Monday, May 31, 2010

We remember

and we give thanks for your sacrifice. God Bless each of you, and your families.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

And now for something I’d never thought I’d do…..

One thing leads to another. First, I learned to knit, then I learned to spin. When DS1 found me spinning, making my own yarn, he teased me that he expected to come home and find sheep grazing in the back yard, as the next logical step was to raise my own fiber.  hmmmmmmm. No, that’s not the next step, but I did take a half step and bought some fleeces. A farmer/sheepherder in Kentucky was willing to sell her fleece by the pound instead of by the complete fleece. So, I bought a pound each of Lincoln and Icelandic wool and a pound of Alpaca! Now this stuff is straight off the animal, vegetable matter and all. The dog loves all those good sheepy smells and tried to get into the box that the fleece came in.   
These are the fleeces, just out of the box, center bottom is the Lincoln, top right is Icelandic, top left is the Alpaca.  Since the fleece is right off the animal, it has to be ‘scoured’ (fiber speak for washed) to remove the debris and the lanolin.  First, you make a hot solution of water and detergent, put the fleece in, careful not  to agitate. It looks like this before the bath – tan, long and curly.  It looks like the middle picture while it soaks and the dirt and ‘grease’ are lifted to the surface. Look at the color of that water!
three fleecesscouring fleece 016dirty water after first part of Lincoln scour
Once it has been washed and rinsed several times, it gets laid out to dry. Even after washing, little Mac was trying to get at it! (double click on photo to enlarge)

Mac and Lincoln again
It took much longer to dry than I expected.  Then it was time to comb the locks. Please, don’t ever try to use a wool comb to comb your hair!  Wool combs are much more suited to Freddy Kruger or Edward Scissorhands. These are wool combs:
wool combs 002These are wool combs in action :wool combs 007
   The result of the combing is this delightful cream-colored puff of fiber that spins into this yarn:
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Can you believe that this  poofy white cloud came from this dirty mess of curls? Talk about a transformation!!
closeup of Lincoln crimps

Meet Elspeth

wheel 3a    My very own spinning wheel!  I found an ad on Ravelry for a used wheel and am quite happy to have it in my home, using it.  Unfortunately, Elspeth met with an accident shortly after she came to live in our house. Someone who shall remain nameless tripped and fell…right onto Elspeth. She was unhurt except for the rather fragile and (to me) inadequate little piece that holds the skein winder atop the wheel. That little piece broke. Never fear, DS1 came up with a fix that now makes Elspeth into a bionic wheel. I’m petty sure that with her metal replacement parts (something we have in common) she won’t lose her skein winder again.

the first several attempts

Some of my first attempts at spinning. The brownish and the turquoise are Blue Face Leicester, the others are Merino. I’m keeping a notebook on the different types of fiber that I spin, trying to keep track of  the differences and characteristics of each. I never gave it any thought before, but there must be as many different sheep breeds as there are dog breeds, and each produces its own unique wool. Some wools aren’t desirable for use in garments but might be ok for weaving or for use in rugs.  My first fiber purchases were guided by availability and color. I love color. But I have bought some fiber from different sheep as part of a monthly Ravelry study, and these are in their natural colors. The one that I am currently spinning is Black Welsh Mountain, and I am enjoying it immensely. Here is the first bobbin as well as some of the roving which I have predrafted. That ‘hank of hair on the right, after being spun on Elspeth, becomes that yarn. That deep black/brown color is natural. I’m hoping to have enough to make a peasant style shawl.

Black Welsh Mountain single and roving

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day tripping

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MOTH and I took a day trip to Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.  It was a lovely day, perfect weather, and you can’t ask for a prettier place.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures that we took.         Here he is, walking on the Rhododendron Trail and some of the other outdoor plants.

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Aside from acres of outdoor gardens, Calloway Gardens has a butterfly house.That large moth-looking butterfly is probably bigger than my fist! and some of the  butterflies were actually a beautiful shade of blue, I wish I could have captured one with its wings open, but you can get just a hint of what they looked like here.
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There are also indoor gardens of various types.
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