Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Got a blending board!

My DH asked what I wanted for Christmas and all that I could think of was a blending board. I suggested Brother's because of the lower price point and he got it for me....

My first effort was just all wrong and a few You Tube videos later (I enjoyed Gwen Powell's videos very much: Using a Clemes and Clemes Blending Board) I was able to make rolags easily, if not neatly. I also managed to draw blood twice so do be careful and do make sure your tetanus is up to date. Here are a few pics:

Painting the board

Pushing the fiber onto the tines with a paintbrush

Carding the fiber onto the board

Starting first rolag

First rolag off the board

Last rolag

A mess o' rolags

A word about selecting a blending board....carding cloth is expensive and I suspect that is the main reason for the price of these tools. There are only about 3 companies that manufacture carding cloth in the world so features become important. So far  I'm pleased with my selection and you can find boards that cost a lot more and a lot less. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Graniteware and Dyeing Fiber

Ever buy something, use and then wonder how you ever managed without it? Well, I'm in love with this graniteware pan that I got from Amazon: Graniteware Roaster.  It is large enough to fit a two yard hank of yarn, tall enough to hold large Mason jars and fits into the oven easily. It also works as a stovetop dye pot. In fact, it is big enough to hold a couple of mason jars along with some yarn for two dyeing techniques at one time. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sad News

On last Friday, we had to put Travis, our dear little dog, to sleep. The poor guy had kind of a
tough life over his too short 12 years. We often referred to him as the dog with nine lives as we nursed him through each different problem. He was a sweet guy who always bounced back after each illness but this last one was just too much for him. We would never, ever, ever have let him suffer through something that he couldn't overcome and liver cancer was his last and final battle. He lost the battle but sure won the war and I count myself so lucky to have known him; he had spirit and he had spunk. I read somewhere that we only get to borrow dogs......

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Jake had a free portrait done today at PetSmart. Good boy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alden Amos

I'm sure most everyone has heard the sad news about Alden Amos' passing. "The New York Times" did a great write up. Here's the link: Alden Amos

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Washing Raw Wool

Washing fleece is something I really enjoy. It is one of those tasks that I put off (as evidenced by the dozen or so languishing in our former dining room) but, once I get started, it makes me very happy to take a greasy, muddy mass of wool and turn into a clean, fresh smelling, soft pile is a true joy. Spinning wool that I've processed is about my favorite thing of all things involved in preparing wool and spinning.

Everybody has a different system and mine is no better and no worse. I use water that I heat on the stove until it is steaming. I use a combination of Dawn and Ecos for the wash cycles; I use vinegar in the first rinse and clear water in the last rinse. Thus, the wool gets soaked in at least 4 times. I add a third wash if the fleece is greasy and I'll do a pre-soak in cold water for a day or two if the fleece is extra muddy.

Here are some things that I don't do. I don't agitate the wool and in fact, I try to barely handle it. I don't buy a fleece that is full of hay or other chaff. I have been through my share of those and while satisfying, are a little more trouble that I care to deal with.  Last, I don't worry. I used to fret about felting. Well, I've felted wool a time or three but the since the sheep keep growing their wool.......there's always more to be had.

To get the excess water out of the lingerie bags that hold the wool during washing, I use Alden Amos' method of swinging the bag around and around. That gets the majority of the water out then, to the basement to dry (outside in warm weather). I did invest in salad spinner and I'll report on that after I use it. Spinning wet wool in New England winter weather is anything but pleasant.

Here a picture of some pretty CVM-Romeldale that I'm washing:

If you are just starting out, I'd suggest starting with something like Romney. Their wool tends to be low in grease and is pretty forgiving stuff. (Note: grease is  aka lanolin when discussing sheep fleece.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Leeks with Olives and Tomatoes

Here's a quick and tasty recipe for leeks:

Cut three or four leeks crosswise, salt, and fry over medium heat

until lightly brown.

Add one can black olives and crushed red pepper.

Add one large can of tomatoes, drained and crushed.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes (until leeks are tender) and serve with rice or couscous. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A pound of humbug

All plied.  It is BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) and so soft:

I'll list it on Etsy in day or two.....