Peeves – 3/15/2019

Today’s mail brought two items that generated this peeve.  Item one was a letter from a security firm letting me know that an online retailer from whom I had made a purchase last year had a security breech and “certain personal information” may have been compromised.  I don’t save credit card info on sites  that encourage you to do so for quicker check out, so I’m not terribly concerned about my log in and password for that site being accessed.  They claim that there is no evidence that this information has been used, but they are offering a year free dark web service.  Now I know that at the end of the “free” year, they will be on me like stench on a stinkbug to “buy” their service for continued security or auto renew it with credit card they require me to file with them.  I’m already covered, thank you.

In the same stack of mail is a bill for TV service.  The company recently changed hands and we had to update our electronic (through our bank log in) payment to their new account number, name, and address only to find out that they no longer accept electronic payments.  The bill was dated 3/3/19, received 3/15/19, and due in a week.  Our options are to write a paper check and hope it gets there in time, let the bank do an electronic check which won’t get there in time, or accept their “go paperless” method and allow them to automatically take money from our account or bill a credit card.  To do this, we have to either have our account information or our credit card on file with them.  See security breech above to see why this is distasteful.

We prefer to have control over who can access our accounts and money and I know that our credit card company will cover us and investigate if anything looks hinky.  They have changed my card twice due to it being unlawfully used, but it is getting more difficult to keep control.  The above mentioned breech is the second one I have gotten in the past few months, the first was not even online use, it was using my debit card in a retailer whose system was hacked.  How can we remain secure when our options are to give the retailers access to pay their debt without our having to make the payment through our bank?  How does someone who doesn’t have a credit card not be late?

Olio – 3/9/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Last weekend was the twice a year Fiber Retreat that I attend each February/March.  The group was a bit smaller this time, but the company was fun, the food was good (they finally got a restaurant manager that knows what she is doing), and it was a pretty good vending event.

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I came home with a Jacob pelt to sit on, especially when I am on a hard chair at Living history events or retreats.

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Additionally, I came home with a gift of 5 raw fleeces, two are Jacobs, one of my new favorites from Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.  Some of the fleeces are going to be shared with a friend that raises Mohair goats, but at least one Jacob is going to be processed by me when I finish spinning my 15 breeds.

Prior to leaving, a new found social media friend and I were talking and she makes felted hats among other things.  Several years ago, I walked away at SAFF from a felted hat that I adored and have regretted it since.  Friend says she can make me one.  Some back and forth over style and color and since I wanted to use one of my woven tapes for the hat band, a price was set and this arrived shortly  after my return.

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What fun to wear.  Such a great purchase.

The week has been spent continuing to recover from our auto accident.  We each had another visit with our physician and each had another orthopedic manipulation done to try to loosen up the tight soreness from the whiplash and another discussion about how long the brain fog, headaches, and dizziness when I bend down will last from the concussion.  It is such a hassle to deal with the discomfort and all the insurance issues when we were not at fault.  The car is in the shop and is supposed to be ready by Monday afternoon more than a month after the accident.

The week has also been spent doing some spinning, finishing two more breeds for the challenge and spinning up a “black” Rambouilett Dorset few ounces and an orange Coopworth few ounces that I had planned to ply together, but didn’t like the way the sample looked knitted, so they were plyed on themselves.  The other two spun were Tunis, originally from Tunisia, and Black Welsh Mountain originally from Wales.  The Black Welsh Mountain is on the threatened list and the Tunis is on the watch list from the Livestock Conservancy.

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Currently I am spinning Hog Island, origin Britian and US and Florida Cracker, origin Spain, both on the critical list.  My last breed to make 15 is going to be Cotswold and it is on it’s way to me via mail.

Yesterday we awoke to it snowing and though the roads never really got bad, we had a few inches.  Some of the daylilies had broken ground and their tender tips got burned.  They will recover with spring thinking about making it’s way to the mountains.  The Autumn Joy didn’t seem to mind the snow.

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For the past couple of months, the kitchen sink drain has been sluggish.  I have tried all of the “natural” cures, baking soda and vinegar; washing soda and boiling water to no avail.  Last night while cleaning up from dinner, it didn’t drain and sat with a couple of inches of water in it all night.  This morning, I poured a cup or so of vinegar into the standing water and we went out to breakfast and the Farmers’ Market.  On the way home, a stop at the hardware store and a 15′ drain snake was purchased.

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Though I have done other plumbing repairs including removing a toilet, clearing it and reinstalling it with a new wax ring when our youngest (now in his 30s) tried to flush a Burger King Capital Critter unsuccessfully), installing a new garbage disposal in a house about 30 years ago, clearing P traps and tub drains, this was my first experience with the snake, fortunately not requiring any real contortions due to continued soreness.  There is now one in the house for future use and I feel more confident in its use.

Old Dog, New Tricks – 3/4/2019

The saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  I am trying to prove that adage incorrect.

One of the breeds that I ordered for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em was raw Florida Cracker.  Not having much success in the past with raw fiber, I was determined and watched several YouTube videos, talked with some more experienced folks and tackled the job.  Four washings, several rinses, a good drying, and I had a box full of locks with lots of tips that were tightly and stiffly bound together.

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I don’t own combs or a drum carder, just hand cards and a blending board with an extra flicker brush.

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Last night, I tackled the box and started producing rolags.  Now mind you, I am no expert with the hand carders, I “use” them when doing demonstrations for living history as a spinner, usually only having roving on hand and pretending to prepare the wool into rolags from which I then spin.

My first card full left me with hard tips still in the rolag, FAIL.  Then I started opening the tips with the flicker, turning the lock around to loosen the cut end and filling the carder.  I was producing rolags, not very pretty, but usable.

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The fiber releasing quite a bit of grit as I card it, but is spinning into a nice even relatively fine singles.  The finished yarn is going to need not just a soak after finishing, but a good wash.

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I think my next fiber preparation equipment is going to be combs.

Lesson learned is that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but more practice is needed.  I have a raw Jacob fleece awaiting my new skills.

Fiber and Fun – 3/3/2019

This was the weekend of the February fiber retreat at Hawk’s Nest.  I went as a participant and as a vendor with soaps, salves, lotion bars, yarn, antler buttons, hand dyed Merino top, knitted, and woven wearables.  This retreat is held at the lodge of a state park in West Virginia, about 2 hours from home if I don’t stop on the way.  It is a meeting of friends, lots of spinning and knitting time, socialization as we craft together, dine together, and have social hour before dinner.

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I took several of the fibers for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em and worked on producing yarn from part of the 10 ounces of Tunis and spun some Rambouillet Dorset wool just for a change and I think it will be plyed with the orange when it is all spun.

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I haven’t spun enough of the Tunis to report it yet, nor have I finished all of the Rambouliett Dorset and need to spin the orange.  I don’t know what that 8 ounces of yarn will become when done, perhaps a woven shawl.

My only purchase was a Jacob pelt to pad my chair or warm my feet.  Such a soft lovely little pelt from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

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It was a rainy drive home, but the car is unloaded, though not all put away.  Most of the accounting has been performed.  Once I am ready to spin some tonight, I will work on flicking, carding, and spinning this box of washed Florida Cracker locks.  When it and the Tunis are done, breeds 11 and 12 will be reported to SE2SE.

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I had a delightful weekend in a nice room with a bed just for me, all the amenities I could desire, but it will be nice to be home in my own bed tonight.

Lessons from Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em – 2/24/2019

I spent the last week a couple of towns over being grandmom in charge of two of the 7 grands while their Mom flew to Wisconsin for a week of training.  It gave me a fair amount of spinning and reading time during the 2 1/2 days they had school.  Monday was a holiday, Wednesday a snow day, and Thursday a late start.  The days allowed me to finish breeds 9 and 10 and begin breed 11 for the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em challenge.

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Since this challenge started in January, I have spun from the Critical list; Gulf Coast Native, with Florida Cracker and Hog Island in my possession to still spin.  From the Threatened list; Dorset Horn, Jacob, Karakul, Leicester Longwool, Lincoln, Navajo-Churro, and Romeldale/CVM.  From the Watch list, I have Tunis from two  suppliers, as it’s texture and natural white color will be the center of my Hap that is the knitting project that some of these yarns will be finished into.  Also spun from the Recovering list is Shetland and a second 4 ounces of it was purchased as the main secondary color of the Hap.

As I have worked the various fibers, I have had to work on my spinning skills to use the best technique for each breed.  Several have required a long backward draw and lower twist reminding me to slow my treadling.  Some shorter fiber has forced me to use a short forward draw, which isn’t my preferred method due to arthritis in my right (lead) wrist.  I am left handed and have tried to learn to reverse hands, but have not been successful.  Some fibers have had a lot of neps, some of which I have not removed, making a more textured yarn than the yarn I usually spin.  Some of the yarns require that the yarn be spun heavier than I usually spin.  Over the years, my yarn has gotten to be an even, consistent yarn  rarely thicker than dk weight.

One of the fibers came as clean unprocessed wool and had to be carded to rollags, one had to be washed and awaits flicking the tips or carding.  Some have been pencil roving, a few more cloudlike.  It has been a good learning experience so far and I look forward over the next two years, obtaining and spinning the rest of the breeds.

My preference for spinning and knitting has been a medium length staple with a crisp finish, sweaters and shawls that I keep are always of these characteristics.  I don’t care to spin the very soft next to the skin breeds, though I do spin them and knit them for items for sale in my online shop.

My preference for pencil roving, thicker roving, batts, rollags, or spinning from locks is still undecided.  I guess that will be determined by the breed on hand.

And just for fun in the midst of the week, I finished spinning a 50% merino/50% silk blend that once washed will go to the fiber retreat next week with yarns for sale.  It is 126 yards of fingeringish weight yarn.  It will make a nice trim for a hat or scarf.

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What love is. -2/14/2019

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Forty one years ago tonight, we became Mr. and Mrs.  It seems impossible that it could have been that long.  It has been a good 41.  Together we raised three bright, independent children.  There have been a few houses, many pets, lots of cars, a few job changes and finally retirement together.

There have been some medical scary moments, but we have gotten through them together.  Some tight money times when I stayed home with new babies, or you starting your own practice, but we got through them together too.

Your are my rock and my best friend.  You picked this day, such a romantic choice.  I love you dearly and hope we have many more together.

Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em – 2/7/2019

I am a spinner, both drop spindle and on one of my 4 wheels that range from ancient to less than a year old.  I started spinning about a decade ago only on drop spindles and using easy to spin, clean, dyed wool and silk.  My knowledge of wool was that it came from sheep, little did I know how many different breeds of sheep there were and how different the properties of their wool varied.  Along the way, I did get introduced to Alpaca and helped with a couple of shearings, being rewarded with some of the fiber to spin.  Alpaca lacks the lanolin of sheep wool and is easier to clean and can be spun directly from the dirty locks and then washed as yarn.  But I prefer wool and have had my preference for the breeds that I spun.

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A couple of years ago, there was a new vendor at the weekly Farmer’s Market and she had yarn and roving as part of her goods.  The wool was a breed I had not spun, in fact, had never heard of and I made a new friend and learned about the breed that was on the Livestock Conservation list, Leicester Longwool.  I enjoyed spinning the wool I bought from her sheep being raised locally.  I have been to their farm, visited with their critters last spring when there were lambs bouncing around and one little beauty being bottle fed as she had been rejected by her mom.

This friend asked me this past late summer if I had any interest in participating in a project that the Livestock Conservancy was putting together that would allow using fiber from threatened sheep breeds.  This was perfect timing as there was so much contention with the anti wool ads that were being publicized. I said yes and she said she would share the information when it was getting going.  She did, the idea that you purchase a minimum of 4 ounces of wool or yarn, spin, knit, crochet, needle felt, or otherwise produce something with the wool.  When the wool is purchased, you get a sticker, and that sticker goes into a passport book that you get for registering as a fiber artist with the program.  The program is scheduled for three years and to earn a prize, you have to use at least 5 of the 22 Conservation Priority breeds.  I fell in hard and immediately ordered several wools I had never spun and finished the first 3 before I could even officially register to get my passport.

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The first three I spun were Jacob, Navajo Churro, and Shetland.  Shetland is the only one I had previously handled.  I enjoyed all three of these, really falling in love with Jacob.  As I started the fourth, Karakul, they opened the registration and I quickly sent my $15 to get the passport, a lapel pin, and more information which I am anxiously awaiting the arrival.

Last night I finished the Karakul, an ancient Asian breed that as lambs have a decent fleece, it is a primitive breed with a double coat and as they age, the coat often gets fairly coarse.  It is the wool of Persian rugs.  The Karakul 4 ounces was interesting to spin, feeling much like spinning flax or a horse’s tail, but the whole purpose of this is to experience the different breeds and to support them as they are all in need of conservation.

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Many of the fiber providers offer a breed card with information on the breed and how to spin it and some have offered small samples from a sheep of the same breed, but a different color than the one ordered.  I am using the card to hold a bit of unspun fiber, a bit of spun yarn, and either using the sample to make a mini skein or just winding off a few yards of the spun yarn to make a mini skein that I will be able to use when I do demonstrations or teach camps to show the different textures and natural colors of these Conservation Priority breeds.

My fifth breed, Romeldale CVM is currently being spun.  In my basket are Tunis, Clun Forest, Leicester Longwood (from my friend), Gulf Coast Native (which is raw and has to be washed and carded but also from a local farm), and on order is Lincoln.

My goal is to try to obtain and spin all 22 breeds within the three years.  The ones that aren’t so coarse that they must be felted or made into rugs, will be knitted into a blanket, probably a log cabin blanket for our log home.

Supporting this endeavor, the shepherds that raise these sheep, and helping to dispel the horrible inaccurate ads that shearing is wrong is such a delight.  Thank you shepherds for keeping my wheels and hands busy and helping the public see that fleece comes from a sheep, not a roll of plastic cloth.

The Hoops – 2/6/2019

When I started crafting for selling at venues, I realized that I needed to have a business name, registered for a small fee, that I had to decide whether to be sole proprietor or an LLC, and jump through the State’s hoops to get an EIN and pay state taxes. Toward the end of last year, I received a notification from our county asking me for an inventory and a list of my equipment used which they used to bill me Personal Property taxes.

As I also like to vend at a couple of out of state fiber retreats, I have to register my business with those states and pay their state sales taxes as well, thus another set of applications and more hoops.

I don’t understand why organizers of craft shows, festivals, and retreats don’t let the applicants/potential vendors know that this is a state requirement and that there really is no exception, that fines of $100/day up to $1000 are real possibilities for not doing so.  I think that many vendors operate under the misconception that if they are doing it as a hobby and selling things they make or if they make under a certain amount each year that they aren’t a business.  It would be nice if the states recognized Cottage Industries and exempted them from the red tape, but it isn’t so.

Once the hoops have been cleared, it isn’t such a big deal.

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Olio – January 26, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

This past week has been bitter and sweet.  A  Redtailed Hawk discovered my pullet pen and early in the week, killed and took one of my Mottled Javas.  The pullets are about 11 or 12 weeks old now and have some size on them, but not enough to fight off a hawk.  Because of the cold, I left them cooped up the next day and spent an afternoon building a bird net cage using the 4 foot high fence and 7 foot poles, rope, and zip ties to secure it.  Last night when I went out to close up the coop for the night, the hawk was inside the net and a second Java was dead.  In the hawk’s panic to escape me, it flew through the net and out, leaving the pullet.  I considered going out today and getting a 10′ by 10′ dog run that is 6′ high that I could put a tarp or wire top on, but they are hard to come by this time of year and weigh almost 300 lbs.  A friend with a stock trailer and truck offered to help bring it here if I could find one.  Instead, some of the unused garden fencing was cut to 8′ long panels and secured across the top of the existing fence with a garden pole in the middle to help support it.  The panels were overlapped by about 8 inches and zipped tied together every foot.  When the last panel nearest the coop was ready to secure, it was tied to the previous panel then folded up to give me enough room to get to the pop door.  An arch of fencing was stapled to the side of the coop and the front of the coop and secured to the fence on the side and the last panel.  That gives me room to get in and around the coop, but will require crawling under the low part if necessary.  My hands and feet are frozen, but hopefully, the littles are safe from the hawk now.

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It isn’t pretty, but hopefully it will keep them safe.

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They were glad to be released to the sun.  Maybe this spring, a proper, secure run can be built.

The sweet side of the week involves crafting.  There is a project called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em to support the conservation of threatened breeds of sheep.  Fiber raisers and fiber artists are encouraged to participate.  This week, I have ordered and received 4 packages of roving from different breeders, 4 ounces each of Jacob, Navajo Churro, Shetland, and Romeldale CVM, and arranged to get 4 ounces of Leicester Longwool from a breeder friend who is participating.

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Two of the breeders have provided extras, like samples of other sheep or a pen with their farm info on it.

Fiber has to be spun, photographed and submitted, yarn must be knitted, crocheted, or needle felted, photographed and submitted. It is a three year project and once you have 5 breeds done, you can submit for a prize.  After I finish spinning mine, I plan to knit a log cabin blanket with my 15 breeds.

Though I started collecting my breeds, I had some other spinning projects to finish before I could begin.  I had a 2 ounce braid I was spinning on drop spindles that I wanted to finish.  It was plyed and produced 166 yards of fingering weight yarn that is a very soft wool and silk.  There was some Alpaca and Merino that needed to be finished and I got it done as well.

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The week was also used to dye some fiber for sale in my shop.

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And finally beginning to spin one of conservation breeds, starting with the Jacob.

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The past week has been very cold and the forecast is for potential record breaking cold this week and possibly another light snow.  I need day that is mild and dry to finish trimming some of the fence edges.

Winter is not the time to take care of the outdoor tasks, but  they need to be done.  I’d rather be indoors, cooking and baking bread like I got to do yesterday before realizing that my pullet run was not as secure as I had hoped.  Tomorrow, I am fixing dinner for family and will make more bread for them to enjoy with dinner and take home for the week.

Fiber Fun – Jan. 17, 2019

The past few days have been stay in and play with fluff days.  With one of the fiber retreats coming up in late February, I decided to dye some of the Merino that I acquired last summer after jointly sending two fleeces off  for processing.  Using my soap pots and food safe dye, I dyed three 4 oz braids.  Today they were dry and labelled.

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With them is a 205 yard skein of  Merino/Alpaca yarn that I spun that will go with 2 other 200+ yard skeins.  There are 3 more braids of Merino and one of Cormo to dye.  All of these will be for sale at the retreat.

Yesterday, two of my wheels, a bag and basket of fiber, tools, and drop spindles made by me were hauled over to Wilderness Road Regional Museum.  The museum is closed in the winter except for appointments, but three of the volunteers had been asking for spinning lessons and I went to provide some instruction.  They were each given a length of roving and a drop spindle and started on some basic drafting and spinning techniques after some wool sampling. They were then given the opportunity to work with one of the wheels, the walking wheel that I repaired there and my wheels.

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It was a fun time, spreading the knowledge.  After the lesson, another of the great wheels in the museum was repaired by me, so now two of the wheels there are functional.  A spindle has been ordered by me to repair the third walking wheel displayed there.  Having three functional great wheels there will mean I don’t have to haul mine over there for events.

Today, the ice from last weekend’s storm had mostly melted away, except for sheltered and shaded areas, like right in front of our garage, so we left to run errands and get groceries.  While we were out it started to snow again and the predicted trace was rapidly accumulating.

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We got home to this around 2:30 p.m. and by dark there were several inches on the ground and wintery mix to top it overnight.  We may awake tomorrow to a repeat of the weekend.  Sunday is supposed to start in the low 40’s and fall all day to 7ºf with a very cold Monday.

Recently, I signed up for a three year program called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em, a project to promote threatened, endangered breeds of sheep.  Shepherds that raise those breeds join and sell fleece, processed fiber, or yarn and fiber artists spin, knit, crochet, felt, weave at least 4 ounces of as many of the breeds as they can obtain. I ordered 4 ounces of Jacob roving, a threatened breed from Hobbyknob Farm.  It arrived today and I spun the 1 ounce tri color part of it this evening.

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There is a 3 ounce bump of gray roving to spin.  The Tri color spun to 64 yards of delightful fingering weight yarn.  Once the gray is spun, both will be knit into Fingerless mitts and a hat.

Today, I ordered 4 ounces of Romeldale CVM, another threatened breed from Marushka Farm.  It is fun to explore spinning and knitting some breeds that I have not previously used and supporting the continuation of these breeds.

Tomorrow, if the weather conditions and roads permit, we will drive back to Wytheville and I will put leathers and a drive band on the Great Wheel at the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum and try to get it functional.

Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family