Monday, April 29, 2013

Shearing Day (photo intense)

Normally my shearer only does the camelids. I prefer shearing the sheep myself. Since I am still recovering from foot surgery (and my hubby has a very full work /school schedule) that just wasn't possible this year. So my shearer was kind enough to shear my sheep as well. I was hoping to get photos of everyone before and after their "haircuts" but that didn't happen. Turns out all available hands were needed so shearing would be done by dark.....which it wasn't. Headlamps were needed for the very last sheep.

The camelids were all sheared stretched out on a tarp. Fairly easy on the animal and very safe for the shearer. My hubby trimmed toenails while the shearer did his thing. My youngest was out and she was talking to each camelid as they were shorn. Helped calm them down and lower their stress levels. My job was to bag/label each fleece and clean the tarp between animals.

My oldest showed up as we were getting ready to shear the sheep. These were done inside the catch pen (which has been waiting for me to be back on my feet so it can be cleaned). I had never seen sheep sheared like this before. It was a rather unique approach. The shearer said this way was easy on the back. The sheep were all very cooperative and shearing went quickly.

We did gets lots of very beautiful fleeces this year. The Huacaya alpacas had incredible blankets! Large with nice length and lovely crimp. The blankets were so large that seconds and thirds weren't saved. The blankets from my two white suri alpacas were small but heavy. It will be interesting to see how much they weigh.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Don't believe everything you read.......

...........because it may not always be true. For example, I received a batch of wool back from the mill last week. The tag with it said gray. I kept looking at the fiber thinking " that's not gray. Looks brown to me." But the tag said gray. So I went with what the tag said all the time wondering what the brown fleeces I had sent in was going to look like when they finally came back from the mill. Got my answer yesterday. They look exactly like the 'gray' fleeces I had sent in! Apparently someone at the mill cannot tell the difference between brown and gray Shetland fleeces.....and I shouldn't believe everything I read, especially when it leaves me feeling perplexed and wondering if I had messed up somehow. Kinda took a bit of the joy out of getting fiber back from the mill though.

The gray fleeces I had sent in some time ago arrived back home yesterday in the form of some very lovely LIGHT GRAY roving. The Shetland was courtesy of my girls Carrie, Sophie, and Oreo. It was blended with a gray Huacaya Alpaca blanket. It's lovely to spin and so incredibly soft.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fresh from the Mill!!

It arrived!! My fiber finally arrived.....and it is absolutely lovely!! I had sent in a couple of my gray Shetland fleeces (Carrie, Oreo, Sophie) and had it blended with a gray alpaca blanket that I had purchased. The resulting fiber is a lovely warm brownish- gray with some subtle color variation within. It's very soft and spins like a dream. It practically drafts itself! It's so pretty that I simply had to give it a try.

I spun up a handful on one of my akha spindles. Sheer perfection!! A little about the spindle itself. It weighs about 13 grams and measures 8 1/2" from tip to end.The shaft is poplar (with some unique markings).......the whorl is basswood.....the tip is silver. It's been hand rubbed with a combination of bees wax and orange oil. Really brought out the color and grain of the basswood.

The tip is something new I've been playing with. Wasn't real sure how it would work with it being blunt. I kept thinking that the blunt tip would create too much friction and slow the spindle down. Was I wrong. Spins like a little Tasmanian devil! Gives it just enough weight to sustain the spin a bit longer but not too much to where it slows the spin down. Makes for a perfect little spindle.

Now for the shameless plug for my etsy shop: the new akha spindle and fiber will be available for purchase next week.

UPDATE: turns out that this roving is the result of the brown fleeces I had sent in some time ago. The Shetland is compliments of Willow (light morrit), Gracie (fawn), and Angus (fawn katmoget) . It was blended with a chocolate brown Suri Alpaca blanket. You can read all about my mistake in my post "Don't believe everything you read...."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Russian Neck Warmer

I've a fascination with all types of lace with Shetland being my favorite. Orenburg, Estonian.....I love it all. A pattern came up for testing on the Orenburg Lace forum on Ravelry. It was "advertised" as being a great starting point for learning how to do Orenburg lace. I followed the test thread with great interest and promptly purchased the pattern as soon as it became available.

I used a handspun Targhee yarn (about a dk weight) on size 9 (5.5mm) needles. Once I figured out what I was doing it was a wonderful knit. It was just enough to become familiar with how Orenburg lace is knit and how to read the charts for it. I did run out if yarn with only 7 "teeth" (edging) left, but simply unraveled my swatch and knit from that.

My neck warmer still needs to be washed, blocked, and buttons added ( once I find the perfect ones). Here it is in all it's unblocked glory. There is even a photo of the top that was used to spin the yarn.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I'm 4 weeks post-op and am starting to find it a bit challenging to sit still like I should be. The better I feel the more I want to be up and doing things. To keep me busy (and still) I've been spinning like crazy. Finished up 4 new skeins of yarn this week. My hubby has been absolutely wonderful in making sure I have everything I needed at hand. He even set the twist for me. =}

The first photo is of the Royal Peruvian Suri top that I was given. This was spun on my two Siberian made Russian spindles. There is about 222 yards in the skein (which weighs about 7/8 of an ounce) and it is about a light fingering/lace weight. I haven't done the WIP on it so I'm guesstimating the weight. It's got a beautiful halo to it and is super soft. I will be knitting it up into a lace scarf. Already have the pattern picked out. Just need to buy a new set of needles.

The second photo is of a super wash merino blend. I don't remember everything that is in it. I purchased 4 ounces of this last year and have been slowly spinning it up on support spindles. This skein weighs little over an ounce and has approximately 318 yards. It is also a light fingering weight. This skein will join the other skein that is already done. I won't decide on a project for it until all the fiber is spun up.

The last two photos are of a sample of hand dyed BLF top that I received with a fiber order. The sample was two different colors. I really didn't care for them together so decided to spin the colors separately. I ended up with two small skeins ( one with 30 yds - one with 40 yds) that will work nicely together in a small project. Maybe a sweater or small shawl for a teddy bear.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Vintage USSR Russian Spindle

Here is my latest spindle acquisition.....a vintage Russian spindle! I saw this on eBay and simply had to have it. It is just as lovely in person as it was in photos. Spins like a dream. Here it is "dressed" in a lovely hand-dyed BLF roving.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spinning, spinning, and more spinning

That's what I've been doing.....and lots of it. It's week #3 post-surgery for me. Still dealing with swelling and "discomfort" which means lots of time spent in my chair with my foot elevated (and icing). I needed a break from knitting so my hubby pulled out a few of my support spindles and some fiber.

The first picture is a merino/sea cell/silk/and-I-don't-remember-what-else blend. Love the colors and the blend. I've been spinning it up in 1/2 oz. increments then plying. It's turning into a very lovely 2-ply light fingering weight yarn.

The second photo is of some royal suri alpaca top (from Peru) that was gifted to me. There was 7/8 oz. total. So I decided to split the roving in half and spin it up using my Russian spindles from Siberia. It was an amazing spin!! This will be plyed after I'm finished with the green.

The last photo is of my Svan spindle (based on a support spindle used in Georgia ...the country). I'm spinning a suri alpaca/ bamboo blend on it. It's been a fun spin for the most part. From time to time I will come upon a spot where the bamboo isn't the easiest to draft. A little bit of patience has been getting me through these not so fun spots. Thankfully it doesn't happen very often.