Friday, May 30, 2014

Another sunny day.....

....perfect for dyeing fiber. I'm slowly making my way through my dye inventory. I must have at least 40 different colors...if not more. I've always wanted to go through my dyes and dye each color up. For one reason or another it never got done...until this year! This is batch #2 - mostly blues and greens. Not as vibrant looking as the first batch. Top photo is a front view.....bottom photo a back view.

Here are the results of batch #1. Everything got rinsed yesterday. Wish I would have been under cover then. We had stormy skies with quite a bit of wind. I usually prefer to lay everything out flat to dry. Was too windy for it. Had to roll it up instead so it wouldn't get blown all over the yard. It will stay out today to insure it's totally dry before being brought in. Love how it turned out. Only one dye broke (second on the left back row next to the yellow). I think that was periwinkle.

Got a Suri blanket and some Suri seconds blown out last night. They are now ready for washing. I have a couple more Suri blankets I hope to get blown out tonight...and hopefully the llama blanket from my guardian llama. That should keep me busy washing fiber for the next few long as the weather holds.

For those of you that are curious, my hubby made me a set of screens a few years back. These screens allow me to sandwich my fiber between them. They are held together with clamps at the corners. An air compressor is used to blow out the fiber. It gets rid of at least 90% of the dust plus smaller pieces of vegetation while keeping the lock structure in tact, for the most part anyway. Sure cuts down on the number of rinses needed since most of the dust has already been removed.

Edited for better photos.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fiber Fun

The days are longer, the temperatures warmer. This is the time of the year when all I think about is playing with fiber. The last couple of days have been stormy, but today the clouds gave way to sunshine....and I took advantage of it.  I love it when my fiber play is "green". 

Washed a bit of alpaca from one of my white Suri boys.....freshly shorn locks....

.....washed and dried outside.....

......finger fluffed and ready for blending with some lovely Shetland.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Opinion Needed

For all you spinners out there, your opinion is needed. My hubby bought two fleeces from my shearer the year before last. The shearer thought they were both Leicester Longwool. I had pulled a few handfuls of locks from the top of one bag, washed and spun it....then never got back to the fleeces. Was going through my Shetland fleeces when I came across these two fleeces. I opened them up on a tarp and now I'm not sure what to do with them. What would you do with them? Would you painstakingly sort through them and wash them? (Knowing I have at least two dozen Shetland and alpaca fleeces to go through. Apparently I was really sidetracked last year because fleeces from last spring's shearing haven't been done yet.) Or would you cut your losses and put them on the compost pile? I don't remember it as being the softest of fleeces....

Fleece #1: this is actually a very dark brown...almost black...with light tips. Areas of really lovely locks with a nice defined crimp. Long staple length.

Fleece #2:  also dark brown in color. Not near as long as fleece #1. Also has the light colored tips. The crimp is looser in most areas.

Close up of fleece #1. I hope this shows the lock structure okay.

Close up of fleece #2. This area had some defined lock structure and crimp. Most of the fleece is a looser lock structure and crimp.

A sample of fleece #1 that has been washed and is outside drying. Both fleeces are incredibly dirty and not so pleasant smelling.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring has Sprung!

This little guy was enjoying the warmer temps on a hollyhock leaf.
One of two lilac bushes I have that produce purple and white flowers. Somebody had given us the starts for both bushes years ago. I'm sure they started out as two separate bushes but morphed into one over time.

Columbine is just starting to bloom.

Flax. Such beautiful flowers on a delicate, wispy plant. The blooms last a single day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Pasture (lots of photos!)

Mother's Day was spent putting up temporary fence for a new pasture for the flock. We've been wanting to do this for quite some time. This year we finally had the time (and $) to start fencing a bit more of our land in. While the permanent fence is being done, the flock can enjoy fresh pasture with the aid of temporary fencing. And enjoying it they were!

Caught in mid-roll! Porthos was laying down all over the place and simply enjoying the lushness of his new pasture. It was quite comical to watch. I think he spent more time throwing himself to the ground than he did browsing.  =)

Ever wonder what a happy alpaca looks like? Like this!   =)

And this is my view from my backyard.....heavenly!


Shearing was last Saturday. Our shearing crew this year was minimal.....the shearer, my hubby, and myself. We had rain move in the night before so my hubby and I were outside getting everyone under cover when the storm hit. We were soaked, but the sheep stayed dry....which was the important thing. Shearing went real well. Lots of beautiful fleeces this year. Only my two white Suri boys were shorn. The rest of the camelids were still on the short side so they only had their toe nails clipped. As for shearing photos.....these will have to do. 

Seconds from the Suri boys. This went on the compost pile. I opted to only keep blankets this year (which weighed about 4 lbs. each!). I even gave half a blanket to the shearer for his wife (who is also a spinner).

Wool from the sheep that went on the compost pile. I'm sure a bit more will be added to this as I skirt the fleeces. This is leg and belly fiber.

All 11 fleeces bagged and tagged ready for skirting....which I will start on next week weather being nice. I will be processing a couple myself this year. The rest will be grouped according to color and sent off to the mill.

Newly shorn sheep. All the sheep looked wonderful! And they were so happy to finally be rid of their winter coats.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Today's Experiment.... making rolags on my drum carder. I tend to get sidetracked quite a bit, especially when I read about a technique that I've never done before. I'll start by either reading or hearing about it. Then I might look at a photo tutorial...or two. If it really interests me I will watch a video.....or two....or three. Anything after two videos you know I've been sucked down the rabbit hole.   :)   I was definitely sucked down the rabbit hole this time. Good thing we had stormy skies for most of the day. It allowed me to practice making rolags from my drum carder. Wish I had a pretty basket to display them in....

Boy, did I have fun!!!! I ended up making about 33 rolags.....3 1/2 ounces in all. I used some Shetland top I had laying around. I used black and white. Ran it through the drum carder twice before making rolags with it. It was just enough to blend the two colors while still retaining a bit of color striation. I even made a mini rolag from the carder waste and spun up a sample skein on my drop spindle. Since my spinning wheel is in use (spinning for a sweater) I will be spinning the rolags using my Navajo spindle. I wonder how quick of a spin it will be watching all those rolags disappear?  :)

P.S. Watching videos on making rolags using the drum carder gave me a real bad case of new drum carder lust. So much so that I'm now saving up for one.  :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Saltbox Sampler - update

A quick post to share today's accomplishment. My Saltbox Sampler top is finished!!! (Doing the jig of joy.)  This is huge! I've spent months working on this top and I can hardly believe that it's done. I followed the pattern....for the most part. There have been small changes along the way ...such as fabric changes and slight placement variations. The biggest change is in the bottom left hand corner. On the sample quilt shown on the pattern the maker's name and year completed are appliqu├ęd here, along with a plain hand. I really didn't want my name displayed on the front so I decided to put a large heart there with a hand/heart motif on each side. I think it's fits in with the rest of the quilt very nicely. 

Now to get my backing sewn together and the layers sandwiched so I can start on the machine quilting.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Spinning Project

It's that time of year when I seem to be on a never-ending hunt for the perfect spring sweater/cardigan.   I have a few shawls I've knit but I just haven't quite gotten the hang of wearing them just yet. Plus I'm still on the hunt for that perfect shawl pin. So I've decided that it's time to knit a few spring sweaters for myself.....and have started spinning yarn for one.

The rovings pictured are Shetland (creamy white on top left) and a Shetland/alpaca blend (grey and brown). All the fiber, with the exception of the grey alpaca, came from my fiber flock. I'm spinning a single from each of the three colors, then plying the singles together.

The end result is this. A true 3-ply sport weight yarn. This is my sample skein. There's approximately 115 yards. Once I decide on a pattern I will knit a swatch to see how the yarn knits up. Haven't found the pattern yet. I plan on spinning up around 1500 - 2000 yards to ensure I have plenty of yardage for when I do find that perfect pattern. Good thing I have plenty of roving  (pounds!).  :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Full Fleece

Shearing is a couple days away. So I took advantage of the break between storms to get a few last full fleece photos of those who were willing to pose. The first is of Raven. She is the only one that has a primitive flleece. When she was younger her outer coat was a deep black. It has slowly lightened over the years. Her undercoat is still dark though. Makes for some very pretty yarn when the two are spun together. She was the first ewe to give Max a very friendly greeting.  It will be wonderful to see lambs from her again. She has such beautiful lambs and passes on some very desireable traits.

Trixie is always a stunner when in full fleece. Her britch grows so long that it's nearly touching the ground. Her fleece is lovely to spin even if it's a strange mix of primitive and intermediate. She's got a rather square compact body and tends to look like a lamb when she has been sheared. She, too, was very friendly with Max. She's never had lambs so I can't wait to see what she produces.

Willow is from Raven. She has a beautiful dense fleece that I love working with. It's an intermediate fleece for the most part. She's light on top and a darker moorit color underneath. She's never had lambs and has absolutely no interest in Max. I hope that changes come fall. I would love to have lambs from her. It will be interesting to see if she produces a horned ewe like herself.

Another beautiful shot of Raven. Shows her coloring off. She has a very dense fleece which she passed on to her lambs.

A rare shot of my guardian llama. He usually goes the other way when he sees the camera. He has lovely fiber. Very soft. His tail belies his age. It was black but has slowly changed to silver over the years. 

As I was out taking pictures a bit of a tussle broke out by the stock tank. Seems Jack and Casa were arguing over who would drink first. Happens from time to time. There was lots of noise and spitting. Some neck wrestling. It ended with both of them walking away best of friends again. And neither one had taken a drink. They can be such kids at times.  :)