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Friday, October 21, 2011

Experimenting with Color

After visiting New Hampshire this summer and picking up a braid of incredibly beautifully dyed BFL and Silk, I decided I had to try it (dyeing) myself.

What is a girl to do though if she only has one white sheep (that this year was combined with 40% angora -YUM), and no wool left to dye?

Da ta ta ta!!!  I visited (electronically) Paradise Fibers and bought a pound of BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) blended with 20% Tussah silk (that's the wild stuff).  I also purchased a few different colors of Country Classics dye to play with.  Now I chose two of the colors because I needed them to dye mohair for Waldorf dolls, and the two blues particularly for this project.

What I had in mind was a blend of light blue, a vibrant turquoise blue and a warm brown.  I mixed up the dyes and was a little on the wimpy timid side and mixed them a little light.  So, my light blue became a very pale winter sky blue and the brown ended up being a taupey gray color.  The brown also wasn't the shade I was looking for- I wanted something a wee bit warmer, but it is the perfect color for a brunette doll when mixed to full strength.

I didn't take any photos of the handpainting the roving process because I had on rubber gloves and well, I was making a mess frankly.  But here is what it looked like after it dried...

The bump in the middle front is what it looks like after drying, the other two I drafted slightly.  Note the incredibly beautful luster/sheen the silk gives the roving.

That darker brown was what I was going for, but when I drafted the roving a bit it diluted.

Closeup of its shiney-ness.

Singles on the bobbin.  This spun up like a dream....smooth and, well, silky.

Here is how it turned out as a two-ply yarn.  Not bad! 

The brown definitely looks grey.

But I think I like it anyway.

I found out that I really enjoy playing with color and already was coming up with more color combinations.  Will have to slowly invest in some dyes to satisfy that craving!  I will be much bolder with the amount of dye I put into the stock solution also.  But, I did get the process down and learned a bunch.

The BFL & Silk combination is incredible.  The roving took dye well, it didn't felt after being soaked, steamed and rinsed, and spun up ever so nice.  It can't ever replace Shetland but I really appreciate its versatility for dyeing.  It is really, really soft too...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


You have to say it in that Kevin Kline voice from "A Fish Called Wanda".  It's been a Fish Called Wanda kind of week, what with "What was that thing in the middle?" conversations and the "disappointment" and all.

If you haven't seen "A Fish Called Wanda" you really need to rent it.  Honestly.

The "What was that thing in the middle" conversations are kind of funny, though alarming in a minor way.  Perhaps you've had one of these yourself.  It is when someone is talking and has a small string of important things to say and you find yourself, at the end of their turn talking, wondering what that middle thing was because you remember the first thing they said, and the last thing they said, but not the middle thing they said and you get the feeling that was the really important bit in the conversation.  I've had several of these this week, and though they amuse me they also leave me wondering why I'm losing bits of my mind here and there. 

The Disappointment came yesterday.  It really is minor in the big scheme of things, but left me wondering a lot about society's manners in general.

I've been looking for a used single treadle Schacht Matchless and found one yesterday on Craigslist in Michigan at a good price.  I called the number on the add, left a message including my name and two phone numbers to reach me at.  Less than ten minutes went by and I had a return call- for "Marie" (which isn't my name) and not at either of the phone numbers I left, but at the phone number I had called from.  Odd I thought at the time but blew it off.  I asked the lady a few questions about the wheel (it wasn't hers) and asked if she could take a close up photo of the flyer so I could see if all the parts were there.  I told her I wanted to purchase it and would arrange for the pickup that evening after she sent me the photo.  I was giddy!  All seemed well.  I was quite surprised in the evening to get a Text message that said "Sold the spinning wheel". 

DISAPPOINTED!  Not only that she sold the wheel that I had already told her I'd like to buy, but that she sent a very impersonal text message because she obviously did not want to talk to me (hopefully because she felt in some little way like a creep).  So now it became obvious why she called me "Marie" and didn't bother to listen to my phone message.  Hopefully, these folks are not a reflection where society as a whole is going.

I'm shaking it off people!  Yes, I would have loved the spinning wheel, but you have to wonder about the karma of the folks that were selling it and if it wouldn't have rubbed off on the wheel.

So, if anyone knows of a Schacht Matchless for sale that does have good Karma and isn't the price the same as new one I'd be grateful to know.

I'm going to watch "A Fish Called Wanda" tonight and laugh.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pressing Cider

Will remarked that, not too many years ago, that on this date we had six inches of snow! 
This past weekend, however, was the most perfect cider pressing weather you can get.  Warm with just enough breeze to hold off the yellow jackets who love to sample cider and scare kids.

Everyone brought apples!

First, you have to thrown them in the grinder. 
 No talking or laughing is allowed as this is very serious business.

Then, you have to turn the screw to press the wooden disc down on the apples to get the juice out.

You have to take turns at this.

Then you have to use the scary stick to really get some leverage going to screw it down tight.

Of course, you have to filter it some to get the bits and pieces out.

Then there is time for roasting apples on a stick,

and more fun conversation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Duncan's Birthday

 So the highlight of this past weekend was that the Big D turned Seven!  He had a few kids over for Pizza and a movie and opened his presents on Friday.  The gift on the far right side of the photo was some sort of Nerf gun that shoots foam "bullets".  It has already wreaked havoc.  The green thing on top of the Land's End box is a whoopie cushion.  It has already been popped because it was blown up too far and Duncan thought it would make a great big farting noise if he jumped really high up into the air and then landed on it with his bum.  Well, it did but it was the last noise it ever made.

He also asked for "Cooking things that really cook" so there was a box full of various cooking things like measuring spoons...

Measuring cups...

a sifter, and Grandma Marilyn brought them all a bakers cap and a "Baker in Training" apron.

The three of them made the chocolate pound cake that Duncan requested as his cake.  It was really rich and moist and rather incredible!  I made a raspberry sauce to pour over it.  It was divine...

We took the cake to Doug and Ruthette's house on Saturday where we did the annual cider press party and celebrated big D's birthday as well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Rescue" Bunns

Another event of the not so distant past was that I inherited a few more angora bunns.

A lady from the UP contacted me, who got my name from another person (who gave me Dalilah and Iccarus because she couldn't take care of them two years ago) and called me to say she had four english/giant angora bunnies that she could no longer care for and would I like to take them?  It is really hard to say no when you know what will happen as the alternative, and I did have some extra cage space. 

So one weekend in early September she brought them over.  They are beautiful bunnies.  Two bucks and two does.  Another bunny friend of mine took the younger tort buck and named him "Potter".  He went to a loving spinning home.  The other three are now members of our family.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to....

She is a chocolate tort.  She is a little on the shy side but is coming around.

Endora is Hermione's mother.  She is a tort, and I think she looks like she could have some French angora in her.  She has very dark glossy guard hairs.  She is quite lovely, but shy.

Endora and Hermione

This is "Bucky".  He is Hermione's (and Potters) father. 
He is looking for a new name but I haven't come up with one yet that suits him.  I don't think Bucky suits him at all!  He is extremely timid and does not like to be handled.  Too bad because he has an extremly fine coat that needs to be brushed!  He also is prone to getting mats on his face, like most English angoras.  So he gets handled wether he likes it or not.  He is not a big bunny so I think he may be pure English. 
 He is the first REW I've had.

I've been on a witches kick with the female bunnies names (Endora, Hermione, Nuala, Esme & Nimue) so I'm thinking a wizard name would be good for him.  He doesn't quite have the presence of a Gandalf or a Dumbledore or Merlin.  He's more of a Flitwick or Rincewind type of wizard. 
 Hmmm. One of those might just do it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stansborough Grey Fleece

(photo credit:

Those of you who get Spin-Off Magazine probably read the article on the Stansborough Grey breed of sheep.  Those of you who are Lord of the Rinngs and Chronicles of Narnia movie geeks probably know about this as well.  Those of you who are both, are likely drooling.

After reading the article (and wiping the drool off of my chin) I was inspired to contact the Stansborough Farm in New Zealand, the sole source of this fiber which sounds so amazing, to see if they had any fleece available.  They do, and I was assisted by a couple of delightful ladies at the farm.  It is raw fleece that they hand wash and dry especially for spinners.  They only have the light grey and medium grey available at this time and the dark is rarely available to sell as fleece as they use almost all of it in their textile production.  There is also a waiting list to purchase the fleece.

So, I will be the proud owner of 2 Kilos (approximately 4 pounds) of washed fleece when all is said and done because that is the minimum they would ship.  The fleece wasn't too extravagant but the shipping was horrible.  Too bad brother Johnny isn't coming stateside anytime soon!  He could stuff his baggage full of fleece for me.  Not sure he loves me that much!

I am wondering if any other spinners out there have a desire to try this wool out as well?  I really don't need four pounds of it...Contact me if you do please.

Go to the International fleeces site to see their very thorough discussion of the breed and to see photos of those amazing textiles that will set your salivatory glands working overtime...