Sunday, May 31, 2015

Moore State Park: Part II

I posted some pictures of this pretty park a couple of years ago. Those were taken in the fall of November, 21013. Here are several from this Spring:

The park is in Paxton, MA.

Monday, May 18, 2015


They are just great to have around for dyeing. I found a bunch for five cents a pair and I use them every time I dye fiber. Those plastic spoons from take out food are pretty good too.....

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hope Springs Eternal

I've been knitting since I was a little kid. My Grandma taught me and my Mom reinforced the lessons. I didn't knit a thing for years and years (decades, actually) until about 6 years ago. I have been, as a friend calls me, "the oblong knitter" because if there aren't 4 corners and four straight edges, I wouldn't knit it. Well, I have, over the last years, done a little lace, a little color work, 1/2 a sock, 1/4 of a sweater and a number of hats along with countless oblong projects.

I found a pattern that I really like (Indigo Cone Sweater ) and so, I bought some pretty blue cotton and had the same problem that I always have. I can't get an accurate number of stitches cast on.....not ever....So, after fouling up the first few rows about eight times, my friend (the oblong knitting one) suggested I try a 2x2 rib instead of the rib in the patten. I wound up with about a million too many stitches (again) but at least I was able to do evenly spaced decreases to wind up with the right number of stitches. Now, I'm finally on the lace (a/k/a the fun) part.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rainy morning yarn....

This is some handspun that I made from Merino and Wensleydale locks. This kind of core spinning is time consuming but the results are lots of fun.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Spoils: New Hampshire Sheep and Wool

We (me and DH) had a great time at the festival. I dropped off a "CPW" with Dave Paul of Merlin Tree. He said he thought he could have it up and spinning pretty easily; excellent news! He's a worker of wonders for sure; he makes the Hitchhiker/ Roadbug line of wheels. I have a Roadbug and the thing is really pretty genius. He has also repaired and replaced parts and pieces of wheels for folks all over as well as making his own line of CPW's.

Of course, I had to get a fleece from Kisikanaree Jacobs. They give their animals the best names! Last year, I had fleece from Hector and Icepick (guess Icepick's father's name) and this year it is Lovely Jubbly.

We got some beautiful duck eggs that are the most lovely shade of green. I bought a couple of ounces of Angora bunny fur from the nice folks at Cobblerock Ridge farm and some luscious locks from Blue by Ewe farm. 

The show seemed a little smaller than it has in years past but there was still plenty to see. We caught a little of the 4H sheep show and looked at all kinds of pretty fibery things.  As usual, I regret failing to purchase a couple of things. There was a booth with most of the colors of Shetland and the fleeces were so pretty. There was some of the nicest Coopworth that I've ever seen at another booth. Oh well...........

Friday, May 8, 2015

Some new yarn:

The gray 2 ply is Corriedale from a happy sheep in California. It has been a joy to work with....I have about 500 yards done and I'd like to be able to offer enough for someone to make a sweater so back to the drum carder for me. The multicolored yarn is from a batt that I made from 100% merino and then plied with a silver thread. SOFT, soft, soft....

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Drum Carder Motor

shaft coupler
I have a new to me Pat Green carder and I really wanted to add a motor to it. After looking around, I saw someone using a pasta machine motor. Brilliant!!! So, I bought one and found a coupler that would join the shaft of the pasta machine motor to the shaft of the drum carder handle (had to remove the handle proper so that the shaft could be accessed). The problem? Well, the pasta machine motor won't go in reverse nor does it disengage so the carder drum can roll backwards for batt removal. Thus, you have to loosen the set screws and remove the coupler. Ugh. That's much worse that having to hand crank the carder; especially the Pat Green because it is so well balanced.

Then, I tried a power drill. It would have been great except for the fact that those things run at a super high rpm (duh!!!) So,  I did a  little more research, and for those who'd like to try it, a sewing machine motor and pulley system should work (take the drum carder handle off and attach a pulley). The pasta machine motor works but taking out those little screws is much harder than than just turning the crank.  I'm letting this project go for two reasons: first, the Pat Green carder is super easy to crank and second, moving the carder to an ergonomically correct height has minimized the discomfort (make that, pain) that I had been getting with the machine on a lower table.

If you want to try either of these ideas, a couple of notes are in order. I'd recommend getting your drum carder on an appropriate table before attempting to motorize it. You may find, as I did, that a higher table makes all the difference.  Also, if you need to buy a coupler, be sure to get one that is intended to transfer torque, usually called a shaft coupler. There are myriad couplers but not all are intended for an application like the one described here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Drum Carding Station

My first drum carder was an Ashford Wild Carder. To use it, I sat on the floor and balanced the carder on the edge of a coffee table; hardly ideal. I sold the Ashford and bought a Fancy Kitty Kitten. I have had the Fancy Kitty drum carder on an antique dry sink. It's been nice because it is taller than all the other tables in the house but the old sink is getting loose and I hate to ruin it. To further complicate things, I found a used Pat Green carder for sale and you know how that ended..................

After a lot of searching, I found a solution that I really like. It is a rolling kitchen cart. I got it on Amazon and it is pretty nearly perfect. It holds both carders and has shelves for other stuff (carded batts and etc.). The slide out cutting board serves as a great place to leave the fibers that I'm about to card and the knife rack holds the doffer and a few other tools. As an added bonus, the Pat Green carder is now at a height that makes turning it as easy as can be; I was going to add a motor to it but now there's no need.

Oh, and that basket on the wall came from Peterborough Baskets. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Be Ruthless!

I'm working my way thru 4 pounds of delightful Bond. I might comb some of it but I'm using my drum carder (Fancy Kitty, 70/90) for the vast majority. When I first started processing raw wool, I tried so hard to use every little bit for spinning. I just couldn't bear to waste any of the wool that I'd worked so hard to get clean and carded. Well, after more than a few years, I've gotten pretty ruthless. If I see the slightest hint of a nep, a noil or a short cut that escaped my notice, I pull it out of the wool as I card it. Those little bits seem to have the power to reproduce as they go through the carder and I really don't want to pull them out as I spin. So, I'm ruthless.

Here's a pic of what I pulled out of about 5 ounces of fiber. It weighs 1/3 of an ounce (about 10 grams). So there really isn't that much waste; it just looks like a lot. Also, you can see the neps and noils and tangles when light is shines through the waste.

The truth of the matter is that you don't have to waste any fiber. Also, spinning yarn with lots of lumps to remove as you spin is a pain. So, you can use hand combs and make rolags from the carder waste for a nice woolen yarn. If you don't want to use hand cards, use the waste in textured yarns. You can even give the waste to the birds for their nests or use it for mulch in your garden. Be ruthless with less that less than perfect fiber as you process it. I think this makes for a much better yarn and more fun spinning.

Here's a pic of the finished batts: