Events start up in August, two of them within a week. Trying to get goods for my shop prepared requires beginning early as soap takes a month to 6 weeks to fully cure and it takes time to spin and knit items. My focus in the first half of the year has been on spinning challenges and not a lot of items have been knit, a mini shawl here, a hat there. This month’s theme was to challenge ourselves to spin, ply, and create an item. To challenge myself, I learned a new technique called Ply on the Fly where you spin singles and ply immediately. Learning this produced a thicker yarn than I usually spin and ply, but it was perfect for knitting a hat. A bit of left over yarn from knitting blanket squares gave me enough to add a couple of stripes.

In my scrap bin, I uncovered most of three skeins from spinning for the Shave ‘Em 2 Save ‘Em event, parts of those skeins were used in my half hap shawl that I knit. Those three wools coordinated well, so I used them to knit a cowl.

And then divided what was left from them to knit mitts two at a time, so I am shuffling 6 balls of wool.

The past two days have also been spent making soap, a project that I have neglected since last November. Yesterday I made 20 bars, today, 20 more, and tomorrow, at least 10 more will be made, perhaps 20 more. Prices for the ingredients have increased dramatically. Some of the oils were provided by Son 1 and DIL in part in payment for soap I made for them and in part as a gift and that helps.

I have been striving to eliminate non biodegradable disposables in packaging my products. One of my favorite moisturizers is Cocoa Butter which because of it’s crumbly texture is difficult to use, but a bit of formulation experimentation, I came up with a lotion bar, but it still would crumble when it got thin. I found some cardboard tubes and created lotion tubes that apply like a deodorant stick and do not crumble.

Each tube holds 2 ounces and when used up, the tube is biodegradable.

With a supply of herbal salves, some yarn, and products being produced, I hope I will have enough to make a nice display. I will have to slow down my Breed Blanket square making and focus more on items for the shop. The blanket already has 31 squares which will make it 40 X 48″ and there are still 5 months so a minimum of 5 more squares to make. That would be a 48 X 48″ blanket even if I only make one a month.

Summer showers and socialization

We are in the period of summer where we can count on a pop up down pour sometime during the day. Thursday started out rainy with Elsa hopping by but cleared by afternoon for a very pleasant walk. Yesterday it rained in the morning, cleared for our walk, then clouded up and rained some again. Today was gorgeous, then it clouded and poured for half an hour. It is still gloomy and drizzling, but will probably end before dark. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday look like copies of today.

Before the day turned wet, a friend came over and we sat on the front porch for a few hours in the pleasant breeze and spun and knitted together. She had a couple new spindle to show me and let me try one, I had a couple new to me ones that she was going to take one home to play with. I demonstrated plying on the fly which I just learned for the month’s challenge and she taught me Norwegian purling. I expect we both will hit up You Tube in each other’s absence for more practice. It is so nice to be able to be with someone outside our home again. The only reason we were on the porch was because it was a beautiful day, not too hot, and with a breeze.

Last night I finished knitting a square for my blanket from the Helsinge wool that was sent to me with a spindle from Sweden. I love the variation in color and had hoped to get two square from it, but only got one with enough wool left over to add to a hat.

I’m now knitting a square from wool I finished at the end of last month and didn’t get it knit and spinning Navajo churro which is spinning fine, but is not a pleasant next to your skin wool and it has lots of coarse hairs from it’s double coat. It is typically used to make rope or in traditional Navajo blankets.

Today, since the hens have been locked in for a couple weeks and egg production had improved, I gave them free range time. The only egg I got was the one layed before I turned them loose. I guess I will search the spots around the house to see if they hid any. More of the pullets are beginning to lay, at least 5 of them are laying cute little eggs that take 3 to equal one hen egg. The Marans has darkened hers up and a tiny light brown pair appear. The Easter egger that lays the blue/green egg is beginning to have a decent sized one.

Mature Olive egg, Marans, Buff or NH Red, and Easter Egger.

I am toying with moving one more mature hen to the actual coop which will put 16 in there, 3 of them almost 3 years old before we send the rest of the old ladies and the two rowdy roos to freezer camp. Maybe the pullets are going to overwhelm me with eggs once they are all laying and I will regret adding to that coop, but those three aren’t producing a lot and they are pretty colors.

While my friend was here, I was demonstrating an exercise and ended up with an ouch. Something in my back behind my hip popped and now is sore walking on stairs or unlevel ground. No pain when not in motion, but lifting is also uncomfortable. I’ve been sitting on and off ice all afternoon. I guess I should take an NSAID too.

Oh the humidity

Our mid day walks are brutal with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s, no breeze, and humidity that you can swallow. Working in the garden is equally unpleasant. Tomorrow is supposed to be pleasantly cool, but may rain.

When I went over this morning to let the pullets out, I noticed mature beans on the bush beans so grabbed the garden tub and went over to harvest so more will develop.

It is a start. We enjoyed some with dinner and about 5 meals for two were blanched and frozen. It was already too hot to want to be out there, but some weeding was done, the bolted lettuce pulled and tossed to the pullets. While I was out there, I heard the “egg song” and watched a young New Hampshire Red strut out of the coop. Until day before yesterday, only the two Easter Egger pullets were laying, one a green egg, the other blue. I found a tiny round, yolkless, thin shelled brown egg that had been laid beneath the coop day before yesterday, but today there were 4 pullet eggs. The two Easter Eggers, the NH Red, and a Marans.

The Marans egg is larger than the other three but she hasn’t gotten the dye machine mastered yet. It is light brown and chocolate brown both.

This afternoon as it clouded up, tempering the sun’s beating down, I tied up the tomatillos that are full of blooms and small fruit, and stirred up the surface of the bed that had peas in it, pulling the grass that was already forming. Just as I began to plant more bean seed in that bed, it began to rain, just enough to cool me off and soak my jeans that I had donned to use the line trimmer around the garden and in some of the paths. That job was done and the beans planted and the rain stopped. The sprinkler is on the garden now so the onions will fill out and the new beans will get watered in.

Last night, I finished spinning the first half of the Havre on the 9 g Finch. The little spindle has more than double it’s weight in spun yarn on it in the photo.

It looks much darker than it is as it was a nighttime photo under the table lamp. That ball was removed from the spindle and the second half spinning begun. When I finish it, I will wash it all at once and knit a square or two for the blanket.

It is definitely summer in the Virginia mountains. Hot as hades one day, cool the next. Rain that lasts minutes and dry spells that mean the grass doesn’t have to be mowed as often. I struggled to start the gas mower so I could mow the new grass and chop of the straw that mulched the seed til it grew, but I couldn’t get it going. After dinner, I succeeded and gave it a trim. I may need to gently rake the straw away or the maurading hens will dig it all up. They have been penned up for about 10 days now to let the grass grow and because I was frustrated with trying to find where they were laying their eggs. With them penned, I have been getting 3 of 4 nearly every day.