Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lisa, who owes me a recipe, asked for a picture of the lambs. Thanks, Lisa, I wanted an excuse to post them. This is Maddy, an Olde English BabyDoll Southdown. Maddy's 3 months old, about the size of our Sheltie, and came with her mom Cardigan. She is supposedly weaned but we catch her occasionally going to the milk bar. I will try to get a picture of 2 month old, white Phoebe who is still in quarantine. Phoebe isn't quite as nervous as she was when we brought her home. In a week we will be able to put her with Maddy. I am so hoping that they play together.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I have become totally obsessed with dying! Before I developed my crock pot method, it was a big mess, time consuming, and I didn't like the results. Now, I can do a pot or 2 everyday and not feel like it's such a big deal. The fiber is retaining its alpaca-like qualities and I'm loving it. Loving it so much, that I want to spin it myself and not put it into my Etsy store as roving. Maybe I will get so much accumulated that I will think I don't have the time to spin it. I know that I should be working on a custom order, but this is so fun! Actually, I do force myself to do a skein for the order and then reward myself by doing some dyed roving. I have to do up another bobbin of that green above, ply it, and then work on the order.

Son Rob left yesterday morning to go back to Pennsylvania and called about 5 to say that he arrived safely. That's just too damn far away. Miss him tremendously already.

We picked up two more sheep yesterday at Brooklyn, Mich. , a just weaned lamb and a 2 year old ram. I feel so sorry for the little lamb. She, Phoebe is her name, is quarantined in a pen next to the ram. Apparently, it's a good practice not to put them in with the rest in case they might be carrying some illness from their home farm. Phoebe doesn't cry but just tries so hard to get through the gate to be with her friend. We purchased these two from Larry and Joan Egeler.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This is the bag that I'm going to use at the Michigan Fiber Fest next month to hold all my yarn and roving sales. I thought the long narrow feature would be great for skeined yarns. I ordered the bags from ULINE and the stickers from a shop on Etsy, my favorite shopping site. Amy made these 2 1/2 inch stickers for me very reasonably. Amy is a college student from Connecticut and runs the etsy store, KittyCrossBones. She sells lots of custom promotional items like bookmarks, scratch cards, checkbook covers, and, of course, stickers and labels. I highly recommend connecting with her if you have the need. She was fun and personable to work with and although, my picture isn't the greatest, she does lovely work, and needed little effort on my part. BTW, that's Celeste in the sticker. And did you know that you can click on pictures for enlargements?
The barn romances have ended now for a while. We took Alde home yesterday and will wait a couple more weeks for the vet to do an ultrasound on the two girls, Celeste and Ariana, to confirm their pregnancies.

Son, Rob, will be here from Pennsylvania until Monday. So enjoy having him home!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My latest dying adventure, and am I ever pleased. The fiber stayed just as soft and luxurious as alpaca is supposed to be. EeeHaw! I think I've got it.
I am going to send some of this white, Pollux roving off to Jennifer (Laughing Rat) tomorrow and she is going to experiment with dying also.
Exciting night. Son Rob will be pulling in about midnight to stay for a couple of days. We are so lucky that he wants to come home and hang out with us. Nothing much planned except a hog roast at the Fair on Saturday night. Husband was in charge and the proceeds will go back to the Fair.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I know you have seen him before but couldn't pass up the chance to put this back up. I am using Pollux's fiber to do my dyeing experimentation.
I am so determined to dye my alpaca and retain all the lovely features of this fiber - softness, fineness, loftiness, and mainly - easy to spin.

I'm using Pollux's baby alpaca to experiment. Here's today's adventure:

I weighed up 2 one ounce samples. Turned my crock pot on. Started heating a tea kettle full of water. I wound one ounce of roving lightly around the inside of the crock pot and poured 1/2 cup of white vinegar onto it, then half my tea kettle of hot water, just about covering the fiber. Then I dyed by dipping the end of wooden spoons into the powder and applying it to the roving (this was fun seeing the colors explode). I sort of divided it into fourths & used 4 colors.
I repeated this same procedure using the rest (1 ounce) of my roving.
I turned the crock up to high, covered it, and cooked for 30 minutes. The water was clear so maybe I could have stopped sooner.
I took the pot out and let it set until cool.

I put this in my Etsy shop but have some that I "cooked" yesterday and am spinning up today. It is really fun to work in some color. Like Peggy, I dearly love the natural colors of alpaca but just need to do different stuff once in a while. I'll post my yarn tomorrow when I finish spinning it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

These are the rovings that I dyed at the Saturday workshop. Well, not the brown, that's just natural colored alpaca. This is the first time that I haven't overdone dyeing my roving. In the past they have been nearly felted, would break easily, and have been very hard to spin.
Everything that we dyed had a vinegar soak to start with.
Top left yellow was held in a simmering kettle for about 3 minutes and then allowed to dry on the racks. The orangey one was spread out and hand painted with yellow, pumpkin, and red, and then nuked for 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave. I also did a purplish one in the microwave that isn't shown here. After everthing cooled off naturally, we gave it a rinse in a bucket of plain water. I had quite a bit of color come out.
Now, I think that these all look and will spin nicely, but I'm not convinced that they will retain the colors well. Will have to wait and see but I am envisioning colored fingers while spinning.
Saturday we dyed! Yep, this group of motley women traveled to Hastings, Michigan to a dyeing workshop at the talented Rita Walters home - Mar-Rita Farms.

In case you even care - from left to right: Hilda, me, Mary, Cary, Nancy, and Jen. We actually kidnapped Jen. She was opening her uptown shop, SipNKnit, and we put closed signs on her door, turned off the ovens, and scooped her right up. The trip from Ithaca to Hastings was about an hour and a half so you can imagine the hilarious bonding that went on in Cary's van.

Our dyeing experience was fun. We kettle dyed, crock pot dyed, and microwave dyed. The most interesting procedure that I am anxious to try is in the oven. Rita laid out yarn (I will be trying alpaca roving) on a large pan (sort of like those big warming pans at banquets), then she poured a cup of vinegar on, followed by a tea kettle of hot water. Now the interesting part, she used a wooded dowel and dipped into her containers of powdered dyes and applied it right on to the wool. Cool, aye? She set the dyes in her oven at 250 (I think) for 1/2 an hour. Hopefully, if I error here, Cary or someone will correct me.

Rita has a lovely sheep farm and a wonderful farm store that was loaded with supplies and her works of creative art. My sheepy friends quite insisted that I pick up Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep by Paula Simmons & Carol Ekarius for husband.

After we finished our sack lunches at noon, we headed for town. Hastings is a county seat like Ithaca but much bigger. Side walk sales were going on so my shopping friends were pretty excited (I hate to shop - online or catalogs for me). We headed straight for Lady Peddler and used up so much time and money that we needed to head back to the farm, which was fine with me. Was good to see Jill, Lady Peddler's owner. I'm sure that she doesn't remember me but I had met her a few years ago when Maryanne was taking spinning lessons from her. Jill was able to answer some questions for me about the upcoming Michigan Fiber Festival where I'm supposed to be a vendor. The main thing I learned was that I'm supposed to be there for 3 days instead of 2.

Friday, July 13, 2007

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Barn Romance Update.
We think that Celeste (above alpaca) is pregnant! Last Tuesday Russ, our vet, was out and drew blood from Celeste and Ariana to check their progesterone level. The test is definitely not a 100% guarantee of pregnancy, which I'm not going to take the time to discuss right now. But Celeste's came back at 2.4, which should/could be a postive. EEEHAW!
But Ariana's was .0 So, back to orgling and breeding this a.m. Handsome Alde didn't mind a bit and did his thing for 20 minutes, until Ariana rolled over on her side. Guess she was tired of the whole ordeal. We will wait three days and put them together again.
I'm taking Cassie (Golden) and Max (Sheltie) to the groomer this a.m. I would rather wash 2 horses than 1 dog. Red (rescue, mixed breed) will go at a different time. All of them really love to go and are quite proud when they come home. They always get a new scarf that they like to show off.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I finally got a Treasury on Etsy. Check it out while I try to figure out how to copy it here.......

......Later in the day - nope, never did figure it out, even with help from friendly forum folks. They said to use the Print Screen button on my computer, but I didn't get anywhere. So, guess you will just have to click on it from here to see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This is my most recent purchase from Etsy - a Sett Gauge, or a yarn wraps per inch (WPI) gauge. My wheel needed a really nice gauge and since she deserves the best, here it is. I really love beautiful wood which has nothing to do with my name - heh, heh. This is from Kingwood, which has a slight lavender tinge with darker graining patterns.
I like to measure the WPI right after I ply a skein, before I wind and wash it. Some of my alpaca yarn does puff up a little after washing though.

Visit Fred and Grace Hatton's shop. They are from Lords Valley, Pennsylvania, and raise Finn sheep.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday seems to be family day here and today was no exception. Daughter Nikki brought the two grand daughters up from Owosso to meet the sheep. Meredith (8) is on the left giving Danny some 'nilla cookies, and Elizabeth (5) is treating Jenny. The sheep are really husband's project (although I get the fleeces) and he wants to restrict their treats 'cause they are a little plump. But he is a total push over when the girls are around.
I'm just about finished with my Journey to a Shawl project and will be posting it soon. Lots of spinning going on because I have a custom order for Jessica in New York. She would like as much handspun of white Ariana as I can spin. Yippee! but I have to spin something else in between or it feels like work and I get cranky.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Here's our new little herd of sheep. Daughter Terre, Abbey mare, and Kelly pony are checking them out. They have adjusted well and Baaaaaa for food everytime we walk into the barn. I was a little worried about them because they stood up for 4 1/2 hours in the back of the pickup on their way home from Marysville, Ohio. We stopped a couple of times to check and try to get them to take a drink of water. The temperature didn't get really high back there because the day was overcast and we came through a couple rain showers.

The Freshcorns who bred these darlings are a kind, caring, animal loving family. Definitely, my kind of people. I appreciate and thank them for allowing us to bring these sheep home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We are getting a new roof on the stable end of the barn today. Yep, they are working on the 4th of July. Welcome to Small Town U.S.A. The north side is just about done. Can you see the guys and the exposed rafters of the indoor arena up there? And that's Cord, a quarter horse, on the right. His person is Beth that I talk about often. Ivan could be in the middle but he's off eating on his pasture right now. Do you know that you can click on the picture to see an enlarged version?

This is the view from my kitchen and deck. You can't see the alpacas because they are behind the tree on the left. I can see them though. Lucky me - overlooking my peaceful kingdom.

Tomorrow morning we are leaving about 5 to go to Ohio pick up the four BabyDoll SouthDowns. We have their pen all ready. It is in the front of the barn and has a door to go outside. We will be planting some pasture for them, but for now, they will be on dry lot.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I just listed this skein in my Etsy shop - 2 ounces - 184 yards - 13 w.p.i. , which would make it a DK weight. The yarn has a titch of white silk in it which produces the random bumps and streaks. The alpaca is from our handsome Junior Herd Sire, Polaris. Jr. Herd Sire is a term that can be applied to any whole (as in not neutered) male alpaca that hasn't started breeding yet. Polaris (Lars) is a proud little guy who is easy to handle. Friend Beth halters him and takes him jogging down the road and back to the woods. He has an alpaca show to go to in September and after that, we hope he can start a breeding career.
His fiber is very lovely and about 5 inches long, which I think is about perfect for easy spinning. I stole Cary's idea of photographing the yarn on a plant.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Just had to share with you this picture that Beth took this spring at the Davisburg show. Too cute, aye?
We are having a new roof put on the stable end of the barn this week. It has several leaks. But we are not touching the roof over the indoor arena because it's huge and would cost a fortune. Right now all of the roof is black shingles but we requested a dark gray metal on the end. Hope that it looks all right.
We are looking for straw to use as a bedding for the sheep. We have never used straw before and it sounds really messy to me. There I go again fretting about a dirty barn. The alpacas live on rubber matting and have a small area to poop in to which I add a pelleted product designed for horse stalls that absorbs moisture and odor. We put wood shavings in the horses' stalls that comes from a local lumber yard. Every morning, everything gets picked up, inside and out, and goes into the manure spreader which is spread every couple days. With our good manure management, we have very few flies ----- OK, there I go again. Probably too much information.
Thursday we're driving to Ohio to pick up four of the little darling sheep (hope that I am still saying this a year from now). We are getting 2 black yearling ewes, 1 black lamb ewe, and a black whether who will run with our soon to be coming white yearling ram. (Heh, heh, did I get that terminology right, Cary?) Daughter Terre will be coming out to check barn water and to let the dogs out because it looks like an all day trip. We are taking the pickup (it has a topper) and will put them in the back. Amy Bidlack told me that some people actually fly them in dog crates in airplanes.