Shop at Spinner's End Farm

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dye-ing Weekend

The fruits from the weekends labors:

Hand dyed silk hankies; these are a very labor intensive dye project.  The hankies are weighed out into half ounce stacks and then need to be soaked for a good long time to be saturated.  In order to "speed" the process I added a bit of  Synthrapol (a wetting agent).  Next day they were wrung out and then unfolded into a stainless steel pan and each stack dribbled and massaged with dye and then steamed in the microwave for two minutes.  I generally do a minimum of two stacks of the same colors because you have to clean up between colors.  They always end up incredibly vibrant and intense!  They are a lot of work but very pretty in the end.

I also dyed 19 skeins of sport weight Polwarth and Silk (85:15), and 8 skeins of worsted weight Polwarth and Silk (60:40).  Duncan and Lila both helped out here; Duncan did the vibrant blues on the right bottom, and Lila the purple/salmon skeins on the upper right.  There are a couple skeins missing that were in the dye-pot at the time of the photo that are a lovely plum color.  This yarn was a mixture of hand painting and kettle dyed.  All of this yarn and the silk hankies will be going down with Lila and I to the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival at the end of the month. 
Join us there if you can!  :)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Time has Wings and it sure does fly

The annual First Day of School Photo.

I do not know where the summer went this year it seemed to have sped by.  It wasn't because we went on many exotic trips, or many trips at all for that matter.  It was just full of the everyday events that continue on relentlessly....get up at 5:00-ish, have a cuppa, feed animals, exercise (maybe), take a shower, off to work, stop at the store on the way home, make dinner, check on the animals, have a grown-up beverage, watch some (Castle, Grimm, Warehouse 13 etc...) while knitting or spinning, gather in the cats, read (a few paragraphs or pages before the book hits the floor), sleep.  Then the whole thing starts up again (if one is fortunate).   It seems rather monotonous, but goes by quickly.   This is my way of saying I haven't really had much to say all summer because nothing has changed much!  Sorry to be so out of touch.

There were many small things that we did; Lila was in "Follywood", Uncle Johnny visited, Grandma visited, and some cousins came by (all in the same week mind you....), Duncan played baseball, D & Sam played soccer.  Lila worked cleaning cabins this summer and earned about $1,000;  90% of which she put into her savings and college account. Sam taught us how to play Dungeons and Dragons, and Duncan is teaching us how to play Texas Hold'em poker (where did HE learn to play it?).  Duncan went to Copper Harbor with his cousins and Lila attended Author Quest (i.e. writing camp) again; this year as a "counselor in training".  We tended the garden and are busy making jam, blanching and freezing veggies, and making tomato sauce and dilly beans.  Will has been peddling veggies, wool and knit goods at the Curtis Farmer's Market on Wednesdays, we participated in the giant puppet show at Art on the Lake once again.  I've been doing a fair bit of knitting which has been fun- lots of baby hats and fingerless mitts.

Sam was Ruthette's new puppet this year!

I had almost two years worth of fiber to deal with, as I only had about 10 fleeces made into roving last year.  It took me a couple of weekends and several days off to pick through all of the alpaca fiber and skirt the sheep fleeces and Lila and I drove them down to East Jordon to be made into roving, combed top, and yarn.  Hopefully the roving will be done in the next couple of weeks; the yarn will be a few more months.  It was a LOT of fiber!  all of the alpaca is being made into yarn this year as I still have some roving left from the last batch.  It will be exciting to have yarn from our own animals that I don't have to spin first. Not that I don't like spinning, but it is much harder to start an impromptu project.  I saved a few very nice batches of Suri that I will send off to a mill in Ohio that will spin 100% Suri fingering yarn; that will take about 10 months to get back but will be worth the wait I think.

The animals are doing well, though I have a few old sheep (they are 12 years old) who are starting to look their age.  My favorite- Fancy, though I'm not supposed to have one, is among them.  The alpacas are down the road on their summer pasture.

Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival is the last weekend in September and Lila and I will be vending again.  I've been dying yarn (polworth and silk primarily), and will finish that up this weekend along with dying some silk hankies.  I'm also knitting some long elbow length fingerless gloves that are cabled and are black- those are for me; a treat to wear to NML&WF if I get them finished!  I've been knitting while "watching" TV and our living room is very dimly lit- I've had to use a flashlight knitting that black yarn which has elicited some laughter from the rest of the crew.  I will post pictures of the lovely yarn after it dries.

We went to the Michigan Renaissance Festival three weekends ago and had a great time, though were rained out after a few hours.  We will go back next saturday and hopefully I can get some pictures.  Lila had dressed up in a dress she made which fit the period and bought some cute little satyr horns which fit the outfit perfectly.  This time the boys are going to go all steampunk.

School seems to be going well these first few days.  Duncan is still playing Baritone sax, Sam loves his classes, and Lila has art finally as an elective.  She will be dangerous with some formal training. ;)  First Advanced Placement class in History so more homework this year as well.  Glee has started and hockey won't be far behind, and then it will be the!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Big D's Big Sax(aphone)

Duncan's last band concert for the year was this past Wednesday. He started out playing alto sax but they really needed a baritone and his band teacher managed to talk him into it. I managed to snap a couple of pics this time.

When he sits down it almost rests on the floor!

He's had a good year and seems to be enjoying sixth grade and being in middle school though he says his favorite period after band is lunch.....

I'm sitting in the school parking lot waiting for Lila who is in her second day of drivers training class. She takes the wheel officially for the first time on Sunday. I'm being entertained by three high school boys on skateboards on the school service road and feeling nostalgic for the 1980's. Lila will be subjected to some Siouxie and the Banshees on the way home I think! It will keep my mind off drivers training....

Coming up: Sam Fin turns thirteen in five days and the sheep are shorn on Sunday!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ramps (or Leeks) for Mother's Day

Found this sweet Ramp Pixie in the woods today as we went gathering ramps, or wild leeks, in the woods today.

We gathered a bucket full and then just as the serious work needed to be done,, the rest of the gatherers disappeared! After cleaning the dirt and old layers off the bulb end I separated the leaves from the bulbs. The bulbs were pickled in a white vinegar and sugar brine with some tarragon thrown in. We picked enough for 3 pints.

Chopped a bunch of leaves and got a couple of pints of beef broth out of the freezer and whipped up a leek soup with sweet potato, one small russet, and some celery for tomorrow's supper which will be h ad with a crusty sourdough loaf. Tonight's supper is a Will special- chicken tikka masala with roasted sweet potato, rutabaga and russet Indian spiced fries. Yumm!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Erm, Hello?

I am not going to try to explain or apologize for being such a poor blogger.  I will try to catch you up instead. :)  This is going to be rather kid-centric cause that's what's been going on- mostly.

Back in October, Lila came to her father and I and said "I want to play Hockey".  After the first "huh?" and shock of the statement, Lila was being hauled off by Will to learn to play hockey and SKATE in Manistique. Yes, that is correct.  She had to learn to skate first.  I will be the first person to point out that I never, ever, would be brave enough to do this.  Lila started out skating with a "chair" but soon outgrew it and improved every practice...and then the games started!  The Manistique Wildcats is an all ages (up to 19) all girl team that plays other girls teams in the upper peninsula and northern lower peninsula.    Practices 2x a week and games most weekends.  The furthest we had to travel was to Alpena in the northern lower, and Houghton in the UP.  They were fun games and we all enjoyed them, except for the minor concussion Lila suffered in Game 2 which was a fun experience all in itself and happened on my Birthday!  I think the major trauma suffered was having to remove the cartilage piercing for the CT scan (they were easy to get back in).  By the time the season was over, Lila was in good skating form and making passes and taking goal shots.  We are really proud of her and she wants to play again next season.

While hockey was going on two nights a week and weekends, there was also Glee which involved three productions and a coffeehouse fundraiser night.  Glee practices were on Sunday.  A big group of Lila's friends were in Glee and it was the largest number of kids in the history of the club.
(the freshman are on the ground and Lila is all the way to the left)
The performances were wonderfully staged and the music varied from contemporary to Franky Vally.
For the coffeehouse performance, the kids were allowed to sing in small groups or as solo's.  Lila chose to do a duo of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams are Made of These" with a senior.
After a minor kerfuffle she blew the crowd away.  We still have people telling us how much the enjoyed her performance.  I'm not at all proud....

Did I mention that the other nights of the week were devoted to Drama Club?  "Letters to Sala" was the play and Lila had a large part for a first time production and everyone did an amazing job for the amount of dialogue and the seriousness of the subject matter.

Lila's buddy Kendra was one of Sala's workcamp friends from the 1940's and Lila played one of Sala's grand-daughters set in 1990's NYC.  All timeframes were on the set at once which was really interesting.

After the drama production was over, both Duncan and Sam joined middle school drama.  They practiced a couple of days a week after school and culminated in a series of short vignettes about Fractured Fairy Tales that landed the mis-behavers in court.  Both Duncan and Sam were in the "Little Boy Blue" skit.  Duncan played Little Boy Blue, and Sam was the farmer who was wronged.  It was damn hilarious!  I have a few pictures, but they are not where I am.  This is due to the fact that in January, instead of erasing my old phone, I erased my NEW phone. 
 Yes.  I did that.
Fortunately, I had emailed some of those photos home.
Oh Hey, I just figured out how to find them!
Not the best quality, but you get the idea.

Duncan, who is in sixth grade, is also in band.  He started out playing Alto Sax, but was talked into trying the Baritone Sax.  We've been to two performances and he played the baritone sax in the last one.  I wish I had a picture because the bloody instrument is as tall as he is!  He's doing a great job.

Sam won second place in the district spelling bee and so moved on to the UP Regional spelling bee- I think this was in February.  We drove to Neguanee for that and he got to take a day off school to participate (which I think was his main motivation).  The winner of the regional bee went on to the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.  all expenses paid.  It wasn't Sam.  It was a young man from Calumet.  Sam did a good job and stayed in quite a while but got stumped on Sarsaparilla which was funny because it was one of the words we practiced a lot because it is a silly word.  ;)

(more lousy iPhone photos in a dark room)

Somewhere in all of this we celebrated the holidays, and after all of this Lila started Drama practices for "The Sound of Music" which opens and closes this weekend.  She is a singing nun, a neighbor of the Von Trapp Family, and one of a singing trio at the end.  The best part is she has had some voice coaching for her singing (which is mostly in Latin).  The worst part has been all of the 6-8 practices every evening for many straight days.  The poor child is a glutton for punishment.

Meanwhile, the sap is running!  We (primarily Will) have been collecting sweet tree water and boiling it down to sticky goodness.  I think the last batch may get canned tonight.

We are actually getting some work out of them now!

Phew.  There is more of course but my energy is "sapped" (sorry couldn't resist the related pun).
Ta-ta for now; I have some knitting projects to share and some critter photos too for another day.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Meet "Lourre" (pronounced lore-ay). She is a Shetland-Cormo cross and is sister to our Daisy. (That is NOT our grass; I wish it WAS our grass).

She came to live with us this summer. She is a big girl it's a big luscious fleece! (Photos courtesy of Karen Valley).

Here she is with her mum, and two sisters; Daisy is the white lamb and Lourre the one it's the adorable dark spot on her nose.

And here is herself as a wee lamb. She knows she is important. Photos courtesy of S. Rouse.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ewe-per Fiber Fair 2015

It is hard to believe that we are having our fifth annual Ewe-per Fiber Fair, but the adage that time flies when you are having fun is apparently true!

Please join us on Saturday July 11th from 10-3 at the Three Lakes Academy on Main Street Curtis in Michigan's beautiful eastern Upper Peninsula!  We are a small fiber fair with a big heart, and the lovely town of Curtis is hopping with activity this time of year.

Local vendors will be selling handspun yarn, woven rugs, handwoven bags and purses, knit items, wool roving, exotic luxury fiber for spinning and felting and other knitting, felting, spinning and weaving supplies.  Artisans and vendors will be on site offering free demonstrations and learning events.  In addition, at 11:00 and 1:00 there will be a Children's project- Wet felting a bar of soap.

Lodging and meals are available in the town of Curtis and surrounding area and there is a playground on site for the kids.

Confirmed Vendors to Date:

Windy Acres Fiber Mill- Wolverine, Michigan
     Offering alpaca yarn, roving, felt, batts and raw suri and huacaya alpaca fiber

Sheltered Shetlands- Bark River, Michigan
     Coated and skirted raw Shetland fleeces, Shetland Roving and 100% Shetland yarn

Homestead Acres- Ionia, Michigan
     Alpaca socks and fleece, fiber related books (she has the best kids selection EVER!)

Ye Olde Rug Weaver- Rapid River, Michigan
     Handwoven rugs, placemats and runners.  Crocheted items for the home. 

Fiber Whims- Houghton, Michigan
     Handwoven scarves and other items; knitting, weaving and spinning supplies; some roving and  yarns at a reduced prices.  Also offering books and felted items.

Studio A- Curtis, Michigan
     Handwoven ethnic bags, sashes, rugs, pillows and costumes.

Spinner's End Farm- Curtis, Michigan
     Homegrown alpaca roving, alpaca yarn spun from our animals, handspun yarn, Shetland roving, hand dyed roving and silk hankies, an assortment of exotic luxury fibers, bamboo knitting needles, Kookaburra wool wash, and  Shepherd's Wool yarn. 

Cedar Lake Farm- Gulliver, Michigan
     Alpaca roving, Jacquard dyes, handspun alpaca yarn, raw suri and huacaya alpaca fiber and llama fiber.

Jan Fergin- Engadine, Michigan
     Hackles for fiber blending

Jane Forslund- Gould City, Michigan
     Triangle looms, scarf looms, hand woven bags, shawls and shawl pins.

Jim Engle- McMillan, Michigan
     Hand turned wooden yarn bowls.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Best Laid Plans......

My good intentions to be a better blogger seem to have "gone to hell in a handbasket", as my Grandmother would have said. Though, really, there hasn't been a whole lot to say.

As you can see above, my work schedule has been rather sucky with many meetings and a few overnights away downstate the past month. The weather has been dismal as well....just when we finally broke fifty degrees last week, we went back down into the 30's and below with some solid precipitation in the form of the S-word. So, had I blogged you would all have suffered more of the driveling discontent you are hearing now. It has all been rather blah lately.

We did work up the enthusiasm to catch and change sheep suits on ten sheep this weekend and harvested the fiber from seven rabbits....with five more to go next weekend. I have a buyer for all of the fiber already; a lovely lady from Maine who spins it all into beautiful yarn. I need to get back to a knitting project to finish because I think I have found another one I want to start! :). I'm not a huge fan of UnFinished Objects (knitting UFO's) so will get my hands working to finish what I started first, which is a lacy red sweater like the cream one I knit for Lila. Below is the Bottom up beginning of a sleeve.

Sam turns 12 next month which is rather startling! Hopefully all the snow will be gone by then.....He actually has "Spring" on his birthday wish list.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Joey Ramone's Cat

I'm not sure how or why I came across this photo originally....

But Joey Ramone's cat sure looked a lot like Spotty Spock!



Friday, March 6, 2015

A Most Significant Day in Wales

Congratulations to John Gray and Dr. Chris on their wedding day! May your cottage be forever sparkly, there be a dog in the bed, may the Ukranian Village be in tip top order, and your beards neatly trimmed.
There is a mighty party in Wales tonight.....hugs from Michigan.
(Photo lifted without permission (but hopefully with forgiveness) from Going Gently)