In the Totally Opposite Direction

In my last post, I explained my woes with the Shetland fleece I processed. It was dirty and messy and didn’t always feel nice.

Today is a very different experience. At the same time my friend handed me the Shetland fleece, she also passed along a 6 lb Harlequin fleece. Based on my internet research, Harlequin sheep are a minature breed that looks a lot like Jacob sheep in coloring, yet have no Jacob heritage in their bloodline. They were developed in the United States, Virgina specifically, and fairly recently, about 30 years ago. They are a mix of a variety of sheep breeds, including Tunis, Southdown, Border Leicester, Romney, Finn, and Rambouillet (my favorite breed!). Their fleece can be different colors, lengths, and texture from the same sheering. The one I have feels very much like the Rambouillet I love. I separated the brown from the cream as much as I could before washing, and I got a good quantity of each from my fleece.

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I began carding the cream color today, to see how it would work out on the drum carder. I have found I need to flick open the lock tips before carding to make the carding go more smoothly, but other then that is it gorgeous fiber! Minimal veg matter, nothing flying all over my craft space, and so sproingy and crimpy! I will try to get a picture of the texture of the fiber, I didn’t think to take one yet.

Then I wanted to see how the brown parts will card up, and how the bits of cream on the edges I didn’t remove would card together. I also took from the center that was all the lovely deep, rich brown to see if the sun-bleached part would show, as well as some of the darker mixed bits from the cream. I carded small bits to compare the colors.

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The far left is the brown without any white bits, the center two are a blend where the hair fibers grew together, and the cream is a bit marled, but there was no way I could pull out all of the gray/brown from the cream fiber. I love the deep brown for its richness, but now am drawn to the blended colors as well. I think I will try to pull out as much of the blended bits, card them into one color, then have the cream and brown on their own. I am envisioning a sweater of the cream with some colorwork on the hem, cuffs, and yoke using the contrasts. Oh, it is glorious in my mind!

And it all smells wonderfully of clean sheep!

Fleece Pains

I got two fleeces that a friend purchased for me this year. I started with the Shetland fleece because it was smaller, so I figured it would take me a shorter period of time to finish. (Dum-dum-daaaaa!)

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The fleece started at about 3 pounds, and was really dirty. I skirted it, and kept more than I should have since I was thinking in terms of waste and not grossness. It always amazes me how much dirt comes off a fleece.

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It also amazes me how much color change is apparent after washing!

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Then I started carding. Here begins my woes. There was so much dirt in the form of veg matter in the fleece, a 5 square foot area of my craft room was coated in dirt. Like this.

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That is not all of it, I cleaned a few times as I went! There was still more when I put it through the drum carder a second time! (GROSS!) I was worried that it would never come out, and I spun a small sample on a drop spindle, discovered that most of it fell out as I drafted, and felt it was still worthwhile.

I ended up with 664 g of roving. You can still see there is VM in the wool, but no where near as much as I started.

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Not looking forward to spinning this, but I would like to spin a DK/worsted weight yarn to knit a Wool Peddlers Shawl or a Simple Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl from my pattern book Folk Shawls.

So happy this is done though!

Hello 2015!

I have written up some of the things I would like to accomplish this year, I thought I would share them here, especially since one of them has to do with my blogging!

Fiber Goals:

  1. Keep SoD up to date and honest
  2. Make no yarn or fiber purchases for 2015, with the only exemptions being the 8 oz of fiber I already committed to and sock yarn that I got money for Christmas for.
  3. Finish all of my WIP’s by the end of February (7) and after that attempt to keep max projects on the needles down to 2 at a time.
  4. Finish spinning my gradient sweater and knit it up (epic project)
  5. Spin at least 60oz (3.75lbs) this year, 34 oz of which are my sweater above.
  6. Find a way to safely display some of my precious stash so that it is not constantly out of site, allowing me to appreciate what I have more.
  7. Knit at least 6500 yards of yarn this year.
  8. Knit at least two items out of handspun yarns.
  9. Make using my library a priority, knitting from patterns I already own. Destash any books I will no longer use and enjoy.
  10. Finish carding the shetland fleece and the harlequin fleece that I have already washed.
  11. Finish at least one spindle project.

Non-fiber Goals:

  1. Sew a pair of flannel jammies for all four of us.
  2. clean and organize my craft room, destashing as many craft supplies that I no longer love.
  3. Sew the pillows with my children we bought supplies for in Oct 2014
  4. Ruthlessly cull all of the stuff in my life.
  5. Make it a point to do more crafting with my children.
  6. Go camping at least twice this year.
  7. Paint my craft room.
  8. Get my floors redone.
  9. Prune my fruit trees.
  10. Do better at my garden, enough so that I can buy less produce.
  11. Put up two of my rain barrels.
  12. Blog more frequently, at least once a week.
  13. Run two 5K’s.
  14. Continue with my exercise goal of at least 3 times a week.
  15. Quality: my mantra for this year. I want to improve the overall quality of my life, from my health and happiness to my interactions with my family and friends.

I’ve got a lot here, but I think I can do it if I stay focused and don’t try to add too much more.

What are your goals for the year?

Merry Joymas!

(This was written two weeks ago, but between not being able to post until hubby fixed the site and holiday shenanigans, I just now am getting it uploaded. Enjoy!)

I like Christmas, I just haven’t found it as enjoyable the past few years, probably because I had a little one that didn’t care if there were fun going on, who didn’t buy in, who couldn’t help. It is MUCH more enjoyable this year because I have two who are excited, who want to do things like wrap presents and make cookies. Two who can do part of everything, some things on their own. Makes things more fun for me!

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I think a big success on my end is my advent calendar that I made for us this year. I found an envelope template online that I sized to my liking, then I traced it onto fun papers. I then cut out the envelopes, wrote fun things to do (while looking at a calendar so that I could keep our activities in line with our events) and hung it in the perfect place!

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The Santa below the advent is an Eric Carle advent that I got a few years ago and we keep reusing. Works well with two little ones so that we can split the excitement of opening a door or envelope each day.

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What kinds of things did I put in our advent calendar? One of the first things was to decorate the tree. Then, we painted Christmas shirts! This was great, because I let my 5yo do most of hers, then was able to focus on the 3yo so we could get his done. (Again, key to this was buying the materials and making plans before the making of the advent calendar!) I think they turned out great, especially with the addition of the iron-on lettering.

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Then we have other things, like hanging our holiday fire (a project I did last year), baking and decorating cookies, making hot chocolate, calling the grandparents and singing songs to them, making our class cards, playing games, and so on.

What have you been up to this holiday?

I’ve Made it to 41 States

So this past week I traveled to the other side of the continent with 14 students (and two other adults) to a little town called Seattle. It was lovely there, the weather cooperated beautifully, making sun every day but the Friday when we left. We did many, many things, even though we stayed in a relatively small section of the city. Here is a recap of some of them.

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First, our hostel was right next door to Pike Place Market, where it seems you can find a little bit of everything. There were fresh baked goods and fruit for breakfast every morning, and many seafood vendors throwing fish. There were artists and retro memorabilia. And even a yarn shop!

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So Much Yarn was a nice airy shop with lots of light. I got there after closing, but as it was a knit night, they were nice enough to let me in for a short time to knit with them. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer!

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Next, we spent a lot of time at Seattle Center, where there was the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, the Science Center, and the EMP Museum. The International Fountain was a big hit as well, a nice resting place to cool off between tours.

Speaking of tours, we did one of the Seattle Underground, which was created when the city decided to raise the roads and thus the street level so all the second floors became the first floor for buildings in downtown Seattle after it burned. It was very interesting to see the remains and hear the stories about how this came to be.

We had many more adventures at the Aquarium, riding the Great Wheel, and visiting Tillicum Village, a recreated Native Northwest American village where we watched traditional dances and heard stories from tribesmen. I got the closest to being in the out-of-doors there, but one of my students had to go to the bathroom about a few hundred feet along the trail.

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Overall my favorite part was just talking to people and learning from them, about their history, about their experiences, and so forth. The only part that I found disappointing was the Science Fiction/Fantasy display at the EMP. It was just a few cases with copies of books and some props from shows, when they could have done so much more to share this genre with people. However the entire trip was a good one, and I hope I can go back to Seattle or the surrounding area some day on my own to explore!

To a Wonderful Woman

Yesterday, one year ago, the world lost someone. Someone who was extraordinary, but so humble and quiet, they didn’t, for the most part, know she existed.

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My grandmother passed away shortly after midnight. It was terrible for me, because I have never lost anyone personally before this. She had been in the hospital for surgery two weeks before, but through some mishap, she caught something that she couldn’t fight off. The weekend before she died, I knew in my heart it was worse than I was being told. I sat at this same desk, and told her that I didn’t want to lose her, but if she needed to, it was ok to let go.

My grandmother was a wonderful person, calm and firm, we weren’t overly indulged, rarely got away with things as kids, and she rarely lost her temper. She was so warm, being there for a hug if we needed to. I remember once when I was in my teens, (I was a moody thing), and she quietly came to talk to me, telling me that I was acting poorly, and my attitude was one thing that I can control out of everything, and I was doing a poor job of controlling it. That has stuck with me to this day.

Grandma also taught me so many things. She was a very creative person, always making things with her hands, things she shared with others. Food, sweaters, blankets and quilts, ornaments and decorations, I think I picked up a lot of my multi-craftualism from her. She’s the one who taught me to knit, to sew, and so much more. As I grew, the teaching began to flow both ways as we shared knowledge on cooking, knitting, and gardening with each other. She also taught me by example, showing with her actions how to live a life that was full of family, love, and purpose.

I knew she volunteered her time and services in many places, but only truly understood the magnitude of her giving after she was gone. She gave blood regularly to the Red Cross. She knit blankets for Project Linus, donated many of her other items she made where needed. She sewed quilts and blankets for the Ruth Circle at church. Helped to deliver meals through the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteered at the local environmental center one day every week. Participated in the Master Gardener program where she helped people in the community with their gardening questions, planted community gardens, and created rain gardens at the local library.  Probably there are things I am leaving out, but even half of this list is a strong statement to anyone on giving back to the community.

I remember having to write papers in school about who my role model was. I know I probably wrote about my mom a few times, but I remember thinking at the time that (although my mom is my role model and a wonderful person herself) I didn’t really recognize strongly a figure in my life who fit this bill. Maybe this was because I was the youth who thought they were smarter than they really were, the kid with the poor attitude. Maybe this was because I was so lucky to have so many people, women especially, who were great role models for me, I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone. And I am so very lucky that I had so much time with my grandmother, I know not everyone has this time or this kind of relationship. I did, and am blessed because of it. I aspire to be the kind of person my grandmother was, though I know I will fall short of her example. She was just that kind of person.

I love you Grandma!

Instead…

So I have a sweater that is all but done, a hat I want to wear that is nearing completion, and a spinning project I am part of SAL for, to be done by the end of March. What do I do?

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Flash back twenty years to my youth, and play with plastic canvas! I have been cleaning, organizing, purging, and rearranging my lair. One of the things I am trying to accomplish is keeping surfaces clear. This makes me feel better, like everything is more under control when it is put away and not out in the open. In order to accomplish this in part, I needed to find a box that fit my knitting needles, which was a fruitless search. Remembering the bag of plastic canvas in my closet, I thought, “I can make one!”

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So I did. Simple enough to cut pieces to size and stitch them together. I may go back and fill in the sides with designs later, but for now it is serving its purpose in a drawer out of site.

Apparently, I think I have way more needles than I actually do.

Trying a New Yarn

I have a new hat on the needles! This is exciting because all winter I have been lamenting the fact that I have no hat for me that is handmade. I do have one I initially knit for my hubby that I claim, but the Lopi yarn I used itches something fierce, so I can’t wear it long. I also have an Icing Swirl hat that I love, but it isn’t really a keep-you-warm-in-the-bitterest-cold kind of hat. So I bought one (contain your shock and horror) because I needed to be warm more than I had the time to prove my worth as a knitter. Until now.

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The hat pattern is Sea Beanie by Elena Nodel, which has some beautiful cables on the hat, yet is simple two-by-two ribbing the rest of the time. It comes with instructions for both DK and worsted weight yarns, so you can use either one with minimal calculations on your part.

The yarn is Fish Belly Fiber Works. Holly, the genius behind the dyes, does some pretty varigated colors, but what stands out are her semi-solid colorways. I love them all, and wish that I didn’t already covet my stash so much, or I would throw it over for more of her tonals. This yarn is her Canal base, a 100% superwash merino DK weight yarn, in the color “Midnight”. It is much deeper blue that was showing on my screen, but still shows the cable pattern beautifully. It is squishy and soft, yet the strand is plump, making the cables pop out from the purl bumps.

Holly actually has prompted my knitting on this hat, as she is hosting an “All for Me” knit-along on her Ravelry board. I have been wanting to knit my hat, and found the perfect pairing for yarn and pattern. It is going along quickly, especially after all of the fingering-weight projects I tend to be drawn to. I find myself finishing a row before I know it. Lucky for me too, since the KAL ends Feb 28th, giving me plenty of time to bind this off.

Are you knitting anything for you? I would love to see it.

Support Hose for Yarn

I am working on a hat, which I will give details of later this week. But first, I thought that ribbing, being soooo interesting boring blog fodder, could be replaced with a simple tool I made for my yarn to keep it from getting tangled or collapsing while I knit.

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My daughter wore a hole in her tights. I have the habit of thinking what else I can do with items before I throw them out. These tights sat on my desk for a few weeks before I had an epiphany. I got my scissors, cut them into strips about 3-4 inches wide (I didn’t measure, just eyeballed it), then stuck my yarn ball into it.

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Voile! A nice yarn sock to keep my yarn clean and untangled!

What creative repurposing have you done lately?

A Note in Good Faith

Dear Interwebs,

Please stop showing me pictures of beautimous yarn. I am trying so hard to be good and not buy yarn. I have devoted my time to spend with my stash, and you keep trying to pry me away from that loving relationship. Go bug someone else and show me all the hot pink yarn instead.

Sincerely,
Someone in a Committed Relationship

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