Toss, keep, keep toss, toss, keep

Tossing and keeping… fleece that is. My mom’s first time skirting fleece and she did a good job of it. We had all of 2017’s fleece to go through and two from 2016 and one sheep’s fleece is missing for both years. I have no earthly idea what I did with her fleece. Still I ended up with almost 9lbs of Shetland lamb fleece and 60lbs of CVM fleece.

Do you wanna see them?
Of course you do.

The CVM Romeldale Crew (minus Ashie-pie)
Agnes

Angel

Apple

Argyle

Aster

A Boy Named Sue

And the Shetlands
Molasses

Creme Brulee

Godiva

We also managed to re-wire the skirting table that doubles as a lambing fence so we’ll be good and ready for lambing next year. Maybe I’ll get everything processed through earlier too. These are all headed off to be processed soon. Look for roving and yarn in a few months.

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Kumihimo

You might be seeing more Kumihimo popping up on my blog. I’ve been doing a ton of it lately. Cords and beads all the time. Knitting has been a little rough on my arms and my shoulders. I’ve had a hand injury from the sheep a couple of years ago, an elbow injury from last winter… and then my shoulders have always been a mess. Now, I’m not complaining. Not in the slightest.

Really these injuries have given me the chance to spend more time weaving and working on kumihimo and braids. It’s all been things that I’ve been interested in but haven’t had the time to work on since I sit down and immediately pick up needles. I still do that but then I have to just put them down faster. This gives me a chance to pick up a loom or braids.

Using the little foam kumihimo things have given me the chance to have really portable projects too. I’ve kinda gone braid crazy.

All the browns…

All the brights…

Beads!!!

OMG, the beads…

And then I’ve been working on all kinds of handspun to work into the kumihimo too. This is a little dainty one in silk.

I even opened an Etsy shop with all the kumihimo, the clothing I’ve been dyeing for ages and the scarves I keep neglecting to put on my regular website.

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The Spinning Summit

Over this past weekend I participated in the WEBs Spinning Summit. Not only participated but taught there and shopped my heart out. My fellow teachers were Beth Smith, Abby Franquemont, and Jillian Moreno. What a great girl gang we made. The teaching was fantastic. The students were amazing. The spin ins were great and I admit that I might have shopped a cart worth. This was a great event that I really hope WEBs continues. I can only imagine that it will get even better but I don’t know how. It was really fabulous.

What you really want to see is what I bought though, right? I was focused on weaving projects. Some small, some big and well… my bag of yarn is massive. I’m only showing you one of the full bags here right now. I might show off the rest as time goes on but I didn’t want it to be a ridiculously large post so I’ll keep it to one bag.

The amount of yarn was so big, I had to make it into 3 pictures and still I’m saving the other bags for another post.

The cool side of the bag of weaving projects.

The warm side of the bag of weaving projects.

And the sole project I got that wasn’t a weaving project.

I’ll be working on this sweater (that I’ve convinced myself is a weekend project) as soon as I finish up the project I’m doing with my Ravelry group.

Next time we’ll see if I’m ready to fess up to the rest of the shopping cart of goodies that I bought.

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Tomatoes

Tomato
Tomato
Tomato
I keep seeing red!

It’s that time of year when all the tomatoes are ripe at once. We have a ridiculous number of plants. I think there were 50-60 planted in all. I’m not entirely sure how many survived but most of them by the looks of it. That means it’s all about canning. Stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and salsa…. so much red.

I’m not complaining. We use this year round so it’s worth all the effort it takes and it’s really not too much effort, just time. That means today before I head out to WEBs to teach at the Spinning Summit, I’m working on pizza sauce. We start by taking the tomatoes and run them through the sieve juicer attachement on a Kitchen Aid. This removes all the seeds and skins really quickly and we’re left with juice and pulp. Fun part about the leftover bits is that we feed them to the ducks. They’re messy eaters so they end up looking like they went on a murderous rampage.

We cook the juice/pulp down on the stove top. Once half cooked down, I usually add all the spices to them if they’re getting spices. I keep the pizza sauce pretty plain. If you have ever asked for a recipe from me you’ll know there aren’t too many measurements so I’ll tell you what goes into each batch of spaghetti sauce and it’s always to taste. Tasting is the best part, right?

Heaps of Basil
Smaller bunches of Oregano and Rosemary
Gobs of Garlic
Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar

I take all those ingredients and blend them together in a blender then dump them into the sauce and finish cooking it down. It’s really about the most perfect sauce I can imagine. I add veggies and whatnot when cooking. I like having a base that I can add different things too. Ya know, just in case we’re having sauce more than once in a week, I can make it different right then and there.

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Fiber types…

I get asked this question a lot and yet, I’ve never written a post about it so here goes.

Batt:
You’ll see them often rolled up like this:

And unrolled they look like this:

These are the products of a drum carder. It’s like a blanket of fibers all jumbled up and worked together to create this form to spin from. You can break off pieces in many different ways or just spin from a corner of the batt itself. Depending on how a particular batt is made the fibers can be more straight or more jumbled.

Roving:


Many mills produce this type of product. It’s jumbled up fibers produced and made into this long ongoing length. There can be many lengths of fibers as well but you might never notice as it’s all jumbled up. As it comes off the milling machines it has a slight twist given to it. Not a twist like you’ll do in spinning but it is a twist as it goes into it’s bump or milling can and it does help hold it together some.

Similar to the way a batt is and depending on the mill can depend on how much the fibers appear to be jumbled up. It is generally very airy and some people find that easier to start spinning with. You can make a batt into roving by attenuating it.

Pin Drafted Roving:
This stuff may not look remarkably different than roving in a photo but it feels differently. It’s simply roving that’s been put through one more mill process that is a series of pins that further opens up and makes the roving airy.

Rolags:
This is made on hand cards generally or you can make what has become known as Fauxlags by making little rolls out of a batt or combed top. These are usually spun from one end and are of jumbled fibers since they’re carded. You can see here some batts and rolags:


Commercial Combed Top:


This is a flat piece of fiber rolled into a continuous length like a tube. Easily opened and laid out flat. You can see the crimp but also that all the fibers are in a straight formation, not jumbled like the roving. All the fibers are well aligned and all short cuts are gone. The fibers are more homogeneous.

It also feels more substantial and dense than roving. Like Roving this also has a twist given to it because of the way it comes off the machines and goes into it’s shipping form of a bump. This is the stuff that you will most often see as handpaint.

It should be noted that once it’s been dyed, the crimp has been activated and the fibers start to jumble themselves up a little bit. It’s still not roving at that point but if we’re being technical, it’s losing some of the qualities of straightness that combed top has. Ever so slightly, though.

Hand Combed top:
This is similar to the Commercially combed but it’s a lighter more airy form depending on how you make it. It’s still got all the fibers aligned straight. It’s still a continuous length and all the fibers are similar lengths and it’s cleaned up. It’s just a little bit straighter and some might say a little more perfect.

Sliver:

It is similar to roving but it’s a thinner example and often has more of an appearance of top in that the fibers are more aligned. It’s slightly less processed and rarely has a twist given to it. Some mills call this a pre-finished stage but some fibers you’ll often see sold this way like silk and cotton.

Pencil Roving:
This stuff comes in all kinds of varied thicknesses. Some places you will see it like this:

This has no twist in it and it’s fairly thin but it can still be drafted and it definitely needs to still be spun to be super usable. It’s airy and light.

The other most common way you’ll see Pencil Roving is in the knitter’s section. It’s thinner than the other version (thinner than a pencil) and it has a little twist to it and feels a little dense in comparison to the other kind. This stuff is ready to knit.

Puni:

This is one of the traditional ways that you will find cotton for sale. I borrowed the picture from an Amazon listing. It’s cotton that’s been carded like a rolag and it’s been taken off the carder (usually hand cards) with a dowel or rod and made dense but attenuating and wrapping it on the dowel tightly.

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What am I doing?

I posted a link to Melanie Falik’s blog post this morning on Facebook. If you didn’t read it yet, CLICK HERE.

She so succinctly put what many of us might be going through. Changes in our industries and our jobs. I see so many more of my fiber business friends branching out and changing. It’s the nature of the beast and also as we age, we change. What we want to do changes and we also start to realize there are more things we want to do that maybe we haven’t gotten to yet. The clock is ticking y’all.

I’ve always found comfort in lists, though my goals have always been these loosey goosey sort of ideas that come and go as my life goes on. Like the dream from when I was a grade school kid to get full tattoo sleeves because I saw some guy in McDonald’s one day that had full sleeves and a snake. Also I wanted to own snakes. Check and check. I didn’t really realize that my loose (and maybe silly) childhood dream was being fulfilled until I was in the tattoo chair finishing up the last arm and I had a realization moment.

Not a pic of the actual guy of course.

Then there are other ideas like getting skydive certified that once I started I realized, that’s really not what I want to do with my time. I had bigger fish to fry. Or at least, different fish for me. I think skydive certification is a valid goal but for me, it wasn’t going to put me where I really wanted to be even if I wasn’t sure where that was.

Here I am at some transitional points in business and life with one kid entering her senior year of highschool (she’s strongly looking forward to college) and the other going into 7th grade (still being homeschooled). BUT What am I going to do when I grow up?

What do I want out of life? What are my whispers and what am I doing?
1. Keep on fibering. I really love the business I’m in and I hope to be able to keep it running a good long time.
2. I want to “Make” more things. I love teaching and enabling others to make stuff but in the past few years I’ve made precious few pieces that I would consider amazing pieces. This means more silk painting and weaving for fabric.
3. I want to finish my herbal certification courses. I’ve already started working on that and I’ve been doing herbal healing for myself with herbs and nutrition since my early twenties. I can’t say the first course load has given me any new insight but I know the final years of study to come will and I’m excited.
4. More yoga. Not sure what the more is but I’ll find it.
5. Get rid of the lawn. There is a lot of lawn around here between my house and my Mom’s house and the open lot between the two where I started an herb garden this year. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I’ve earnestly started to remove lawn to expand my hosta garden. This is an easy spot to work on since the trees don’t foster a lot of good looking grass so it’s coming out easily and I just need to spend time working on it and planting. My goal is to have very little lawn at the end of it all. low maintenance. Though I may just be fooling myself. It’s ok, I do that often.
6. Travel…? I don’t have the wanderlust like many have. I don’t have a strong desire to visit any particular place and I suppose that’s good since the farm is a big thing (another check list item for me, the farm). I do enjoy travel but only in the way that I get to meet new people. Not that I don’t enjoy visiting sites too. So travel teaching works out so perfectly for me. I have a destination and I have new people to meet and the best part is that they all love fiber too. For this, I’m happy to go where the winds may take me.
7. Build my daughter a little roadside stand to sell her eggs out of. Right now she has them in a cooler with a little sign.
8. Raise bees.
9. Make pots again (pottery). I still have one potter’s wheel and other equipment and clay sitting there waiting on me.
I know there’s more but it’s not coming to me. I have my little list and I’m sure I’ll add to it in time and change or remove things as needed.

If you decide to make your whisper list, please link to it, I’d love to read what everyone is whispering about in their own heads.

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Coconut Oil Soap

In the last weaving club we shipped, I sent out a little guest soap with the kit. The kit was for soft washcloths so it seemed appropriate to give out a little of the most delicious facial soap. I don’t usually use soap on my face but I use this soap all over. And if I work out hard or I’ve been cleaning the barn, I do indeed wash my face with this soap. It’s not drying and so I’m ok with using this on my aging face.

I’ve made larger bars to sell in the online store and maybe I’ll bring them to shows too. They’re really pure and simple.

I know some of you make soap yourself so if you want to make your own, the basic recipe is:

33 ounces of Organic Coconut Oil
12.55 ounces of Filtered Water
4.84 ounces of Lye

In a crock, start melting the Coconut oil on low while you take the water and lye outside, add the lye to the water and mix until clear. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Once the coconut oil is fully melted and the time has run down on the lye/water mixture (it’s ok if it sits longer) add the water/lye mixture slowly to the coconut oil giving it a few stirs. Then taking an immersion blend, blend to trace. Then leaving the crock on low, let it cook until it’s done. You can tell it’s done by PH testing it to be between 7 and 9. This is a thick mixture that I spoon into my mold and I let it sit to harden. This stuff hardens really really hard. If you’re making a large block mold, you want to unmold earlier than you would for other soaps and cut it. It’s a bear to cut if you let it sit longer.

After unmolding (and cutting) let your soap cure on racks for 2-3 weeks. It does work as soap after 24 hours but curing it ensures you have a good solid bar of soap. You can clean up your tools (that are now dedicated to soap making only, don’t use them for food) with white vinegar. It neutralizes any uncured lye in your measuring cups and it will also help clean the soap off your other utensils.

TAKE NOTE:
This is a pretty straightforward and simple recipe but if you haven’t made soap before please read up on how it’s made and all the precautions. I’ve given only basic instructions here and learning about all the ins and outs of soap making will help ensure your safety. Lye can burn until it’s properly cured as soap. So wear eye goggles and proper gloves while working with it. Just be safe and you’ll have some great soap after all this.

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