Saturday, December 10, 2016

Looking Forwards Not Backwards

I was looking back over the last couple of posts, and I realize that I am  a distracted and disorganized crafter.  I have so many irons in the fire that the fires are all about to go out from neglect.  The rug loom that I saved from the elements is standing in the corner waiting, the Nigora fleeces are still unwashed, and there is many looms and spinning wheels that have been under utilized this year.   In my defense, this has not been a good crafting year, surgeries and family life have kept me from the Studio all year long.

I decided last week to mentally go through all the things that I like to do, to see if I can cull anything. Here is my list of crafts with the tools:
Spinning (5 spinning wheels + various spindles)
  Fiber prep (combs, carders, etc)
Knitting (Knitting needles galore)
Weaving (4 floor looms, 1 table top and 2 converted band loom)
and the new arrival,
Bobbin lace ( 2 lacemaking pillow, and lots of bobbins)

This list does not include the books, yarns and fleeces that go along with these crafts.  You may notice that I have not taken up Dye(ing), I just do not have the time or room to go into that sport. (Though I do have an indigo dye kit from Dharma that is awaiting next summers warm weather)  I can't bear to give any of it up just yet.

Just recently I have been able to get to some spinning, weaving and a bit of lace, but I am hoping to be able to do even better in 2017.  In the past I have found that a good Studio reorganization day or two does wonders for my creative energies, (a custom baby blanket order doesn't hurt either), I usually find things I had forgotten about,  yarns, old project ideas,  and new inspiration. So as my thoughts turn towards the new year,  I think that is what I will do, and  I may not wait until January!

Parting shot, new bobbin lace project, just getting ready:

Until next time, Keep on Crafting, Tina

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bert 2016

Bert is one of my Nigora boys, he is the only white one that I have, and he is also one of the first to shed out in the spring.  I finished getting fleeces of the goats months ago, but I am just now getting around to washing them.

Part of the hold up is that unlike wool, which you wash and then lay out to dry undisturbed, you have to fluff Nigora as it drys or you end up with a lump that stays that way.  Monday I decided that it was time to do at least one of the fleeces.  I picked the first one I came to, and that would be Bert.  It was a big fleece as Nigoras go, and I separated it out into 3 laundry mesh bags and set to work washing it, it isn't hard to do, I use my spin dryer between all the washes (2) and rinses (2) and it is quickly time to lay the fleece onto the drying rack.  About then I realized that I had washed way too much fleece for my time constraints!  What to do?

I ended up fluffing for several hours that day, leaving the bags in the last rinse water to stay wet.  I continued in this manner until over a period of 3 days, I was able to get all the fleece fluffed up to finish drying.

Then last afternoon evening, I went through the fleece again, making sure I had all or most of the vegetable matter out of it, then I put it all into a pillow case.  Would you believe the pillow case is only half full?

It really packs down into a seemingly small amount!  I am hoping to have enough fleece to send off to be de-haired this year, I have tried doing it by hand but even though it is easy, even pleasant to do, it takes a really long time!

I think I will wash a sheep fleece today!

Keep on Crafting. Tina

Friday, July 29, 2016

2 Extremes

 I took part in a Roving to Shawl competition a couple of weeks ago, and for the shawl that we made, I was required to spin much a thicker, lower twist single ply yarn than I had spun in a long, long time.  I was a little nervous about it, and I must say that even though we came in last place I was thrilled that I was able to make the yarn I set out to make, instead of putting up with making my usual yarn.  To celebrate this new found liberty, I have been spinning up the roving that we had left over from the competition, into nice thick low twist singles.

I plan to make more scarves along the lines of the competition shawl, well at least using the same colors.

This week I have also been putting my Grandmothers cotton carders to  good use and I have carded up almost all of the ginned cotton that I have on hand, and I have been spinning it on my small Indian book Charkha that I recently picked up on a Ravelry destash.

Cotton is spun much finer and at an incredibly high twist, the total opposite of the wool I have recently been spinning, it is fun to stretch my skills in opposite directions everyday.  Yesterday afternoon, I emptied the one bobbin on my Canadian Production Wheel, and I decided that was going to try to spin some commercially prepped cotton sliver on this, my fastest wheel.  Luckily, I have been practicing for the last 2 weeks or so on spindles and the charka, and gaining a lot of experience in how cotton likes to be spun.  I had to figure out how to do it on a wheel that has flyer and a bobbin, and that has a pull towards the bobbin, instead of a spindle that has no pull at all!  Once I got it, I didn't want to stop!  Zoom, Zoom as they say!

I found myself stopping to spin a few minutes through the evening, and early this morning I was again drawn to the wheel, like I haven't been in awhile.  I plan to use this handspun cotton as weft in some upcoming projects, so I need to get a lot of it spun while I am emptying the looms of current projects.

That is it for today's post, Until next time, Keep Crafting, Tina

Friday, July 22, 2016

Grandma's Cotton Cards

I have recently taken on the task of learning how to spin cotton, I posted about it last week on The Tuesday weavers blog, "Loomy Tunes".  After I posted I remembered that I had my Grandma's cotton carders in the Studio, and I went looking for them.

I found them easily, and I decided to use them to card some seed cotton that I had just finished ginning. (getting the seeds out!)

I charged one of the carders.

I carded the cotton lint until it was happy with it.

I unloaded the cards.

I used the knitting needle to compress the cotton lint into a puni, the cotton version of a rolag.

This orange thread 20/2 size is my spinning guide,  I would like to use this handspun cotton as weft on an upcoming weaving project.

I love using these cards for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost they have family history, my Mom can remember using them to make cotton batts to put in the many quilts my Grandmother made, and they work a lot better than the newer ones I had borrowed from the Weavers at Norris.

Until next time, Keep on Crafting, Tina

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Little Progress

I have made a very small amount of progress this week on the rug loom.  There are just too many other things screaming for my attention.

I have here all of the treadles, the front beam and the little treadle spacers, they have been sanded once.  My plan is to get everything thru the first sanding then move on from there.  I am cleaning the nuts and bolts as I go with Krud Kutters product.  (I like it!)

It is really hard for me to not just slap the loom together and get weaving, but I am going to stay strong, it is a bit like growing out bangs.   After months of managing the grow out phase, they irritate you for just a second and bam, you cut off 6 months growth in a nano second, then beat yourself up because you gave in.  (I am doing that too, the growing not the cutting!)

Today, I ran errands and one of those was to get some 1x6's to build a compost bin.  I have a lot of barn waste to deal with in the winter time.  In the past I have put it in piles and it was assimilated into the surrounding landscape.  This year I thought I would do things differently,  I went to the Lee Valley Hardware website, and I ordered, over the last month or two, 3 sets of compost brackets.  Once you have your brackets, you purchase 10, 8ft boards that are 1x6in, I had the friends in the big box store cut them all in half.

Once home, you construct the bins by placing the boards in the brackets and you end up with a really nice looking compost bin that is only lacking a cover, which I plan to get to sometime soon.  It looks really nice and it does a wonderful job of keeping it all contained.  I bought the 3rd and finally one today, and I went ahead and got the lumber.  Once the brackets arrive I am all set to put it together and turn some compost!

This time of year, I don't feed any hay, so that I only have goat berries to rake up in the morning, some mornings, like yesterday morning, there are 5 gallons worth!  I have started bagging it up in 2 gallon increments and I will take it along to the weaving center for some lucky gardeners to use.

That is about it for today, I hope all is well in your house, keep on crafting, Tina

Friday, July 8, 2016

Land of No Return

The last week has been full of visiting with out of town Children and Grandchildren, so not a whole lot of Studio work got done.  But, I did manage to wash that old loom down, and decide how much I was going to do to refurbish it.  I had a choice,  I could have just left it cleaned from dust and dirt, cleaned off the rust and set it up to weave. (That is my normal MO!)  But this time the finish on the  front half of the loom was totally ruined, so I made the decision to go down to bare wood.  EEEK!

I worked on it a little bit today, I started with the front treadle beam and treadles and the breast beam.  I had already gotten rid of the dust and dirt, but the wood was almost grey, and when I had put a little of the Danish oil on it to see what it looked like, it was not going to look good at all, so I went out and bought some sand new paper and some fresh Danish oil.

 I am in the process of taking off the treadle eye bolts so that I can get to that beautiful wood.  They will be freed from rust, and put back to good use.  This is going to take awhile, but I think it will be well worth it!

You may be able to see that the treadle on the far left has been sanded.   I used coarse paper, and it will get 2 more passes, one with medium paper and one with fine paper.  I can't wait to get the Danish oil on it, but I am trying to be patient.

I did just a bit on the breast beam, and then it was time to fix our lunch and take the rest of the day off.
Next week I hope to take down the little Cambridge loom that is in the weaving studio, I ran out of steam last week and just couldn't do it.  Once it has gone back to the Annex at the Center, I will have room to move the new Cambridge in, as each piece is finally refinished.

I will continue to post updates on this loom restoration project as it progresses.  I am in the middle of fleece washing too, this month 4 shetland, 1 Jacobs and some of this years 8 Nigora fleeces.

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On the Porch

Early this morning, I was sipping my coffee, and following my usual morning couch reading, when I looked out the window at first light.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing, so I got up and turned the light off in the family room, and I tried to sneak over to the door to get a better view to confirm my suspicions.

No doubt about it, Mouse, the black cat was snoozing on the fleece drying racks surrounded by white fleece.

It becomes apparent to me that until we get the porch screens up, the fleeces will have to be dried indoors!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

Monday, June 27, 2016

Oh the Dust, oh the Rust, oh the Dry, Dry Wood!

Yesterday, I was looking at my week and it was going to be full of grandchildren, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  By the evening however, the week had substantially changed.  Cousins visiting cousins elsewhere, kids doing overnights at friends houses, chores getting done earlier than expected. All these things worked together to have only Monday evening and Friday afternoon with the kiddos.   That is quite a change, and it sometimes leaves me wondering what I am going to do, since I had not planned anything.

I quickly of course came up with a plan.  I washed a bit of one of the Museum of Appalachia's fleeces, and when I had gotten it done and my drying racks were full, I decided that I wanted to go on an errand that has been at least 1 year in the making, possible 2 years.

Very near the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center there is an antique store, one of the big ones!  More than a year ago, I saw a 4 harness Cambridge floor loom out on the front stoop, exposed to the weather.  At the time I was not interested in it,  I had more than enough looms, one of which was a 4 harness Cambridge,  so I passed it by, wondering how it was going to make it out in the elements.

Several months later I went thru a period of loom removal, for some reason I did not want any loom in my house that did not belong to me.  I may also be because I had 7 floor looms of all shapes and sizes.  I quickly got down to a reasonable 3 floor looms and I was happy.
I would still see that loom now and again and be so sad to see it in the heat and rain, fading, drying out and rusting, but I did not need a rug loom.

Notice the crank on the back beam!

Then about 2 or 3 months ago, I read a blog about a weaver who wove these really nice rugs, and I started to get interested in rag rug weaving again.  I thought about that loom, but I thought that it would be in really bad shape by now, just in case though, my friend Lou Ann and I went by to look at it.  It was rusty and dusty and dried out.  However, there was nothing warped and it was strong and sturdy, it was also 4 harness with the treadles mounted in the front, which is how I like them to be.  Still I thought, this rug thing might be short lived, I'll just borrow the "tiny" Cambridge we have at the Center in the annex, and take care of this silly rug weaving notion.

I did that the very next Tuesday, and I had that little loom up and running within a day or two.  It needed some adjustments, but all in all it is a nice little loom.  I rummaged through my stash of t-shirts and came up with several color combinations, and I basically had so much fun, I was sad when the warp was finished!

The Small Cambridge is a nice little loom, but that's just it, it's little.  It is too narrow to weave any wider than a 27/28 inch width.  So, I thought again about the full size Cambridge at the Antique store, and I made up my mind.

I texted Lou Ann this morning and I said, IF the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition and IF the seller will come down to my price, I would go get that loom today.  Those are 2 pretty big ifs, and I was not sure at all how it was going to go.

Long story shortened just a bit, the loom is not in terrible irreparable condition, and the seller did come down to my price!  I took the poor loom apart and loaded it into the pickup truck I had brought just in case, and raced home to beat the possible rain this afternoon.

Dear One was home when I got there and he laughed when he saw the loom, and then he helped me move it onto the front porch to get it out of the sun and rain.

Rusty heddles and bars

12 dent reed
Here are the rusty heddles and and there are rusty nuts and bolts too, but they are not badly pitted.

I was sure this was going to be a 15 dent reed, they always are when I get a loom, but this one is a 12 dent!

 The breast and back beam really need some attention.  I will wash off all the dust, lightly sand and then slather on the Danish oil.

This is one of the uprights, dry and cracked.

Here is the underside of the treadles, and this is where I get a glimmer of hope, I know that  once I have washed, sanded and Danish oiled, all this dry wood, it is going to gleam!

I have heard of a product at Home Depot that is supposed to work wonders on rusty metal, you can be sure I will be checking that out later on this week.  All of the cords of course will need replacing after their months in the sun, and I will be double checking cord lengths all around.

This afternoon, I will be taking apart the small Cambridge loom that is up in the Studio and bringing it down to go to the Center tomorrow.   I will then be moving the big Cambridge up there, with a little bit of shuffling of looms of course, to take it's place.

Looks like my week will be busy after all!

Until next time, Happy Crafting, Tina

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