Tag Archives: Spinning

Spinning and knitting away some time



Today was cold and rainy.  It was supposed to get up in the low 50’s, but it barely made it above freezing.  The time was spent indoors for the most part so I spent it spinning and doing a little knitting.  I had spun 4 ounces of Dorset lamb roving at the spinning retreat last weekend and began on the other 4 ounces when I got home.  So far about an ounce has been done.  It is going to take a jumbo flyer and a large bobbin to ply it and I don’t have one.  I may set them aside until I save enough money to buy the flyer and jumbo bobbin for my wheel.


After I finished this last week, I had a few yards of one ply left and Navajo plied it wondering what to do with such a small amount.


At the retreat last weekend, I decided that I needed a small bag or basket to hang on my wheel to hold the spinning oil, WPI tool and repair items, so I used the scraps to knit this little bag for my spinning notions and tools and hung it on my wheel.


This is the roving that I purchased to make myself a sweater from my own handspun. It really is darker than it appears in this photo.   It was put away in a plastic bag to keep the stink bugs out until I get the Dorset spun and spin the roving that I bought for my daughter.

It’s Got a Hold on Us

Late winter that is.  We have Had weeks of well below normal temperatures.  Last week we got a total of 19 inches of snow over two separate snow falls.  School for Grandson hasn’t occurred in over a week.  President’s Day in the US is typically a holiday for schools, but his school had scheduled a makeup day from a previously missed weather day and the makeup day was cancelled along with the rest of the week and Monday and today of this week.  We weren’t quite sure why today was cancelled as the roads seemed to be mostly cleared, the forecast for a very cold night last night and normal cold day today.  The Superintendent must have an inside track to the weatherman as we woke to more snow.  The areas that had cleared on our one aberrant warm day are again lightly covered.  I don’t think we will see much but even another inch or two is not welcomed.  Most days are hovering just at or below freezing and nights about 10 to 15 degrees colder, but a few day ago, we thought spring had come, the thermometer said it got up to 50f (10c) a real heatwave.  The snow started to melt, the driveway became a muddy mess as our farmer friend had been too over zealous in his scraping, piling huge mounds of snow 4 or more feet high in front of and beside the house.  Then it got cold again and the melt became an ice slick.  We haven’t had mail delivery in over a week though we have been able to get in and out all but a couple of days.



The freeze thaw freeze cycle has made chicken chores a challenge.  One of the scrapes to a mound is just outside the garage door on the side of the house.  The footprints from walking over have become crusty with ice under them and the walk over a slick tricky path.  Trying to create a new path involves taking a step on unbroken snow and not knowing if it will hold or break through a couple of inches or knee deep.  Water sloshes, feed scatters then the chooks don’t want to come out at all.

So what’s a girl to do, why order yarn to knit and spin fiber of course.  I had been dallying on a spinning project of some roving that I ended up not liking very much.  It was white through shades of pink to maroon then white to shades of gray to charcoal.  I ended with one full bobbin, knowing if I plied it on itself, I wouldn’t have much yarn from it.  In my fiber basket was a ball of maroon merino roving, so I spun a second solid single of it and used the two together to make yarn.


It isn’t really my color choice, but I ended up with almost 300 yards of DK/Light Worsted yarn.  It may be sold, perhaps I will find a project for it.

Earlier this winter, I knit a yoked sweater of Brown Sheep yarn to go with my Hitchhiker scarf.



I ended up realizing that after years of knitting Raglan sleeve sweaters, that I much prefer the Yoke style.  I love the pattern that I made and love the sweater, but hate the yarn.  It is soft and pills terribly.  Another sweater of the same style seemed in order and I had made a sweater a couple of years ago from Bovidae sport weight yarn that I had purchased at the SAFF festival and though that yarn isn’t soft, it is warm, holds up beautifully and doesn’t pill.  An order was placed for more of that yarn in a color similar to the Brown Sheep and a new yoke sweater has been cast on.


Last night as I was about to do the second increase row, I realized there was an error about an inch back, so about a third of my progress was ripped out, stitches picked up and today I will progress on.  My last knitting project prior to the current sweater is a gradient moebius cowl of sport weight yarn.  I have decided that sport weight is my preferred knitting yarn.


Modeled by my beautiful daughter.  Hmmm, do you see a color preference here?

In two days, I will abandon Mountaingdad, Daughter and the two grands for a few days at a spinning retreat in West Virginia.  A couple of days of socialization and no responsibilities.  A mini vacation and time to unwind and recharge.

Olio – November 13, 2014

Olio: a miscellanous collection of things.

My blogging goes through spits and spurts, sometimes my creativity is just not there, or focused on other issues.  As the winter sets in, I am more content to sit and read or knit, sometimes both at the same time, if my book is on my tablet and my knitting is mindless.  I have been going through books at a record rate lately, some of them not worthy of mention, but several quite noteworthy.  The Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline fascinated me.  The period of time related to my Dad’s young life and I recommended it to him and my stepmom.  They both loved it too and set out on some research to see if her grandfather was one of the orphans.  He was an immigrant orphan, adopted in that part of the US.  They are still trying to prize out information for her, and her mother’s maiden name happens to be Baker.  The Glassblowers, Petra Durst-Benning, a translation from German totally enthralled me. A loose historical fiction of the glassblowing village of Lauscha in Germany and three young women as they struggle to survive and break the gender barrier to create some of the earliest blown glass Christmas ornaments.  Another good one was The Light Between Ocean’s, M. L. Stedman, a tale of love, loss, and deception, set at a lighthouse off Western Australia.


This is Yellow Cat, a sickly intact male barn kitty that rarely goes to the barn, spending much of his day on our front porch.  He is a rescue that was born with Feline Aids and can’t be neutered because every time we try to take him to the vet, he has a rhinovirus attack.  He is pitiful, wheezes like Darth Vader, but is loving, friendly with the dogs, and keeps most of the mice out of the house by his presence.  He was enjoying the 5 minutes of morning sunshine we had on this brisk cloudy day.  We certainly aren’t suffering the cold and snow of parts of the country, but the temperature is 20 degrees below normal for this time of the year and we are having snow flurries and very cold in the teens nights.
On my way to my spinning group today, riding shotgun for hubby, I finished knitting granddaughter #1’s sweater. The ends are woven in, it has been washed and is blocking on the downstairs bed. I can’t decide whether to use plain buttons the color of the sweater or go looking for something cute and three year old appropriate. I guess I’ll decide that tomorrow. I still have two kid sweaters to get done by Christmas, then I will get back to my own sweater.

I did get some spinning done today. My arthritic right thumb has been noncooperative lately and so I have only played a bit with the Turkish drop spindle, but today I spun on my wheel. Though I’m not a fan of pink and am not sure why I bought fiber that color, the darker purples and grays are making an interesting single.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

Knit, Spin, Stain, Cook

With two days of beautiful weather, I finished all of the staining that I can reach and with the cooler, wetter weather coming, it may be all that gets done this fall.  We will have to finish it this spring.  I made up a gallon of the stain mix this morning and the area that was to be done didn’t require that much, so the excess was used to get about 2/3 of the coop “redecorated.”  The girls were on a walk-a-bout on the farm, being supervised by Romeo, so it was a good time to get it done.  We have a few days of rain due, so the last bit can’t be done for a few days.  The year and a half it has been in use, it has gotten very dry and faded.  The egg hatch, pop door and side drop window are all made of the same plywood siding as the coop and their exposed edges are really showing wear from the weather.  I guess at some point, those three features will have to be replaced with a more weather resistant material.

Coming in, stain covered and worn out, after a thorough clean up, I turned my waning energy to less strenuous tasks.  I’m working on one of the sleeves of my sweater, the one that is being knit to go with the Hitchhiker scarf made during the summer.


And an Ouroboros Moebius scarf, a design by a friend Mergaret Radcliff, published in the December 2013, Knit n’ Style magazine.  The scarf will be for Son #1 as part of his Christmas gift.

Both projects are pretty mindless knitting at this point.
I’ve looked at “Hot Mess” for enough days that I think the measly 106 yards of tight overspun very fine yarn is going to become a knitted cover for a small sturdy plastic cup to hang from my spinning wheel to hold the machine oil, orifice hook and notions I need when spinning.
Tonight we enjoyed a “gourmet” meal utilizing some of the goodies from this year’s garden. The basic baked pork chops were topped with chutney that I canned, the Roasted veggies a blend of our yellow and white sweet potatoes, garlic, and rosemary added to farmers’ market potato’s, carrots and onions. A farmers’ market salad mix topped with beets, our radish kimchi and goat cheese.
Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Olio, October 6, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

The garden survived a 31ºf night and a 37ºf night through the aid of some row cover over the peppers and tomatillos.  The beans that haven’t been eaten by the deer that have breeched the electric fence also survived.  The pumpkins/winter squash patch is finally beginning to die back and there are dozens of the Burgess Buttercup squash beginning to show through.  So far I don’t see a single Seminole Pumpkin which is disappointing.  Today I waded through the thigh high patch, pulled back the squash vines and tried to dig the sweet potatoes.


I’m sure there are more there, but the vines will have to die back more before I try again.  Now that they are harvested, they require a few days of curing at 80ºf.  I don’t know how that will happen with the daytime temperatures at least 15 degrees lower than that and we haven’t turned the heat on in the house so it is 20 degrees cooler.  I put them out on a rack in the sun this morning, but then the rains started, so they are in the utility room until we see sunshine again.

In July when visited our daughter’s family in Florida, our granddaughter came out in the cutest sun dress.


She and her mom love it because she can dress herself in it and it has no fasteners.  Over confident Mountaingmom announced, “That would be so easy to make.”  The bodice was traced on printer paper, the tiers measured approximately and brought home to the farm.  Later two packets of fat quarters were purchased and I stalled.  Before the Spinning retreat, I decided to begin them.  First off, I failed to cut the front on a fold, I do know better.  Second error was attempting to use three strands of narrow elastic to gather the back, I ended up buying wide underwear elastic later.  Third error was in the measurements I had made of the ruffles which I realized before cutting.  Daughter remeasured everything for me and a few days ago, I got serious about finishing the first dress.


Yesterday after finishing it, I decided that dress #2 was going to be made with a pattern and I purchased a simple A-line toddler dress pattern from McCall.  As I still wanted to use the fat quarter that I bought for the second dress, The solution was to cut wide strips, sew them end to end, then side to side to create a large striped panel that was used to cut the pattern.  I had some unbleached muslin that I used as facing as the pattern called for binding the edges with bias tape and I didn’t want to do that. Dress #2 was much easier to assemble.


As granddaughter lives in Florida, she will be able to wear them all year with a long sleeve T-shirt under them, so 3 T’s were bought to add to the package.  Also in the package is a giraffe.  Yes, a giraffe.  Two Christmases ago, we bought her a little barn that has various activity parts to it and a collection of farm animals to put inside.  Their dog got a couple of the animals and chewed them up, some of which were replaced, she selected a moose for her farm.  Near their home is a farm that has a giraffe.  We don’t know why or how they obtained it, but it is a source of amusement as we drive by, so her barn will now also have a giraffe.

The Hot Mess yarn that I spun at the retreat, was soaked and hung with a weight on it.  The treatment helped relax the over twist some, so now I have a 106 yard skein of smooth, but tight yarn.


I have no idea what to do with it.  It is too little for anything other than trim on something.  There isn’t even enough to make a market bag.

The yarn on the bobbin is the random color Merino that I purchased at the retreat.  The color isn’t showing up very well with no sun out and only house lighting to photograph it in, but it is basically lilac color with gold and maroon highlight.  I haven’t finished plying it yet to measure, but it looks like it will be a couple hundred yards of fingering weight yarn.


Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.


The Retreat

Thursday morning, I departed, leaving Mountaingdad home to care for dogs, chickens, and for part of the weekend, also Son #1 and Grandson #1, while I traveled two hours west with a spinner friend to Hawks Nest State Park for a 3 day spinning retreat.  And a treat it was.  In route the other 4 of the other spinners from our local group met us at Tamarack, a delightful juried craft market with a cafe run by The Greenbrier.  We wandered and ogled the wood, glass, pottery, weaving, prints, and quilts then had our lunch in the cafe before making the last half hour trek to the park.

There we were treated to rooms, most that overlooked a long section of the New River Gorge.

The view from our room and from the conference room of the retreat.
Check in area of the lobby.
We didn’t even unpack before we set up our wheels and started to spin, Shetland, Mohair, Cotswold, Dorset, Alpaca, Yak and Silk.  Many vendors with more fiber to tempt this hungry group of fiber artists.


Spinners and weavers, tables of fluff, chatter and knitting, all lots of fun stuff.

At night we partied on goodies brought from home and pot luck shared with beverages of choice.  To town we zipped for lunch at the Cathedral Cafe for homemade soup, salad and bread, then homemade Chai tea and carrot cake.  Another evening to town for pizza, salad and beer or rootbeer.

Three days of new friends and old, food, fiber and fellowship.  Each of us leaving with a goody bag of fiber samples, notebooks, pens, pencils, patterns and a door prize each of wonderful donated weavings, fiber, photo frames, salsa and chips, bags or other wonderful surprises.

In spite of the chattery good times, much yarn was made, much was woven or knit.  I succeeded in over 400 yards of a mixed fiber skein.

This will be added to my growing mixed fiber yarn of naturals and colors that will be a blanket someday.
This will be added to my growing mixed fiber yarn of naturals and colors that will be a blanket someday.
This hot mess of overspun Merino that looks like a 106 yard long hair scrunchy.
This hot mess of overspun Merino that looks like a 106 yard long hair scrunchy.

And 100 grams of beautiful Merino that is awaiting the other 100 grams to be spun and plied that will become a gift scarf for some lucky person.

The Hot Mess was Merino purchased there as is the Merino that is only half done and the 8 ounce bag of Dorset Lamb fiber the Hot Mess is sitting on.  I will enjoy more spinning reminders from the weekend and look forward to the next retreat in late winter of the one next fall.  I will return.


Olio – September 5, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The Rainbow Ranger chicks have exceeded 2 pounds each at 4 1/2 weeks, far outgrowing anything we have to use as a brooder. They are getting feisty with each other, chest bumping and pecking. They are mostly feathered and it is still warm to hot during the days and mild at night. They were requiring twice daily brooder clean out, had gone for a week without supplemental heat in the garage, so a decision was made today to relocate them to the auxiliary pen, confined to the chicken ark. We did concede to put a tarp over the sides and will keep our fingers crossed that we don’t lose them now. Again I vow to let my hens do the work of raising chicks from now on or we are going to have to build a bigger outdoor brooder with electricity so we can put the heat lamp in it.
The March hatched Buff Orpington pullets are almost all laying finally. We are getting 8 or 9 eggs a day and thoroughly enjoying having them again.
Between canning tomatoes and cleaning chicks, I have found time to finish my Hitchhiker scarf.


And spin and ply 383 yards of Merino wool into an interesting DK weight yarn.


Now I need to decide whether to sell it, or create something with it.
When we had a cool evening two weeks ago, I pulled out my Elise sweater I knit last year and determined that it pulled at my shoulders because it is just a bit too small for me.





I don’t have anymore of the yarn, nor do I want to reknit it as I have two other sweaters currently on needles and they are both shades of blue or teal, so I am trying to decide it’s fate.  My options are to try to sell this hand knit sweater for little more than the cost of the yarn, to try to trade it for spinning fiber, or determine if there is a relative smaller than I that would like to have a hand knit sweater that has to be hand washed.

Last weekend, I broke my second tooth of the summer.  The first required a crown and that tooth still hasn’t been finished, a temporary crown in place until mid week.  When I called the dentist, they were able to get me in yesterday and fortunately this one only needed a filling repair for now.  Being a molar, it likely will eventually need a crown as well.  I have 6 already and lost one crowned tooth because of repeated gum infections between it and the adjacent tooth.  I hope that with dental repairs and care, I will retain most of my teeth as my 91 year old father has.

It has been a good week and we continue to love our life on our mountain farm.


Sew Pretty



My baby girl (well, she a big girl now with two kids of her own, but she will always be my baby girl) and I text back and forth often.  Short little conversations, just keeping up.  Oh course we talk on the phone too, but not daily.

A couple of weeks ago while shopping at one of our two natural food stores, I found the blue market bag on the left in the top picture.  It is a One Mango Tree bag, made in Northern Uganda.  One Mango Tree provides sewing training, steady jobs, a daily meal, school fees stipends for children, bicycles, etc. and the bags are eco-friendly and fair trade.  I texted a picture of it to my daughter.  She at some point had purchased one off of their website to use as a purse and decided it was too large for that purpose.  She asked me how big mine was as it was sitting on the back seat of my car full of groceries and I measured it when I got home.  It is about the same size as hers, but has a matching fabric strap where hers has a braided handle which she says hurts her shoulder when it is full of market goodies.  I asked her what she was looking for size-wise to use as a purse and she gave me the dimensions she was seeking and told her the style of bag would be so easy to make, that I would make her one.

Last Wednesday on my way to knit night, I stopped at the fabric store and selected fabrics in the colors that she likes, taking photos and texting them to her (we live 850 miles apart).  Once the outside fabric was selected via text message, we started on the lining and the questions about whether she wanted it stiffened with Pellon.  She didn’t know what Pellon was but did want it stiffened to use as a purse.  On my way to get bias tape, which I didn’t use, I found a card of buttons that matched perfectly.  The sewing supplies sat in my spinning chair for a week.  I haven’t spun or sewed all week, though I did start a knitting project and read two books, worked in the garden and yard.

Yesterday, I did make a pattern out of butcher paper and added it to the pile.  Today after lunch, Jim went out to do a bit more with the weed wacker and I set about to make the purse.  About an hours worth of cutting, ironing and sewing and my baby girl has a new purse.  A few texts back and forth for her to see it compared in size to the other bag and to decide whether she wanted the button and if so as a decoration or functional and she is happy.  I have plenty of the fabric left and think I will make her a matching market bag them mail them off to her instead of her having to wait for us to visit much later in the summer.


I’m on a spinning roll.  As soon as I finished the Random Colors Merino last night I started on a top of Romney that has long color gradient.


It starts with yellow and moves through sunset colors to midnight blue.


After reading a Yarn Harlot post quite a while ago, I have wanted to try to spin a long color gradient yarn and I found some lovely tops at The Homestead Hobbyist on Etsy.  After dividing the top down the middle lengthwise, I spun two bobbins beginning with the yellow and ending with the midnight blue.


The result after plying today is a skein 136 yards long of light worsted yarn, named Midday to Midnight.  What else could it be called.

Once it was finished and I was rummaging around in my fiber basket trying to decide what I want to spin next, I decided that I really should put my inventory on Ravelry in my notebook.  If you are a knitter or crocheter, please feel free to browse, http://www.ravelry.com/people/Mountain-g-mom, maybe something will catch your eye.  Some of my yarn is for sale at Greenberry House in Meadows of Dan, VA, some I still have here and can’t decide whether to use it or sell it too.  At least, I now know what I have on hand, well most of it, there is a sampler of fiber that are tiny hanks that haven’t been spun or inventoried.  They will likely be added to my Funky Fiber yarn that will some day become a knitted throw.  I didn’t decide what to start.  Perhaps I should finish the Tunis with the Finn X Jacob and have that yarn ready to knit when I get out of the spinning mode and want to make the Rib Warmer for fall.

Olio May 29, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things



Today’s harvest, a bowl of fresh eggs and a basket of chard for our dinner.IMG_20140528_102504


The beautiful Merino roving became this lovely 125 yards of Navajo plied yarn.  I can’t decide whether to make a scarf out of it or put it up for sale.  It has been soaked is currently drying.  It seemed appropriate to Navajo ply it as the book that I am currently reading is

Navajo Autumn, R. Allen Chappell

Navajo Autumn

The morning was humid, but not too hot, so some more of the breezeway flower bed was weeded and more mulch applied.  A few more mornings and that task will be complete.  The afternoon turned stormy, thunder, lightening and heavy rain showers, so the garden is getting a good soaking, but no work in it.