Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Michelle wondered if I still had any sheep.  Well, you don't see much more than this these days...
It's kind of too cold to sit with anybody as Ole Man Winter gives us his final blast...and it's the goats that want all the attention, anyway!

So I've taken the leap and begun to play with my fleeces.  The first one is an uncoated shearing from Victoria (I think), a ewe we no longer have.  I don't know where it falls on the VM scale, but working with it has definitely triggered my latent OCD, so it's going to be pretty VM free by the time I get done with it...
First, I laid it out on the table to get a look.   Thankfully, no poo tags or really bad stuff:

                                                         (ahh...the bouquet of lanolin....)
And then two hot soapy soakings and half a dozen hot water rinses in the tub.  (Before you say it - we have a front loader that won't allow mid-cycle openings of the this is all we have.)

And now for the drum carder...which is a mystery to me as well...but we're trying nonetheless...
I picked this up at the NYS Sheep and Wool festival last fall.

My impressions so far is that it seems rather unevenly paced as I try to fill the larger wheel, but I have cleaned it off and sent the wool through a second and even a third time.  The result is lofty, but lighter than the rovings I have purchased.

We break out the spinning wheel...yikes!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Braided Ear Warmer

Here's the "down and dirty details" for those who were asking...

I knit this with a locally produced yarn, and although it came to me natural, I couldn't resist dying it, so into the pot it went with the Avocado dye, and due to the lanolin and nature of the wool - we got the lightness and variagation...

I would say this yarn knit up like a heavy worsted or even Aran weight.  Gauge is not really important (sorry, knitting police) as you are just knitting it long enough to fit around your head, but play with it, that's where the fun is...

Size 8 needles and a cable needle
Less than 100 yards of yarn

CO 23 stitches.  I like to use the German Twisted cast on for almost anything...but you decide.


C2B=hold 2 stitches in back with cable needle
C2F=hold 2 stitches in front with cable needle
KCN=knit off the cable needle

Row 1: (right side)

K3, P1,  [K2, C2B, K2, KCN]  P1, K1, P1,  [K2, C2B, K2, KCN]  P1, K3

Row 2: (wrong side)

P3, K1,  [P6]  K1, P1, K1  [P6] K1, P3

Row 3:

K3, P1  [C2F, K2, KCN, K2]  P1, K1, P1  [C2F, K2, KCN, K2]  P1, K3

Row 4:

P3, K1  [P6]  K1, P1, K1  [P6]  K1, P3

Repeat Rows 1-4 as many times as necessary to fit around the head in question.  Finish with a wrong side row.  Bind off in knit.  Sew ends together.  Viola!  You are warmer for the barn chores, and stylish besides!

I did it again...

I did it again....waited WAY too long between posts.  But I have been busy, I promise...

Planted Something: I'm forcing tulip bulbs, but they're to tiny to bother with a photo right now...just imagine four sprouting bulbs in a purple pot.

Harvested Something:  It continues to be eggs, but every day the girls surprise me...someone "new" is laying, can you see?  I suspect it is our white Silkie, Sapphire.

Preserved something: In the manner that this refers to storing away food...I baked 7+ loaves of bread.  (See the entry under "Local Food")  Thank God I was able to control my hunger around the fresh baked bread and most of them got into the freezer...

Prepped something:  Right now, the only thing that comes to mind is all the dyeing we are doing to build up inventory, as we are applying to vend at the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair.

Cooked something: Nothing too exciting here; can we just acknowledge that I cook every day, and change this category to Knitted something?  (at least that comes with a picture...)  I was inspired by my friend Susan's ear warmer, and pulled together one of my own design with mittens, using some local wool that I dyed last year.  Funny how last year I didn't like the color or dye job, and this year...go figure.

Managed reserves:  This time of year, that means hay.  I am still searching for those final 3 dozen bales to get us through Spring.  I am reluctant to pay for hay, when my previous employer still owes me money (for which I was planning on getting hay...) but soon I will have to break down and fork over (eek!)  $5 a bale....sigh

And my friend Susan is also a farmer who preserves our reserves of endangered and heirloom populations.  We visited her about a week ago to see her American Buff geese:

and her Icelandic sheep.  Don't they look just like the Shetlands?  You have to get close enough  to check out the fleece structure to tell the difference.

Worked on local food systems:  I've met a Mennonite woman through our local knitting group that makes all her own bread, and WOW! is it good.  I had to beg only a little to ask her to  teach me, (since baking decent bread has so far in my life been a skill I cannot master) and besides her patient teaching, apparently the secret is using the right flour.  She uses Occident flour (which can only be had by waiting till the next trip to Pennsylvania and buying a 50# bag for our house) and Red Star yeast.  I was so happy when my stuff rose the first time, you'd think I won the lottery!

It was the start of a wonderful system - we are bartering for even more skills lessons in the future - pickling for dyeing yarn and so on...

Reduced waste/Recycled:  Well this category was also satisfied by knitting - I used stash yarn to knit up helmet liners for military personnel.  It was a satisfying  project, and I encourage anyone with needles and some wool yarn to think about it...

Learned something: No matter how ridiculous it may seem...the cat knows better.  I thought she was nuts spending 6 hours a day parked in front of the stove like this:

Until I turned on the self-cleaning feature (which heats up the oven quite hot) and out scurried a mouse.  Which she grabbed in her mouth and wouldn't give up until I  put a can of fresh cat food down on the floor nearby.  And so I was left to capture the mangled, yet still perky, mouse.  Which my husband helpfully suggested I could put out in the back hall until he got home to dispose of it.   Yeah....well, not actually.  The mouse had other ideas and left before DH got home by leaping tall garbage cans with a single bound and scurrying for freedom.  Which may  have simply meant back where he came from...because guess where Lucky is spending her days????  Hmm....