Friday, July 25, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2014, part 3

We're nearing the home stretch.  After this week is over, only a few more days of the Tour de Fleece.

Friday, July 18th

I decided I should finish out 3 ounces, which should be half of the never-ending green cotton from last week.  But there wasn't much time for spinning today.

Saturday, July 19th - Challenge Day

I spindled silk.... this was my first time with 100% silk.

Sunday, July 20th

Back to my wheel and a small amount of cotton.

Monday, July 21st - Rest Day

I didn't feel much like resting today, so I finished out what I thought was half of my never-ending cotton.

Turns out it's only 2 3/4 ounces.... I spun about 1/2 ounce during this Tour de Fleece.

It feels good to have this off of my wheel.  I will spin the remainder and then ply them together.  But I am going to take a break from this cotton for a little while.

I have 3 ounces to go.

Tuesday, July 22nd

I much prefer spinning on my wheel over my drop spindles, so I moved the silk to my wheel... it's going faster on the wheel, but the fiber is squeaky.

Wednesday, July 23rd

Thursday, July 24th

I'm about 1/3 finished with the silk single.  I plan to ply it when I'm finished.

I think it looks pretty in the sunlight.

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2014, part 2

After the mass productivity from last week it took me some time to decide if I would go back to the never-ending cotton or start on the never-ending supply of home-grown alpaca...

Friday, July 11th
I decided that I wanted to spin alpaca.

If I ever needed confirmation as to why we raise alpaca, this is it.

As much as I enjoy spinning other fibers, alpaca is by far my favorite.... smooth, silky, slippery, soft.  I just love it. :-)

Saturday, July 12th

Sunday, July 13th

I finished spinning the single and then plied it to itself.

Homegrown Alpaca - Smokey's Bandit, Medium Silver-Grey
172 yards
3 1/4 ounces

Monday, July 14th

Back to the never-ending green cotton that has been on my wheel for 15 months... 1/8 oz completed today.

Tuesday, July 15th - Rest Day

Wednesday, July 16th

Another 1/8 ounce of green cotton.

I've mentioned Staple Length before, which is the length of the individual fibers.

The homegrown alpaca on the left is ~4 inches and took me a little less than an hour to spin one ounce.  The green cotton on the right is ~1/2 inch and takes me about an hour to spin 1/8 ounce.  The short staple length is why people say that cotton is hard to spin.

In general, the naturally colored cottons are shorter than white cotton.

Thursday, July 17th

One more eighth of an ounce spun.

I have a little more than 3 ounces to go on this never-ending naturally green cotton.

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Many Thanks to my friend's bountiful Montmorency Cherry Trees.

They are delicious.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2014, part 1

I think the Tour de Fleece is perfectly timed during the year.... it has gotten hot enough that I don't want to knit too much and sitting in front of my wheel is much  more enjoyable when my feet and fingers are not cold.  ;-)

For those unfamiliar with the Tour de Fleece, it's a fiber spinning event hosted on Ravelry that coincides with the Tour de France.

It's a fun event each year.  Participants can join a team or spin individually.  The camaraderie is a lot of fun.  I have joined up with the Team of Wonder again and look forward to participating every year.

My goal for the last several years has been to spin at least a 1/2 inch each day the Tour rides.  I don't always succeed, but last year I spun one extra day.  :-)  Also since I'm on an Alpaca-Lovin' Team and raise a few of my own, I intend to spin at least some alpaca.

Of course my hope after every Tour de Fleece is to continue the spinning momentum I built throughout the entire year.  Some years are better than others.  Last year was not so good...  I still have the cotton on my wheel from last year's Tour.. Which had been on my wheel for quite a while before that.  So my goals include spinning more cotton.  ;-)

3/5 ounces natural green cotton

I also have some prepared llama, llama, llama+bamboo, and romney lamb+alpaca to spin.

As usual, I will post my daily progress in my weekly Fiber Arts Friday Post. If you want to see my (and the rest of the team's) real-time, actual, daily, progress then join us at the Team of Wonder on Ravelry. If not, I'll see you here next Friday. :-)

Saturday, July 5th

I started with the green cotton that has been on my wheel for 15 months.  The spinning bug actually bit me on Monday, June 30th... so I've been spinning this for the last several days.

I started with the 3.5 ounces remaining this morning, which means I've spun one ounce since last year's Tour de Fleece... most of it in the last few days.


But after a week of spinning cotton, I was feeling bored with it today. 30 minutes later and a negligible amount according to my scale, I still have 3.5 ounces to go.  sigh.


I was anxious to spin the Romney Lamb+Alpaca (80/20).  The staple felt like a mile long after the cotton.  It drafts quickly but is much more coarse so my fingertips got sore.  Below is nearly an ounce.

To show you  what I mean about the difference in staple length... the cotton (~0.5 inches) is on the left and the Romney Lamb+Alpaca (~3.5 inches) on the right.

Sunday, July 6th

Continuing with the Romney+Alpaca, I spun 1 5/8 ounces in two sessions.

I love the way that wool smells and as I mentioned earlier, this drafts quite nicely so it spins quickly.  But my finger tips are sore after spinning this blend.

I don't imagine I'll spin romney again... there's a little lanolin buildup on my finger tips... don't know if that's due to the preparation, quality of the fleece or breed.  But I do think this would be a nice pairing with the Navajo Churro I have in my stash.  This is definitely not a next-to-skin type yarn.

Monday, July 7th

Another 1 1/8 ounces today.  Not much of this one left.... thankfully.

Tuesday, July 8th

3 7/8 ounces of Romney/Alpaca (80/20)

Then I added what I spindled in last year's TdF to the bobbin.

4 3/8 ounces and 426 yards of excited Romney + Alpaca (80/20).

After a bath and a stretch, it is a little more behaved.  ;-)  It will go into my stash to be used in a weaving project that's been percolating over the last few days.

After the last 4 days, my fingers needed some soft fiber.... I thought this local llama would be the ticket.

It was delightfully soft and slippery and full of neps and vegetable matter.  Not a very good preparation, but exactly what I needed.

1 1/8 ounce, 99 yards of Charcoal Llama.

Wednesday, July 9th

I'm not feeling too much of the spinning mojo today... perhaps I over did it yesterday.  ;-)

Below is about 1/4 ounce of a Brown Llama.

It's from the same source of the Charcoal Llama from yesterday, but this preparation is much better so far.

Thursday, July 10th

I finished spinning the brown llama from yesterday.

1 1/8 ounce, 93 yards of Brown Llama.

I was planning to save this roving for tomorrow, but I just couldn't help myself... much like good chocolate cake, this llama+bamboo roving was delicious to work with.

2 ounces, 140 yards of silver llama+bamboo.

This has been an exceptionally productive week on many fronts, not just spinning.

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fiber Arts Friday: Replacement Hat, part 5

Finally, The Replacement Hat is finished!

I had mentioned that it used to take me a week or so to complete a relatively simple hat.  My Ravelry notes indicate that The Original took 5 days to make.  The Replacement has taken.... 3 1/2 months.  ;-)

I love the top of this hat. The decreases are staggered so there is no pinwheel effect.

It is as close to an exact replacement as possible, right down to the yarn brand, color and lot number.  In fact, this hat was started with what was left of the original yarn and finished up with my Ravelry find which is a discontinued, organic, merino that is delightfully squooshy.

I tried it on after I wove in the ends and grinned at Hubba. He said. "Isn't it a little warm to be wearing a hat like that?"

Yes dear, but that's not the point. ;-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Slow Living: June, 2014

June has been almost entirely consumed with finding a new job... I have a lot of feelings about this, most of which I'm not ready to share publicly.  So here's my June installment for the Slow Living Project.  :-)

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

Hubba continues to take the lead in this role.  If it wasn't for him, I would probably be starving. lol

We did make it to the Farmer's Market a couple of times.  It's a great socialization opportunity for our dogs.  We love talking to the farmers and bakers and eating their delicious foods.

Photo courtesy, Lovif Patisserie

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

We had hay delivered early in the month.

The alpacas love Hay Delivery Day almost as much as I do.  You can see all of the girls standing at the fence watching the guys unload the truck.

I always feel better having a well-stocked barn.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/Repair: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

Continuing with the Using What We Have idea and the fact that I haven't been travelling much, I went through my travel bag and used up the hygiene products along with several samples that had been collected.

Also a few old and ill-fitting t-shirts have been turned into rags.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

With it being spring and shearing season, I have been using my Neti Pot quite a lot.

Deodorant experiments? Thank you for the comments and advice last month... I have not yet looked into any deodorant recipes, but I will be looking for ones using Mango Butter or Shea Butter as well as lotion bar and soap recipes.  The apparent reason for coconut oil in these products is that it is solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature.... but with my sensitivity, I've been reluctant to try it and am looking forward to trying these other options.

I started a comparison between traditional Incandescent Lights and the new LED lights.  So far, (~1 month) I like the LED version equal to the Incandescent version.  If these LED bulbs really last 7-22 years, I will be ecstatic.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

I was hoping for more time to spend in the garden this month.  I did not get it, but my cotton seedling is doing well and my apples are growing.

My cherries got aphids and possibly Hover Fly Larva.  I don't know for sure, but they appear to be eating the aphids and not the tree.

I have also added every Lady Bug I've found to my Cherry Tree because anything that eats aphids is a friend in my book.

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

A small bit of hat making, but primarily creative Cover Letter Writing and Job Searching.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

Thanks to the dogs finding a pair of baby skunks this month, I have learned a few things:
  • Baby Skunks are called Kits
  • Skunks are a primary predator of Honeybees
  • The Great Horned Owl is the primary predator of skunks
  • Kits stay with their mother for nearly a year
  • Surgical Soap removes Skunk Stink beautifully
I also learned about and joined a Shearer's Only group on Facebook which is becoming a great resource.  One of which is learning about a few sheep shearing schools.  I've not sheared sheep before and hate telling the sheep people that I am unable to help them... hopefully one of these courses will work with my schedule.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

I do like this category a lot.... it's so great to stop and think about how we've helped or have been helped by others...

At the land fill, which is the sort of place you get in and out of as quickly as possible, someone offered us the use of their de-thatching rake.  We had not brought the right equipment to unload our truck and were having trouble.  We returned the favor by letting them use our broom.  :-)

Also my Day Job Search has been a near-full-time activity.  Several friends and colleagues, many of which I did not expect, have gone out of their way to help me find a job within their companies or within companies where they have contacts.  I've had a few nibbles so far and am feeling optimistic that my new employment relationship, when I find it, will be a good one.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

This has been a tough month, but there are a few little gems... a trek for The Best Fried Chicken, going the "back way" to get dog food, happy puppy faces at the fence, and shearing season.