Tag Archives: handspun yarn

Olio, October 12, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

It has been a while since an Olio was posted, actually been a while since much of anything has been posted.

Spinzilla, the TNNA (The National Needle Arts Assoc.) team spinning competition ended Sunday night.  Our team had 25 spinners from across the US, sponsored by The Knotty Ladies and Strauch Fiber Equipment Company.  Most of our team has reported their yardage with a photo, it was due to our team leader yesterday, but mine was turned in before the official end of the competition by about 3 hours.  I was worn out, beat up, and generally over it by then and had finished plying a bobbin full of wool, so I quit.  During the course of the competition as my spinning wheel only has 4 bobbins and 1 of them has some pre Spinzilla alpaca on it that didn’t get finished prior to the start time, I plyed off every bobbin or two bobbins together, wound them off the plying bobbin, measured the yardage, and banded them with fiber, yardage, and weight and put the info in a spreadsheet to make the total tally easier to do.  In the end, spinning every spare minute I could on my wheel and everywhere we went on one of my drop spindles, I spun 5000.57 yards of wool, 2.84 miles in 7 days.


Though we have often had our first frost by now, we are still experiencing daytime tempertures as high as 90, but the light drought we have been experiencing has finally broken and we have had some rain in the past week, greening up the browned grasses.  The trees are turning orange, red, and gold, some having already shed their leaves.


The pullets seem to all be laying now, often getting up to 13 eggs from the 16 on a good day.  Only one of the old girls is still laying, though the molt seems to be winding down, it no longer looks like a chicken exploded in their coop and run.


Normally in the autumn, we spend about 23 hours taking turns mowing our 30 acres with a 5 foot brush hog and our little tractor, but this year, we turned the task over to our retired postman and his helper and let them mow and bale the 3 big fields.  That leaves only from the house to the road to mow and that often gets done monthly anyway.  That was a big relief to not have to face that many hours on the tractor.


He got 20 large round bales, not too bad for a second cutting of hay after weeks of really dry weather.  His cattle will appreciate it this winter if we get any bad weather.

Each day hubby and I try to get in a good brisk walk.  Even with the rain we have managed most days.  Between our house and Blacksburg, there is a large pond in the  National Forest and it has a nice path around it.  If we park in the upper parking lot, walk down to the pond and around it and then turn around and back track, we get about 2.3 miles.  From the library in Blacksburg to the rec center in Christiansburg is an asphalt trail on an old rail grade, mostly through wooded areas, behind residential areas, and some open fields and it has several access points.  There are two that we choose, from the library to Airport Road and back which is about the same 2.3 miles and from behind the hospital toward Christiansburg, a 2.5 section.  Our 4th walk choice is to go to Radford when we are over in that direction and walk 2.7 miles of Bisset Park on an asphalt trail along the New River.  As we are still seeing various specialists nearly weekly trying to determine what is going on with hubby, we have avoided steep climbs or walks that take us out of civilization where getting help if needed would be difficult.  There is another trail along the New River that we want to check out, but it is one that will probably involve taking along a picnic and making a day trip of it as it is a bit of a drive.

My crafting since the end of Spinzilla has been minimal, but I did get my studio corner cleaned up and mostly organized and used some of my hand spun, hand dyed yarn to repair my favorite pair of jeans.


And I have read.  The Orphan’s Tale is an excellent historical fiction set during WWII set in Germany and France and set around the circus.  A really interesting read, highly recommended.

Sometimes We Need Luxury

Over the weekend, I began spinning a part of my Tailfeathers subscription from last year from Unplanned Peacock.  It was a generous 100 grams (actually more like 125 grams) of pure silk top.  The gorgeous colorway was called Sequoia, greens, a little yellow, some white.  I took my time spinning it, I wanted a thin, even, well balanced yarn.


I started by dividing the top in half, hoping to get fairly equal bobbins of singles to ply.


Once it was all spun, I was concerned that it wasn’t going to ply onto only one bobbin, but I spent the afternoon plying.  It was a soft as butter as it spun, a delight to handle.


It was a full bobbin, very full and this is a truer representation of the color.  It is very even, fingering to baby weight and so soft.


I ended up with 335 yards of delightful yarn.  It doesn’t have a plan, maybe it will go in the shop, maybe knit into a small shawl or cowl.  This was the second time I have spun silk, the first time was totally on one of my drop spindles.  Another lovely skein of yarn.


Lucky Day

All week, I have been monitoring the weather for today.  This week has been so very cold, and today was to dawn with a very high chance of freezing rain or mixed wintry precipitation mix and a high mid afternoon only in the upper 30’s or low 40’s.  Yesterday, the forecast improved, though there was still a chance of freezing rain overnight.  Today was the second Holiday Market at the Blacksburg Farmers Market and I was prepared to set up my booth, clothed for a very cold, wet day and worrying that the foot traffic would be sparce.

When I awoke this morning, it was overcast, but the temperature was already 42ºf up here on the mountain.  I had packed the tables, weights, canopy tent, and my chair last night.  This morning, I loaded the huge plastic box of soaps, lotions, and salves, the smaller plastic totes of yarn and knitwear, bags, wraps, and all of the other items needed to set up my stall.  When I arrived at the market, it was a bit cooler and raining lightly, but like other markets, everyone chipped in and helped set up tents and tables.  I have been fortunate at all 4 Holiday Markets to have Beth and Chuck of Dashing Dogs Pottery as my neighbor and they are so helpful with my tent that I lack the strength to erect alone.

We had periods of light rain offset by sunshine during the 5 hour market, the temperature warming into the 50’s and great foot traffic.  Many folks were out looking for their weekly purchases from the market and much shopping for holiday gifts. It was a very successful day for the vendors and we were all grateful for the much improved weather situation.



It is interesting to see how the items sold vary from different markets.  Today was knitwear, some yarn, and lots of beard oil and moustache wax.  Handcrafted bar soap was also popular today.

This was my last show for the season.  I will wait and see what develops for spring and summer.

Daughter and grandkids dropped by after having breakfast and I was able to send them home with some pasta, sausage, and salad to help with this week’s meals.

Now it is time to finish preparation for Christmas at our household.  There are still some gifts to wrap and a few very small items to purchase, Christmas dinner to plan and a grocery run.

SHOP NOW:  https://squareup.com/store/cabin-crafted/


Putting by has commenced

Putting by” is an old-fashioned term for preserving food for eating long after the harvest or butchering.  This is a challenge each summer and fall to try to store enough from the garden, the orchard, and the coops, to help us stay local and to reduce our winter food budget/footprint.

One of the easiest items that go on the pantry shelves are pickled jalapenos.  Jim and eldest son both love them and eat them with most dinners.  Some years the last jar gets opened just as the first peppers are harvested from the garden.  This year, too many peppers went into salsa and the freezer, as some of my plants last year produced the jumbo variety.  We had to buy 2 cans of commercially canned ones.  The first 3 jars have been pickled and are curing.

Today, a few bell peppers, a handful of Dragon Thai peppers, and the first Habenero were harvested.  The Thai and Habeneros will be made into hot sauces as more are harvested.  As they come in to the house, they are washed, stemmed, and put in a jar of good vinegar or frozen.  When there are enough in the jar, they will be ground, garlic, salt, a grated carrot added, cooked until smooth, jarred in half pint jars and canned.

Daughter and SIL purchased a fruit share from a Farm to Table group and this time of year, the share has been heavy in berries which they enjoy, peaches that they don’t care for fresh, and spring green cooking apples.  Today to make sure the peaches didn’t all spoil, I bought two mangos, a box of golden raisens, and good sized chunk of fresh ginger, and made 7 pints of Mango/Peach Chutney.  It smelled heavenly cooking and after canning it, one did not seal so I got to taste it before storing it in the refrigerator.  It tastes just like real Indian Chutney.


Tomorrow, the second batch of green apples will be made into applesauce along with some of the apples that were frozen last year.  There are already 5 pints of applesauce made from the first batch of the apples that they brought home.  There will be fewer apples from our orchard this year.  We had a late frost that killed all of the flowers on the three trees that produce our eating apples.  We will get some fruit from the smaller cooking apple trees and a small harvest of Asian pears.

This is a start to our old tradition of putting by.

Tomorrow, the fiber challenge ends.  Today, I went out with a bang, finishing the second bobbin of the red Pohlworth, plyed it into 205 yards of sport weight yarn.  Tonight it is resting and will be washed tomorrow.  I still have some of the lime green alpaca and merino blend to finish and one fiber that was in my plan did not get done, but it will eventually.  I need to get busy knitting or sell some of the yarn I am making, it is accumulating quickly.

The Great Soap Dilemma

A couple of years ago, I began making cold process soap and handmade solid lotion bars so that I knew what the contents of the products were.  The soap that I was making was being used in our household and by some of our children and their families.  The lotion bars have been used by me, given as gifts to knitter and spinner friends and family and all were well received.  This encouraged me to continue to make more and varied products and soon I was stockpiling much more than we could use.  A couple of months ago, I opened an Etsy Shop, hoping to make a hobby business out of my passion.  I signed up for a folk craft festival.  Both the shop and the festival have been or were largely unsuccessful, however, my friends who have been given soap, lotion bars, or beard oils or who have purchased them from me have encouraged me not to give up.

In this vein, one friend suggested that I apply for the Holiday Market at the Farmers’ Market that will occur on two Saturdays, one in November and one in December.  I contacted the market manager and received an application.  The application was completed and promptly returned with the necessary photos of products.  October 15 was the deadline to submit the applications and I am sitting on pins and needles awaiting notification of whether I was accepted for either or both of the days.   As soap can be made in a couple of hours, it requires 4 weeks to cure to sufficient hardness to make it marketable.  My supply is fairly good right now, especially of the ones scented with essential oils, but 3 of my 4 signature unscented soaps are in a fairly low supply. For the past week, I have debated with myself, whether I should make more soap, knowing that if I don’t get in the market and if my shop business doesn’t pick up, that I would be adding 27 more bars of soap to my supply shelf.

This morning, I decided that the soaps that were in short supply are also the ones that we are most likely to use here, so I hauled out the scale, pot, immersion blender, oils, lye and other accoutrements of a morning of soap making.


I ended up making 3 batches of signature soaps.  My Coffee Scrub, Lavender Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat soaps wrapped in insulating towels on a wide window sill until they can be unmolded and cut tomorrow or the next day.  These soaps are all natural soaps made with food grade oils, no preservatives, no artificial colorants and no scent oils.  They are all mild castile soaps.

Now my fingers and toes are crossed that I am admitted to at least one of the market days and that my soaps, lotion bars, beard oils, Comfrey salve, and handspun yarns sell. I would love to keep indulging in my love to make these products.

The Last. . .

…harvest of tomatoes that is.  The vines are dry and brown, the handful of remaining tomatoes are being decimated by the stinkbugs and each day I pull and toss a vine to the chickens to pick over.  There are a few remaining green slicer tomatoes and I will enjoy them as fried green tomatoes, a treat that I rarely indulge, partly because my diet contains very little fried food and partly because I let them ripen on the vine during warm weather to enjoy sliced or canned.


These will be canned probably into salsa to add to the root cellar shelves to enjoy and remember a successful tomato season when the snow is falling or the cold wet wind is blowing much sooner than ready.

…the last pullet figured out the egg laying business, sort of.  There was a tiny egg this morning, apparently laid yesterday in the run and not seen until this morning when I went to let them out.  It was dark when I locked them up last night when I came in from knit night.  Surprisingly, nothing found it during the night.  Now, if she will just lay them in the nesting boxes with the other hens.  Romeo is a very frustrated young roo.  None of his ladies in waiting will stand still for him to mount them, they run and peck.  When he was first added to the run, several squatted in submission, but not now.  It is going to be hard for us to raise a heritage flock if that behavior continues.

…of the 5 gallon bucket of stain will be mixed this morning once the fog clears, to stain the soffit and fascia board overhang from the front porch.  At knit night last night, I ran into the manager of the Sherman Williams in the coffee shop and he suggested I wait until this weekend to buy more as the stain that we use will be on sale for 40% off and that is a significant savings in dollars for our budget.  That also gives me two days for my sore and painful shoulder to calm down before I tackle the log wall of the front of the house.  Saturday is to be mild and breezy with humidity in the right range for the project, so that will be the day to complete the task.


…the last few rows of the beautiful handspun sweater.  The photo doesn’t do the color justice but it is lovely.  It should be ready for the spinning retreat I will be attending soon.