Tonight's sunset looked like something out of a classical painting.....so soft and serene.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
A very good friend surprised me with some lovely yarn for my birthday. It's a 40/40/20 blend of alpaca, merino, and silk. Kinda slubby but oh so soft! It's a dk weight so even though there are two skeins there's not a lot of yardage. The search was on for the perfect pattern. I knew I wanted to make something like a scarf, but not a scarf. I wanted something that would take advantage of all the wonderful properties of the fiber blend. Hence, the Chinook Shawl. It's a skinny shawl that will work wonderfully as a scarf without being a scarf.
The knit has been easy and fun. The I-cord edging, body, and border are all knit at the same time. I took a before and after photo. I gave it a quick steam block to see how the fiber blend handled the I-cord edging. Would it hold or would it curl? If it curled then I was prepared to start all over replacing the I-cord edging with garter stitch. It seems to be holding so I will continue on with the I-cord edging.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Yesterday we visited a local bison ranch. We had the opportunity to be up close and personal. My hubby had a grand ole time feeding these enormous pellets to them. I fed one or two but spent most of my time watching my hubby.....and staying away from the fence that separated us from the bison. They are huge!!! Loved the noises they made. Kinda a low rumbling sound. The calves were super cute. Oh...and I have a couple ounces of bison fiber being set aside for me. :)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Another small skein spun on the Orkney. I think there's something like 33 yards in this one. I really love how it turned out. It's a Shetland/alpaca blend (brown in color) that was over dyed green....and a touch of green Angelina added for a bit of interest (although the Angelina doesn't really show up in the photos).
Here are the first two small skeins spun on the Orkney together.
Plyed the polwarth from last night. The Orkney is impressive. The freshly plyed yarn was wound off, twist set, and is outside drying.
Here's the sample skein from yesterday's drum carder fun. It's a blend of Suri alpaca/tussah silk/merino/Angelina...spun (and plyed) on my Spindlewood square drop spindle. The blend spun up fine....came out super soft with a nice sheen and lovely halo. I love the hint of color. It's exactly what I was going for. This mini skein has about 17 yards.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
....4 ounces of fun fiber and some creative flyer lacing when it comes to getting to know a new wheel.
This is the result of last night's spinning on the Orkney. We worked our way through 4 ounces of multi-purple polwarth roving. Started off a bit rough but once I decided to utilize hooks from both sides of the flyer there was no more pulling of fiber. Treadling became easier as the bobbin filled. The last quarter of roving saw the hooks being used on one side of the flyer only. Spinning on her became pleasurable and I look forward to filling many, many more bobbins with her.
Spinning on the Alpha was a pleasure as always. He's so gentle and spins a nice single. We worked our way through 3 1/2 ounces of Suri. Didn't spin it all though. Wanted to save a bit for tonight's spinning on the back porch.
I use a wrist distaff when spinning on the Alpha. Makes it so much easier especially since I like to lounge in my hammock while I spin.
Started with this.....hand fluffed Suri (compliments of Arimas)
And this.....hand-dyed tussah silk
Added a touch of super fine merino (18.5 micron) and a pinch of Angelina (pixie dust, pixie dust, pixie dust) to get this...
Hand rolled off the drum carder (had to test spin one)....
About 6 ounces later.....a basket full of Suri alpaca/tussah silk/merino/Angelina blend rolags ready for spinning. Now the question......Wheel or spindle?
Things I learned. The Suri I get from my boys is really fine. Tends to "fly away" when you work with it. It seemed like there was Suri everywhere. Adding a handful of merino ( or Shetland ) calms this down but does not eliminate it. Having a small spray bottle of water is very handy. :)
Love the blend and love knowing that I can always card up more if need be. Discovered that my Suri is not as clean as I would like it. I really need to learn how to clean it better. The finished yarn did rinse clean after a couple of soaks, so that is a good thing. The fiber isn't too dirty to where there's worry about getting dirt in the spinning wheel. I just wish the fiber was "don't have to rinse until the water runs clear" clean.
Suri is an amazing fiber. Has a lovely sheen and is so soft. It's a pretty strong fiber that can be spun incredibly fine.....kinda like silk. It has no elasticity but does drape beautifully. I love the weight of it. It has a nice "solid" feel to it....and a lovely halo. I'm having my Suri blankets blended with a few of my Shetland fleeces this year. I can't wait to see the roving.
Off to enjoy some spinning on the back porch. I'm spinning Suri on my Herring Alpha. :)
Sunday, July 20, 2014
That describes today to perfection. Actually it describes my entire weekend. Just kinda bouncing from one thing to another never really focusing on any one thing for an extended length of time. Today is a perfect example of my short attention span. Started off the day like I do every day....doing chores. Usually I will spend time out with the ewes rubbing bellies (lots of growing baby bumps to rub!). Not today. Everyone was so engrossed with eating that they didn't want to be bothered. So I watered my back gardens. Headed inside and decided to dye some silk. Got my dye jars ready and out in the sun they went. Moved onto a bit of spinning on the Sonata. Still spinning a 3-ply yarn for a sweater. From there I spent some time machine quilting on a quilt that should have been finished quite some time ago. Took a break for lunch then decided to spin on the Orkney.
That in itself has been something else. Both uprights are still a bit loose and I can't seem to get them tightened so the drive wheel wobbles when you spin. Then the tension is still off. She wants to pull the fiber from you instead of gently taking it. I've a feeling it's the drive band. The original drive band is on it and even with both maiden posts at their lowest she still wants to pull the fiber from you. There's just no give in the drive band. Takes the fun out of spinning. I can't even set her up for scotch tension because to do so you are supposed to double the drive band on the whorl....which I can't do....not enough give. So it's been frustrating to say the least. I did get two small skeins spun on her. Both are a Shetland/Angelina blend. She will spin a nice fine single. Just need to get a handle on the tension and other small adjustments that need to be done.
After my frustrating spin on the Orkney (and getting some dinner) I decided to head outside to skirt some fleeces....and get things ready to be sent off to the mill. Went through my Suri blankets first. Not much to do there since they are rather clean when it comes to vm. So it was more of enjoying the feel than anything else. :) Moved onto Shetland fleeces. The first two were a dream to handle. They felt great and were pretty clean. The next one....not so much. I thought about trying to salvage what I could but ended up putting the whole thing on the compost pile. Just way too much vm for me to deal with. I'm sure it could have been picked/shaken out but I honestly didn't have the patience for it. The next two fleeces were also a huge disappointment. They were from Trixie. One from last year and this year's. She is hit and miss with her fleeces. The first few years I had her I never got a decent fleece from her. She is a dense double coat who tends to blow out way before anyone else (and is the hardest one to catch when it's shearing time). What she doesn't leave on branches, tree trunks, and fences is felted. The last couple of years I actually got really nice fleeces from her. These last two fleeces.....not so much. What wasn't filled with tons of micro vm was felted. What wasn't felted or filled with vm is heavy with outer coat. There's maybe 8 ounces of lovely neck/chest fiber that is clean and has the most amazing crimp. I just might process this by hand and compost the rest. I don't know. It really depends on how I feel when I look at what's left of her fleeces. (Wonder if she will give me a pretty little katmoget ewe lamb with an intermediate fleece.)
Sometimes I think the best time to get a fleece from me is when I'm frustrated. I tend to skirt the heaviest then. I simply have no tolerance for vm and it shows with my skirting.
I ended my day with spinning on the back porch. I'm spinning Suri roving on my Herring Alpha. He's my outside wheel. He's lovely to treadle and takes the fiber oh so gently. Plus I can sit in my hammock, spin, and watch my animals out in pasture. It's a great way to unwind from a frustrating day. Especially one where I can't seem to focus on any one thing for any length of time....like today.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
My hubby had acquired a Haldane Shetland spinning wheel for me some time ago. Sadly she is missing her drive wheel (which I'm still looking for). In my search for a new drive wheel I came across a "for sale" post for a new-in-the-box Haldane Orkney wheel. I figured it would be sold especially since the post was over a month old. Before I knew exactly what I was doing I had sent a message inquiring as to the availability of the wheel. I nearly choked on my juice when a reply came back a few minutes later saying the wheel was available for sale. Yes!!! A deal was struck. A sale made. I was now the proud owner of a Haldane Orkney spinning wheel. Did I mention the fact that I bought it sight unseen? Waiting for it to arrive was nerve wracking. It arrived on my birthday. I was so excited and so emotional that I asked my hubby to open the box. Inside was this wheel still wrapped in plastic. I nearly cried as I watched him carefully remove each piece from the box and from its wrappings. After nearly 20 years of being in a box this was the first time the wheel was exposed to the light. It was so beautiful.
Here she is straight from the box....unassembled and unfinished. The person who bought it made sure she got everything for the wheel. There are a dozen bobbins, all four whorls, a free-standing lazy kate, and a distaff. The wheel can be used as a double drive or scotch tension.
There were no assembly instructions so I took some time to assemble her before even thinking about finishing her. A very nice spinner in England helped immensely with the assembly. She was very knowledgeable about the Haldane wheels.
It was great fun looking at all the stains and deciding on how I wanted to finish her. She wanted a rustic look. I agreed. :) I spent a few days staining and getting to know each part of my new-to-me wheel. The wood was dry from all those years in a box and really soaked up the stain. I love how the stain really highlighted the grain of the wood and gave it a nice rustic feel.
Here she is....my Haldane Orkney....all finished. She just needs a few slight adjustments and she will be ready for her maiden spin. She is set up for double drive. Both the front and rear maiden posts adjust allowing for some really fine tuning on the tension. She's a dream to treadle. I'm sure she will be a dream to spin on as well.
**A little note of interest: the Haldane Shetland was the precursor to the Haldane Orkney. Both wheels are similar in looks. The Shetland has a slightly smaller drive wheel and the turnings are more simplistic. The maiden posts are taller and more finely turned. She is a double drive only wheel with the back maiden post used for adjustment. I don't believe she has the sealed bearings that the Orkney does. There were 3 slightly different versions of the Shetland made....and only one of the Orkney. Both are beautiful wheels. **
Sunday, July 13, 2014
These were taken before we had to leave. This is what we were seeing from our backyard. Started off looking like wispy clouds....
....which got denser at the bottom and had the tell-tale coloring associated with smoke from a fire.
As you can see the animals were calmly browsing while the fire was building in size and moving towards us.
The heavier the smoke got the more dramatic the coloring of the sun became. When we left it was blood red in color.
One of the many planes (there were 7 in all plus 2 helicopters) flying into the smoke. This was the observation plane. Its job was to inform the water planes of where to drop the load of water and/or retardant they were carrying.