mid 1850's and 60's, by Jeremie Ouellet.

 The price was right on, thought the pictures were not the greatest.  I called this morning to see if the wheel was still available, and it was.  I roped Lou Ann into going with me after weaving.  We set off for a quick trip to the mountains about 1 hour away.  We only had to call the seller once when I wasn't sure which driveway I should take.

We were warmly welcomed by Tommy and Paula, and we sat and chatted for an hour before we even got around to talking about the wheel!  They had bought it a couple of years ago at an auction, and had admired it since then, though neither of them spin!  We finally got around to discussing the wheel, and they asked me if I wanted to try it out.  Of course I did!  They already had a drive band on, and I had brought some roving to use.

I found the bobbin stiff on the mandrel and the yarn was a little sluggish on the uptake, but I think that will be fairly easy to take care of.  I know some tricks!

Tomorrow it is supposed to snow a lot in the valley, if it does, I know what I am going to be doing all afternoon.

Until next time, Happy Spinning and Weaving, Tina

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Double Flyer Wheel in Action

After I posted a couple of pictures to Ravelry "Antique Wheels Group", one of the members asked if this wheel was a "Schippertje" or Barge Wheel.  Well you know that sent me searching the internet!  Turns out this is a Dutch wheel that was used on the barges that travelled along the canals in Holland and Germany in the 19th Century!  I was thrilled to have so much information in such a short time!

I asked my weaving buddy Lou Ann if she would video me spinning on the wheel during our Tuesday Weavers show and tell.  I had hoped to post it to Ravelry, but I can not figure that out!  I then remembered that I could post it here and then do a linkydink!

After practicing all day yesterday, between laundry and bread making, I did pretty good, and at least looked like I knew what I was doing.


Until next time Happy Spinning, Tina

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Unusual Wheel

I got a new wheel this afternoon.  You might think that this is just like any other wheel that I have, but you would be wrong!  This wheel is a double flyer wheel possibly from Germany, but definitely from the 19th century.

She has had some repair work done to her.  The right hand flyer is a more recent replica of the left hand flyer.   The treadle has had some work done to it and the top of the 3 piece distaff is a replacement as well.
 I have had my left hand in training for about a month.  It is really hard to get it to work as easily as my right hand.  As soon as the wheel got here this afternoon, I set her up.  She had been packed up really well, and labeled very well.  It took only about 10 minutes to put her all together, and before you know it I was treadling.  I treadled for about 10 minutes, to get the feel of her, and I oiled all the necessary places so that she was running smoothly, before I started trying to spin anything on her.
Surprisingly, I was having trouble with the right hand flyer at first, until I figured out that the tension was greater on that side.  Once I got that fixed, it went much better.
 I have successfully spun with both flyers going simultaneously, but I am  still much better one at a time.  It will just take a little bit of practice, and maybe a slightly different fiber presentation, this flax was a little too loose.
She will be going with me to the Museum of Appalachia when I demonstrate, and talk to the public.  They always love to see these wheels spin, and are intrigued with the process.  Now I have a wheel that looks the part.

Until next time, Happy Spinning, Tina

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Back!

I've been gone a long time.  Not just gone from blog land, but gone from my home, my Husband, and all the things that make me, well, me!  Last year I spent the better part of 3 months in Ghana helping my daughter.  She was adopting two wonderful little boys, and she needed someone there with her, to help her take care of the everyday kinds of things, while she bonded with them and waited for all the documentation to be finished and their visa's to be granted.

I had gone in early spring for a couple of weeks, and the plan was for me to spend a month with her starting in mid September.  As soon as I got there, however,  I saw that even though she could have done it on her own, it would be much better for someone to be there with her until the story was complete.  The trouble was, there was nobody lined up to take my place!  So, I did what any mother would do, I told her I wasn't leaving until she did.

I won't go in to all the details, but I was there for 10 weeks, which by the way is nothing compared to her 5.5 months!   We had a good place to stay, (although water was iffy a lot of the time) and access to our normal foods, so we were comfortable physically, but we were really uncertain how long it was going to take, in fact, by the time we had gone through all the months of uncertainty that you need to go through to do this, we could hardly believe it when they told us that the boy's visas were approved.  In fact we really did not believe that we were going to be able to get on that plane that we had booked, for  Thursday, the week before Thanksgiving.  It wasn't until Thursday morning at about 10:30, when she texted me that she had the visas in hand, that we actually knew that we were on our way home.

We couldn't believe it when we were on our way to the airport.  We couldn't believe it when we boarded the plane, and we couldn't believe it when we touched down in New Jersey, while gazing down at Americas newest citizens who, at that time, were taking a much needed nap.  We had several hours in Newark, where the boys had fun playing with another two year old, this time a little girl.  They played for the better part of 2 hours, and then all 3 crashed, ready for a nap, just before we were due to take the final leg of our journey home.

We were met by our husbands, and the other set of Grandparents, and we had a very few moments to gather our things, and say goodbye, as I was going one way, and they were going in a different direction.  They were going to drive the 2 hours home, my daughter was determined to not spend another night in a strange bed, and she wanted the boys to wake up in their new home right from the start.  Dear One and I, however were 6 hours away from home.  He had wisely gotten us a room, and after a quick dinner, I took the first long hot bath I had had in quite awhile, and we fell asleep together for the first time in 2.5 months.  We made our way home uneventfully the next day.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't say to myself, and to Dear One, "I am so glad to be home!"  There are also very few days that He hasn't said, "Have I told you how glad I am to have you home?"   I have been back for almost 2 months now, and quite frankly until early this week, all I have wanted to do was spin on my spinning wheels.  That is it!  I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I didn't want to do many chore type things, or see people, or cook, or even take walks.  So, that is what I did, I sat and I spun a whole fleece into yarn.  That is a lot of yarn!

Early this week, though, I got up, and I spread up the bed.  (not too unusual really)  Then, when I finished in the bathroom, I wiped it down with a wet wipe that is stored in the closet.  Hmmmm,  I thought, that is interesting.  I made my way to the laundry room and without having to think about it, I threw in a load, just like I used to!  Then to the kitchen where with coffee in hand,  I  cleared off the small kitchen table, that had become a magnet for all sorts of things, and rearrange it to make a really nice place to sit and have some tea.  In short, I was beginning to feel like myself again.

I still haven't gotten upstairs to the looms yet, but that will come, all in good time.

Until next time, when I will hopefully have some new pictures of weaving,  Tina