Thursday, May 16, 2013
We took a trip last weekend to the New Hampshire State Sheep and Wool Festival in Deerfield, NH. Spent a full morning there, lots to see, many vendors in a number of buildings. About 120, as I recall hearing. Many vendors selling yarn, some processed wool fiber, some had fleeces to sell. Not enough equipment and supplies for us fiber artists at these shows. I am a weaver and Handspinner. I want to see lots of spinning wheels, combs, tools, plenty of fiber! Not commercial yarns. I make my own, remember? I went with a list of about 10 items I was looking for, found 2 of them. One being Power Scour, for washing fiber. One vendor had some, so I bought a refill. I went looking for several fleece types, found none. Very disappointing fleece sale. Plenty of Romney, and Lincoln Longwool, some Shetland, too....I did find a Finnish Landrace ( a.k.a. Finnsheep). Lovely soft, fine fleece. Not crisp or bouncy, this is softer. Cannot wait to process it! It is very white--a nice cool bright white. Lots of ideas for that. I had planned on taking photos of the show, but I completely forgot, I was so busy looking things over! They had an Alpaca Fest in one of the buildings, we didn't have time to see that, but perhaps next year. It warrants a trip back! Not as big as Rhinebeck, certainly, but a nice size show, nevertheless. I will put posts about the fleeces I bought there, as I work with them! Can't wait....
Beautiful things are beginning to grow here at Huntington House. The garden is coming to life. Tulips, violets, daffodils and peonies are pushing their way up through the dirt! Our goats provide us with not only wool, and laughter from watching their antics, but they make wonderful compost for the garden! I have put many cartloads on the herb garden this spring, and it is like gold to us naturalists! I've been poring over my gardening books....."Cottage Gardens" is a favorite, as is "The Self Sufficient Gardener", and "Backyard Homesteading". One of my classic favorites is "Herbs" by Emily Tollie Meade, published in the 80's, it is a treasure trove of lavish photos and information about herb gardening. Highly recommend it. I have been dabbling in vegetables a bit, in the herb garden. It is so nice to go out on a warm summer evening, and pick fresh herbs for dinner, as well as tomatoes, zucchini, cukes and beans to round out a meal. Nothing better than fresh picked. My gardening ambitions always exceed my budget and my time. So, I often sit down with a good gardening book and a glass of iced tea (with peppermint picked from the herb garden, I might add!), and dream of what I could do, with lots of time and lots of money. I would like to get my water garden up and running this year. It has been laying fallow for two years. Perhaps this weekend......
Friday, April 19, 2013
Below are samples of 2 more fleeces that I scoured this week, in an effort to get caught up on all of the fleece that I have been purchasing in the past 10 or so years! They are now clean, packed into plastic storage tubs, labelled, and ready for future fiber spinning and felting! These two are a gray Karakul x Jacob x Coopworth blend on the left, and a fabulous creamy white alpaca. I am in fiber art heaven! All of the tubs are labelled by breed and color. Some tubs have processed fiber in them, and are labelled accordingly. I made up a master list for all tubs and their contents, and I keep this in my studio, so that I know what is in my inventory at a glance. No more wondering, no more searching the property for that "fleece in question"-- so much easier. And, I no longer have to worry that the dirty fleeces are attracting pests, or that the suint is solidifying on the fibers rendering them useless. Happy day! I will be visiting the CT Sheep Breeders Fiber Festival April 27, in Rockville CT, and the NH State Sheep and Wool Festival in Deerfield, NH on May 11. Would like to find some Blue Faced Leicester and some Teesewater fleece. Polwarth top is on the list as well.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
These photos show the results of a day spent creating silk paper, also known as silk fusion. Our spinning guild, the Nutmeg Spinners Guild, hosted Robin Russo, a fiber artist and spinner from Vermont, for a day long workshop this past month. The number of inspiring color combinations from our members was astonishing! We used silk roving dyed in many colors, as well as silk mawata (also called silk hankies) and a myriad of embellishments ranging from dyed moth cocoons to hydrangea leaves to glitter. The silk roving was laid out on nylon netting (the cheap kind from the craft store, used for bridal veiling) in layers. Next, embellishments were placed on top (see photos). The top was covered with netting. You then brush on either textile medium, for a softer hand, or clear acrylic varnish for a stiffer end result (depending on your intended use for the paper). The medium is diluted about 1:1 with water. Mod Podge can also be used, but may not be as permanent. Work the medium through all the layers of the netting/silk sandwich with a brush, being careful to insure that it is worked in thoroughly, on both sides. It should be wet but not dripping wet. Lay out to dry completely before carefully removing the netting, which can be used several times. You can also see a photo of my silk paper used in a paper weaving with some metallic paper! Lots of possibilities. Origami, basket making, papercrafting, ornaments, bookmaking--the list is endless!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
We clipped Black Jack today! Here he is, below, looking slim and trim! He took it well, was not a squirmy worm this time. We think he understood that it doesn't hurt, and my, we always feel so much better after the haircut! The second photo below is of Jack, with his twin brother Mackenzie cautiously inspecting the new haircut. We sprayed Jack with Bug Block, rubbed it in to the skin, using disposable rubber gloves to protect ourselves. He is being treated for lice (not uncommon), and he is bothered by them. We will be shearing Mack tomorrow. The girls, Violet and Luna, have been sprayed as well. Once we shear Mack, we will spray him as well. Then, the big job of disinfecting the goat shed will be next on the list. Empty the shed on a warm day in the morning, strip it completely, spray with Sevin, close it up, goats outside for the day while it dries, then fresh bedding in the evening when goats are allowed back in. What a job!
Friday, March 29, 2013
Can it be? The coldest, snowiest, cloudiest March ever.....in like a lion, out like a lamb? It is 52 degrees today, a warm watery sun up in the sky this March 29th...beautiful day. As I went to do chores this morning, I noticed the hyacinth poking their little green shoots up by the lamb here in the herb garden! What a true country dwellers treat! Mack, one of our Pygora goats, is beginning to blow off his winter down. Sadly, I lost this fleece, since I could not shear him when the fleece was ready to be taken, the end of January. Too cold out. Even inside the goat shed. I just recently invested in 2 Amish made goat coats. The next fleece WILL be harvested when ready, sometime in December or January. If you wait even 2 weeks from the time you see that the fleece is ready for harvesting, it will begin to mat and ultimately felt before blowing off. You can see in the photos below that the silvery down has started separating from the dark under coat. This undercoat is actually the guard hairs, wiry and coarse. These need to be separated before spinning the downy fleece. They will become the outer coat of the goat once the fleece comes off. The goat will wear this darker coat as the new downy fleece starts to come in over the summer. When the days start to get shorter, it signals the downy winter coat to start growing in in earnest! Lauren and I will begin clipping off the goats' fleeces, and put them in the compost bin this weekend. The boys will be sporting their new Amish blankets tomorrow night! This will keep them toasty until the warmer nights have arrived. They will look very different once they are shorn. I will post pictures soon!
I scoured yet another fleece that I picked up for 6 dollars at the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Fiber Festival in Tolland, Ct several years ago. It is a "Heinz 57 variety fleece", that I purchased because of its soft, springy feel, and lovely silvery gray color. I noticed a small area of old bug infestation, removed that part, shook out the whole fleece to allow any dirt, chaff and "ABC" fiber (already been chewed! By the long gone bugs, that is....). I did not sort the fleece. I did remove the skirtings, and then gave it a pre soak in 125 degree water, in the sink. Then, I washed it in 3 batches, on top of the stove to get the temp up to about 140-150 degrees, with an appropriate amount of Power Scour. Love the light scent. This was followed by 2 rinses in hot tap water. Then, I rolled the gently squeezed out wool in a cushy towel to extract any remaining water ( see photos), and layer it out on the patio, on top of some old screens to air dry in the sun. There is a batch of 3rd clip yearling mohair next to the screen of gray wool in one of the photos. I had previously washed it, but it still felt a little greasy, and did not look as bright as the rest of the mohair I had washed from that fleece, in smaller batches! Next time I will wash smaller batches, it does make a difference when there is plenty of room for the dirty fiber to swish around in the water....the pot was too full, I guess! The mohair is squeaky clean, and as bright white and lustrous as it can be.