Category Archives: Roving

TDF day 13 and Mini Challenge!

TDF day 13 and Mini Challenge!

On track for TDF-though I did have to modify my goal. Originally, I hoped to fill a bobbin a day. However, spinning very fine takes FOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEVVVEEEERRRRRRRR!! So, I decided that as long as I spin steadily daily, then I’m good. Our little Facebook group was presented with a mini-challenge by our awesome hostess-to look up the number one hit song on the day you were born, and spin a yarn to represent it. Luckily, I just missed “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye, and had “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy.

At first, I thought I would end up with a crazy, wacky yarn that would be one of those things that you keep and have just to say you did it. But after listening, really listening to the song over and over.. (yes, the kids all asked over the course of two days “is that your new favourite song, mama?”) I felt sad. I pictured her walking barefoot down Main Street, peering into quintessential small town store-fronts, with mannequins on display wearing high fashion from decades past, shops with sticky candy melting in the sun shining through the window, the drug store with empty seats at the soda fountain.. She wears a lacy, crochet dress that was once white, now tattered at the edges and a charming shade of ivory. Her hair is sun bleached “yellow” blonde, curling wildly around her head, silver streaks glinting in the sun her only betrayal of her true age. A faded rose pinned to the front of her dress with one of those tiny brass safety pins, drooping sideways, but petals and leaves still intact. Her suitcase is a brown cracked leather with shiny brassy clasps that she keeps clean and polished. But it’s her eyes, blue and wild, that stop you in your tracks and make you wonder: what lost love made this beautiful girl lose her mind..

I decided that I needed to dye! Shocking, I know. I think dyeing is one of my most favourite part of the fiber arts process. I selected squishy soft Cormo for the base fiber, and knew I needed a handful of Henry’s locks as an add-in.
Ooooh.. steamy. These are the locks as I kettle dyed them. I LOVE how silky and shiny Henry’s locks are!! And the colors came out *exactly as I hoped. I didn’t take pics of the Cormo as I dyed it-I worked too fast to think about it when the baby was quiet for awhile. After everything was dried, I decided to separate the cormo into color segments-the brown was pulled out and set aside, and the blue/violet was blended with hand painted silk and silvery angelina with my awesome two-pitch hand combs that the Muscle made me. The blue/violets are for her eyes, the silver her hair, the silk for her beauty.

I knew the locks would be the “faded rose”, along with a deep dark red silk thrum. The locks would be tail spun, and the silk thrum wildly added right after. I used a natural colored blend of merino/alpaca/tencel to transition from the blue/violet to the browns of her cracked leather suitcase. Throughout, I had metallic thread autowrap, except for over the blues to not take away from the silver angelina. This is my second ever core-spun yarn, and first real “art” yarn. My tiny bobbins/wheel and flyer to not allow for much and it was a labor of love as I struggled to make it happen! Stopping and starting often to uncatch the fibers on the hooks, on the orifice, on each other! In the end though, I am SO freaking happy with the results. This will be something for me that I will cherish forever.
deltadawn qualitycontrol
That’s my Quality Control inspector. She is also my sneaky little fiber thief! I could not for the life of me figure out how my fibers kept ending up scattered outside my bucket when nobody was around. The kids said it was PollyAnna, but I didn’t believe it. Then I caught her.
sneakyfiberthief helper

I didn’t get a ton of yardage, but I’m ok with that. My eyes were far bigger than my bobbin. This is what my wheel could handle. 24 yards. WOOt!
I didn’t use the vintage wooden beads yet-I will though when I turn the yarn into a wearable-they just go too well with it.
deltadawn2 deltadawn2a

I am glad for mini-challenges, for meeting like-minded people who pose challenges to strangers and friends alike to help them broaden their minds and experiences, for no reason other than to wish for all to have fun, and for how through the grace of the internet, we can share in each others’ successes, failures, joys and losses, holding each other up through it all. Til next time, hug someone you love. =^..^=



Jewelry, Fiber and TDF, Oh My!

Jewelry, Fiber and TDF, Oh My!

I promise, I haven’t been slacking around. I have actually done a few things since I’ve last posted!! I’ve been wanting to post for quite some time now, but I get sidetracked every time I sit down for five seconds!
I will keep this post short. I’m going to post pictures and brief captions, plus I really, really want to talk about my very first ever Tour De Fleece! *SO EXCITED*!!!

Who would have thought that the image on the left would end up the picture on the right? It was an experiment, and in the end, I followed where they went and though unexpected, really like them. Grade A garnets on woven copper, they are surprisingly light weight and are just a hair over two inches long from the top of the ear wires to the bottom of that lowest little curl.

Little garnet clusters, these make me think of grapes. Nice weight to them without being horribly heavy, they measure just a tad over two inches from top of the ear wires to the very bottom of the dangle.

I made this AYE-mazing yarn that I just LOVE, and called Lush Garden, and learned a hard lesson-never dye less than eight ounces. This is a small skein, so I am kicking myself for not dyeing more at the time. It’s a little hard to repeat spontaneous hand-painting! This is so soft, semi-worsted merino/alpaca/tencel, next to skin soft.

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I have started knitting up my new series of Mountain Men hats. Earthy tones, thick and warm, the gents on the Muscle’s forums expressed great interest in them!

We attended the Yellow Rose Fiber Fiesta this year!! I was luck to have been joined by some of my favorite framily people and V and I snapped up some raw long locks that were being sold by a nice lady named Tracy Ross of South Texas Angora Goats. I opted for the 50% teeswater/BFL cross locks and V brought home some awesome 50% teeswater/Wenslydale locks. We had a Fiber Day here at the Ranch, and together skirted/washed a good half pound of locks. V hasn’t dyed hers yet, but I couldn’t wait! I laid them out in a pan and dyed them in the oven using Jacquard Acid dyes I painted on. Success!! These locks are an average of nine inches, with some being around 6 but most closer to 9-10.

Now these are mohair locks from my wether, Henry. I love that goat. He is two years old and has the silky soft lustrous locks of a kid. I haven’t done any tail or lock spinning yet-so I decided to practice with Henry’s locks before diving into the teeswater/BFL locks. And OH MYYYYYYYYY!!! I am just blown away at how silky these are!!

V and I both found some wonderful BFL roving! We dyed together, V’s first time! (Hers on the left) I was so proud of her! I also gave her a drop spindle demo (so glad the Muscle has handy like that-he whipped one up right quick while we did the fiber prep!) I can’t wait to see it all spun up!

cormoblue cormohibiscus
So… all this dyeing-what am I leading up to? If you guessed something to do with the 2014 Tour de Fleece, you guessed right! I had heard of this last year, but I felt I didn’t know enough, didn’t have the skills or experience to join the Big Kids in this event. I still feel like I lack the skills, experience and really have no idea what I’m doing half the time, though I fake it well-I decided I would join this year! I teamed up with an awesome group-Team Nevermore- and they are an awesome bunch. Totally My Kind Of People. They all seem like a bunch of people I’d love hanging out with In Real Life. Why does the world have to be so big, scattering birds of a feather so far from each other? Anyhoo-Tour de Fleece is a spinning event that coincides with the Tour de France-basically, you spin every day that they riders ride. Makes sense, right? Different groups have their own little “challenges” or goals within them, and everyone is encouraged to have their own goals-mine is to fill a bobbin a day! With my wimpy small bobbins, hopefully that will be a goal easily achieved. At the end of the Tour, I hope to have some wonderfully squishy soft amazing skeins of yarn for sale, or to be knit up in a variety of sellables. Here’s the official logo:

image courtesy of StarAthena,

image courtesy of StarAthena,

I forgot to mention my escapades with silk brick. If you haven’t yet reached the conclusion-I absolutely love dyeing fibers. So I decided silk bricks werew next on my list. Silk bricks are approximately four ounce rolls of 100% A grade mulberry silk. I cannot even begin to describe how silky (heh.. silk is silky, go figure………..) this stuff is, and how incredibly soft and SHINY!!! After a false start, I was finally able to dye a brick a beautiful swirly mix of blues and purples. My first attempt was a little…. sad. I tortured the poor silk, causing it to form a texture on itself-while is is still incredibly, wonderfully soft and even shiny, it isn’t as smooth as it should be. So that has become an add-in for blending with other fibers.
silkbrick1922450_10152120867856470_7118092103017931553_n OrangeCormoSilk
See? Shiny! I took some of the abused silk and blended it with Cormo wool (yummy, next to skin soft!) blending with my hand cards first, making a little rolag. Then I blended it using my combs the Muscle made for me, and made a little mini-batt. I honestly think I prefer the mini-batt to the rolags. I plan to do some core-spinning with these! The blue/purpley brick however will not be blended. If I don’t sell it as is, I will be spinning the silk alone. Have I mentioned how hard it is to photograph bright colors without having them look crazy over saturated or just plain washed out?? No happy balance here, I’m afraid. I got the pics as close as I could to reality.

Well, I think that’s all for now. Whew!!! I know I’ve done a few more things-camping, more jewelry, more yarns spun, but these are the highlights and I really felt the need to document them! I will be posting more during TDF to share my little victories, and I have more jewelry in the works-stay tuned! Til then, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses… =^..^=
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And Bearded Iris.

Spring is in the Air!

Spring is in the Air!

After relentless, unusually cold weather here in the ATX area, it is certainly feeling a lot more like Spring lately. As such, it’s getting to be that time of year again, yard work, barn and property maintenance, new fence building, and not to mention SHEARING season! I am pretty excited to shear this year, as everyone’s fleeces look pretty darn clean and free of those horrible burrs that they all acquired last year (and that I happen to be allergic to!).

Recently, I have been dyeing fibers, experimenting with hand painting some fantastic roving I have that is a blend of merino, alpaca and tencel. It is a pin drafted roving, so it was a bit of a challenge as it is pretty thinned out (drafted). I think next time, I might just spin it, and then dye it. I spun it fine, and N-plied it-have I mentioned that I am addicted to N-plying?? Just when I thought spinning couldn’t be more relaxing-BAM! The soothing, gentle motion of N-plying enters my world. I will have to share a picture once I set the twist and make a skein. I love the colors. I was going for a bright, Spring time scheme.

I’ve also been spinning up a gorgeous batt I bought from Seven Spirits Farm on Facebook. She created several art batts she named the “Downton Abby Batts” as each one was inspired by a character from the series. I bought “Robert”, a luxurious blend of merino, alpaca, bamboo, carbonized bamboo and tencel. Included in my package was a little baggie of “extras”- silk ribbon, silver beads and felted angora. Seriously, if you love fiber, check out Seven Spirits Farm on Facebook-there are several new rovings just in and a Yarn Club! I am so glad I was able to pick up a bit more fibery goodness! But I digress, back to the batt: OhEmGee. The feel of the batt in my hand while spinning was so amazing-light, airy, silky, lofty, and oh, so soft you want a bed-sized pile of it to roll around in. Now I understand my cats when they finagle their way into a back of fluff. I had never spun from a batt before, as I was always a little intimidated by them, especially one so full of such great fibers.  But once I got going, I really got the hang of it. This batt encompassed many firsts-I had never spun bamboo, carbonized bamboo or alpaca! I consider myself a fairly new spinner still, and I loved exploring these new fibers!

I spun as thin as I could, considering all the different fibers, and then yup, you guessed it, N-plied! The end result was a very tweed-y looking yarn that I just loved.

About the time I finished spinning half of the batt, and cast on to start a hat for the Muscle, I was invited to join a Facebook event: FB Knitting Winter Olympics. The goal was to knit a project during the 2014 Winter Olympics and finish it by the closing ceremony. I was very excited to participate and finished just in the nick of time. It was to be a surprise for the Muscle, but well, I was just too excited about it to not share. What do you think? Gold medal worthy?

On the jewelry front, I have a few sketches done, and beads laid out. I am excited and eager and just a little apprehensive to climb back into the jewelry making saddle again. After taking several months off from creating jewelry, I am more than ready to get going again, and see the fruits of my imagination come to life. I will save those for a new blog post, however, as it is quite late. Til next time, my friends, keep calm and craft on. =^..^=



Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

So, I’ve been spinning, spindling, and spinning some more lately. I find it so incredibly relaxing in the evenings, especially since I can’t stand sitting and watching a movie if my hands aren’t being kept busy. I feel I have made great strides with what I have and finally took the plunge in purchasing some undyed but ready-to-spin excellent quality (read: super crazy next-to-your-skin soft!) It’s from a breed of sheep called Cormo:




I wanted to dye it before I started spinning any of it, and hemmed and hawed until I finally broke down and picked up a range of Rit dyes to practice with. After reading tons of websites, watched a mass of youtube videos, I decided I would attempt “crock pot” dyeing. This narrowed my search down so I focused only on those sites that offered tutorials on crock pot dyeing. Since they all said basically the same thing, with a little variation here and there, I formed a step by step game plan customized to me! I pulled about three to four ounces off the one pound roll: cormotop




Next is where I formed my own path. Since the wool should be soaked in a water/vinegar bath, and then more vinegar is added to the mix when it’s time to add the dye, I decided to do this all in the crock pot rather than a bowl, and have to transfer the dripping wet wool to the pot. I coiled it neatly in a single layer in the pot and added just enough water to cover, and probably too much vinegar (is there such thing as too much vinegar??) about 2/3 cup to the water: vinegarsoak







After soaking for about 45 minutes, my lovely assistant, Sweet Pea, selected three colors to use to dye the wool. She is five and a half, and has a great artistic eye and flare. So when she came up with Tangerine, Teal and Purple, I did not hesitate: selectedcolors






Donning gloves, I used the caps to add the dye to one third of the wool at a time. I was careful to try and make sure I added enough dye, but at the same time, I didn’t mind flecks and gaps of white where the dye didn’t touch. I just eye balled the thirds, and then splashed a little more vinegar over the three areas. I added a tab bit more water so the wool was completely immersed but not drowning: dyesadded




Do you see the light spots? I knew magic would happen in those little spaces. Not from experience, but rather from pure logic! I let the pot simmer for four loooooonnnnggg hours! and then I finally turned it off and allowed it to cool completely, overnight. The number one problem I read about time and again on all the greatly informative sites was to not touch it while it cools until completely cold to prevent the dreaded Felting. Indeed, this was the very last thing I wanted to happen, and I was terrified I would felt this incredibly gorgeous fleece, so I did as I was told! The next morning, when I looked into the pot, it looked like a muddy mess. Since I had read extensively, I knew not to panic and assume the worse, but I was still a bit taken back at how dark and mixed the remaining color in the pot was. Since I used Rit dye, I knew there was supposed to be quite a bit of dye left in the pot. I just didn’t like how ugly it was: cooled



But I could still see the separate colors, so I held my breath as I dumped the mess and started rinsing in cold water. I was surprised that once the first water was dumped, it ran pretty clear there after. The teal continued to need rinsing for quite some time, as is typical with blues. Finally, I wrung it all out, and it was ready to hang out to dry: wrungout





I loved the colors I saw! Since it was coiled when I added the dyes, it created a great pattern throughout the entire length. hungtodry







When it was completely dry (and yes, even in the Texas heat, it still took all day!) I divided it into little rolls I like to use when I spin. When I split the lengths of roving up, I got more and more excited about all the color variations in it! readytospin




It spun up like a dream! Soon, I had two bobbins of thick and thin singles, ready to be plied. I knew I wanted this to be a very special yarn for Sweet Pea, and since the wool was already going to be a “hand wash only” no matter what it was knit into, I decided to ply it with silk thread. I found some vintage 100% silk thread on ebay that I snapped up and when it finally came in, I could not wait to get started! I was a little disappointed that it was a thinner thread, so instead of just using the one color, I used all three that I had bought. Plying with the silk thread gave the yarn a bit of a boucle’ feel and look to it. It stayed so incredibly soft, and I am so happy with the end result!! I cannot wait to get it knit up for my Sweet Pea. She watched every step of the way, and is so excited to have watched “her” yarn come to life. She paid such close attention that it won’t surprise me if my next blog post is about the yarn SHE dyes and spins herself!


Well, til next time dear readers, keep on keepin’ on. And smile. =^..^=