Friday, March 21, 2014

Why I like Thursdays

One of their cute cats
Thursday is my day to go to Lisa's. Lisa is a wonderful friend, great hand spinner and she knits, crochets and can make a tomato grow when no one else I know can. She has a collection of spinning wheels to be envied including two Timbertops. Her boyfriend is one of the nicest men on the planet and I wish everyone could see their home. It is out in the country, down a dirt drive and in a clearing; it is a post and beam cottage and it is every bit as charming as they are.

Anyway, on the Thursdays that I go out there, there's always something to look forward to. Most days, I get to sit in Lisa's Mother's old rocking chair,  spin yarn by the wood stove and chat with the visitors that they get during the day. Sometimes there are one or two ladies learning to knit or to spin and other days we just chat about fiber and life. If Lisa is teaching, I try to listen quietly. The lady can really knit, like complicated color work knitting. Same with spinning; she knows so much.

Sometimes, something unexpected happens. A few weeks ago, we went snow shoeing.....for about 200 yards which was about all that I could manage. Last spring, a bear and her cub took up residence in their yard. I wasn't there for the bear but I  have seen pictures. There has been a "walk" or two as well. Lisa calls them walks, I'd say they are hikes. Anyway, it is always fun to go to Lisa's. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Fiber (and Jake)

Here's the fiber from the oven dyeing from the other day. It dried despite my efforts!

And here's a pic of Jake.  He sleeps like this; draped over the arm of the sofa with his head hanging over the edge and kneeling.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dyeing Fiber in the Oven: Another Technique

Here is another "how to" dye some fiber. This is an easy way to get some dyeing done quickly and without a lot of mess. This process is for acid dyes.

Get an aluminum turkey roasting pan and line it with waxed paper. The waxed paper isn't 100% necessary but some dyes will react with the aluminum and give an unexpected result. Then, put the pan in the sink and fill with cold water and a big glug of white vinegar. Put your roving or top or loose fiber into the water bath in some orderly fashion if you want to "paint" it.  The standard pan holds 4 to 6 ounces of fiber pretty well. Let the fiber soak for at least 1/2 hour. You may have to push the wool into the water to get the air out.

After the fiber has soaked, drain out all but about 1/4 inch of water and add back another glug of vinegar. Select your colors and using a spoon (I use plastic, dedicated only to dyeing), add dye onto the fiber and squish/ mush/ press the color into the fiber where you'd like it to wind up when you're finished.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 250F for about an hour. Check after an hour and if the water is clear, remove the package from the oven. If the water isn't clear, add about 1 cup of water with about 1/2 cup vinegar to the pan, cover it and return it to the oven; increase the oven to 270F. Recheck in 30 minutes.

Transfer the pan to somewhere safe and leave it be until it is completely cool. (I am bad about messing with the hot fiber. Mess with it and you probably won't get that pretty top back; instead, it'll look bedraggled and shaggy. Worse, you could wind up felting the wool. If you plan to card the wool, this might not matter). Rinse the fiber well in cool water and dry. 

Here's the fiber drying in the (cold) sunshine (notice the icicle). 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Covered Bridge

Hereis a pic of the Arthur Smith bridge in Colrain, MA and a pic of husband taking a picture of the bridge.

Colrain is pretty countryside and down the road, Shelburne Falls and Buckland, are two fun little towns. Shelburne Falls is home to the Bridge of Flowers. The town has planted scads of flowers over what is now a pedestrian bridge. We saw it before the hurricane took it out a few summers back. It has since been replanted I heard. I love flowers and it really is a wow to see in person. Buckland has an old bowling alley, candlepin, that we keep trying to visit but there never seems to be enough time. The lady that wrote that yarn farming book lives around here somewhere. Reckon she'd mind if I dropped in? 

More Fiber Storage

I sure wish I remembered where I read this tip because I owe a big thank you.  Check out this bag:

It is a blanket bag from Cleaner's Supply.  The brown fiber is some pretty alpaca (about 1 pound) from my friend, Kate, owner of Great Rock Alpaca. The bag zips closed, is rectangular for easy stacking and is ventilated on the sides. I got 12 for for about 12 dollars. In addition to clean fleece,  I'm storing all my yarn in them.  Assuming this winter ever ends, we are also going to put our winter sweaters in them for storage. This one is the smallest size available.

 Here's the link:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dandelion Greens Soup

Nope, I didn't pick them along side a country road; got 'em in the grocery store. Dandelion greens are delicious.....

2 bunches dandelion greens roughly chopped (you may wish to discard the thickest part of the stem as they can be bitter).
1 can white beans (like cannellinni)
4 -6 cloves garlic; diced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

In a large pot, add about two or three inches of water and the greens. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat. Cook for about 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and add beans.

While the greens are cooking, add garlic and oil to a small pot. Heat on low until greens are off the heat (above).  Increase heat and watch carefully; when the garlic starts to blister, pour the oil/ garlic mixture over the greens. Add a little water to the hot pot and throw the water in the greens too. Salt to taste.

Serve with good bread and Romano cheese.

Options: add pasta or chopped tomato or sausage or saute the cooked greens in olive oil and garic and serve as a side dish. 

And yes, you can pick these in your own yard. Pick them before they bloom lest they be bitter. Yum.

New handspun yarns and Jake

The yarns are all for sale; Jake is not for sale

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jake and Travis

Long Draw Spinning Video

Well, I'm trying to master technology so pardon the noise in the background (and yes, those are our parakeets singing).

Here is a VERY short video of me doing a little long draw spinning:

Long draw spinning is the most fun and gets lots of yarn on the bobbin quickly. I'm spinning some really nice Corriedale that I bought at the Big E last fall. I ran the fiber through the drum carder to prep it.  Sorry about the sloppy bobbin.
Here's another hank of handspun that I finished yesterday and put on Etsy this morning. It is taking more time to get the shop full after the Christmas rush than I'd thought. But, it sure is fun.................