The Fair Isle sweater project would get picked up, half a row or a row stitched and then dropped back into the basket. Each time I picked it up, I commented on how heavy just the yoke was and since we have had to cancel our ski trip and probably take that activity off our agenda in the future, I saw no time when wearing the sweater would happen. The physical weight of the sweater was unbelievable. If I lived in the Yukon, maybe it would have been appropriate. Yesterday, I began to rip out the yoke, rewinding the hand spun yarn and trying to think of a project to use this beautiful yarn. The natural and two of the colors are my hand spun and the two colors, hand dyed. The remaining color from the sweater is beautiful hand dyed yarn from a friend, and I had another skein of her yarn in another color. I found a pattern that intrigued me`Infinitely Fibonacci, a tube shaped loop scarf. It requires 6 colors though and I only have 5. I have a couple of skeins of my hand spun Leicester Longwool that I could dye, and my friend has several colors that might coordinate with my other colors.
I decided that this would be the project to work on and when done, use the 6 colors to do a Fibonacci hat and mitts to match. I started with Cari’s beautiful two skeins to do the first 11 sets of color stripes. By the time I get the first 4 colors used, I will have obtained the 6th color.
I have a closet full of hand knit sweaters and maybe someday I will knit one of my hand spun that will both fit me and not weigh as much as a small child when complete.
When a project doesn’t work out, the yarn can still be enjoyed in another project. Thus is the beauty of knitting.
A few short days at home between the visit to Shrine Mont and leaving for a week of being Grandmom in charge for eldest grandson have been busy. The first night back, when I went to lock up the chickens, my reluctant pullet managed to fly over the fence into the garden. The lower un-planted part of the garden was literally chin high to my 5’8″ frame. The lawnmower was fueled and with much effort, about half of that area was mowed down in an effort to remove the cover for the chick. As it got too dark to see what I was doing, a decision was made to leave her to her fate, hoping that she would just find safe cover in the remaining weeds or up in the tomato jungle. She did survive the night and greeted me the next morning outside the gate. The mower was still in the garden, so in spite of the heat and threatening thunder storms, the rest of that area was mowed and hand weeding commenced on the area around the cucumbers, sweet potatoes, and the dozen or so volunteer tomatillo plants. By the time I finished, my stamina was gone and I quit, tossing half a dozen overgrown, yellow cucumbers to the chickens. No harvest had been done in our absence.
Today, with the temperatures only a few degrees lower, a determined effort was made to weed the upper garden, thin the tomatoes and sunflowers, and harvest as many tomatoes as I could. A 4 gallon feed bucket was filled with mostly plum tomatoes, a dozen heirloom slicers, and peppers.
After a long cold shower to refresh and renew me, I tackled the haul. There were 19 pounds of tomatoes, which I divided into 2 one gallon bags of diced tomatoes each almost 5 lbs.; 2 one gallon bags of whole paste tomatoes, several slicers to take with me tomorrow; 3 pints of jalapenos pickled, a pint of mixed hot peppers in salted vinegar that will be made into hot sauce once a quart has been gathered. Another pint or so of jalapeños were too large to pickle whole, so they will be diced and frozen. Another couple of dozen tomatoes were split and rotting and were tossed to the chickens.
I will be away from home for another 10 days, so I’m sure with the persistent heat and daily rain, a repeat of the past few days will be in order once I return. Hopefully it will be a bit cooler by then.
Yesterday, in anticipation of my absence, I dyed a half pound of Shetland roving to spin.
With these two braids, another that I did of Romney to learn the process, and my monthly installment of the Tailfeather’s Club from Unplanned Peacock, I will have plenty to spin while sitting on the porch while grandson is in school. I will arrive home with about 2 to 3 hours to unpack and repack to leave for a few days at a spinning retreat. I may have to spin all undyed fiber there and dye the yarn later. I will also be teaching salve making and be a vendor at this event, so I have to be organized before I leave to babysit.
Tonight, Jim will be taken out to dinner and to buy a couple new pair of jeans as an early birthday. I will not be here to celebrate with him on his actual birthday.
Last Tuesday evening, son-in-law’s parents arrived by air, bringing Grandson A home from his 7 weeks in Florida. With them was A’s eleven year old male cousin. They got to have some quality time with the grandkids, enjoying some lunches out, a movie, laser tag, and the Children’s Museum. This put 9 folks in the house for breakfast and 3 dinners. They ate one dinner out with the kids and grands. Yesterday afternoon, they left to return to Florida, of course leaving A here to get back on his routine prior to school beginning in a couple of weeks.
The bed and bath linens have been laundered, folded and put away until that guest room is needed again. Last night, the kids rewarded us with a Mexican food meal out, freeing me from the meal prep, then we treated them all to ice cream out. Tonight is a return to Taekwondo for A and is also the adult class for the kids, so dinner will just be Jim and me.
Once home last night, I began spinning 4 ounces of over dyed Coopsworth wool. I had hoped to use it with another skein that was left over from making the sweater last spring, however, the yarn weight is nowhere near the same gauge. I will figure out what to do with them, perhaps make a hat and scarf set that can be used as a gift or go in my shop.
This morning, I dyed the 278 yards of Leicester Longwool that I spun last week. It is destined for my use and it is luscious.
In the midst of spinning, dyeing, cooking, laundry, and being grand-mom in charge, I worked on organizing my teaching materials, my product and labeling, and pulling out items that will be put in a reduced item basket to take to the fiber retreat toward the end of the month.
This evening just before preparing dinner, I got the area above and inside the chicken runs mowed on a high setting and the jungle thicket that even the chickens wouldn’t enter, clipped and pulled down. The cull chicks seem to prefer to stay inside their dry palace than to venture out in the wet to help keep the weeds at bay in their run. Maybe when it dries out a bit, they will come outside more. Tomorrow, I need to try to get two bales of straw to put fresh dry bedding in the coops. The hay bale that was designated for the coops is so wet from this summer’s rains that it is growing mushrooms. It will have to be broken up and used on the garden as mulch.
I just realized that I have been silent for quite a while, almost two weeks. It hasn’t been due to illness or vacation, it has partly been due to participating in a Le Tour de Fleece competition, so much of my effort has gone into spinning. During that period, I obtained a supported spindle and spindle bowl and have worked to learn to use it with some consistency. That has sidelined the top whorl and Dealgan spindles. I have carried my little Turk with me too, so that when my frustration with the new skill became too great, I could return to a familiar that is small enough to pack in my tote.
I have learned to dye roving and played with color. The one on the left has been spun into yarn.
Used some natural colors in fibers that I had never used before.
Taken some of that fiber and blended it with other natural fibers to create a mixed fiber batt on my drum carder and then spun it into yarn as well.
This is what I have produced during the past couple of weeks. The reddish bobbin on the right has a mate still being spun on the wheel and those singles will be plyed tomorrow for another skein. The lime green is being spun on the support spindle. To ply it, I have learned to Andean ply, where all of the singles on the spindle are wrapped in a specific way on your hand and then plyed from the two ends to the middle. I am plying it onto a bobbin on my wheel each time I fill the spindle. There is still a third to a half of the fiber to be spun.
The little Turk has Merino and camel on it and is almost ready to ply.
In the midst of all of this spinning, some organizing was accomplished. We bought me a stressless chair toward the beginning of the month and as it took up much less space than it’s predecessor, and as I took up weaving too, we bought me a three shelf cart that I assembled and set beside my chair with a knitting basket, a weaving basket, a spinning basket, my laptop, my loom, and a vase of spindles on it. With my wheel for spinning time, or my ottoman for relaxing and reading time, I have spent a fair amount of time in my “time out” corner.
I did finish my first weaving project, a 6 foot fringed scarf. I am sure that I will improve with experience, but am pleased with the outcome of this.
A matching cart was purchased and assembled for the utility area to organize and store my soap, lotion, and salve making supplies; and for my yarn and fiber dyeing supplies. It allowed me to get much of it off the pantry shelves and onto a rolling cart that can be moved to the area where I am working on product making or dyeing. Eventually, I hope to purchase an inexpensive microwave for the top of the cart that will be used for dyeing as I have found that to be the easiest method tried to date.
On the farm front, we have started harvesting cucumbers and peppers and I have pickled two pints of jalapenos for hubby and son so far.
The first two batches of chicks have all been cut loose by their Mama Hens and are beginning to form a flock of young birds that keep away from the adults for the most part. Some of them still return to Huck’s coop at night, some to the layer’s coop. The single chick that hatched from the third batch only survived a week and it’s Mama Hen continued to try to sit on whatever eggs were layed that day, but wasn’t committed to hatching them. She has now returned to the perch with the other adults at night. One hen is unwell. I don’t know what is wrong, but I isolated her with food and treated water. She is not rallying and I am torn whether to euthanize her or keep trying to make her well. Because of her symptoms, all of the feeders and waterers were sanitized and the entire flock is getting water treated with electrolytes and Apple cider vinegar. Once the temperature breaks a bit and the sick hen either gets better or is permanently removed, I will sanitize the layer coop and the isolation coop as soon it will be needed to house the culls.
We still love our life on our mountain farm, even though it is hot and humid during the day right now. It gets delightfully cool at night.
Of fiber arts, that is. Already, I knit, can crochet (but don’t much anymore), spin fiber on a spinning wheel and on drop spindles, and recently tackled kettle dyeing of yarn. Last week at the spinning group, my friend that taught the camp with me, brought me three of her rigid heddle looms to try and I brought one she was planning on selling home with me to play with for a week. By week’s end, I knew I was hooked and told her I wanted to purchase it from her.
Today, was teach the newbie day. She invited me over this morning to learn how to dye fiber, not just yarn, and yarn with multiple colors using a microwave. She has a dedicated microwave in her utility room near her utility sink and work counter, just for dyeing. With 3 bins full of colors to choose from, I was absolutely giddy. I had taken a 150 yard skein of chain plyed Shetland yarn and a bag of white Romney roving, unsure which I wanted to dye. She suggested both, then suggested a second pan of roving and walked me through the process with me doing the tasks while she watched.
This is what I came home with from the lesson. I can’t wait for the fiber to dry so I can spin it and see how it does.
While the fiber was cooling, the next lesson was how to warp the loom for a scarf. Again, she talked me through the instructions while I did it to learn, provided reminders and suggestions to speed the process up and explain why certain things were done the way she does it which made sense to me. Once the colors were chosen, the loom warped and the weft color selected, I began weaving on it. After a few rows, we tried a lighter gray weft and then black and both of us agreed that the black was the way to go. We left for a drive through lunch and on to the spinning group where I un-wove the two grays and started over with the black.
A scarf in the making on my newly acquired, gently used loom. My husband calls me his “crafty” wife and swears he didn’t say “crappy” wife.
I am now the owner of a spinning wheel, 4 drop spindles, a set of interchangeable knitting needles, a few crochet hooks, and a 10″ rigid heddle loom. Not terribly much invested in dollars, but lots of hobby time tools.
Farm life, knitting and spinning, cooking and family