Sunday, December 29, 2013

Travis the Dog

Isn't he a cutie? A Jack Russell through and through! Our poor little guy is on 3 different medicines for seizures.  And, he has brain damage from a really bad bout that left him on a ventilator for 5 days. I look back on that sometimes and wonder if we should have let him go but I look in his eyes now and I don't think he was ready. He looks pretty lively eh?

Flyer Hooks and Art Yarn

I like to spin funky, textured yarns with fun add ins. When I first started spinning these yarns, I was spinning on Mr. Kiwi.  Mr Kiwi did not like spinning those yarns.  The problem was those little bitty hooks; everything got caught on them and it made for some seriously slow spinning. Ultimately, and when I could afford one, I bought a jumbo flyer with a sliding hook but here is how I solved at least some of the problem in the meantime:

 Instead of using each hook, just use one at a time.  Move the yarn  onto the next hook as the bobbin fills.

Using each hook just gives the yarn more chances to snag.

Of course, the yarn still gets caught but with less frequency. The yarn pictured here was spun on the Road Bug.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jake in his new pretty......

We had to buy Jake a harness. He can slip a collar faster than anything (his neck is wider than his head). He has an appointment for his (first) annual vet checkup in the morning.  I sure hope the harness works. The poor thing hasn't had very good experiences at the vet. He went last time during an ice storm. He slipped out of his collar and it took three vet techs and my dear husband, all slipping around on the ice in the parking lot to catch him. He did not like it. I just hope tomorrow is a better experience.

He thinks he looks adorable:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And a coil spun.....

                                                 This is fun yarn to spin and to use. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Yarns

 Just put these up on Etsy. The left is alpaca from Kate's farm and the right is made from various wool.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sad Day and Drum Carding

Yesterday, I put my little drum carder up for sale. I hope I'm not the only one that gets attached to things because I really do feel sad letting it go. I have used that carder several times a week for a couple of years. Oh well. It is time to say goodbye. I don't have the room or the money for two carders and a bad shoulder is complaining loudly every time I try to turn the crank. So, I'll get a motorized carder when the little guy sells.

A note about carding: I include this because my Wild Carder was sold as a carder for art batts but I have and do use it for everything.  Like most of us, I can only afford one of these tools. My best advice, slow down. Likes snail's pace slow on the first carding.  My first step is to pull the locks apart and then, while turning (slowly), I let the fiber catch on the main drum. This helps avoids jams. After that, I separate the batt until I can see through it and feed those pieces through the feed tray. Here again, I go super slow to avoid tangling and tearing. Remember, if you start to see neps/ noils, more runs through the carder probably won't help and may make things worse. You can however pull the neps and noils out as you spin. 

To make an art batt, I make layers. First a layer of fiber, then add ins (sari silk, mohair locks, etc.) then another layer of fiber. The layers go through the carder all together again, turning slowly and making sure I can see through the layers before I feed them through.  I like textured batts so one pass through the carder is usually enough. I use either prepared roving or top for my fiber layers or I card the fiber layer in a separate step.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fresh Yarn

 This is core spun yarn.  There are sari silk threads, BL locks and etc., etc., etc.

Here is a two ply yarn. One ply is Blue Faced Leicester and the other is a Finn x  Romney.  I love dyeing this kind of yarn because each ply takes up dye a little differently. I might leave this one natural. Hmmmm

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Turkeys redux

They were across the street from our house this morning. You can see the young Tom puffing up; I think he wanted us to move along. I wonder if all fifteen of them will stick around all winter.................................

Friday, December 13, 2013

Alpaca Fiber

I just listed a little of Ironman's (from Great Rock Alpaca) fiber on Etsy. This is some of the prettiest alpaca fleece that I have ever seen. Take a look at the crimp in the fiber. It is super soft and when dyed, oh wow. It is seriously delicious. For more pictures

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Border Leicester: Gotta Love It.

Awwww,  just look at those eyes, those ears and that patrician nose.....what's not to love!  

 These are some locks from a fleece that I bought at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.  You can see how glossy they are. BL takes dye beautifully.

Here is a pic of some tailspun BL that I spun it on my Aura. It is a super soft yarn when spun from the lock. A carded prep might yield a scratchy yarn like many of the longwool breeds.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Knitting with Art Yarn and Sales

I had a sale in my Etsy shop and sold out of yarn (I've since added a few things). Wow. I think something like 42 hanks of yarn are out the door. I'm excited 'cause it gives me a clean slate to start the new year.

Drying before shipping
As I was packing the last order of yarn and etc. up it occurred to me that I ought to share a tip for knitting with art yarn. I spin a goodly amount of yarn with coils/ beehives, beads and lumps and bumps. When you come to an embellishment in yarn that you want to show in your finished item, always use the opposite stitch than what is written. In other words, if the pattern says knit, purl instead and vice versa.  This will push the embellishment to the front of your work for later admiration.
All packed up

Fiber Storage

I have often wondered what people would think if they saw they amount of fiber that I have around the house.  Too much perhaps but regardless, storage is a HUGE problem. It would break my heart to lose any fiber to creatures (moths, mice...........). I have read everything that I could find about the best way to store fiber. 

Some recommend a pillow case for raw (i.e. unwashed) fiber and some folks leave the fiber in the large plastic bag that it is usually sold in.  Some add cedar or lavender. Whatever the case I do think most would say that fiber is really best stored after is has been washed. 

I'll freely admit that I don't wash all my fiber as soon as I get it home.  Usually, I'll wash about 8 ounces right away so I can enjoy my purchase immediately. The remainder has to be stored. Up until very recently, I left the fiber in the original bag and put that into one of those giant plastic totes until I was ready to use it. Thanks to a wonderful  forum on Ravelry (Fiber Prep Group), I have discovered the bucket.

They cost about three dollars at Home Depot or Lowe's and are free if you can find a restaurant that will give them away.  I have scads of white roving that needs a home; these things can hold about five pounds.

I doubt any critter can get in to one these buckets and I can store them in the cellar or even the garage. I suspect that the lanolin in the raw fiber might harden a little if left outside (it gets wicked cold here in New England) perhaps making wool harder to get clean. Only Spring will tell.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Stop that Bobbin Rattle

Oooh, there is nothing worse than sitting down for some quiet spinning and having a bobbin rattling away.  When I bought the Country Craftsman, it came with one bobbin and I needed another. I located more bobbins (Detta's Spindle); I think Detta knows a woodworker who makes them for her store.

Well, the bobbin that I bought  is fine but it isn't a perfect fit.  It rattled horribly and after suffering with the noise for a week or two, I finally sat down to figure out how to stop the incessant racket. 

The solution that I came up with is simple. I stop the noise by wrapping a little length of yarn or a little fiber on the flyer shaft between the bobbin and the flyer. The fiber allows the bobbin  
to turn easily while providing a cushion between the two offending parts.  It slides off when I'm done and takes all of two seconds to do. No more rattle!

 Some luscious Border Leicester on the bobbin.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Yarn Farming

I just finished reading Adventures in Yarn Farming by @Barbara Parry. You may recognize her name;  she has another book out about dyeing fiber. I was pleased to find the book as the author is also a neighbor, well, sort of.  Ms. Parry has a farm in western Massachusetts in one of my favorite parts of the state around Shelburne. Not only a book written by a neighbor but written about my favorite topic, fiber.

As a wanna-be shepherd, I so enjoyed the book. She set it up as a tour of the farm and her work through a year. I was reminded about the huge ice storm we had here in '08 through pictures and a great description of the way the storm changed the landscape.  The author is as descriptive about other topics and enough so that I was left in awe of the 24 hour/ 365 day in and out calender that she has to keep.

She keeps two of my favorite sheep breeds, Border Leicester and Cormo along with other critters; a llama or two and some goats.  The are tons of super photos in the book and  as an added bonus, there are several really cute knitting patterns and some good instructions for dyeing fiber.

I'd highly recommend this book for anyone seriously thinking about getting their own flock and certainly for the fiber enthusiast.  Here is a link to Ms. Parry's website:

I'd love to visit her farm one day..........................

Sunday, December 1, 2013


There has been a flock of turkeys hanging around our neighborhood all summer. We have surprised one in our backyard several times (they really can fly!) and last evening, here is what we saw.....