Thursday, December 30, 2010

workshops and youtube

After my last blog entry I recieved several people that wanted to know about how I learned (relearned) to knit. So I thought I would pass on the youtube videos I watched and the workshop I took for the socks.

The first thing to learn is to cast on stitches onto your needles. Here is the link for the youtube video on doing a continental method of casting on.

Then it was on to learning the knit stitch. Here is the link for the youtube video on doing a knit stitch the continental method.

Then the last one I relearned was the purl stitch. Here is the link for the youtube video on doing the purl stitch the continental method.

The workshop I took was from Kathy at Herbal Maid Fiber Farm. She sends out a newsletter once a month and she gives workshops online every month. They are different every month, but all the ones I have taken have been wonderful!! Her directions are very clear and she answers all questions. If you send her an email requesting to be put on her newsletter list you can recieve her newsletter monthly and know what workshops she has coming up. She has two workshops in January. One is how to knit and/or crochet a sweater for baby goats. I took this class last year and was able to make several crocheted ones for my angora kids. They are very easy and fun to make. Would also make great dog sweaters.  The second workshop she is having this month is how to knit mittens. This is something I want to learn as well so I will be taking this one. Would love to see familiar faces in the class.
You can email her here.

Good knitting!
Hope to see some of you in 'class'.
If you know anyone interested in any of this, please pass it on.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hand knitted wool socks!

I took an online workshop on knitting some simple socks. I really was not sure I would be able to knit them since it has been 20 plus years since I knitted anything.
I ordered my double pointed needles (wondering what double point meant!) And when they arrived in a set of 5 I was  at a total loss and thought for sure I had gotten over my head, but I had already paid for the workshop so I thought I better atleast try.

Well the workshop started and she started right away talking about casting on, knit, and purl. That was all that we needed to know to be able to knit these socks. ONLY!! ha!    I spent the next couple of days on you-tube trying to refresh my memory of what these terms where again. Thank goodness for you-tube!! For anyone that wants to learn to knit there are some really good videos on youtube. I was able to catch up to the rest of the 'class' fairly quickly.

We started off with just a tube sock and since I was not confident at all about my knitting skills I decided to do them in some cheap acrylic yarn from Wal-mart. I knitted and knitted, around and around for what seemed like forever! Most everyone else was finished with theirs and the teacher was moving onto the heeled socks. Luckily, the needle size was different for the heeled socks and I needed to go buy them.

So as I was getting the needles I went ahead and picked up some wool yarn as well. I was feeling fairly confident about my knitting skills by this time and thought I would risk the extra money on wool yarn. I got started on the heeled sock and I am absolutely in love with wool!! It is so much softer to work with than acrylic! And it made the knitting sooo much easier.

Two weeks later here is the result!!

I think I am hooked on knitting socks!! They are soooo incredible warm and so much softer than wool socks I have ever bought from a store.

Now I just need to practice my spinning so I can spin up my own sock yarns. I am thinking shetland and mohair or icelandic and mohair. Or maybe even straight icelandic wool!

I am currently working on a pair for my husband and then it is onto another pair or two for me. Since I work outdoors year round these would be great at keeping me warm!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am thankfully for my family, my good health, and my friends. I am thankful for being able to live the life I have, and I am thankful for all my cyber friends that I have met the last couple of years. Thank you all.

I would like to share with you the dressing recipe that I made to take to my in-laws. It is super easy and really good!

Crock-pot Dressing
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 can chopped mushrooms
1 cup butter
12 cups dry bread crumbs
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon poulty seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups chicken broth

When I chopped the onions and celery I used a Universal Grinder and it worked so much faster than cutting!

Universal Grinder set up and ready to go

Celery chopped

celery and onion chopped
 So once you have onions and celery chopped:
Saute onion celery, and mushrooms in butter in skillet. Pour over bread crumbs in large bowl and mix well.
Add eggs and seasonings and mix well.
Stir in enough broth to moisten. Spoon loosely into Crock-pot. Cook on High for 45 minutes then turn to low and cook for 4-8 hours. Add more broth as needed.

Sorry I forgot to get pictures of it in the crock-pot. But it tasted wonderful!!

Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful rest of Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I think I am hooked!!

Finally got my, new to me, wheel put completely together and adjusted. Now I think I could get used to using the wheel more than the drop spindle!
After reading many posts from different groups I started slowly..... well sort of.
I just sat there and threadled for about ten minutes, just getting the feel for it. Then I tied on some plain old acrylic yarn from Wal-Mart and spun until the bobbin was almost full. That really helped me adjust the tension so the yarn would take up. And I did not have to worry about what I was really doing with my hands.

Then the test came. I put a leader yarn on the bobbin and tried to spin some on my own. The hardest part was attaching the fleece to the yarn and stopping and adding more fleece. But all in all it was pretty smooth going. Little bumps here and there but it really looks like yarn!

Now I just need to get a couple more bobbins and plied yarn here I come.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fleece, combs, and top?

I've been cleaning fleeces for the last couple of nights. Well.....let me re-phrase that.... I've been cleaning A fleece for the last couple of nights. Let me explain. Last winter when I was cleaning fleeces I used two large 15 gallon tubs with a five gallon buckets in each one and heated the water to VERY hot with a bucket heater that will boil water in a five gallon bucket with not problem. I had these tubs in our bath tub so to fill them I used a pitcher and poured water into each tub and bucket. Very time consuming!! But I was able to get very clean fleeces.
So on several groups that I am on people talk about using there washing machine to clean fleece. Fill it with hot water and soap, put the fleece in, let it soak for 20 minutes, let it spin, then take the fleece out and refill with clean water and do several rinses the same way. I tried this several nights ago. I have to admit it was much easier on my back. But once the fleece dried it still looked dirty. Just not as soft and high sheen as the ones I did last year. So after rewashing some of it again I have decided the washing machine is not the method for me!
Here is some of the double cleaned fleece. So nice and soft and shiny. :)

Can you guess what this is?
These are my new wool combs! They look kind a evil don't they. But, if I can figure out how to use them correctly and without hurting myself or anyone else, I should be able to make some nice combed top to spin with. I have played around with them the last couple of night and they are not as easy as some of those youtube videos I have seen, but hopefully the learning curve won't be too steep.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ashford spinning wheel????

I have been searching high and low for a spinning wheel in working order of a very reasonable price. So when I checked out Craig's list and found one VERY reasonably priced AND within driving distance I pounced. But....... There are a few thing not quite right. Maybe someone out there can help me.
I checked on the Ashford sight and it is really, really close to the Traditional wheel they have. So I am thinking maybe a later model that they have since improved on?
Here are a couple of pictures.

 The lady I bought it from used it only as decoration. And it only came with one bobbin. And it is heavily varnished. It looks beautiful, I just hope it is functional.
 It seems to have the correct belt on it. And the flyer seems correct. But the difference from this one and the pictures on Ashfords web site is the bobbin brake? Not sure if that is the correct term or not. But on the website the tension for the bobbin brake is on the right side toward the front and this one has it on the left toward the back. And it did not come with the brake 'stuff'.
 When I take the the little 'knob' out that is on the left hand side it appears that there used to be a small hole in the dowel part, but it is completely filled by varnish or what ever they put on it.
 Here is the end that should have the Ashford name on it. It looks like there used to be something there but I can't make anything out now.
And on the Ashford website the screws had hex heads on them and this one has just slotted screw heads.

So, I am hoping I can figure it out and make it work. Any suggestions would be greatly appriecated!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More fleece...better pictures?

From the inspiration of Michelle and her new camera, I thought I would.....maybe read the manual for mine?
The last blog I did was of several fleeces and I was not happy with the way the colors turned out. I was thinking it was probably the lighting and others confirmed that was probably it. So I kept thinking I would take some picture outside. Well, that has not happened and I was getting antsy to get a blog post done again. So I did a little reading and I think I may have learned a little, with a long way to go.

Hopefully, these fleeces will look closer to the real colors

Hosta a white Icelandic lamb

These next two are both of Hazel, but they look different from each other. Now if I could just remember which one was what setting!

Hazel a moorit Icelandic lamb

Hazel a moorit Icelandic lamb

Black Icelandic lamb

Evra a three year old black badgerface Icelandic ewe

Let me know if you think the colors look better.
I also found a small basket (thanks, Terri for the suggestion) that I think the fleeces look pretty good in.
Now that I got all the fall fleeces skirted it is time to figure out what I am going to do with them. But they are for sale first and for most, so if anyone is interested please email me at

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Skirting fleeces

The Sunday before we left for our wonderful vacation I took most of the sheep and goats to be sheared. I had planned on doing it myself but time was getting away from me. The shearer, Danny, did a great job. And he made it looks SO easy.
This is the first fall fleeces I have really skirted. It is amazing how much cleaner and easier they are to skirt! The spring fleeces where full of tiny bits of hay and to pick all that out of each fleece was really discouraging me from this fiber venture. But, wow! These fleeces are soooo clean!
Here are a some of the fleeces that I have skirted the last couple of evenings.

Agatha is a white angora doeling. It already looks like it has been washed! It is so clean.

Shetland ram lamb. Lots of crimp and very soft.

Shetland ram lamb. Don't know why it looks so yellow. Guess I need to play with my camera and flash a little bit. This is a nice soft, clean fleece.

Shetland ram lamb. He is the smallest of the three, but has great crimp to his fiber. It is 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inchs long. Very clean.

Evra's ram lamb is a black bandgerface Icelandic. (Really should think of a name for him). If you clip on the photo it will enlarge and you can see the coloration of his fiber. Very cool. Very soft and very clean.

Herriot is a black gray Icelandic ram lamb. His fleece is silky soft and very clean.

These fleeces are all currently for sale as raw fleeces. If anyone is interested in any please email me.

Have a wonderful weekend! Hopefully I will get some more fleece skirted this weekend as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One week and 400 emails later!

My husband and I took a week long vacation last week. We went to Big Piney horse camp near Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. So for a week we had no cell phone service and no internet. It was wonderful!!
They provided three meals a day and as much horseback riding as you wanted. The trails where absolutely beautiful!! 

We loaded our truck and two horse trailer as full as possible. Luckily we never had to stop very fast or else we may have been injuried!
Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of us in camp. We have a tent that fits in the back of the truck, so once we got there everything in the back of the truck had to come out so we could set up the tent!

Here we are with our friends we meet down there. My husband is on the palomino, I am on the grey, and our friends are on the black and paint horse. This is just one of the river crossings we did. It is pretty shallow here but there was one river crossing where I had to really lift my feet up. The water came up to the middle of my horse's chest! And the water was pretty swift! I could feel my little horse 'drifting' down stream as we walked across.

The trails where just amazing. This was my fourth trip down there but it was still just as beautiful! The trees where starting to turn, with colors of yellow, red and orange. Lots and lots of hills, some pretty steep.
The horses did an amazing job of getting us where we wanted to go. And they where well behaved for most of the ride, I am so pleased with them!!

After a wonderful week it was very hard to come home. Well.....except for being able to sleep in our own bed. Sleeping on a futon mattress in the back of a truck leaves a lot to be desired!

Then, when I opened my email and there was over 400 emails and really wished I was back in the middle of nowhere! I still have emails to go through!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pictures, pictures, picures

I thought I would get some pictures before everyone gets sheared this Sunday.

Hazel, Evra's ewe lamb, Garnet's ewe lamb

Evra's ewe lamb


shetland wether and Garnet's ewe lamb

Evra and her ewe lamb
 Evra and her two lambs have the softest fleece! 

shetland ewe

Herriot followed by Agatha and Evra's ram lamb

  Herriot is such a gentleman. I was scratching him the other night and found a couple of cockle burs on his chest. He patiently stood there while I picked and pulled them off. His eyes where half closed the whole time, like he could fall asleep any moment.

Alan is leaving tomorrow for Goddard, Kansas, where I have a feeling he is going to be spoiled rotten! :)


Agatha is still my wild child! But does she have some beautiful fleece!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Where did September go?

WOW! I can't believe it is October already. Boy, am I glad. The weather has been absolutely perfect the last couple of weeks.

I have been busy rotating the sheep and goats every 2-3 days onto new pastures. And I think it has payed off. The last 3 times I have checked their eyelids every single animal had bright red eyelids. Here are a couple of the Icelandic sheep enjoying the pastures. It is so hard to get good pictures of everyone! They all want to be right in front of the camera!

And good grass is not the only things that have been grown well on our property. I don't know what kind of mushrooms these are but they are huge!

And over Labor Day weekend we planted ten acres of pasture in Orchard grass, Timothy, Ladino Clover, and Korean Lespedsia. This picture was taken just three weeks after it was planted. Unfortunately, since this picture was taken it has not rained at all and now I am very worried all the new seedlings have died. I am not going to 'recheck' this pasture until spring (well, I am going to try to not 'recheck'). I am hoping that the seedling have just gone dormant until the conditions are ideal to start growing again.

Have a wonderful week and hopefully it won't be over a month before I post again!  :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh... the life!

We all need to take some pointers from Monster (the cat)

Anytime you find  yourself in a tight spot. Relax and make the most of it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My first try at plying yarn

I started using the drop spindle in December or January. I used mohair from my angora goats. One was Abby, she is a light brown color, and the other was Ziva, she is black but her fiber is more dark grey. Once I was finished spinning the fiber on my drop spindle I had to figure out how to store what I made. Being the 'thrifty' (I like that better than 'cheap') person that I am I used empty toilet paper rolls to put my finished single onto. So I had these two 'spools' of mohair singles I had no idea what I was going to do with. So they sat in a box for months. And then I decided I wanted to make a plied yarn with them. So still being the 'thrifty' person I had to figure out a way for the singles to come off of their 'spools' smoothly and without getting tangled. I came up with this:
It is amazing what you can do with butter knives and a small card board box!!
So I started plying, I have a little book that I learned to use the drop spindle with and it had a small section on plying.
The biggest problem I had was I had made my yarn pretty chunky (or thick) so when I plied them together the resulting yarn was pretty thick and I had a hard time keeping the yarn secure on the spindle. But in the end I got it done.
I don't know if I did it the correct way or even if the resulting yarn is usable for anything, but boy was it incredibly satisfying to see it done!
So the next step was to get the plied yarn off of my spindle so I can spin something else. And we are back to 'thirtiness'. Using the same cardboard box, I put the drop spindle in it so it would turn freely while I removed the yarn.
And then the final product! Well there is still a matter of washing it to set the twist, but I have not done that yet. It is going to be hard to take it off the chair. Not because it is on there tight  or anything like that, it will be hard to take it off because I just LOVE walking by it and rubbing my hands all over it! It is so soft!!!
It ended up making only 23 yards of yarn, so I really don't know what I am going to do with it. I have a couple of ideas in my head but you'll have to wait and see if decide to anything but 'pet' it. :)

Have a wonderful evening! And if you have any ideas of what I can with 23 yards let me know.