Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Preparing Doggy Hair for Spinning

My Ravelry friend Teresa sent me a couple ounces of washed dog hair ↓

We wanted to see what kind of yarn it would make. I was a little worried at first because it was so "hairy", and thought that it would probably be too prickly. I've only spun the undercoat brushed from my Golden, Cassie. This was cut, not brushed out, and had lots of short hairs, like the second cuts from alpaca shearing. I threw away lots of those shorties.
This picture of my drum carder shows me adding the dog hair on the metal tray. The turning/crank handle is on the right.
I added a layer of the dog hair and then a layer of a white alpaca/merino roving that I pulled, separated, and fluffed up. I continued layering until I filled up the drum, removed the batt and set it aside. The batts are pretty much a 50/50 blend.
After I carded all the doggy hair, I split the batts and ran them through again. This may have been a mistake because I created some little merino noils (lumpies). I probably won't run it through the second time if I do this again.

I think these batts look gorgeous and have them all packaged and ready to send off to Teresa in Atlanta, Georgia. There's 4.2 ounces here. I wanted to spin up a little to see what it would spin like but all my bobbins are full. I will just wait for word back from Teresa.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Featured on Lime and Violet

Oh, my gosh, my store is featured on Lime and Violet. Thanks so much, RC, for telling me.
Go look:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

NutriSystem Food

Summer has finally arrived in midMichigan. That's my thermometer from yesterday. 117 degrees in the sun!!! the inside temp is only 65 because the unit sits right above my register in the kitchen. It was actually 75 inside.
Except for barn chores, I wasn't outside much but did a lot of spinning and knitting. I cut back my morning walk to a mile and my evening bike ride to a mile.
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My second NutriSystem Box arrived yesterday by UPS. I thought some of you might be interested in it, so took pictures before I put it away.
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Because this was my second month, I got to make some choices before they shipped it.
First of all are the breakfasts. You can see there are several packages of cererals and a couple oatmeals, plus some scones and muffins. At the very bottom are breakfast bars. Last month I had some scrambled eggs that came to life with water and the microwave. I really don't like milk, but will get it into me on cereral. I usually have an Activia when I come in from chores.
If you want a bigger picture of what is here, just left click on the picture:

On to the lunches....the little tubs have a metal top that comes off, replace the plastic top and microwave. I think these are quite good. The larger containers on the left get boiling water added and then set for about 5 minutes.....and, of course, more bars.

Moving right along here to the dinners. These boxes just go into the microwave so are quick and easy. No veggies here so I have to supplement. Last month the Schwann's man brought me a big box of NutriSystem's frozen dinners with veggies in them, some sandwiches, and ice cream. I'm thinking I will probably get that again.

And the yummies.... Last month I got quite a few cookies so I changed that to more salty stuff like pretzels and soy chips. Oh, and the monthly supply of vitamins on the left. So, my friends, you can see that there is way more food than I need for a month. The best part is that I can just open my cupboard and choose something. No planning ahead and no prep, well except for having some fresh fruit and vegetables on hand.
As for taste - it's ok. I'm not a big connoisseur and don't especially like to eat, so it works for me.
You probably want to know the cost - $299 a month.
I will have to make a decision each month if I want to continue. I have lost 13 pounds, and want to lose about 10 more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Phat Fiber Contribution

The July PhatFiber Sample box will go out in the middle of July so I got my contribution in the mail today. This has been a fun activity to be involved in and, frankly, an inexpensive advertising.

Every month has a theme that we all vote on. July is nonwool. Even though in my mind alpaca fiber is considered wool, the rest of the Phatties don't and many of them are contributing alpaca to the box. I decided that I would send 20 of my sachets ↑ that I include with all purchases. The ingredients are: lavendar buds, patchouli leaf, cedar leaf, orange peel, and pennyroyal. I love the way these herbs smell and really hope that moths hate it and stay away from the fiber.
I also sent along 10 coupons for 20% off all yarn in my Etsy store......and 2 skeins of this yarn that I just got back from Stonehedge.

This yarn turned out beautiful! It's 70% alpaca from Ariana plus the seconds from my crias, and 30% merino from Genopalette. I have 65 skeins!!! Can you imagine how much yarn that is? I'm planning on using some for my dyeing adventures. This picture ↑ is just to show you how it looks from the mill. I'm washing all the skeins, 4 or 5 at a time. The fiber fluffs up and becomes a bright white like the picture with the flowers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Morning Fence Construction

I've been wanting to fence in my whole back yard for Cord ↑, but have had all kinds of hold ups. There was a sinky hole back there that I thought I could just fill in with dirt, but when son, Rob. was home, he stuck his hand down it (oh, yucky, yuck). He discovered the pipe from the house to the septic tank was broken.
Last week I had the local plumbing place come and patch the pipe. The young man asked me when the septic tank was last pumped. Well, ah, never..... Yesterday Jason came and pumped out the tank. I could only take one quick glance down there. Oh, my, double yucky, yuck. I appreciate folks who can do nasty jobs like that.
Soooo, this a.m., I finished chores at 8 and fenced in the back for Cord. He's a happy feller. It's 90 degrees out already, but the trees keep this area very comfortable. And, surprisingly enough, I didn't see one mosquito the whole time that I was out there. Happy Horsey!
Cord belongs to Beth who I mention frequently here. He's a retired, senior citizen although he looks like a young whipper snapper in that picture, doesn't he?
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you - I took this picture looking down from my bedroom window.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strawberry Breakfast and Wildflowers (maybe)

After chores I stopped at the strawberry patch and picked the first strawberries of this year. I just had to show you how big they are. That's ↓ a regular sized plum with them. Three strawberries filled me up.
BTW - I've lost 10 pounds since I started the NutriSystem 4 weeks ago, and still eating frequently. I will for sure stay on it another month.

I have never really enjoyed gardening. I want the garden spotless - no weeds - but don't have the stick-to-itive-ness to do the weeding so have always left the garden work to Smitty. He didn't seem to mind the weeds. Last fall after harvest, I had folks take his berry bushes, most of the strawberry plants, and bulbs, and then tilled it up. I thought I would just seed it to grass. But then this spring I got to thinking how awesome it would be if it were wild flowers. It would be beautiful and sort of a memorial/tribute to Smitty. I've sown lots of seeds but am afraid the weeds may take over. Is hard to tell the difference. Now I'm thinking maybe I should buy some plants to put out there. At least I could tell them from the weeds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Having a Hay Day - no, A Hay Night

When I open the barn door in the morning, I'm always very cautious because I've been surprised with finding horses, sheep, and alpacas standing in the aisle. Below is what I'm hoping for - everyone cushed down and waiting for their breakfast. Yesterday there were no surprises when I slid the door over but lots of suspicious looking alpaca foot prints on the cement aisle. I quickly closed the door behind me and went in to the indoor arena. Yep, there were the girls wandering around. They must have been out all night because they made a real mess of the stacked hay bales, and had enough time to establish a new poop pile. They shooed right in through the OPEN door very easily. Damn! I must have not latched that door. I remember being in a hurry. Usually I check all doors before I come in.
No harm was done except my extra cleaning time, but can't you just imagine what chaos 10 loose horses would have created?
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Yes, I do love these gentle critters ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BabyDoll SouthDown Sheep

A year ago we were raising BabyDoll SouthDown Sheep. I say we, but really there were Smitty's project. He would sit for hours and watch the lambs play. Even before we realized he was sick, he had decided that he would sell them. It's rather strange that the last of them left about two hours before he died last August. A piece of me thinks he was waiting until he knew that they would be loved and taken care of.
This was one of the sheep pens in front of the barn. Boards were along the bottom to keep the little ones in......and this is where I'm removing those bottom boards. Kelly, my blind pony, lives out there now and she will do a good job trimming along the bottom, saving me more mowing/trimming work.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weighing, Worming, and Knitting

This morning Beth, John (Beth's son), and I finished weighing and worming the alpacas. They are rather stoic critters and sometimes the only way that you can find health problems is noticing a weight loss.....or if some management is needed. Like these two girls below, brown Sonata and black Chinella are in need of weight stabilization. Chinny will no longer have access to the baby pen for constant access to hay. This picture is proof that these two DO enjoy eating. If you look behind us, everyone else is running to the fence because they spotted a fox crossing the bean field. Not these two....

After we finished our weighing and worming, we came up to the house to prepare Chin's fleece for the show in September. We spread it out and removed lots of VM (vegetable matter) and anything that wasn't consistent with her blanket. Every little fleck of "stuff" shows up on the black and we finally just quit after an hour. Beth was actually using tweezers. We did leave some junk behind. The fleece of huacaya alpacas is folded so that the cut side is on the outside and then put into a plastic bag until the show.

I want to show you this cute hat that I just finished. (That's Beth's horse, Cord, in the background) The pattern was free from SmokyMountainFibers on Etsy. AnnMarie and I are sort of old friends over there.....and we have been following each others blog for it seems like forever. You can get the pattern on her blog for yourself. Her blog is: Here

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blog Neglect Recovery

I have certainly had a bad case of blog neglect for the last week or so. Thanks, Mac, and the rest of you who contacted me to be sure that I was ok. Have been really busy inside and out. Here's some yarn that I just had to spin up from the roving that I dyed. Actually, I dyed up about a pound of that yummy white alpaca/merino top that I picked up a few weeks ago. ▼ That's what it looks like before spinning.

Lucky me, Son Rob was here from Pennsylvania (he teaches at Scranton U). I tried not to have him work the whole time. We did get a permanent fence around the lagoon and some new gates in place. He's out mowing the yard right now.
My two daughters and the two grandgirls came over to spend the day with us on Friday. I love that now we are all friends and can laugh and drink beer and eat pizza together.

Here's a JR update to all his fans who have sent good energy his way as he was struggling to make it in this world. He's the little brown guy in the middle, white Snickers (two days older) is on the left, and gray, herd sire Tribute is on the right. To answer a question from Meg in the comments - no, the vets never figured out why he was so small and grew so slowly. Except for some early lack of immunities, his blood work was normal. I think he is just going to be a little guy but do believe now that he is going to live.
Rob suggested we should use him for breeding when he is older and try to produce a line of miniture alpacas. ☺ Wouldn't that be cute? They would be very easy to potty train, of course, you would have to have two.
NutriSystem update - I've lost 8 pounds now - in 2 1/2 weeks - eating all the time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Light Brown Alpaca Roving

I want to show you the other bag of fiber that I brought home from Zeilingers on Sunday.

This fiber is from Nick who lives in St. Louis at Diversified Alpacas. I bought his gorgeous fiber in February and had Z put it into 100% alpaca roving. It's a beautiful light golden brown, extremely clean and fine. Cassie → quite insisted on showing you the bag of 5 pounds because yesterday Max got to be poster doggie.
I will be putting it in my Etsy shop when I get done here.
NutriSystem update - Oh, my, another 1/2 pound gone according to the morning scale. I can hardly get all the food into me. Seems like everytime I turn around, I'm sticking something into my mouth. We'll see what happens without my daily exercise. Had a major leg cramp during the night and barn chores didn't really work the soreness out so I'm taking a break from the 2 mile morning walk.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Alpaca - Merino Top from the Mill

Yesterday I ran over to Frankenmuth, MI, to Zeilingers to pick up some fiber that I left in March. I love going over there because they are always so helpful and treat me so well....They make me feel special even though I'm only bringing them a hundred or so pounds of fiber each year - compare that to the thousands of pounds of buffalo that they do.
Anyway, I'm so pleased!!!! I will just tell you about the white. The alpaca comes from Target who lives in St. Louis, MI, with Chris and Jenn at Diversified Alpacas. He's a very handsome herd sire with lovely fleece who we are hoping to breed to my Ariana.

I had left Zeilingers a little over 10 pounds of 75% Target and 25% white merino from Genopalette's lambs. Gary suggested that I have it made into topp instead of roving like I have always done in the past. This picture → is the pound of noils left over that might be considered trash. I can imagine it in an awesome bed for Max or Cassie.

Speaking of Max, here he is posing for you so that you can see what 8 pounds of top looks like. I had a treat in my hand to get him to stay.

I love the way the fiber is coiled around. Looking down into the bag → is like looking into a tornado. I'm really anxious to spin some of this because it's so soft and smooth. When I pull it apart it is about 4 inches long which makes me think it's going to practically spin itself.

I took the picture above to list this in my Etsy store. The picture on the right shows how I use my weaving warping frame to wrap the top and then band it with information like - weight, my stuff, and a picture of the alpaca who donated the fiber.
Note on the warping frame, I've used it only once to measure yarn for weaving. What a waste, but it works to put up roving and top.

NutriSystem update: I thought that I had all my food but the Schwann's truck dropped off a bunch of frozen stuff today. I had a veggie pizza and an ice cream bar for lunch. They were yummy.
I started the program last Monday and have lost 3 pounds. This is amazing because I'm eating constantly.
I was just looking up how to spell top or topp, and came across the neatest little FAQ - How to tell if the fiber is roving or top? Pull the fiber apart. Top pulls apart in a straight line; roving leaves a rough, triangular-shaped edge.