Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Small Change: Prepare a Garden

Checking in on Earlier Small Changes:
I finally exhausted the conventional shampoo from my May Change and am using more natural products for both my shampoo and conditioner.

While I was looking for more natural shampoos and conditioners, I found a couple of body lotions that I am also trying out.

As far as my June and July Changes.... time and weed management.  Things have been going pretty well.  I think the salt is finally starting to make a difference in the parking area and the blocking of my time has also been working pretty well.  Of course these things are a continual pursuit.

August Change:
Last April I had grand plans of preparing a garden to be ready for planting by Mother's Day.  When I realized that was just not going to happen, I decided I would have it ready to go before the snow flies so it could spend all winter incorporating our yummy alpaca manure.

So the time has come.... some of our other projects are complete and I have a lot of digging to do.  My goal for August is to begin to prepare our garden area so we can plant veggies next spring.

One Small Change

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2010, part 4

The Tour de Fleece (Ravelry Link) is over now.  We finished on Sunday.

As usual, I have my daily progress is here and you can compare to parts one, two or three if you wish.

Friday, July 23rd:
I finished up the Huacaya Alpaca from last week's post.

Saturday, July 24th:

Sunday, July 25th:

401.6 yards

Sunday marks my third and final goal as complete.  I spun every day the Tour de France raced.


I really enjoyed this year's Tour de Fleece.  I met my all of my goals and the quality of my spinning has improved greatly.  It was wonderful to take a daily intention to spin.  I enjoyed spinning with an end product in mind, spinning for the sake of spinning and challenging myself with the drop spindle.  I greatly enjoyed the camaraderie with the awesome ladies of the Team of Wonder (Ravelry Link) and I'm already looking forward to next year.

In the meantime here are shots of my finished yarns.

219 yards, 3.875 ounces of hand painted Bamboo/Merino aka my BFF yarn.

130.5 yards, 2.375ounces of Jacob Wool.

9.3 yards, 5/8 ounce of Navajo-Churro that has been Navajo-plied.

59.3 yards, 1.75 ounces of Wool/Mohair spun entirely on a drop spindle.

17 yards, 1/8 ounce of Natural Green Cotton spun entirely on a drop spindle.

401.6 yards, 4.5 ounces of Huacaya Alpaca.

While I was spinning the cotton and having trouble with the short staple length, it occurred to me that some readers may not know that staple length means the length of the fiber being spun.  Two to six inches are common, but you can see from the photo below, the cotton is significantly shorter than the other fibers I worked with over the last several weeks.

Top, L-R: bamboo/merino, Jacob wool, Navajo-Churro wool
Bottom, L-R: wool/mohair, huacaya alpaca, cotton

One last photo: All of my finished yarns together... 836.7 yards, 13.25 ounces.

As always, please check out what's going on for Fiber Arts Friday.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2010, part 3

Welcome to the third installment of my Tour de Fleece progress.  Here are parts one and two for comparison.

Saturday, July 17th:
Even though I completed my goal of using a drop spindle for four days last week, I finished spinning the prepared wool-mohair roving.

59 yards

I spun some more of the Navajo-Churro I started last week.  This wool is quite scratchy which was causing my finger tips to get sore.

Since I was really most interested in comparing it to the Jacob and I don't have a plan for this yarn, I stopped spinning, Navajo plied and skeined it.  I'll have a finished photo for you next week.

Sunday, July 18th:
Huacaya Alpaca pencil roving.

Monday, July 19th:

Tuesday, July 20th:

Wednesday, July 21st:
Rest Day

Thursday, July 22nd:
Challenge Day

While my challenge was nothing like climbing through the mountains on a bike in a rain storm avoiding sheep, I did challenge myself.

I attempted to spin lace weight, green cotton on a drop spindle.

This cotton is naturally colored so the staple length is very short.  I wish the color showed better in the photo... it's a soft yellow-green. 

I was able to get pretty thin for a while, but then I started having issues with the yarn breaking. I increased the gauge and twist and got a bunch of thick and thin yarn.  I finally stabilized into a relatively thin yarn, but thicker than I was originally going for.  I don’t think any of it is over spun though, which is a big step forward for me.

There are only a few more days of the tour.  The Team of Wonder is primarily an alpaca team and I have more alpaca from earlier this week, so I think it's appropriate to finish the tour spinning alpaca.

In the meantime, please head over to the Wonder Why blog where it's Fiber Arts Friday and you're sure to see some awesome spinning and other fibery goodness.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Some of my Favorite Things

Feeding alpacas on a summer day.

Cows across the street.

Making yarn.

The alpaca dog.

A double rainbow over the pasture.

The climbing tree in bloom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spinning Alpaca

I'm an alpaca breeder.  I am also a spinner, weaver and knitter.  I am on an alpaca team (Ravelry link) for this year's Tour de Fleece and I have three seasons of raw alpaca fleece in my shop. 

I have no alpaca prepared for spinning.

So when I realized I would finish spinning the 4 ounces of BFF Bamboo/Merino roving during the Tour de Fleece, I went to a (new to me) fiber shop in Fort Collins in search of Huacaya Alpaca roving.

I stopped at Your Daily Fiber which is a fun little shop.

There was a beautiful Japanese Kimono loom set up in the front room and drawers of roving in the back room.  There were yarn and other things, but I tend to get distracted by looms and roving.

The roving is displayed in the drawers of antique dressers.  Each drawer was full of roving... almost overflowing with soft, luscious potential.  It just begged me to reach in and feel.  Much of it was suri llama and suri alpaca which were both very soft.  Since I haven't spun llama before, the suri llama was very interesting... but I was on a mission for huacaya alpaca.

The drawers weren't well marked so I asked for some help which is how I met Elaine, the shop owner.

Turns out Elaine breeds llamas, alpacas and yaks.  Which means much of the roving was from her farm.

So after spending way too much time talking to her, I came home with 4 1/2 ounces of grey huacaya alpaca pencil roving, wound it into balls and embarked upon a lace weight yarn.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2010, part 2

I give you my Tour de Fleece progress from this week.  If you're interested in comparing to last week's progress, go here.

Friday, July 9th:
I started this week with just a little bit of the Bamboo/Merino roving remaining.

I finished spinning the four ounces of hand-painted lusciousness.  This is the most full my bobbin has ever been.  :-)

I skeined it.

What do you think of my teeny-tiny niddy-noddy? I should really get a bigger one. One wrap is 30 1/2 inches, so what you see here is 219 yards of unknown gauge.

While I was skeining the yarn I was able to evaluate my work over the last seven days.  The gauge is consistent but a few sections are over spun.  I'm super excited about this yarn and am looking forward to working on my BFF hat once the Tour de Fleece (Ravelry Link) is complete.

I decided to spin the Jacob wool next.

Saturday, July 10th:

Sunday, July 11th:

103 yards

The Jacob wool is squishy,  fuzzy and soft.  I have an end project in mind for this yarn but will have to share that later.  ;-)

While I am travelling the rest of this week and will be working on my drop spindle with the wool/mohair I prepared last week, I had to start spinning the Navajo-Churro.

These sheep are prized for their guard hair, which is an unusual trait for a fleece producing animal.  Guard hair makes the yarn scratchy but I think it also makes it more durable.  Navajo-Churro is the primary wool used in the beautiful Rio Grande and Navajo style rugs.

I was really curious how these two rovings would compare since both the Jacob and Navajo-Churro are old world sheep and the Jacob was much softer than I expected it to be.

The Navajo-Churro feels more like twine than yarn.  It spins very easily and is producing a smooth yarn.  I love the way it smells... just like a freshly dry-cleaned wool sweater.

Monday, July 12th:
Rest and Travel Day

Tuesday, July 13th:
My first day with only a drop spindle and a bag of prepared wool/mohair roving.

I'm having a difficult time spinning a consistent yarn, let alone drafting and spinning at the same time.  The good news is that the little bit of yarn I've made so far is soft and fluffy.  It makes me think that my usual spinning is a bit tight.

Wednesday, July 14th:
I've taken to spinning, parking, drafting and then letting the twist into the yarn.  I assume one day I will be able to spin, draft and release twist all at once but I think I need more practice than this week will give me.

The wrapped yarn seems to be sliding down the post, so I've started to wrap it more tightly.

Thursday, July 15th:

Friday, July 16th:

This point marks two of my goals as achieved.  I spun all of the roving for my BFF hat and used a drop spindle for four days.  One goal remains, which is to spin every day the tour rides... so far, I'm achieving that goal too.

Take a look at the other fun stuff going on for Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Heat Advisory?

This is a new term for me.

I have been spending about half of my time in Minnesota lately.  This week, I am in Minnesota.  On the news this morning they said there would be a Heat Advisory today and a great opportunity for tornados.

Hmmm, Heat Advisory?  I guess it's supposed to get hot today...

By mid-afternoon, I was freezing in the air conditioned office and decided a walk outside would feel good.  It's was 86 deg F which is not hot in my experience.  I grabbed my sunglasses and building key and headed outside.

It was like I just stepped off an airplane in Houston or Fort Lauderdale, but without the smell of fish. The air was thick and sticky with humidity. 

Living in New Mexico for so many years and now being very aware of the 25-30% humidity in Colorado, this 79% humidity in Minnesota is something strange.

Supposedly the 86 deg F plus the 79% humidity makes it feel like 100 def F outside.  I never quite understood that math, but I can see how being out in the current weather for an extended period of time would get uncomfortable.

As for the tornadic activity, I suppose those are still yet to come.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I don't fully understand the idea of tipping when placing an order or reservation.

A tip is a reward for good service.  If you tip ahead of time, what's the incentive?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Loveland Loves BBQ

Hubba said there was a wine tasting festival downtown.  We went down, saw a bunch of tents and people.

Turns out it was the 4th Annual Loveland Loves BBQ competition.  Which was good because we love BBQ too.  :-)

There was a show...

Lots of award winning BBQ to be had...

Some serious Smoker Envy...

and funny team names.

Of course we also found and tasted the wine.  :-)