Saturday in the Studio April 6, 2019

The weather is stellar today at the Cove. I can’t believe this is the same farm that was bare trees and mud just a month ago. My onions are up, the garlic is growing, and I even have a few small lettuce plants up. It’s a good thing I farm, because this wasn’t my week in the Studio. I broke the drum carder and hand carders. They’re at the carpenter’s.So, this week you’ll have to just grab a mug of your favorite beverage (mine is coffee) and enjoy a tour of the Kind Fibers sanctuary.I did complete two shawl. The details are in the video.https://youtu.be/rya8u8EfDooUntil next time,Craft No Harm,Moriah and the flock

Spring is here! Saturday in the Studio: 3/29/19

It’s spring! It’s spring! It’s spring! Yep. I’m excited. I know it actually began on the 20th, but spring plowing, mild temperatures, and blossoming fruit trees all showed up this past week. I’ve had a lovely week working in the field, in the greenhouse, and of course the fiber studio. I’m actually writing this early, so it’s going to seem like a light week. However, even though this is still going out a the usual time it’s only been four days since my last post. I’ve been a busy bee!

On the Wheel

Iris was the main project on the wheel this week. I spun up 325 yards of heavy woolen from his fleece. That’s about a third of the wool. His fleece should yield around 950 yards. I think that’s more than sufficient for a sweater. Since there is so much I might do a shawl as well. However, this spinning project is going into the casual category from here on out. I have way too much to get done, and with adding another festival to the event schedule this year I need to focus on work. So, Iris is going to be only one spinning session a week until he’s done.

I also did some quick spinning this week. This fun lace/sock yarn is actually four mini hanks. I have not measured the yardage out yet because I haven’t washed them yet. They’ll go in the Etsy shop this week as a test product for a possible new line – Stash Builders.

Since my current knitting project is finished I also squeezed in some spinning for a new shawl project. I’m not sure what pattern I’ll do – as usual – but I do have some basic ideas about the color. This is wool from four different Jacob sheep. I was in the studio matching fleeces to blend the colors since Jacob has such variations in their fleece color. I suddenly realized that all four animals were related through the same foundation sire. I’m thinking about calling this project “All in the Family”. It’s a woolen Navajo ply in a dk weight. There is a little variation in weight since the body of the shawl will be worked closer in gauge and then open up into lace. I’d like to use the same size 8 needles for the entire project. Therefore I began my spin with a heavy DK and ended up in a weight closer to regular sock yarn.

That brings up an interesting topic. Many knitters, even those who spin, either purchase or produce yarn without an end goal in sight. I know I do sometimes still. In the past I just sat at the wheel to spin. Now I spin or purchase yarn with a very specific goal in mind. Sure, I don’t always know exactly the lace patterns or body style, or all the design elements, but I do have an idea in mind. I pulled out all my yarns last week and took inventory. My stash includes yarns I created almost ten years ago. They’re still just sitting there. Something about that feels wrong. Like they’re just stuck in limbo. So, after this shawl I’m laying off the spinning for a while other than custom work (and Iris) and concentrating on knitting and weaving what’s already in the studio. I’m stash busting!

On the Needles

I finished up the silk shawl I cast on last Friday. I really wanted to give up several times. I had to frog it twice! I just kept dropping stitches in the body. I realized my attitude towards this yarn was not right. It sticks to my hand, it’s slippery, and even on the wood needles I have to really concentrate on each stitch. With all the work piling up for spring planting I just wanted something easy. Then I realized something – my attitude dishonored not only myself and the caterpillars that made the silk, it dishonored the person that eventually will wear it. As soon as I realized that I ripped it out a third time, got my heart right, and started again. Guess what? I stopped dropping stitches. I stopped struggling with the beading, and I completed the shawl in less than eight hours – with beads. I let go of the fact that I’m not pleased with my first attempt of dying it. I let go of my ego. I had a tangible reminder that even though something doesn’t start easily, or seemed “messed up” doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. A simple change of heart. A simple shift to focusing on love and compassion and the entire experience changed. I don’t know who will eventually wear this shawl. But I know it’s going to be someone special, maybe even someone who can relate to the process and story behind this shawl. No matter though. I needed the reminder, especially right before busy season. So – stranger who will grace my work – thank you.

In the Dye Pot

It’s empty. Come back next week 🙂

On the Loom

I finished up the last batt this week for the next meditation mat. I plan to warp Monday! I’m so excited to get back to weaving.

Around the Farm

Shearing is scheduled for the first week in April! YEAH!!!! My babies are so wooly I’m not sure how much longer they’ll fit through the barn door! Due to a major shearing accident last year I’ve been banned from the shearing shed. The cartilage on the left side of my ribcage was fractured along with two ribs when Andromeda tossed me into a support post and the wall. My kidney was injured as well. It’s been seven months and my kidney is finally healed. I still have some issues with my ribcage and back. So, I’m actually hiring another shepherd to do the shearing this year. I’ve always prided my brand on nick free shearing. I’ve watched this shearer in action before and he’s very gentle and compassionate. He’ll cut the wool before he’ll cut the sheep so I’m happy. The nice thing – I get to make a video this year AND not be the bad guy!

We are still dealing with downed fences at Serenity from the flood and getting the property back in shape. The front field was plowed this week. I’m currently cleaning cotton seed! That’s right. I’m expanding into cotton. It will be almost a year before it’s ready to harvest, hand clean, and spin. But it’s coming. I was able to get Levant cotton. It’s an heirloom variety and I’ll be able to keep the seed from year to year. This is something I’ve wanted for YEARS. It’s here. Finally. And the timing is perfect.

If you’d enjoy watching the video for this week please check out

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=teo8JHLpUU4

That’s it for this week. Happy Spring.

Until next time,

In all you do

Craft No Harm,

Moriah and the Flock

Friday’s Farm: Onions

Ah, onions. Spring onions, bunching, storage, or fresh eating onions, they are a must for the home garden. Not only are they easy to grow, but they are sweeter and moister fresh from the soil. No to mention that onions and garlic are my favorite crop to grow for market.

The easiest way to grow onions is to purchase sets. Sets are small onions from the previous year. I purchase mine from the local co-op. They cost $1.25 a pound. They’re not the best option for storage onions when planted in early spring. However, they do alright when planted in late spring. Sets are the standard for spring onions and fresh from the garden onions. If you plant them every two weeks you can have fresh onions from late March until the first week of October.

For storage onions the easiest option is sticks. Sticks? Yes. That’s what the locals call them. Sticks are simply young onion plants. Just like sets they go straight into the ground and grow. I usually set mine out the first week in March. They are a little more expensive, and frankly a little more fragile than the sets. But if you want storage food they are the way to go.

Soil

Since onions are bulbing they need room and loose soil. I find that growing a sweet onion requires a sweet soil. I like to work fresh cow manure into my soil in the late winter before the ground freezes. Once the sets are up several inches I mulch with composted sheep manure. Even my white onions are sweet and mild. They are one of my best sellers and I find rotten manure makes the difference.

How I plant

I’m not a row gardener at heart and my spring onion crop is a testament to my preference for intensive space saving methods. While my neighbors plant one onion per row with eighteen inches between rows I plant mine in a twelve foot wide row, four across, and twelve inches between rows. In short I pack three times as many plants in the same space. I like to leave about 2.5 inches between my plants. Once planted I water. I prefer planting right before a small rain. It’s less work. Since I only sell spring onions I pick the largest first. This allows room for the smaller ones to grow. By July I’m pulling fist size onions and replacing them with fall crops. To actually plant I just rake the soil and then push the bulb in, root end down, with my index finger. I stop at my knuckle and then pat the dirt over. Easy peasy.

Onion Enemies

Onions do not like weeds. This is the big reason I mulch them with rotten manure. They also like to breathe. So, I avoid using wool or other heavy mulches on them.

Drought is a huge issue for any type of onion . So is drowning. Keep the soil consistently moist.

I have yet to experience any diseases in my onion crops. However, thrips do attack in summer. However, I find keeping a healthy army of ladybugs, lace wings, and damsel bugs along with removing infected plants clears up the problem quickly without intervention. The few times I have taken action I’ve only used an organic garden soap.

So what are you waiting on? Go get some some sets and sticks this weekend and plant something easy!

Until next time,

Kindness day by day.

Putting in Fences – How to Set and Communicate Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is one of the hardest life skills I’ve tackled. In the past feared losing the person or offending them. I grew up with my grandmother who herself lost a mother at a young age, was abandoned by an alcoholic father, and then was passed through the family until her very hard grandmother took her in. She was an amazing woman in many ways. However she had poor boundaries and abandonment fears. Even though I was shown healthy patterns by my mother and grandfather, I still picked a few poor skills and internalized poor coping mechanisms. Couple that with being an empath and the stage was set for an adult struggle. After a relationship with a narcissistic person it was a skill I had to learn for my own emotional wellbeing.

Here’s the biggest thing I learned: emotionally healthy people have boundaries and respect them. If someone consistently and maliciously violates your boundaries (or YOU) – Remove from you life cold turkey. RUN. GET THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE. They are a poison to you. However, most people simply need honest communication and are good hearted.

How to Set Boundaries

Before you set a boundary you first need to know where your emotional property begins and what you need. Your emotional property is pretty simple. It is YOUR emotions, your inner being, your growth, your physical and spiritual wellbeing. It’s not your kid’s, your partner’s, boss’, minister’s, or any person’s emotions, spirit or body.

However, knowing what you need can be harder. For example. I need a good uninterrupted two hours everyday to meditate and pray. I try to keep it to a schedule that works not only for me, but my responsibilities. Since I often have visitors I have a simple sign on my door – “I’m currently in my prayer closet. I appreciate you stopping by. Please come by later. I look forward to seeing you SOON. Thank you. Love, Moriah”. How did I figure out what I need? Mostly through trial and error. I know. Not what you are looking for, but that’s the honest answer. I knew I needed to feed my inner person. I knew I needed alone time to do it. I knew that when I fed my inner soul I had to the energy and drive to care for others. I knew I have a passion for kindness and compassion. That passion was my starting point. How to feed that passion and how it looks in my daily life was the trial and error. However, once I knew what I needed, setting the boundary became easy.

Examples of common boundaries include not hugging strangers, refusing to listen to gossip, not touching Momma Bellies, not stealing, asking for a kiss on the first date instead of assuming, refusing to purchase items on credit, and many other common everyday things we take for granted. It’s something we already do. It’s just in our emotional life we sometimes depend on our neighbors to set our and maintain our property lines and not ourselves.

Communicating Boundaries

Let’s go back to my little sign. It’s to the point. I don’t say it directly, but it communicates that I’ll not be opening the door. There are no accusations. There are no demands. The other person knows I still want to see them and my not opening the door is not personal – it’s something I need and applies to everyone.

If I had written something like “I’m trying to feed my soul right now and don’t need a bunch of constant interruptions so stop dropping by so freakishly early!” it would cause relationship issues. When I first started setting boundaries that’s about where my communication level sat. It caused issues, too. I was making my boundaries about the other person. I was making judgements, mostly because I was still judging myself. I was making my friends and family responsible for my emotional needs and property instead of taking ownership and responsibility. Your boundaries are YOUR boundaries. Own it and communicate it with love and power in a way that doesn’t offend.

Stick with Them

The most important part of setting boundaries is sticking with them. Puppy dog faces, pleas, and demands can unconsciously manipulate us into taking emotional responsibilities for other people’s baggage and allowing our needs and inner person to become frazzled and disengaged. Being consistent is often the hardest part.

Write your boundaries down. As life pops up new experiences write down your feelings and emotions. Write down your failures and your victories. Keep a journal about those things. It helps you to discover where you need to sure up your fence lines. Don’t judge yourself either. You don’t judge a fence for a tree falling it. Don’t judge your boundaries or your skills. Simply make note, and get to work fixing that fence line. Eventually you and the other people in your life will learn to use the gate.

Continuing the Series

The next two installments of this series will be

Dealing with Fence Cutters – How to Deal with Trespassers

Setting Boundaries in Your Internal Pastures

Until next time,

Craft No Harm,

Moriah, Profit, and the Flock

Saturday in the Studio 03/23/2019

I’m finally moved into the new Studio and more importantly I’m well again. This past six months has been intense. However, my workspace is up and going and I’ve been busy the past two weeks in the wool room. I had planned to revamp the blog and brand in January, but let’s just say life happened. So, along with the rebirth of spring, I’m doing a rebirth of the blog.

On the Wheel

Currently my darling boy Black Iris’ fleece in on the wheel.

As you can see, He’s not so black anymore! This is his gorgeous fall 2018 fleece. It’s short because it’s only four months worth of growth. So, I’m doing a traditional woolen long draw. I’m planning on a new sweater. I haven’t picked out a pattern yet. I’m thinking something with lace on the bottom. So, when I cast on I’ll do a provisional cast on so later I can either bind off or go fancy.

I’m spinning it in nearly a worsted weight two ply yarn. I have a total of three pounds. I hope to get most of it spun this week, but it might take until the end of the month to finish.

In the Dye pot

It’s been a busy two weeks with dying wool. Everything was done in the oven on low temps in small exhaust baths. I’m super happy with the way it all turned out. Locks go in the shop on Wednesday. And I have plenty of not so perfect locks to make art batts. All the dyeing was done with Rit this time due to a generous trash to treasure exchange!

On the Needles

I’m making socks! This week saw a pair of socks casts on and completed. They are Icelandic that my friend Kate spun up. The yarn is THREE PLY lace. I repeat. THREE PLY lace. The girl has some made skills when it comes to spinning lace. She also allowed little puffs in here and there so it has some light texture.

The pattern is Stacey Trock’s Easy Pease Socks. If you haven’t checked out Stacey or her patterns – do it. I LOVE the way this pattern is written. It’s like having a friend teach you how to knit socks. This is the best intro sock pattern I’ve found, and it fits my feet – my fat, flat, extra wide with no heel Cave Woman feet – and daintier peds, too. I was able to crank these out in one day.

In addition to the socks I cast on a new prayer shawl. I spun this yarn in 2012. It was the first time I attempted silk, or dying. I have never done anything with it mostly because of the color. However, I plan to redye the entire project after I’m done knitting. Right now I’m just doing the body and haven’t really picked out what lace I want to do. I do know it’s going to be a SMALL shawl/ collar type piece. I’m also adding some beading.

On the Loom

My loom has been quiet for months now. I think she’s lonely. She calls to me. I moved her in front of the window. The warp for new prayer mats are ready. With any luck this week will be quiet and I’ll at least get the warping done. I’m still thinking for a name for my loom. So far I haven’t found anything for her quiet dignity.

News

I now have a YouTube channel.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCq0hfI4MOmsS1mzMh9gkUqw

If you enjoy it, please like and subscribe. Yep. That’s me.

Until next time,

Craft no Harm

Moriah and the flock

Boundaries Part One – What are They?

Profit recently learned to jump fences. Considering that Serenity is directly across the street from a small school this is not a good thing. Profit is a one thousand pound working steer in training to become an ox. At this point in his life he a half ton puppy who LOVES children.

He is actually quite beautiful when he jumps. If he was a horse he would be my hunter jumper prospect instead of my logging prospect. However, horse or ox, he needs boundaries to keep him and others safe.

Boundaries. That word gets used so many folks in trouble. Boundaries are a staple in healthy relationships. Boundaries ate not emotional walls with buttresses and ramparts to keep others out. They are not tools for manipulation or oppression. Boundaries are not an impediment to intimacy.

Boundaries are fence lines, property borders that allow each person the freedom and privacy needed to live and thrive. Profit in in his two acre pasture with his brother Asset. Next to him is my garden, the crop field, and the school. Each field and property has a designated use. I don’t plant my crop in Profit’s field and expect him to leave it alone. The children wouldn’t dream of walking through his pasture as a short cut to school any more than I would do laundry in my garden or set up house in the school. We each respect the free functioning of space. The children enjoy seeing the oxen. The oxen enjoy seeing the children. No one would enjoy Profit romping through a game of tag in the school yard.

How often do we do that in our relationships, though? How often do we think we have the “right” to jump into other people’s emotional or physical space and issues?

Boundaries are the fences that create safe, healthy relationships. Just like fenced fields, they have gates. When we decide to only walk into our neighbor’s field through an open gate does true relationship begin. When we enter their space as invited while respecting the edges of their emotional property real intimacy becomes possible.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah and the flock

Hoop Coops

Be warned – this is not a city slicker contraption. This is a real life get-er-done, yes I live in the hills project.

In the Summer of ’14 I moved to my first farm with 31 chickens. And no “real” coop. Instead, I made hoop coops. I don’t make just ANY hoop coop. I made steel and wire hoop fortresses wrapped up in blue tarps. Be warned – this is not a city slicker contraption. This is a real life get-er-done, yes I live in the hills project.

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The coop before the “I saw a bear” renovation. At this point they had survived dogs, raccoons, skunks, and a hawk. Eventually fifty adult birds slept in this coop nightly and free ranged during the day

Ingredients:

Four cattle panels

Five mile high tensile metal electric fencing wire

Bolt cutter

Wire cutters

Baling twine – the orange kind, not grass string (For new homesteaders or farmers – just go ahead and buy a roll – you will need it.)

Hardware cloth or carbon steel expanded sheets (in masonry)

HEAVY gloves

Washers

Two inch dry wall screws – yes I know it’s wood and outside, but you want dry wall screws if you expect this thing to last more than one winter and a bear

Three eight foot pieces of 2×6 pressure treated lumber – look for the yellow tag. This is splurge, but again – if you expect this thing to last more than one winter and a four bobcats get the good stuff

At least two blue tarps, maybe three. I like the 10×16’s from Walmart.

Scrap lumber – short pieces

Some boards for roosts – chickens like to roost on FLAT surfaces.

BIG “L” braces – 8 – If you want this thing to last more than five winters, a pack of dogs, a bear, bobcats, multiple foxes, skunks, raccoons, mainline winds of 60 plus miles per hour, two moves, a devil horse, a demon cow, and being dragged around three farms, get eight braces.

A pinch of insanity for good measure

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I’ve heard hens don’t lay well in these coops. Mine obviously didn’t know better.

Method

The base is eight feet by four feet made from 2×6’s and “l” braces. One L brace inner and outer on the corners. This allows two cattle panels to sit side by side and then be wired together with five mile metal wire along the long end. Forget the hog rings. They’re too much work and you can’t clamp everything as close together. I wired them at every cross. And I mead WIRED them. Make sure your pointy ends are down. You don’t want them catching the tarps. Use the scrap lumber and washers to secure the panels to the base.

Once you have your foundation match your other cattle panels to your open ends. You’ll need to stuff these inside and then wire them to the rest of the frame. Pick an end for your opening and cut out a hole. Remember – YOU need to fit through this opening.

Now the fun begins. Using your hardware cloth or carbon steel sheets cover your master piece making sure all your wire ends are pointed inside. (If you’re from the South you know why I call it a master piece, and not a masterpiece – big difference!) Wire it on along all the cut ends and across the middle in several places. Make a foot wide skirt that extends out along the ground, too, so nothing can dig in. That skirt really is the difference between life and death for your darlings.

Now, cut a piece of cattle panel slightly larger than your door opening and cover it, too. Use plenty of wire to hold it to the coop on one side of your opening. Secure it tight enough that it does not hang loose, but loose enough to swing. Go ahead and wrap it a good five or six times – you don’t want a bear taking it off!

To secure your door you can use a chain and clip, or in my case a chain or two and clip and a big rope tied around the entire coop. Did I mention the bear? After your chickens are wired for sound (the best cell reception on the farm was in the coop) it’s time for the tarps. Get out the baling twine and attach the tarp as only a farmer can. Or use the five mile wire. Either one will work. When you think it’s secure, add some more twine for good measure. In the winter I actually had a second tarp tied up under the first one in front and used a rope around the entire thing to keep the wind from blowing the tarps loose.

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There’s the door. The ropes eventually wrapped around the ENTIRE coop several times.  I use bricks to hold down the edges of the skirt. We eventually expanded into two hoop coops. This coop is still in use. I started with zip ties. They were replaced with wire.

And there you have it – A chicken coop that will hold up to just about anything, including me and the hens.

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Captain Crazy Pants laying an egg on the coop… at least it wasn’t the roof of the house that time

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

The Kind Fibers Family